Last year I was travelling Spain and applied for a social media job in a hostel in Barcelona. The position was to take photos of guests on the day tours and manage the Facebook and Instagram accounts. The next day I received an urgent message from the owner asking if we could have a Skype interview. The interview went well and he asked me if I had any examples online of past photography.

I sent him a link to my travel blog which at the time only had low quality images because as a backpacker I had always chosen small, budget cameras in case I lost or broke them while travelling. He said that the photos were great shots but needed to be better quality so I didn’t think he would choose me for the job.

The next thing I know he pops up on chat asking me to start the following day! It was very last minute but I figured they desperately needed someone for their social media so I booked a last minute flight and headed to Barcelona. As I was at the airport waiting for my flight I thought about the fact that I’d always wanted to step up my photography game and get a professional camera but never had the drive to do it or learn how to use it (all of those modes look so confusing! haha

So I thought to myself, ‘there’s no better time to learn than with this job,’ and bought a Nikon camera!

On my first day working for the hostel, a group of us went out to La Boqueria Market and I took candid, group shots of the backpackers enjoying seafood, drinking freshly-made smoothies and exploring the sites around La Ramblas. One of the hostel guests knew it was my first day with a new camera and had Nikon himself so he taught me a few tricks.

After a week of working at this hostel, I was walking back one afternoon after shooting the hostel guests at the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. I remember smiling to myself and thinking ‘I can’t believe this is my job now, it’s so much fun!’

As I walked into the hostel, I saw a guy about my age talking to all of my co-workers. We often got new volunteer receptionists or cleaners; our hostel offered work for accommodation. So I went over to introduce myself;

‘Hi, I’m Jen! Is this your first day?’

‘Hi, yes it is- I’m the new photographer!’

You can imagine my reaction when I realised that my boss had hired me as a filler-photographer until they found a ‘professional.’

Technically they couldn’t fire me because I hadn’t done anything wrong but over the next week they made me feel extremely uncomfortable the longer I worked there. The situation started with my boss saying ‘It’s fine, we’ve only hired him to be the night photographer so you can still shoot in the day and then can have the night’s off!’

At first I thought this could work and I thought I had the best deal because I could go out at night, (get the free cocktails we get on the pub crawl because we worked there) and not have to worry about taking photos or even bringing my camera out drinking with me.

However, it soon changed to him shooting alternate days to me and eventually working every day. ‘Conveniently,’ my boss said to me that we don’t have any more photography or social media work so I could continue to work there if I did the midnight – 8am night shifts at reception. I didn’t think this was fair so I left.

This may sound like an odd and unfortunate story but the silver lining is that ever since I bought this camera I have enjoyed photography so much more and have even booked paid shoots! Although I mainly travel alone, my camera has become my little travel companion that keeps me company on all of my trips now!

– Antipodean Jen