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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Professional Photographer Column: February 2013


Where are the women photographers?’

Wrote Lilly in the comments box below an article on ’10 Photography Quotes That You Should Know’.  Followed by Tara who said ‘Wow. All men, but for Imogen. That’s a disappointing reflection of the industry and its history. Or a poorly researched piece, because I’m certain there are thousands of amazing women photographers who have “said stuff”.

Adam Scorey is clearly sensitive to the lack of female influence in the industry because he has asked me to write a monthly column for Professional Photographer to help redress the balance.  No pressure then.

Over the coming months I will be chatting about the things that affect all of us in the industry – not just women.  But I guess I should begin with some kind of an introduction.

I’m a prime example of the kind of ‘new’ photographer that winds up the lifers.  It all started as a hobby.  Photography was an antidote for my Groundhog Day existence as a full time mother who left the media world and London to bring up her family.  It brought me back to life and my self esteem back with it.   I don’t regret one day of my 4 years as a full time mother but it took its toll.

I needed to go back to work – financially and mentally – and had a choice to get on the commuter train to London or turn a hobby into a business.  I chose the latter but my husband made it quite clear that I had to make it work because we used savings to finance the start up.   All of this probably sounds very familiar to many people and the question that I know people want answering is how have I created a successful and profitable business in less than 3 years in a recession?

Part of the answer is where I invested the savings and there were three key areas.  1: I enrolled on a respected and proven 12 month long photography business course.  2: I created a real brand and 3: I built a decent, functional website with said brand.   I did not spend the money on camera bodies and glass.  Yet.

I enrolled on Aspire Photography Training’s Bespoke programme with a limited portfolio, no brand or website and pretty basic kit.  What I did have was 10 year’s experience in the world of media – advertising, marketing/sales and branding - as a Client Director.  I ran the budgets, projects and the client relationships. 

Behind this ‘business’ woman was a fine art painter who studied History of Art at degree level.  And a father who gently insisted that I needed to get some business experience before following my heart and artistic instincts.  He was right.  I’m very grateful for this now – not so much at the time.

I spent the first 6 months building my brand.  I’m still amazed how very, very few photographers in this industry have a brand.  Critically I positioned myself from launch as a 9 on a scale out of 10.  I warn you all now that I am a brand bore and there will be more of this in future columns.  

In parallel I was building my website, my portfolio, skill base and then my kit.  I shoot Nikon.  Because my husband brought me my first camera and it was a D80.  I have no interest in discussing the merits of one manufacturer over another once you are using the best professional kit for your market. 

After launching the business in April 2010 I spent 12 months getting established and building critical supplier networks.  Again more of this to come.

By the close of 2012 I have achieved far more in my business then I had ever dreamed of – yet it is young and I have plans!  I have not been lucky.  I have worked incredibly hard and consistently to get to this point.  And my husband now looks after our children, 7 and 5, full time because I could not do what I do without his support.

I want this column to be relevant and inspire others to strive and achieve so please get in touch and tell us what you want to hear from the heart and mind of one of the (many) female photographers in the industry.

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