My 20 Year Photography Career - Part Two

As it's my 20th anniversary in professional photography, I've been looking back on my career.

In April 1999 I started working for Michelle Fowler Photography as a portrait, wedding and schools photographer. Michelle's studio in Morpeth was bigger than I was used to so it was a pleasure to photograph there.

At first I assisted with schools. Setting up the lights, tidying children and learning until I starting photographing schools and playgroups on my own. Early mornings as schools usually like you to start either at 9am or 8.30am to get the pre-school siblings done. That meant arriving at 8am to start setting up. I always remember the lovely drives in the early morning, autumnal Northumberland countryside to get to some of the schools.

I also assisted with portraits and weddings to see how Michelle worked. Even though I had experience, it was essential to maintain a similar style. I quickly started doing portraits - families and babies - and small weddings on my own. Although I had the luxury of an assistant at every wedding. We did the Cherubs scheme through the MPA so I've photographed a lot of babies during the years! It was mainly children and families - although I did once photograph a cat...and a horse. The horse was on location, we would never have got it up the stairs at the studio!

I also carried on with the photoshop skills. In the days of film, there were also slides to prepare for viewings and negatives to prepare for ordering at the lab. I also put the orders together.

During my time with Michelle, I joined the Master Photographer's Association and gained a Licentiate in about 2000/2001. I have a copy of the certificate but can't remember where it is! Must dig it out. The MPA Northern Region used to hold annual awards which I first entered in 2001. I entered again in 2002 and won my first portrait award! Unbelievably I won for the second year running in 2003.

First portrait award

In 2007 I took maternity leave to have our son, and went back to work part time. I went back three days a week which worked fine for a while. Inevitably, things change and I wasn't happy any more. I resigned just before our son was about to start playgroup in 2009. I'd been there for 10 years so self employment felt a little daunting. Find out how I've got on in a couple of weeks time.

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