by Angela Adams Published 01/02/2016
Most of us are aware of the big namesin photography, but what about thejobbing photographer - one who isn'tnecessarily entering competitionsand selling training - but simplyworking hard at their craft to pay the bills. Are theyan endangered species? Has the industry becomedevalued in the digital era, with all camera ownersdeemed photographers by the general public? Or arethe professional photographers diligently workingaway in our towns and villages providing their clientswith great photos? With this in mind I set out todiscover a little more from those at grassroots level,working hard to keep our industry alive and promotinggood practice and providing a professional product.
Nikki Kirk Photography is based in Cheltenham,an incredibly chic, historic spa town which resideswithin the bounds of Gloucestershire. Fringed by theCotswolds and with a population of just over 110,000(at the last census), Nikki has beautifully naturalphotography backdrops on her doorstep, but hugephotographic competition also. This lady, whosemotto is keep calm and sparkle, was happy to shareher business experience over a series of emails.
What motivated you to start in the industry?
My parent's gift of a Kodak Pocket Instamatic in myyouth. Although incredibly basic - I was hooked andprogressed quickly to an SLR. Horses and landscapeswere my initial inspiration, and entering competitionsin Pony magazine, and winning, fuelled the fire. Fromthen on, every family outing saw me with camera inhand, photographing anything and everything whichcaught my interest. I spent all my pocket money ongetting film developed!
Wedding photography came later, when groups ofmy crazy friends started getting married. We were allin our early 20s, and as I was known for always havinga camera with me, I captured documentary imagesof each wedding day - again of elements I foundinteresting. This was in the days before Facebook, sowe'd all get together to look at my prints a month orso later.
A turning point came about eight years ago, again ata friend's wedding, when my pictures were preferredby the family over those taken by the professionalphotographer. This sewed a seed of thought thatmade me think I could train to be a pro too. However,I didn't just set up and say, 'hey world I have a goodcamera, therefore I am a photographer!'
Initially I started by reducing my corporate hours andinterned with a local photographer every Friday forabout six months. Interestingly, this taught me hownot to run a wedding photography business. Over theensuing years I spent hundreds of hours researching,practicing and shadowing other photographersto learn the ropes. I was also blessed with severalfriends who supported my dreams and trusted me toshoot their weddings. My goodness, I was a nervouswreck at those weddings, but the overwhelminglypositive reactions I received were beyond myexpectations. This gave me the creative confidenceI needed to become what we call in the industry, aweekend warrior.
Working weddings in conjunction with full-timeemployment was incredibly hard work, especiallyas I took advice and charged a realistic fee from theoutset - which of course meant there were levelsof service expectation. I often worked 14 hour days,7 days a week, but loved every minute as I couldsoon see my dream becoming reality and my branddeveloping. I continued in this vein until 2012, whenI took the plunge, leaving a very well paid corporatejob, for one that made me excited to go to work everymorning - Nikki Kirk Photography was well and trulyborn.
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