Saturday, June 30, 2007

WiFi = Office

For every summer of the past eight years, I have been working from the North Sea village of Knokke, Belgium. (My wife was born and raised in Belgium so we stay with family). While my kids play all summer, my time here is justified only by my ability to shoot, process images and deliver them to clients, most of who are back in the U.S.

My important equipment (lenses, camera bodies and some accessories) fits in a rolling backpack that is airline carry-on friendly. I keep a tripod here in the house and can shoot any possible assignment. On two separate occoasions, I flew from Brussels to do shoots for Crystal Cruises in the Mediterranean (Lisbon>Sorrento and Monaco>Portofino) and they loved the fact that my airfare was only 199 euros round-trip.

The icing on this cake is digital technology. Since 2004, I have processed my RAW files here in Belgium and delivered finished images to my American clients via CD and FedEx. If there are one or two files that need to get there immediately, I upload them to my .Mac server and my client can download them directly onto their hard drives in minutes. If there's a question, they can call my local Florida office number and it will ring into my Skype on the laptop here in Belgium where we can talk for hours, for free.

For invoicing, I used to just shut down my accounting software for a few months and send invoices when I got back to Florida. Now, since I've installed Parallels, I can run dreaded Windows (and therefore dreaded QuickBooks) on my beloved Mac! The full circle is almost complete except I need to find a way to make bank deposits into my U.S. account while here in Europe. Other than that, I am literally running my company from a laptop.

So far for Summer 2007, everything is seamless. While here in Belgium, I've delivered two jobs (roughly 120 images) and have another 200 images to process in the coming weeks. Working here is just like working in Florida except I'm wearing a sweater and jeans in July. Oh, and the bread...and the chocolate...

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