This is my interview with Jane Mucklow – a Sevenoaks and West Kent based photographer who takes beautiful landscape and flower photographs which are great for brightening up your wall or giving as gifts. She also does corporate profile headshots and product and marketing commercial photography. So if you’re looking for some beautiful art for home, or need some pictures for your business, do go and check out her website. Here we talk about what it’s like to be a photographer and run a creative business, and she offers great advice for others who would like to do something similar:
Please tell me an overview of your business – what do you do?
I love to capture the beauty I see around me in our lovely local landscapes (or wherever I go), from big wide-angle views down to close-ups of flowers, and anything in between. If I can get flowers into a landscape I’m extra happy! We have lavender farms, poppy fields and lots of bluebells near here which are always an amazing colour. I sell my photos as prints, canvases, greetings cards and calendars, through my website and at local fairs and markets, as I love it when someone wants one of my images enough to hang a copy on their wall to enjoy everyday….
How did you start?
I’ve always loved taking photographs, and when I ended up working in a picture library after university, selling other people’s photos, I realised that I wanted to be the one taking them. So I did evening classes, and then took photographs for other companies before setting up my website during my first maternity leave nine years ago. I learnt with film cameras, but have taught myself digital and using Photoshop.
How has your business grown and what are your plans for the future?
It’s now almost two and a half years since I really started trying to turn my hobby into a business, and it has been steadily growing since then. I joined a calendar scheme last summer, and the 2016 calendars did really well, so I am expanding the areas I’m covering with these this year, and looking for more stockists for these along with my greetings cards. Through seeing other business women’s needs at local networking meetings I have attended, I now offer headshots, product shots and other marketing images to help other local businesses improve their online presence, and I enjoy the variety this work brings.
What is your favourite thing about your work?
I love working for myself – it would be very hard to go back and work for an employer again now! I love going out on my own with my camera, going for a peaceful wander in the countryside without any children getting in the way! But it’s also great that I can take my camera on a family day out and still take photos then too; neither of these feel like ‘work’!
What inspires you?
The beautiful countryside all around where I live. Browsing other photographers’ work. Hearing others speak about their business successes – I’ve been fortunate to have had a place on a free course run by Kent County Council for the last six months, for local women running their own businesses, which has really helped improve my confidence as well as greatly adding to my social media knowledge in order to market myself and my work. It included the chance to listen to several inspiring business women talk about their successes and give us their tips.
Do you have a favourite photographer or artist you admire, and why?
There are large numbers of amazing photographers out there, and it’s difficult to narrow that down, but here are a few whose work I follow and admire… Clive Nichols for garden photography, Jacky Parker and Alison Staite for flower photography, and Charlie Waite, Joe Cornish and Phil Norton for landscapes. They all just create stunning images that I would love to be able to make too. I also love looking at entries for the International Garden Photographer of the Year or Landscape Photographer of the year, and wishing I could enter. Maybe one day!
Have you had any challenges to overcome?
It has been a huge challenge learning how to run my business, and actually running it, in between looking after three small children and a house, garden, and everything else that needs my attention! I’ve loved it though!
Any advice for anyone wanting to become a photographer?
Practice, practice, practice! Keep learning and aiming to improve.
Any advice for anyone wanting to start a craft business generally?
Be prepared for hard work. But if you love what you do, that shines through what you create, and gets you through any harder moments! Get out and meet people at networking groups or craft fairs etc so you’re not just working at home on your own. Be nice and helpful. Know what you’re aiming for and little steps will get you there. And get to know your ideal customer, so you can target your marketing to them.
Where can we find you in person?
If you’re anywhere near west Kent, I have a stall at the Sevenoaks Farmer’s Market this summer, 4th Sunday of the month April to September (not August), 9.30-12.30. I will be at the Keep It Local craft fair at Coolings Garden Centre, Knockholt, on Friday 16th September, and Friday 2nd/Sunday 4th December. Plus a few local school fairs etc. There’s an up to date list on my website on the Contact Me page.
Where can we find you online?
Website – www.janemucklowphotography.co.uk
Facebook – fb/JaneMucklowPhotography
Pinterest – Jane Mucklow Photography