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Kate Hopewell-Smith Profile - You have to be quite tough to be a photographer - part 1 of 1 2 3

by Charlotte Moss Published 01/04/2014

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A break from her career in marketing to have children was the springboard that Kate needed to launch her photography business. 'I always feel for photographers whom I train who are waiting for the right time to leave a career and go it on their own. I think that's quite a hard decision to make. I'm very lucky that it wasn't something I even had to consider,' says Kate.

But success as a photographer didn't come easily. While she was bringing up her children Kate was busy studying with both the Open College of the Arts and Aspire Photography Training in preparation to switch childcare duties with her husband and support her family with photography. 'When I actually launched the business we very quickly swapped roles 100%, and that's where we still are now, three and a bit years later!'

Being a woman in the photography industry doesn't come without a set of challenges of its own, but Kate is quick to point out that many of those same challenges are found elsewhere in other industries too.

'One thing I have realised is that you have to be quite tough,' Kate tells me. 'The photography business is all about confidence and I think that often men are brought up to have more on the surface. The reality is that if you're soft in this business then you will be taken advantage of and right now the market is so saturated that people feel like they have bargaining power.' Taking on a studio manager was one way that Kate has overcome this difficulty: 'I had five years of account director level experience in agencies in London where I spent time negotiating but Becky is great because she sees things from a customer's perspective. She frequently tells me to just say no!'


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Hiring a studio manager has allowed Kate to focus on the tasks that are important to her as a photographer and allowed the business to grow naturally. 'I don't feel any less busy having Becky here, although she works 20 hours a week. But I don't really have to do any administration anymore, she does all of the invoicing and the wedding contracts.' However, there are other fewer tangible benefits to having a studio manager who is not a photographer: 'Becky comes at problems from a bride's point of view, she has a completely different viewpoint to me. It's something I find very helpful in my business. And of course, she's also lovely to have around!

Teaching and training is where Kate has firmly set her sights for the future of her business. 'It surprised me how much l love training other photographers. I didn't initially think I'd go down this route but it came to me rather than the other way around.' Kate believes that she is able to teach others so successfully because she knows photography like the back of her hand. 'The thing for me is that I really do know my technical stuff. But I only know it so that I don't have to worry about it. The cameras we have today enable people to shoot very easily, but it doesn't mean that they are shooting well. I always say to people that there's lots of things you need to know but the main two are understanding light and knowing your camera.'


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1st Published 01/04/2014
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