Chris Walters is the director at Walters Macri, a property marketing agency based in Sydney. He’s also been working as a photographer, primarily in architecture.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I have been working as a photographer, primarily in architecture for over 16 years now. I am currently the director of a small property marketing agency called Walters Macri, based in Sydney Australia. We have 8 permanent staff and a freelance network of about 25.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I religiously set aside one full day a week to work on the business, keep our own marketing on tract and keep the business moving in the right direction. The rest of the week I am shooting non-stop.
I try not to start before 9am so I can get some quality time in with my family and my 18month old son before heading out. I usually shoot through until dark (which in summer is about 9pm, winter is 5pm).
One of the great things about being an architectural photographer is that every single day is different! We are never photographing the same house day in day out, so every day is an adventure.
Since becoming a father, I don’t use an alarm clock anymore as my baby always wakes me up at around 6-6:30 every morning. I get him up, we read books for a bit, have breakfast together and then he’s off to daycare and I’m out the door to my first shoot.
On an average day I will have 4-5 property shoots. If the house is large we might just shoot one in a day. The majority are 3-4 bedroom houses that require around 10-15 photos each and a video. We allow 1.5-2hrs per appointment.
Most of our clients are in the same cluster of inner city suburbs in Sydney so travel isn’t usually an issue. In between appointments, I will catch up on emails and calls, upload images to our retouching team and maybe get a coffee and some lunch.
Whilst we are a team of 8, we rarely see each other so I find it is really important we have a monthly business meeting and a monthly social meeting (beers at the brewery next to our studio!).
Once I get home, its go go go with dad stuff until about 7:30-8pm when my son goes down for the night. I then catch up with my wife over dinner.
Before heading to bed I have to organise the days photos and send them off to the retouching team as well as get my equipment charged and packed ready for tomorrow shoots (which sometimes means ducking back into the office late at night, which I try to avoid but its only around the corner from home!).
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
As I am the owner of the business it technically does, but instead of having one boss I have 35. And they are all very demanding. If I could work from 5am-10pm everyday they would let me. How much I work is solely up to me. I do allow my staff to work remotely if it suits them, however I’ve found they quite enjoy coming into the studio rather than working from home.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance is so important, especially if you work for yourself. I am constantly tempted to work more and earn more. When I first started out, I would work 60-80hrs a week and I loved it.
When you do something you love it’s very hard to draw the line between work and play. I try to not work from home. When I enter my home that is when I am a father and a husband. By getting a really cool studio space I am enthused to go to work and by not having work at home, I am enthused to be a human being!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
One of the main things I have implemented in the past 12 months after having my first child is to compartmentalise my work. By that I mean when I’m at work I do nothing but work and when I’m at home I just spend quality time with my family and work doesn’t enter the home any more.
I have also had the luxury of dedicating one full day a week to working on the business and not for the business. This has helped raise the profile of my staff in the eyes of my clients and dramatically reduced my workload.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I have so many favourite books and podcasts to recommend but out of all of them the ones I find most interesting aren’t even related to my work.
The author Malcolm Gladwell is one of my all-time favourite authors. The way he sees the world is so interesting to me and it helps me see the world in a new light as well. One of my favourite books of his is The Tipping Point and also David and Goliath.
My favourite podcasts are Radio Lab, 99% Invisible with Roman Mars, and Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
In terms of products and gadgets, obviously my iPhone and my Gmail and calendar I can’t live without as my whole business and my personal life runs on them.
I have recently discovered voice to text functionality with my phone and with my laptop. It never makes mistakes and it saves me so much time however I’m always talking to myself ha ha hah!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
As a business owner I guess I’m always interested in what some of the biggest business owners in the world do with their time, like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg. But I think I would be more interested in seeing what someone like Malcolm Gladwell or Zaha Hadid do with their day.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think the biggest piece of advice I could give on work-life balance is to respect your own time and put a price on it because if you don’t it is only human nature for people to keep asking things of you and the way technology is going these days the demand and turnaround time only get shorter and more urgent.
But if you set clear parameters with your client, your staff, and your family and friends then everyone knows what’s expected of them and of you and you will begin to make quality use of your time. As I get older I realise that time is the single most important and valuable thing we have in our lives and we should never take it for granted! Hence why it took me so long to do this interview!
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