Find out how Megan balances a life of working in care and freelancing as a photographer.
We sat down with Megan Pomietlo, a care worker by day and freelance photographer in-between. As you can imagine, both fields are demanding. So naturally, we wanted to know all about a day in their life balancing both fields.
Megan shows us how she does it, as well as an insight into each industry. Let’s dive into what a typical day looks like in Megan’s very busy working life!
Did you go to university? If so, what did you study?
I went to university to study nursing, but it didn’t quite work out.
How did you get into your current job? What previous jobs did you have before working at your current role?
I worked in a care home to supplement my income at uni. I stayed there after uni didn’t work out and worked my way up the ladder.
Tell us more about your side-gig! What got you interested?
I started doing photography when I was about 15. I found it interesting, then after a few years people started asking for shoots and it went from there. I now do the occasional wedding and newborn shoot.
What does working in care involve?
I’m Head of Care, so I support the seniors and carers to make sure our residents, are clean, fed, hydrated, and safe. I also give out medication, do risk assessments and care planning.
What does your day job look like on a typical day?
I get to work at 7:30 for handover from the night shift then allocate staff to their units and tasks for the day. I make any urgent doctors calls then give out medication until about 10:30.
Then we have a little meeting between departments. After the meeting’s over I sort out paperwork or any other phone calls until lunch. Help to serve lunch and give out the lunchtime tablets.
The afternoon is spent doing care plan reviews and seeing any visiting health professionals as they usually visit in the afternoon. I’ll also help on the floor with personal care, repositioning and assisting to eat where possible. We do another round of medication at 17:00 and help serve tea. Then I spend any time after the teatime medication round clearing up any documentation or paperwork that needs doing.
Finally, I finish the working day at 8pm, though rarely leave at 8 because there’s something else I’ve got to document!
What are some of your key responsibilities as a carer and freelance photographer?
Balance. If I do too much outside of work I won’t be well-rested enough to give good care. But if I spend all my hours doing care, I won’t have the energy to do photography and it could affect the quality of my photos.
What’s the most exciting part of being a photographer?
Getting *The* shot and my client’s reactions.
What would surprise people the most about working in care or photography?
Both can be tiring. Care is quite obviously tiring, but even I get surprised at how tired I am after doing photo shoots or weddings.
And both of them require good people skills too. Care isn’t just making a cup of tea and chatting. Some residents live with dementia and it can be quite demanding. You also have to talk with relatives and health care professionals, so you need to communicate well. The same with photography, you meet a lot of people and need to be prepared for that.
What’s the coolest opportunity you’ve had so far in your career?
Photography-wise, I’d say getting to do a workshop with owls. If I’m honest, I love them!
And in my care career? Not sure its an opportunity as such, but being able to support families and residents. Particularly when a resident is going through their end-of-life journey. It’s scary and emotional for everyone involved so being able to make it easier for them means a lot.
Where do you see your career taking you in the next 5 years?
I have no set five-year plan in regards to my career. Though I’d like to move more into photography. I’ve worked in care for 12 years and I’m happy in my current role. I may look to progress, but I know it could take me away from photography work.
Any advice for those looking to get into photography?
Learn! Take every opportunity to be a second photographer. Attend groups and make photography friends! I had a friend advise me to get an old film series to force me to learn settings as I wanted to shoot in manual mode (though there’s nothing wrong with auto mode!). Just read up and learn as much as you can. I’m self-taught, no courses or uni for it. So don’t let people make you feel less for being self-taught.
And don’t listen to brand snobs, find a brand that you find most comfortable to use and go with that!
What would you advise students to get into care?
Care is not an easy job, I see a lot of people who go for care jobs who think it’s just hanging out with the elderly and making cups of tea. That’s not what care homes are. You’re doing personal care and that includes cleaning up bodily fluids so be prepared for that. BUT, it is such a rewarding job. They have so many stories and you can learn a lot. This job brings me genuine joy.
And most homes will help you with training and put you through NVQ qualifications too, giving you lots of learning opportunities.
For more jobs and careers advice check out the most sought after degrees by employers. We hope those looking to get into photography or a career in care gained some valuable insight from Meggie (we know we did!). Check out PomPom Photography to see more of Meggie’s work.