It’s been a long time coming but I’ve been meaning to share this lovely interview with the fabulous Rachel from Rachel Joyce Photography for some time now. She kindly agreed to be involved almost a year ago so, Rachel, I am so sorry it’s taken me this long!
Rachel is an amazing wedding photographer based in Lancashire, UK and an extraordinary business woman too. Her knowledge of marketing is inspiring and she is the best example of what it’s like to be a creative business owner that I can think of. I love her realism too, especially with fellow photographers!
But enough rambling on. Let’s get to the interview and you can see for yourselves!
Hey Rachel, welcome to Heart Lines! So, start from the beginning – tell us what you do and how you got into photography!
Hello! I’m a wedding photographer based in Lancashire. I got into photography about 7 years ago when I was expecting my daughter. We bought a proper camera and of course didn’t know how to use it. Now I’m a full-time wedding photographer, shooting around 40 weddings per year. (All the images below are by Rachel, shared with her permission!)
Are you a self-taught photographer, or what photography qualifications do you hold? Do you think qualifications are a necessary part of being a professional photographer? And why?
I attended an evening course at a local college which taught me the basics but aside from that I’m self taught. I might be biased because I don’t have any but I really don’t think that qualifications are needed to make you a professional or more importantly a successful photographer. A lot of what I learnt in my real life very non-photography related day job came in handy when the time came for me to set up my own business.
How did you find the experience of setting up your own photography business? And if you could do it all again, what would you do differently this time?
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to work for myself. So when I fell into photography and realised I wasn’t completely terrible at it, it wasn’t long before I decided to establish a photography business.
The first year was lonesome and I had literally no idea what I ‘should’ be doing. I didn’t know any other photographers and I definitely wasn’t confident enough to approach strangers and ask for help. It was hard work, frustrating and there were lots of things that went wrong – but actually I loved it. I was super excited to be doing something for myself and when I was able to leave the day job after one year in business, I was incredibly proud of myself. I don’t regret jumping in the deep-end or going it alone – it taught me that there’s definitely not a single right way to do things. But if I was to do it all over again I would start out by trying to make some connections earlier on. Having a network has been invaluable.
How does a typical day look for you?
The thing that I love about being self-employed is that most of my days can look pretty much how I like! I normally start with a dog walk after the school run before sitting down to do some editing or marketing work. I clock off at about 3pm to pick the kiddos up and spend some time with them. A few nights a week I’ll work in the evenings on my laptop too. But I love that I can head out for lunch with friends or pop out for some shopping when needed – or even sneak into the garden in the sunshine for some reading without feeling any guilt!
Where or who do you look to for inspiration and motivation?
Quite a while ago I realised that overloading on other peoples work was actually affecting my self-confidence. So I don’t follow very many photographers at all. My Instagram is for business – I post on there but I also follow other photographers on there. When I feel like looking at other people’s work I can go and have a look. But when I’m having a crisis of confidence I can easily avoid it too. Comparison is a killer.
Motivation on the other hand I’m all for! For motivation I’m a big goal setter – I love sitting down at the beginning of the year and setting my goals and I usually do this on a smaller scale at the beginning of each month. It really gives me a kick up the bum. I think it’s important to include goals like income goals or number of weddings but equally important to have some lifestyle goals too – because what’s the point of doing all this business malarky if it doesn’t give you a life you enjoy? My annual goals list always includes holidays, time off with the family and number of books to read!
What advice would you give for anyone looking to pursue a similar lifestyle and career?
Concentrate on running a business rather than being an artist. There are so many amazing photographers out there to aspire to but you’d be surprised at how many of them are struggling to make ends meet. I knew I never wanted to be a ‘starving artist’ type. Be realistic – work out how much income you need to earn to pay the bills – work out what your costs of doing business are. Work out realistically from there what you need to charge and then market to that group of people.
What do you wish you’d known before starting out on this path that you know now?
That I didn’t have to say yes to everything. I started out trying to shoot everything for everyone. That meant I spent at least the first two years of business shooting weddings that were not my ideal clients. The more specific you are about who you want to work with, the easier you’ll find it to attract them.
What do you love most about your business?
That I’ve built a business that offers me financial security whilst doing something that really is very lovely! I LOVE waking up on a Monday morning and feeling smug that I don’t need to go into the office.
And what’s the worst thing about it?
It’s very easy to fall into being ‘busy’ all the time. Taking time off when you are your own boss isn’t always easy.
Finally, where can we find you? Feel free to include as many links as you like!
I love Rachel’s straight-talking approach to running a photography business. So many photographers talk about it from the ‘art’ perspective, or the creative aspect but Rachel is right when she says that it’s important to set goals and think of your business in terms of meeting those goals and your costs of doing business, in order to actually make something for yourselves!
Great advice Rachel, and thank you so much for taking part in this interview series!