Why did I become a Photographer?
A little bit of the journey from where I’ve been to where I am at now.
A little bit of the journey from where I’ve been to where I am at now.
Let’s get some semantics out of the way first. You don’t “become” a photographer, just as you don’t “become” a mermaid because you buy a suit with a fishtail, or a become a barber because you buy a set of hair clippers. You decide to act like a mermaid and live the lifestyle (Not sure how that works when going on the daily commute on the Number 57 bus into town though…?) or you decide to set up a business as a photographer or barber.
Not sure about training & qualifications for a mermaid, but barbers, hairdressers, dentists, doctors, bakers etc all have some formal training in the subject. Just as photographers do. Or should do anyway.
I did my formal photography training back in the mid-1990’s when film cameras were around and digital cameras were more or less unheard of. It was run by a pretty well organisation – the British Army and was specifically photography based. Not art, fine art or media with some photography – just 100% photography.
I left the British Army in 2000 and went straight into working as a telecoms consultant and trainer for Ericsson’s on an agency contract. By 2003 I’m running my own business as a management development consultant (business psychology, sales training, leadership training, project management training, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills).
I still do this occasionally for a direct client or two from back then and help out other people I know still working in that field. It’s good to keep a skill set up and keep that CV updated – you just never know what will happen!
Academic and Vocational Qualifications
I have been lucky enough to have been paid to travel all over the world (with the exception of South America & Antarctica) delivering training events / workshops / courses / seminars etc to a wide variety of audiences, from CEO’s down to toilet cleaners. Some were as direct clients, some I was working on associate business on behalf of other companies. Without wanting to brag (which as those of you who do know me, I don’t do very often) I’m bloody good at what I do. I have done 1-1’s small groups, medium groups and the largest group session I did was for 600 people. Just me, on a stage, talking to 600 people about leadership and organisations.
Note I didn’t say training – you can’t train that many people despite what the “rock star” photographers say. All you can do is talk and hope they listen enough that they take something away that they then do some research on and then learn for themselves.
I’d started doing more photography during this time, more of a way of passing the time wandering around new cities than anything else. I had a Canon 450D. Nothing serious – landscapes, cityscapes etc.
That business was going superbly, turnover in excess of £100,000+ until… the banks decided feck up big time back in 2007 / 2008 and go begging to the governments of the world for more money. I had an inkling that was coming from my work in the financial sector. You get a feeling when working so close to senior execs that something isn’t quite right. I wasn’t privy to any real information – just hunches, contracts not being renewed when you expected them etc. To be fair, I don’t think anybody knew just how big and bad the problem would be!
The Banking Crises / The Financial Crisis “thing”
So when the banks did collapse and the global economy started a downturn I knew from experience that some of the first cost-cutting measures involved training people. Which meant I needed to find an alternative source of income to pay the mortgage!
And that is when I set up the photography business. My domain name (www.andrew-miller.co.uk) was registered in August 2008 although I photographed a wedding for a friend back in 2006 in a few small ones in 2007. They weren’t the first weddings I had photographed – but they were the first weddings I had done digitally!
Fast forward to 2018 and I’ve been in business for 10 or 11 years. The turnover has dropped (unsurprisingly!) but the fun and enjoyment I get has not diminished. Again note the use of the word business. I run a business. The turnover dropped, the business expenses increased (photography is an expensive business to run) but I still make enough to be happy :-)
I don’t do this because I want the world to be a better, nicer, fairer place full of prancing unicorns and roses. I do this to make money to pay my mortgage.
I don’t do this because I was born with a “passion for taking photographs since my mum had me in a hospital and I came out of the womb carrying a box brownie film camera” kind of thing either. (although I do have childhood memories of using old cameras – not knowing a bloody thing about what I was doing!). I do it to make money and pay my mortgage.
The words “passion” and “passionate” must be the most overused words in the photographer world. Just Google “passionate photographer south wales” to see for yourself.
The “real” me?
If you are interested in my personality, check this out. I’m a very strong ESTJ (MBTi / Yung typology). It’s a pretty good example of who I am personality wise, although as those of us that are trained & qualified in this area know it’s just a set of preferences and I can and do change my personal style to suit who I am working with.
And again those of you who have worked with me or have had weddings photographed by me will be able to attest I can go from being very assertive to a soft cuddly guy down on the floor giving my cameras to the kids in the blink of an eye. I can go from being emotionally supportive to logical and directive just as quick, and I can provide emotional support and stability to those of my wedding clients that are more nervous than the average person about weddings and cameras.
I don’t panic or get flustered. I get stuck in when the need arises and back off when I need to. I manage your group of 70 guests (or more if the need arises – the largest wedding group was 200 guests) for family group photographs with ease and still have time to talk the couple away for some more intimate photographs – all without ruining your timeline.
The skills, knowledge and experience I have for training people I have transferred into photography. I also run several workshops a year for budding wedding photographers. Not the kind of workshops with a cute sounding name, where you attend, everything is styled, set up to within an inch of its life and then you push the shutter. I run the kind of workshop that gives you real insights and where you really learn the business of wedding photography. Minimum of 4 people – maximum of 6. Otherwise – how are you going to REALLY learn?! Not bad value either at £195 with £25 if your partner (non-photographer) comes along.
To cap that off I am also an accredited Coach & Mentor for Business Wales. Something that my Masters level coaching qualification comes in handy for. This gives budding photographers in Wales FREE access to Coaching & Mentoring form me. I don’t get paid (except expenses) for this. It’s me giving something back.
What spare time?! I’m self-employed – 90hrs work a week is quite normal! I like to rock climb and walk up mountains, chill out eating pizza (hot & spicy please) and do as much around the 250-year-old cottage I live in as I can.
As you can probably tell I like to honest and authentic. I’m honest about who I am and I am authentic about who I am. I don’t have one face to the public and another face in private. What you see is what you get. I’m not pretentious. I’m not stuck up. I don’t have “airs and graces” about either myself or my work.
I don’t care who you are, what you have done in the past or how famous you are either. If I don’t agree I’ll say something, and I’m very passionate about a few things so expect my opinion if it differs from yours. I love a good, sensible adult discussion!
Andrew Miller Photography
andrew [at] andrew-miller.co.uk
01633 400 051