If you are a designer-maker looking to ‘get serious’ about your business, one of the most important things to do is get the best quality photographs of yourself/your products/your store sorted. But if you’re not naturally a gifted photographer (hello moi), what can you do? Hire Holly Booth, that’s what! I really love sharp, simple pictures , and that’s exactly the photos Holly takes, always putting the product in the spotlight. Meet Holly below as she talks about her very first camera, tips for aspiring photographers, plus a cheeky l’il peek at her workspace. Because my nosiness nose (sorry) no bounds.
Please can you introduce yourself and your work?
Hi I’m Holly and I’m a freelance photographer based in Derby. I specialise in creative, lifestyle product photography, which means I get to work with super talented makers, designers, crafters and independent shops across the UK.
I help my clients to capture the beautiful items they produce in a manner that does them justice. I provide my clients with creative, high-quality and affordable images for their online shops, marketing materials and anything else they might want.
Can you remember the first time you picked up a camera? When you first started shooting for fun, what were you most attracted to?
My Dad has a big interest in photography and I remember admiring the cameras and photographs we had around the house. I can even remember my first camera – it was blue and had a polar bear on it! I actually have an undeveloped film from that camera sat on a shelf in my office.
The first time I remember picking up a camera and taking a real interest in what I was photographing, would’ve been in my early teens. I started off taking photos of nature and landscapes and then moved on to photographing my friends. It all went from there really!
How did you end up specialising in product photography, and particularly working with designer-makers?
I’d dabbled in product photography whilst at university, but it wasn’t until in 2011 when Abigail Warner approached me to photograph Pearl Lowe’s stationery collection that I really took an interest in it. That photoshoot showed me that product photography didn’t have to be boring – it could be styled and include interesting set ups with all manner of props. It was about 18 months ago that I made the decision to really push the product photography side of my business and I’m so glad I did! I feel like I’ve found a niche that my style really suits and I love the people I meet and the products I get to photograph.
Since rebranding earlier this year and launching my new website, which was designed to really show what I can do with my product photography, it’s gone pretty crazy and I’m so overwhelmed at the response I’ve had.
Can you talk me through a ‘typical’ process of working with a new crafty client, from brief to developed photos?
So, it initially starts with an email from the client telling me about what they do, and what they need images for, for instance, their shop or for a magazine. Once a date is in place for the shoot we create a joint Pinterest board (any excuse for a new board!) so we can collate relevant imagery that shows me what styling or set up they’re after. During this part I can help with sourcing any props, backgrounds, locations or a creative team if they want their products shot on a model, for example.
Most of the time the client is present for the photoshoot, but I do also have clients who post their work to me to photograph remotely. After the shoot, I head back to the office to start editing! I send a few sneak previews over – partly because I can’t resist, but mainly to check they’re happy with the editing. The final images are then sent over to the client via Dropbox or on a USB as ready to use high res files.
I still have real trouble with my camera out of auto-mode. In photography, how much do you think can be learnt vs. having a natural understanding and eye for it? What help is there for point and click photographers out there?!
I think you need to have an eye for composition, but people can learn to use their camera through practicing lots or by attending workshops. Nowadays there are so many online tutorials and great workshops run by photographers showing you how to get the most out of your camera.
Where I come in, is that for many makers and designers they are simply too busy to go through the process of learning to use their camera, styling the images, editing them, etc. When you’re self-employed you end up being every part of your business – from the designer to the accountant to the tea maker! It pays to outsource parts of your business to other professionals, plus it’s a great way to network and meet new people.
Do you find yourself styling your home without realising it?
Totally! If you asked my fiancé he’d tell you I’m pretty obsessed with it. Personally I think it’s a good thing as it crosses over into my job when I’m asked to style the set ups on a photoshoot (that’s a good enough excuse, right?)
As my Pinterest home inspiration board shows, I tend to lean towards Scandinavian style, a bit of vintage, and I really like interesting decorative items. I’m also slightly obsessed with anything orange and from the 70s. My Granddad is mostly to blame for this; he had a bright orange living room when I was little and it obviously made a big impression on me!
Can you take a quick snap of your view right now, please? It’s always interesting to see where people work from!
Sure! Here’s my desk looking surprisingly tidy. I do all my admin and editing from here. I recently moved into my own natural light studio that the majority of my shoots now take place in.
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be? Is or has there ever been a Plan B?
Originally I wanted to be a vet, I really love animals and had lots of pets whilst growing up but after finding out you had to go to university for seven years the idea wasn’t so appealing! Art was always a passion of mine and I studied this at GCSE and College, before going on to specialise in photography and completing a degree in Commercial Photography.
Being self-employed there are times when you consider what other job you’d do if you had to give up your current one, but I really can’t imagine doing anything but photography now!
Where and who do you go to for inspiration? Any blogs or other photographers you follow?
I’m totally in awe of the A Beautiful Mess ladies. They are a constant source of inspiration to me when it comes to running my own business and staying creative! (Verity: I also love A beautiful Mess! If you’ve not discovered their blog yet, def. check it out)
Finally, what does the future hold for Holly Booth Photography?
Ooh I’m not sure! Things have moved pretty fast in the past six months what with my rebrand and moving into my new studio. I’d like to keep expanding on my product photography and maybe branch out into doing more lifestyle and food shoots. I’d also like to put more work into my blog and start creating useful content for other self-employed creatives!
I have a big to-do list regarding the business, but it tends to be on the back burner as I’m busy focusing on client work. One of my aims for 2014 is to spend a little more time on developing and improving my business, so we’ll see how that goes!
As you can see, Holly totally ‘gets’ designer-makers, so if you’ve been lost looking for a photographer: look no further! She also takes photos of people/fashion. One day, I would love for Holly to take my photo: I should have at least one nice photo, surely!