My Photography Business – What I’ve learnt in the past six years

Dec 5, 2022

Six years of running my own photography business in Chesterfield. Happy Anniversa-birthday to me!

I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve learnt along the way, and why I’m so ecstatic that I’ve been shortlisted for a very special National award.

December 5th 2016

Ah, those simple days when I took good photos of local kids, edited them, got paid, posted them on Facebook, got another booking……..

It all goes so well in the beginning. No disrespect to my 2016 self, but little did I know that this was such a small part of what it takes to run a small business on your own. Once I’d photographed my friends and my friend’s friends, what then? 

What do I really want?

What I learnt really early on was that there was no point in being the same as everyone else. As a creative you can’t be everything to everyone. I needed to be true to my own style and personality. 

So I set out to create a high end photography experience for families. Somewhere that I’d be proud to book for my own family.

Please don’t confuse the term ‘high end’ with overly expensive. That’s not it at all.

What I absolutely love is that families book me again and again, year after year. For that it needed to be a price point which matched the high quality of service.

“Helen has been taking our family photos for 7 years and we return year after year to keep the family album up to date. She’s excellent at putting you at ease and knowing the right locations and lighting. She deserves all the rewards she achieves. Highly recommended.”

What I create for my customers

I spent the first couple of years really learning as much as I could about portrait photography. Looking at amazing images, and questioning how it could be done. I practiced, tried new things, and carved a niche for myself for high quality, creative images.

My photograph skills continue to build year on year as I become more experienced, but the technical aspects are second nature to me now, and I don’t really think too much about the camera.

This is what I’ve learnt about my photography business

Research + connection + relaxed people having fun + time + photography skill = Fantastic photos.

I’m not a photography technician. I am a personable portrait photographer for the modern family. 

  • I create beautiful images which capture the spark of personality that you recognise in your kids. 
  • Images of a mother with her new baby with so much love in her eyes that they jump out of the paper. 
  • Images of business owners showing their customers who they are and what they do.

“We recently had a newborn shoot at Helen’s beautiful studio. Her communication ahead of this was brilliant and she took the time to get to know us and the types of images we hoped to create and display in our home. She also offered guidance on clothing and style, which was much needed!”We recently had a newborn shoot at Helen’s beautiful studio. Her communication ahead of this was brilliant and she took the time to get to know us and the types of images we hoped to create and display in our home. She also offered guidance on clothing and style, which was much needed!

The day of the shoot Helen created a wonderfully calm atmosphere. She is professional, yet friendly and patient and helped us all feel at ease. The session was a truly lovely experience, even for my husband who was a little apprehensive. She captured our little family perfectly, including our dog! We are absolutely blown away with the incredible images. We will treasure them forever and are so glad she captured these precious moments in time.

Thank you so much!

My Job Roles

For anyone thinking of pursuing their own photography business. I’ve put together a list of responsibilities (I’m sure there are more).

They are in order from most to least hours per month

  • Adobe expert (Photoshop/Lightroom)
  • Marketing manager
  • Communications
  • Sales
  • Photographer
  • Product ordering 
  • Graphic designer
  • Researcher
  • Packaging/posting/delivering
  • Location scout
  • Web designer
  • Accountant
  • Prop buyer
  • Studio cleaner

What’s been new in 2022

I’ve been developing the Personal Branding side of my photography business this year. Creating a new stand along Instagram account for business photography, and taking images for more than 30 female led brands this year. I’ve got lots booked in for early 2023, and I’m really excited about how strong this side of my business is becoming. I am really loving photographing women, alongside my newborn and family clients.

I really am the best boss I’ve ever had! 

I’ve never worked anywhere so tough but the rewards are beyond incredible.

The happiness on families faces when they see the images is everything to me.

The reviews that people leave, where they really talk about the emotion makes me so happy.

And those shoots, where we create something unique and magical makes me so giddy I can’t sleep!

What’s the big deal about the Muddy Stiletto Award?

In the summer of 2022 I got an email from the Muddy Stiletto awards to tell me that I’d been voted by the public as the Best Photographer in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire!

I was absolutely elated. What a huge honour!

Then in November 2022, out of the blue I got an email saying this – 

“Over the last few months, across 28 counties, the Muddy Stilettos editors have been selecting the ‘Best of the Best’ from the regional Muddy Award winners to put forward to our inaugural Muddy Stilettos National Awards Finals 2022”.

“You have made it into the TOP 5 BEST PHOTOGRAPHER, making you one of the best in the whole country as announced today on the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2022 website. We’re thrilled for you.”

What an end to the year!

After an incredibly busy year, I am so proud that I’ve been able to continue to build a business that I love, and that other people love too.

Being shortlisted for a national award like this isn’t something that I could have even imagined. The ultimate winner is being chosen on December 14th. 

No matter what happens next, I’ll always have this.

Muddy Stilettos ‘Best of the Best’ Top 5 National Finalist 2022


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