by John Baikie Published 01/11/2012
John Baikie walked away from a steady job to indulge his love of photography and he built his career on the back of an original eye for a picture and a desire to move forward and offer something different.
Those who make the best photographers tend to be those who couldn't envisage doing anything else and, in the case of John Baikie, it involved walking away from a steady and safe job to embrace the world of self-employment and the constant challenge to find enough work to pay the bills. For John there was an extra consideration, which was the fact that he was based in the Scottish Highlands, and there was always the danger that there might not be enough work locally to support his business.
"I was very much self-taught as a photographer," he says. "I first started getting serious in 1997 when I bought a basic Minolta SLR and a couple of lenses, and within a year or so I was shooting sports pictures for the local press. This got my name out there and the work started to come in, and then in 2004 I won a competition and was named Highlands and Islands Photographer of the Year. That was the catalyst for me deciding to leave my job and to set up my business full time, and from the outset I knew that I would have to work really hard if I was going to survive on my own."
One of the decisions John made was to seek the support of his fellow professionals, and he joined The Societies as soon as he turned professional. "I immediately benefitted by attending as many seminars as possible," he says, "and this revolutionised what I was doing." He also started to look at the industry qualifications that were available to members, and in 2006 he gained his LSWPP, followed by his ASWPP, both of which challenged him and helped him to move his business on to a higher level.
The next step was to discover a distinctive style that would set him apart from others, and he found this by looking in on himself and building on what he perceived were his unique strengths. "My style of wedding photography draws heavily on a reportage approach," he says, "and some of my most popular images on social media sites are pictures of this type. However, I'm also known for producing dramatic images with saturated skies, and I often include elements of landscape and architecture within my pictures. I'm an emotional persona and I have a good sense of humour as well, and this seems to help people feel relaxed around me, something that is as important as photographic ability in the high-pressure environment of a wedding."
With a look that was uniquely his own John began to actively target clients outside his immediate geographical area and he quickly found himself in great demand all around the country. It's meant a lot of travelling over the years, but he loves this aspect of the job and the chance it gives him to visit new areas and to taste fresh experiences.
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