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I Want To Break Free! - part 1 of 1 2 3 4

Published 01/12/2013

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You want to use your photography to start a business, full- or part-time, but how do you go about it? So many ifs and buts. But what if you could plug in to a photographer who has been there, made the mistakes, and built a large studio business, and then tap in to all his tried and tested knowledge?

In this series of articles, I will cover all aspects of running a portrait studio bringing together what we know works after 23 years in the business.

No theory - just practical advice with the pitfalls to avoid.

A Little Bit About Me

Almost exactly 25 years ago I left Barclays near Brighton, where I was a manager, to become a photographer. Nothing wrong with Barclays, I was just desperate to make my own way. I used to play the Queen track on my drive back home from the bank, sometimes nearly in tears of frustration!

How Do I Make The Move?

We had two children and a lovely house near Eastbourne and I needed to find a way. That came from the most unexpected source: a client came in to my bank wanting to borrow money to buy a house in Chester and I was staggered by how cheap it was compared to the same style of semi in Brighton. Could I use that differential to release equity to move and live my dream?


The answer was YES so we took the plunge. In September 1988 I left the bank, sold up our house and moved to just over the Welsh border outside Chester and looked around for business.

I promptly fell flat on my face!

I had been so desperate to make the change that I hadn't done the proper research and quickly found that in the area of calendar photography, where I wanted to specialise, the buyers all liked the pictures I was producing but weren't prepared to commission someone who hadn't run an overseas shoot before. Catch 22! For 18 months I lost money hand over fist as I tried different things, all of which didn't work..

Then I met a successful portrait and wedding photographer who was also a trainer, Alan Lord, who took me under his wing and showed me the right way to make money quickly by building a successful portrait business. We were entering a recession and the calendar market was declining, even for the established glamour photographers out there.
vWe opened our doors as Cavendish Studios in June 1990 and in the first week sold £1,713 in family portraits! Then £108,000 in the first year - I


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1st Published 01/12/2013
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