I’m a photographer based in Leeds. We are a family of four including my partner George , eldest daughter Isabella and newest daughter Martha.
About the business:
Weddings are my main business. I have also spent a lot of time photographing architecture, structures, industry and abandoned buildings, so I sell prints of those and have had a couple of exhibitions.
I originally hail from Derby, which is further south (or in the south if you ask anyone else up here!) I was born and bred there, but me and Isabella moved up to Leeds 2.5 years ago to live with George. He had a quick crash course in step parenting, at which he got an excellent grade 😉 and Martha came along this year. Soon our entire household bar me will talk with a Yorkshire accent! That is not a bad thing, Yorkshire is definitely now firmly home to me!
About the motivation:
I’ve been doing photography in general for 9/10 years now. I had two very creative siblings, a brother who is an excellent artist and a brother who had an excellent ear for music… It did feel a bit like when the skills were dished out I was missing in action! Until I picked up a camera and it became apparent that my skills lay there! Weddings were initially not something I had even considered, mostly because the pressure/responsibility involved terrified me. I was often asked by friends though, and eventually began to agree to do a wedding here or there! I found out that I absolutely loved it, and the rest is history! The pressure of photographing a wedding is still immense but that’s good to channel into how I work the day now. It’s a actually a real privilege, you are there for the most intimate parts of the day, you get to see all of a couples hard hard work come to fruition, and in the end give them something to remember it all by! It’s a great job to have.
How did you get started?
I have never had any formal training! I started out with a good eye, naturally I moved on to wanting to learn the mechanics of camera’s and how to get the best out of them and create the pictures you want, but I self taught myself all of that side. I think it’s made my style what it is in the end – I don’t think technically when I’m taking pictures so I don’t think formal training would have given me any advantage even if I had it. When I first started doing weddings I was very fortunate to have some friends already in the business and be offered some second shooter jobs. These are a bit of a baptism of fire, but mean that I got to see how a wedding day goes from a photographer’s point of view, and watch another great photographer work. This was invaluable in helping me build up my confidence, and work out what I wanted to do with my own wedding photography.
How do you fit in running a business with having a family?
It is tricky. Both my partner and me are photographers and we both have another job as well, and then the too girls. Wedding days are long days so if I have a wedding it’s always going to be an entire day away from my girls, as I will be out early and home after bed time. I guess we are uniquely lucky in that we can pick which weekends we want to leave open for bookings and which are set aside for family time, so this is what we do, and when either of us has had a photography job we always make sure we do something all together on the alternate weekend day. I think it’s nice though that both girls see us working hard- I think that is as important as having the time to do all the fun things too. I took a year off photography when I was pregnant with Martha, as the days are too long and too much on your feet for a big pregnant lady, and I wanted to be home with her as much as possible when she was smaller!
What has been the biggest challenge since starting your business?
99% of it has been building up a good portfolio and also a reputation, so that people can see the type of images they can expect at their own wedding! You rely a lot on recommendations as well, so it’s often about networking and growing your circle so that this can happen, and as you can imagine with a family time to do this is very limited!
And the best reward/achievement?
One of my favourite moments has actually been with my personal work. I was invited to exhibit at the Whitecloth Gallery in Leeds last year with two other photographers. The exhibit ran for two months, and we got to have our own opening night, which around 100 people came to. It was amazing, and I got to sell all my prints, it’s a great feeling knowing your work is on someone’s wall at home somewhere!
I’ve also been able to photograph weddings for a couple of really good friends who I have known a long time and that feels extra good being there and doing such an important job for them.
What are your business goals for 2017?
Having a year out meant that I wasn’t taking as many weddings on so next years goal is to work on pushing myself out there again and taking more bookings again. I want to find some nice wedding fayres to attend I think and get the chance to meet some more lovely couples.
Are there any barriers to achieving your goals?
I don’t think there is, just need to put in some hard work and keep positive!
Have you built a support network of other mums/women in business?
If so how? If not would you find this helpful?
I have met several other mother photographers over the years, and I also know a lot of Mum Business owners through the wonderful world of instagram. I don’t keep in touch with them all as a specific network, but I definitely talk with them and admire them and use their positivity / creativity to drive my own. I think seeing other Mums doing the business/baby balancing act is very inspirational. (And dads too!)
Any tips for mum’s just starting out in business?
You can definitely do it. Once you are a mum you will always be a mum, but so many other things can define you, you just need to pick what they are.
Fina Jemma at: