Why I chose my job
I got into photography quite late on, but when I picked up a camera it was an instant love affair. I became obsessed and started running around London taking pictures of people to help me develop a style. Photography allowed me to do things I never thought I was capable of and opened so many creative doors.
How I got my job
Towards the end of my degree I was awarded the Photofusion Student Photographer Award, and I met some really interesting people who gave me lots of advice. I then started entering more competitions, hoping that it would get my work seen. In 2007 I won the Jerwood Photography Prize, which helped me make contacts and meant I was being noticed as the exhibition toured the UK. After that, and with real persistence in getting my portfolio seen, I started to land some commissions.
What my job involves
Every day I research new documentary ideas and try to get them commissioned, which is a full-time job in itself as there are so many things to consider. I begin by photographing my potential subjects, as this greatly improves my footage and builds my portfolio. I’m a portrait photographer, but there is also a strong documentary angle in my work.
The greatest skill you can have is to be good with people: being able to relate to and converse with your subjects is very important. Without them, you’re nothing.
Highs and lows
I get a kick out of spending time with so many wonderful and interesting individuals and hearing about their lives. I also love being busy and working on something I love; it’s great to wake up to a fantastic project every day. On the flip side, it’s horrible when I’m between projects – it can be soul-destroying – but it doesn’t usually last too long, thankfully!
Devote as much time as possible to finding your own style. It’s really important that you express something of yourself in your work and include things that say something about you as well as your subject. Contact photographers and filmmakers that you admire: many will be more than happy to meet you and see your work, and that approach definitely worked for me. Keep at it and try not to lose faith, because if you don’t believe in yourself then no one else will.