Photography—it’s all about passion, skill, and commitment. Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a professional photographer is like? In this series, we ask a 500px photographer to document a day at work, giving you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at their shooting schedule and techniques in the field.

How many can say their day job matches their passion in life? You can count San Francisco-based freelance photographer Alexandria Huff—or Alex—as one of these lucky people. By day, she works at a cool e-commerce camera gear startup, BorrowLenses.com. Outside office hours, she’s also a freelance portrait photographer, lighting workshop educator, and a 500px ISO writer.

Meet Alex Huff

In fact, you might remember the creative portrait tutorials she’s contributed on this blog, from The Great Gatsby to Game Of Thrones to warrior chiaroscuros.

Interested in what life is like for a multi-taking freelance photographer? Then you’ll want to read about how Alex Huff juggles it all in 24 hours of her working day, along with her insights on best photo gear. Scroll down, and get inspired!

24 Hours with Alexandria Huff

8 A.M. Many professionals are balancing multiple jobs. I am no exception. I maintain a day job at BorrowLenses.com, while also earning a quarter of my income from freelance portrait photography. The rest of my time is dedicated to helping spread the word about Lenstag, a free online camera gear registry aimed at preventing the resale of stolen gear. My morning is typically spent on email for all three of these jobs.

10 A.M. The BorrowLenses.com marketing team is extremely lean, so morning meetings are spent figuring out how to delegate the day’s tasks. The rest of my morning is spent filling orders for VIPs, photographing new camera gear, writing copy for ads, products, and newsletters, and dealing with purchase orders. Sometimes, there will be a web development project to tackle that supersedes all of these.

12 P.M. I eat lunch at my desk as I catch up on industry news. I subscribe to almost every photography magazine, and there is usually a tall stack for me to go through. This is also when I have a moment to check photo and video blogs.

What's on Alex Huff's desk?

2 P.M. My afternoon is spent on planning trade show logistics, blog writing and copy editing, or fielding solicitations. On average, I get 50 new people emailing us everyday with their portfolios and requests for promotional support. I can only say “Yes” so many times a quarter. As a photographer who has had to hear “No” a lot, I have to admit it is hard to be on the other side. For those struggling with rejection, trust me when I say it is never personal.

4 P.M. I ditch the office to visit our warehouse. I usually pick up new products or meet with other teams. I started working from the ground up at BorrowLenses, from packing boxes near a loading dock to sitting at a desk in corporate HQ. I always miss the warehouse atmosphere, and physically seeing the orders go out. These days, it’s rare for me to be dazzled by a new piece of equipment. As my time being surrounded by gear increased, my personal wants decreased—coveting the latest thing fades. Currently, I shoot primarily with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Voigtlander glass . I also use a D800 for large print work. While I adore our Broncolor lighting kits. Sometimes, I shoot with continuous lighting from Fiilex. I typically light with Einsteins. My favorite thing this year to come through the BorrowLenses shelves is Nikon’s 58mm f/1.4. Based on customer feedback, I’d say that the equipment darling of 2014 is Sony’s A7 series of mirrorless cameras.

6 P.M. I’ll typically work past 6. Sometimes, I work on BorrowLenses projects. Sometimes to avoid traffic on the road home, I work on my own photo editing projects, blog posts and articles. As some photographers and industry colleagues out there can attest to, I rarely answer my phone. So sometimes, I’ll catch up on calls driving home or to the studio—hands-free, of course.

8 P.M. I do a lot of evening and weekend shoots, and some occasional shoots in the morning before work. I also teach weekend lighting workshops.

At Alex Huff's lighting workshop

I have a studio in San Francisco that I share with a fellow photographer and blog writer. We use the same costumer and share resources. My clients are typically young-to-middle-age adults looking for a chiaroscuro style headshot or a low-key couples portrait. I have my own experimental photography projects as well. My evenings are spent either with a client, getting ready to hang for an exhibit, editing, or bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is essential—learn to love it.

Alex Huff at work

11 P.M. I do a lot of reading at night. I just finished Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography by Errol Morris, am wrapping up Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art. Today, I am starting Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy. The only time I am not reading at night is when I am working on a particular project or catching up on work I am behind on. As you can see, my days are rarely uniform and difficult to summarize in hours, and for that I am thankful. It is definitely possible to maintain an office job and have an artistic life.


We hope reading about Alex’s day gave you some insight into maintaining a healthy work/life balance as a professional photographer. Want more inspiration? Scroll down for a collection of her eye-catching and dramatic portrait work, including her stunning chiaroscuros:

Follow Alex Huff on 500px to see more of her images. You can also connect with her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook page. Got any questions for her about how her techniques or images? Leave a comment for her below!

Check back next week for a new installment of A Day In The Life featuring another inspiring 500px photographer.