Welcome to the May 2019 edition of the Career Inspo Blog!
This is a monthly interview with someone who has followed their passion, dreamed big and now has a successful and exciting career. Whether you are searching for your passion or looking for guidance and insight from those in your chosen industry, the Career Inspo blog will have something for everyone. After the success of the 2018 blog, I am so excited to be continuing the interviews through 2019 and I am sure this year’s line up will provide plenty of motivation and inspiration!
This month’s interview is with Katie Ellul, People Photographer and owner of Katie Ellul Photography. Katie has been running her business for around two and a half years, specialising in wedding and family photography and is now expanding by moving into Personal Branding and headshots; Katie is the talented lady behind my new branding photos which I am excited to be sharing soon!
Sarah Ellis: Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed for the Career Inspo Blog! Please can you start by providing a summary of your business and what you do:
Katie Ellul: I’m a London based People Photographer covering family and wedding photography. I love to capture colourful, emotion packed images showing connection between loved ones. My zeal for story telling and highlighting the unnoticed, makes me love what I do.
I am currently building upon my business with my Personal Branding Photography and Headshot sessions for colourful creative entrepreneurs. As a creative entrepreneur I know how important it is to be the face of my business, after all I am what makes my business unique. Knowing this I want to provide creative entrepreneurs (whether they are coaches, yoga teachers, artists, landscape gardeners), with imagery which they can use to promote their business and attract their ideal client!
KE: I’m the old cliché of “mum with a camera”. When I had my first child, I would obsessively take photos of her; while she slept, ate, walked, played, laughed. There wasn’t anything I didn’t snap! Then I started to take some pictures for family and friends and it started to dawn on me that I could make this hobby a business. When I fell pregnant with my second child, I began to make a business plan, researched legal aspects to running a business; began drafting policies, terms and conditions. I went on training days and did some online courses. Then when I had to make the decision whether to return to work or jump ship, I grabbed my arm bands and took the plunge!
SE: What was your route into this career and what training have you done?
KE: Before becoming a Primary School Teacher, I was an art student. I studied art for 4 years specialising in painting, but in that time I learnt about photography. Back then we were using film and editing and processing our images in dark rooms. I don’t work with film now; everything is digital – from the camera, to the editing, to the developing. Yecky Peck! Even the means of sending the images to clients is all digital! But the understanding of light, colour, perspective and composition learnt at university has given me the sturdy foundation in what I do now!
SE: What are your favourite things about what you do?
KE: People!! That’s the short answer. I love working with people. As a People Photographer I love to observe interactions and capture those subtle moments which would go unnoticed. I’m essentially documenting a moment in time which will be looked upon decades from now. Those memories are there to live on in the lives of my clients and their families. Those images are for their children, and children’s children. That’s a very special aspect of what I do and why I love to do it.
I too love the creative process. Capturing that “Wow” image, searching for the best light, editing an image so that it POPS and sings. Since running my own business I have even learnt how to create, manage and run my own website. It’s an area of creativity I would have never ventured down, but for those who are entrepreneurs, you know that you need to wear many hats and be able to turn your hand to anything. As a business woman, I am the technician, the manager and the entrepreneur, who has vision for my business to drive it forward.
SE: What have been your biggest challenges/learning curves? And what reignites your passion on the tough days?
KE: I would say that for those in the People Photography industry, loneliness is a great challenge. I have come from a career where I was surrounded with people with whom I could bounce ideas off and discuss difficult situations with, to now where I am working solely on my own. It’s a great change and it can be challenging at times. But to overcome these challenges I have become a member of a couple of private Facebook groups where like minded entrepreneurs and photographers can share ideas, experiences and gain help and support from each other. I too love listening to the weekly podcast Shoot Edit Chat Repeat for People Photographers and Creatives, this has been truly game changing for me and my business. Equally, being part of The Business Meet Up Duo where friend, Sarah Ellis and I meet in person on a monthly basis to catch up, chat, share ideas, challenges and progress. This has been fantastic and most beneficial. Having that other person outside of your industry is a key factor to seeing where and how to move forward in your business. Plus it’s just nice to have someone who actually understands.
KE: Falling down a hill while on a family photo shoot! That got a lot of laughs and some great expressions caught on camera! But on a serious note, I would say that understanding that progress is progress. My business is slowly building and growing into a business I am proud of. My SEO for my website has been a real focus for me and I can now celebrate that I am at the top of page one for key words: family photographer and wedding photographer in my area and adjoining areas. I’m aiming now to spread the love to other areas and then work on other areas including counties, then cities, the world, then at last the universe!
SE: What key strengths do you have that make you great at what you do?
KE: The obvious thing to say is having strengths in creativity and teaching, since coming from a creative back ground and a teaching back ground; namely creating beautiful imagery for my clients and working with/relating to children and adults. I’d like to think that my ability to connect with clients helps with being a People Photographer, where I can direct them to feel comfortable in front of the lens. !
SE: Do you have a role model/mentor? If so, what have you learnt from them that has helped you in your business?
KE: I don’t currently have a mentor, although I think it’s worth its weight in gold to have one. When I started out my career as a people photographer I got in touch with Deryck Sealy of London Business Partnership Limited who also works on behalf of Mentoring Harrow/Harrow Work Hub. He was the person who gave me the tools and confidence to jump ship and start up Katie Ellul Photography. I’d also say several other photographers in my industry have really helped me in my business with support, knowledge and insight, namely Nina Mace, Eddie Judd and Vicki Knights. These ladies are fantastic photographers and excellent business women. Girl Power!! !
SE: What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
KE: If you are someone who is looking to become a photographer or a creative entrepreneur then I would say you need to know your craft. Work at it until you sleep, eat and breathe it. Then find a community with whom you can find support, information, and share ideas. Finally never stop learning. It’s really important to continue to invest in yourself. Make sure you have up to date knowledge in your field.
SE: What are the top 3 things to consider when choosing and pursuing a meaningful and exciting career?
KE: The first thing to consider when choosing and running a meaningful and exciting business is, to love it. If you do not love what you do or what you’re selling then how are your clients meant to love your services or products?
Secondly invest in yourself: learn, learn and learn some more. You can never know enough. It’s essential to continue to develop your skill set and knowledge. Remember knowledge allows you to be in the know and with that knowledge breeds confidence. And your clients will want someone who is confident about their service and products. Would you buy a car from someone who didn’t show condense in their vehicle? Nope, neither would I.
Thirdly is time management. It is easy to continually work at something which you love. But it is important to manage your time wisely. Burnout is one key factor to a failing startup business. Manage your time by scheduling your time into chunks. I do this using a simple system in my diary.
I select my 3 priorities for the week and number them 1-3. I then choose 3 more jobs and asterix them in order of priority. The asterix jobs are there if I complete my 3 priority jobs.
I take my priority job list, add the tasks to my weekly planner and give myself a time frame to do the task e.g. 10am-11am. I may not complete the task but I’ve made a start on it which then gives me incentive to complete it at the next sitting.
I plan all this on a Sunday afternoon, when I also plan my weekly meal list. What can I say, I love a list! This way works for me, try it and see if it too can work for you. If it does I’d love to hear if it’s helped you.