by Charlotte Moss Published 01/08/2014
When Claire Hill's job in the city relocated she found herself suddenly having a five-and-a-half hour commute on her hands every day. Claire knew she had to do something to get her free time back and as she had been into photography since her teens it seemed like the obvious answer. It took seven years of hard work to get to the stage where she could leave her city career and rely solely on her photography for her income.
Claire believes that her previous career as an aviation insurance broker has contributed in no small wat to the success of her photography business. 'When you go into photography it's not just about taking photographs. You have to have a varied skillset in order to be successful.' It is certainly not uncommon to meet photographers for whom this is their second career, but what skills did Claire find herself using in her new career choice? 'When I was working in London I was dealing with clients all over the world, so communicating with them in a professional way and with a good ethos is essential. I believe that when you communicate with people as a business you should use good spelling and grammar, because those things will make a first impression before they've even seen a single image that you've produced.' Constantly being professional does encourage people to have trust in you and it certainly helps Claire attract the kind of clients that she wants to photograph, clients who are willing to pay that little bit more for a premium service.
The focus of Claire's business is weddings and studio portraits. 'The weddings are most of my work, but I enjoy the diversity that comes with having a studio.' Searching outside of the usual subjects can really create some variety and challenges for a photographer and Claire found that with actors. 'I do lots of actor headshots now. It's great because you have specific briefs with what they want to portray and I really enjoy trying to get the shots that will help them win roles. I've built up some long-term relationships with some of the actors I photograph so seeing them be successful and getting exciting acting jobs is just absolutely brilliant.'
To add even more variety to her business Claire also has a long-term relationship with a wedding-dress designer. 'I've been collaborating with Emma Tindley since early 2011 and we have such a great partnership.
Her dresses are just stunning and we've really evolved the look of her brand together to where it is now.' Emma has won the designer of the year award for the wedding industry with her beautiful dresses and has also been featured in numerous magazines, which is all great promotion for Claire's photography.
'Getting to know the editors of various wedding magazines has been a great opportunity for me, and now they deal direct with me when they want images that feature Emma's garments. We also make referrals to each other which is good for business, but our friendship is definitely the best thing to come out of our working relationship.'
Teaming up with other creatives can be a fantastic way to update your portfolio with a range of stunning images. 'Having collaborative relationships with other wedding industry professionals is good because they really understand the work that you put into your craft.' Introducing yourself to other creatives can be a good way to build up relationships for future work together as well as potentially gaining referrals. However, Claire also warns that it's also good not to try to push your way in; 'If a designer already has a collaboration set up with a person or business that they trust, then they won't appreciate someone trying to usurp that partnership. It's not professional and it's not very ethical either.'
Talking about partnerships, Claire is also ahead of the game on the new SWPP and WPPI
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