With his work spanning commercial, editorial and portrait photography, Melbourne based photographer Mark Lobo has mastered the fine art of balancing incredible output and pushing his creativity. With mini-projects such as the #handyseries on Instagram and Von Vintage, his work is playful, well recognised, and accomplished – also evidenced in the launch of Foliolio, a photographic service for creatives and designers.
Often inspired by interesting conversations with good people, Mark shares some insightful tidbits of his own. From how he approaches to do lists, to discovering there's more to creative work than striving for a packed schedule, his daily routine mimics his playful and polished work.
Every day can be quite different depending on what I’m shooting or on a non-shoot day, what kind of adminny-type work needs doing. I love this though, and even though every day is different, it’s not really as chaotic as it may seem.
Without a good a night’s sleep I’m neither productive nor creative, so if I can I’ll generally sleep in until about 8am.
I’m definitely not a natural early riser. Once I’m up, I need at least an hour to get myself mentally ready for the day, this can be especially tough if I've got an early shoot.
The first thing I do is get straight into making some coffee. While that happens, I either make some kind of cereal, oats or toast with peanut butter and Nutella mixed, plus a banana. Mmmm…there is no better combo. I finish making my coffee, and eat up.
I really value the time I give myself in the morning and spend a lot of it relaxing, sometimes making more coffee, sometimes browsing the internets. I do my best not to cross over into work mode during this time as it can throw my whole day off. When I’m feeling settled, I start thinking about what I need to do for that day.
I have a group of friends in different cities who I stay in touch with over Google Hangouts and through a weekly written entry online.
We all know in detail what each of our long term ambitions are and the weekly updates help us keep each other accountable.
If it’s a Monday, I’ll write a few paragraphs and see if I did everything I said I would last week. From this, I’ll come up with a new list of prioritised “To Dos” that I need to work through that week. Everything from something I need to shoot, to replying to a specific email that I’ve been putting off.
Every morning, I’ll take a few items from the weekly list, break them down and schedule them into the day. If I don’t do this, my head is all over the place, trying to manage ten tasks at once and thinking about doing all the stuff I don’t really need to!
Not working off this schedule opens up a world of procrastination, jumping around from Facebook to Tumblr to Instagram, for hours without realising I haven’t done any work.
It feels terrible when I realise I’m having an unproductive day and usually call it quits and try to get out of that headspace. It’s my Achilles heel. If I don’t have my little notebook, I can’t get things done!
Once I’m dressed like a respectable adult, regardless of whether I’m even leaving the house that day, I’ll suddenly feel like I’m switched on for work mode.
I’ve always been a ‘work from home’ kind of guy, and this little trick formed the mental line between home and work.
Since moving to Melbourne, I’ve made a conscious push towards making more work in the studio. It’s so good in the winter but in the summer, I just want to be outdoors. So I usually put on a podcast and head there, where I’ll either start setting up for a shoot or do some retouching and admin.
I try to keep shoots down to just two or three a week, because I strongly believe that being too busy leaves no room for progress.
There have been too many times, where I’ve found myself stressed out and stuck doing the same types of jobs over and over, only because I thought it was important to have a packed schedule.
But doing crappy jobs, only invites more crappy work and that’s not what I got into photography for. Limiting shoots allows me to schedule in time to work on new projects and ideas with a clear headspace, meet new people and shoot for myself. This always leads to bigger and better things.
If I don’t have a shoot on, my day can be super flexible. I love this, because it means I can go for an early afternoon run and break up the day, so it doesn’t feel as long or boring. It’s a great mental pause that can make me feel like I’m on a holiday, even when I have a lot of work banked up.
On these days, I do my best to only deal with emails twice a day, usually at about 10am and 3pm, rather than getting distracted and sidetracked every time something new comes in. It’s not always possible to stick to this though, especially if I’m waiting on something specific, or I’m having an off day and unable to stick to my schedule.
I try to wrap up work by about 6.30pm and if it’s my night to cook – my partner and I take turns every other day – I’ll pick up some groceries for dinner and make something.
If we are too lazy or busy to cook on our day, we have an out, which is to order takeaway. Although, lots of shame is then bestowed upon the “takeawayer” who still needs to cook the following day.
Our “go-to” is Shawcross Pizza in Fitzroy, I love the "USA Today", basically just a pepperoni pizza, which I douse in Tapatío hot sauce. It often gives me weird dreams.
My weekday habits at home are the worst! We’ll often tend to fall into the trap of streaming Netflix, or a YouTube queue to the TV during or after dinner, especially in the middle of winter.
I shouldn’t be too hard on myself though, because I really do love getting hooked on a good TV series. To break out of this habit, I try to do at least one social night out a week, even if it’s just a quick dinner out, or going to some kind of creative talk or gathering.
"Passionate people inspire me to create good work, be a better person and are a constant reminder for me to be aware of the things I love about what I do (and to cut out the things I don’t)." – Mark Lobo