Wayne Parker is a freelance photographer based at Havelock Walk's live/work community in Forest Hill, south east London. He lives with his wife Lenka Rayn H, also a photographer.
What dark forces compelled you to move to a live/work unit?
Having a bit more space and the ease of being right next to where we work, which is fantastic. Also, it just seemed to perfectly fit in with what we do.
Did the term live/work mean anything to friends and family or did describing your new home/studio entail tedious explanations?
Tedious explanations, definitely. Younger friends and family understood the concept, but parents didn’t understand at all.
How long have you been based there and how long do you plan to stay live/working?
We’ve been based here for four years now, and we intend to stay for quite a while yet. It’s working out perfectly and it’s pretty much exactly what we imagined it to be.
What attractive features did your unit have to offer? For example, floors, walls, plumbing, a roof...?
It had the sort of space we were looking for, and split over two floors which made it easier for us to divide things up in terms of having a bit more living space away from where we work, so we can detach ourselves from it if we want to. That was one of the major draws.
What extras have you added to make it functional, comfortable and easy on the eye?
When we bought it, it didn’t really have any utilities so obviously all of those have been added. Also, the original plan didn’t quite fit with how we thought the space should work, so there’s been quite a bit of shuffling around ideas and incorporating bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms which we thought would be important for later when we move on.
What motivates you to start and stay working each day (or night)?
That’s a good question! Income is probably the main motivator, and just having the opportunity to do what we really love doing. Not many people are fortunate enough to be able to do what they really want to do, so that’s a big motivational aspect.
Also having your workspace really close by means that if you don’t feel like working for an hour or two you can do that and then work later on at night. It doesn’t feel too rigid – you don’t have to work from nine in the morning until six in the evening, you can just make up the same hours.
How long does it take to reach your studio in the morning and what mode of transport do you use?
About 20 seconds. I walk.
Do you ever find work takes a back seat to valuable conflicting interests like going back to bed, watering the plants or staring out the window?
No. You work out what you need to do and then you just fit that in to the day you’ve got planned. It’s not like someone’s forcing you to start at nine and you have to wait your time if you want to do something else. If you’ve got other things to do, like grocery shopping, you can do that in the morning and work a bit later at night.
Do you ever feel slightly cut off from the rest of the world or is that an advantage in your line of work?
I would say a bit of both. I used to work in town in a large photo lab and I was used to having other people around and it’s a bit of a shock when you start doing it on your own. It’s a lot quieter, which is an advantage in that you can concentrate on what you really want to do. But we’re in a very advantageous position in that our live/work is situated so that it’s a part of the community for the whole street, and it’s brilliant to be part of that. We’ve just had our ‘open studios’, where everyone opens up their working spaces to the public.
What do you miss about the more conventional home/studio divide?
If you’re really busy you don’t feel like you ever really get away. That’s not necessarily a burden if you really enjoy where you’re living, but you can sometimes realise you haven’t been into town for about two weeks because you’ve just been so flat out, so you can get a bit detached. But that’s probably about it, really. Other than that, it’s fantastic.
On what terms would you contemplate a return to the other side?
It would have to be a fantastic pay cheque! I worked full-time until we really got into the live/work thing, and it felt really claustrophobic and counterproductive. It would have to be a lot more flexible in terms of hours and things like that.