by James Musselwhite Published
Tell us a little about your background, your first camera and photographic experience and your subsequent emergence as a pro.
I'm James, I studied photography at school and my first camera was a little Prakitca 35 mm camera with a 50mm lens.
After flirting with jobs in food and beverage, retail and finally insurance, I got a break as a trainee photographer with a high street Venture studio. After 6 years I left as Regional Style Director to set up my own home based portrait business, Closer Photography, specialising in newborn and family shoots. In 2014 I set up a creative project titles ’Portrait of a Wrestler’ which led to Fellowships, creative opportunities and a business in its own right.
Photography's the best. At school I got to put a lock on the darkroom which kept the teachers out. For a job it gave me the chance to be creative and learn continuously and now as a business owner, I get to make decisions and fulfil my own individual visions. It's just always been fun.
Film or digital? Is there still a place for silver halide?
There's a place for anything if you find the right niche. But I shoot digital, because I like quick results.
I've always shot Canon since my 16th Birthday. At present I shoot with a 5D, but any full frame will do.
Bit of detail about your own studio set-up/staffing. Why (as a customer) would I choose you?
My studio's a homely environment, it's just easy and comfortable. But you wouldn't choose me because of premises, people buy people, and I'm good at capturing characters.
The problem with professional photographers today is...
A sense of entitlement.
What’s the worst commercial error you have made to date?
Not switching to viewing room sales quickly enough when I went self employed
How did you rectify the mistake?
I purchased a projector, Animoto slideshow & Portrait One viewing software, brought some cakes and I set up a viewing room with what we had
The lessons learnt?
Face to face viewings work and can increase your sales by immeasurably
Is it getting harder or easier to make a decent living?
It just becomes different; every new wave of technology or fad creates a new opportunity. Change is inevitable, progress is optional.
How do you stay ahead of the game?
Try and surround myself with as many young people as possible, whether in person or on line. Talk to other photographers, share ideas and information and always be prepared to adapt.
How do organisations such as The Societies of Photographers help?
Things like the monthly competition allows you to view work from all over the globe of varying standards, but most importantly it gives you a phenomenal platform for new photographic ideas.
Unquestionably the foundation of The Societies is the Annual Convention, the chance to see live judging, meet and listen to people who are experts both within your niche market and from outside. It's so important to soak up knowledge like a sponge and then implement it for your own gains.
Why is The Societies of Photographers Convention such a big deal for photographers?
Because it welcomes photographers of all abilities, all levels, all experiences and all backgrounds to mix and be a community.
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 4 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 22nd January 2020