Over A Decade
Am I Finally Where I Want To Be?
6th June 2017
My first official photographer role started in 2006. I was working as a mobile photographer, setting up a mini studio in local shops for a week at a time. I had a van, travelled all over Wales and parts of England and I loved it. I remember vividly wishing with all I had, that I would get the job when I applied for it and feeling so excited when I did.
Two and a half years later I went onto manage a permanent studio in Cwmbran town centre. There was no more travelling. I could even walk to work. The studio was teeny!
Looking back I have no clue how I used to cope. I was there for over two years until the business, unfortunately, went into administration.
By this time I was newly married and a few weeks pregnant with my daughter. I was feeling rather concerned about what the future would hold for me and my new family.
I managed to find a retail job to keep me going until it was time to have my beautiful baby girl.
So as soon as Isla was born I got to spend 6 uninterrupted magical months with her. As I love photography and had always dabbled on my own before working as a photographer officially, I decided to take the plunge and start my own business. I had my first job on the day Isla turned 6 months old (an easy way to remember my business start date!) As studio photography was all I really knew and what I was good at, I started out by hiring a local studio as and when I needed it, this lasted nearly a year.
Unfortunately, in this time my marriage broke down and we separated. It was a tough time and I did wonder if all the hours I put into being a mum and starting a business from scratch may have had something to do with it. But we aren’t here to dwell on the past! All parties are happy and Isla gets to have parents who get on well and work as a team still, even though the team isn't officially together anymore.
When myself and Isla were all settled in our new place just down the road from her Dad’s, I found that suddenly I was able to have some help, that as a married woman I wouldn't have been able to get. Sad but true, and quite frankly, a life saver!
There was a room advertised in a building with a few other businesses locally. I went to view it and although I didn't have a clue how I was going to cope, and if I would even be able to afford it, I signed the contract and ended up staying there for a year and very quickly outgrowing it. I had a slightly better camera than I started with, still not nearly as good as I would have liked, and I had bought some very basic studio lights. Here I got to be creative. I had all these ideas and my small studio was full to the rafters with props and backgrounds.
The Old Studio
In March 2015 I opened my first real studio. It is three storeys tall. Huge!
More expensive than I should really have gone for but why not risk it??
I didn't have any money to kit it out as I wanted, but over two years it grew, as did my skills, staff members and prop collection, and in February 2017 I decided it was time that I finally made my studio my dream studio.
The New Studio- Before My Re-brand
The rebrand was a scary move, but one I felt deep within me that I was being called upon to make. It may sound cheesy, it may be nonsense to many of you, but to me, everything I have done and achieved in the last 11 years of photography and life, have been leading to this point. It hasn't been easy by any stretch of the word. But I remind myself daily of where I have come from and how much I have grown along the way. My photography in the early days literally makes me want to cover my eyes and look away. I have no clue how anyone came back to me. But I know that we all start somewhere, and I think it wasn't just my photography and my use of props and the ability to always try and keep it fresh and on trend. It was for me. People liked me and how I was with their children.
I am of course still like this and do 100% still want that to be part of the reason people come to me. But now I have an extra skill under my belt..... I can take amazing photographs.
This may sound incredibly big-headed and anyone that knows me will know that's far from what I am.
But even I am proud of how far I have come.
My passion for constantly trying to better myself and learning all that I can in my own way means that the business now has so much more to offer. I have the wonderful Jemma working with me too. Having staff to pay is terrifying and I have had a few different helpers throughout the last two years but Jemma is the first official member who I fully pay - all by myself! Arg!!
The New Studio- After The Re-brand
Together we have worked tirelessly to create this rebrand and gut the studio and practically start again. There have been some amazing friends who I wouldn't have been able to do anything at all without their help, especially my bestie! It’s at times of great stress and worry that your friends and family have to remind you constantly that you're doing the right thing. I have worked as a paid photographer for the past 11+ years. Working for others, then for myself. All hours of the day and night.
Raised a happy, healthy, loved, beautiful 5 year old along every step of my entrepreneurial journey, and for the last four years, I have been doing it on my own*
*I’ve been lucky to have had help as Isla is with her Dad twice a week, and able to be collected or looked after extra if and when it's needed. It has meant that on my child free evenings and weekends I can work. Not much in the way of a day off but whoever has one of them with a child and a business!! Good job I love what I do.
My brain is constantly buzzing with new ideas and things I want to try and create for my clients. I’m so grateful that I get to do what I love for a living and that my passion captures timeless memories forever.
I truly believe that the art of photography is like a super power. I get to freeze time on a moment, make people relive the thoughts and feelings from that moment again and again. I can even make grown men cry. (Tears of joy, don't worry I’m a good superhero!)
The Rebranded Studio
All of this being said. Am I finally where I want to be?
The answer is - No.
As a creative type, I will always be trying to better myself and better my skills. There will always be some new trend to keep up with, and new skills to learn. I wonder if I’ll look back to now in another decade, and cover my eyes at my photography skills?
But that's all part of the fun. The learning and the growing and the constant evolving.
The rebrand meant some big changes to my business and the way it runs, but with over a decade in this line of work under my belt, I think it was about time.