Lauren McWilliams decided to go freelance over two years ago. She then started her Newcastle-based business, For You Photography, specialising in branding and marketing. Through her brand, she now spends her days working hard to provide visibility to the North East’s creative businesses, which helps them to attract lots of great customers.
Lauren is a talented, self-taught photographer and decided to pursue this career after her previous work was taking its toll on her mental health. It’s clear that she doesn’t regret this decision one bit, though, as she’s been passionate about photography for a long time.
Here at Listed, there’s nothing we love more than talking to the region’s talented female entrepreneurs. We spoke to Lauren, who told us more about setting up her own business, what her weekly schedule looks like and the recent shoots she’s done. We even asked for her tips on getting started in photography and the equipment that beginners should use.
What inspired you to set up your own photography business?
LM – Photography was always something I loved, from seeing old family photos to getting my first camera and being able to capture the world the way I wanted to see it. Every trip, every holiday, I brought my camera along with me. It wasn’t until I got my first DSLR and took it to family and friends’ events that I thought about it as a career choice. A friend asked me to capture their wedding but I hadn’t even considered photography as a potential career option at that point, I just did it for fun. I loved capturing people’s emotions. I was having a hard time in my career and photography was my escape. I eventually burned out and decided to give it a go, so I built my portfolio up and then looked at how to start my own business!
What attracted you to branding and marketing photography?
LM – I photographed weddings, pets, and families but they didn’t give me much joy. They were nice but it just didn’t make me spark. I was recommended to a few businesses and because I related to their challenges and experiences as business owners, I fell in love. A lot of my inspiration comes from photographers in Canada and Australia. They were working with brands and I thought I could do this in the UK! I then started learning more and more about marketing and that really boosted my offering. Branding and marketing complement each other really well.
As a photographer, what does your typical weekly schedule look like?
LM – For me, a lot of my time is spent on social media sharing what I’ve been up to, what goes on behind the scenes, and showcasing my work and clients. The rest of the week involves photoshoots, editing, networking, calls with collaborators and clients, creating content, researching, and, finally, learning more! I never stop learning as it helps me to help my clients. No two days are the same, which is what I love the most about my job.
Can you give a few examples of the recent shoots you’ve done?
LM – My most recent shoots have been with an artist capturing some images for a PR shoot showing the behind-the-scenes and the artist’s new studio. Then on to a boutique in Gosforth, Newcastle. We were capturing the team, boutique and their autumn collection.
What are the main pieces of advice you would have for aspiring photographers?
LM – Practice makes perfect. You can invest in courses and this will help you to become more technical, but photography is an art. You have to find your own style. It might even change over the years, but the only way you will get better is to practice. Surround yourself with things and people that inspire you to challenge yourself and keep on learning.
What camera brands and equipment would you recommend to those starting out?
LM – With photography, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all. I personally use canon and love it. Does it make me a better photographer? I don’t think so. I recommend that you start with your phone or a cheap camera to practice and then upgrade. If you’re doing it for a hobby then you don’t need the best equipment that money can buy. You just need the basic tools to start taking photos and the rest you can learn along the way. As for lenses, it all depends on what you want to photograph. I started with a cheap canon and kit lens, I then bought a wide-angle and zoom. These were all so helpful for learning in different styles, from events with the zoom to architecture with the wide-angled lens.