I’ve set myself an #AuthenticyChallenge and it’s… well, challenging!
I’m lucky enough to be writing a book at the mo and am having to dig pretty deep for my first draft. There are things I want to say, things I need to say, and things I am scared to say in case… see, I don’t even have a clear reason!
So, I’ve decided to fess up to myself about stuff I’ve glossed over before to see if I can learn more from the bare truth. I’m already living my life a little bit like Danny Wallace in ‘Yes Man’ (I too accidentally started a cult once) so have started a list of things that, at first glance, I don’t really want anyone to know about me.
Why? Because of everything Brene Brown says about ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ right here.
Here goes with an ‘easy’ one to start. I’m not at all sure where this is going to end up, or whether I will fail by bottling it. And neither of those are good enough reasons not to have a go.
#01 I once gave up on education and became a photographer instead.
When I had my first child I knew that I couldn’t be the Mum I wanted to be and the Teacher I wanted to be at the same time. Something had to give, and as Trinity didn’t seem likely to be able to stick fish fingers under the grill by herself anytime soon, I left teaching.
I set up my consultancy and training company whilst on maternity leave (or ‘holiday’ as it felt at the time) and that took off really well. Two weeks after Trinity was born I had a phone call from Jamaica asking me if I would travel out there to speak at a couple of conferences. I politely explained that I still hadn’t managed to get dressed, brush my teeth or venture down to my local Tesco Express yet, so I certainly wouldn’t be jumping on an 8 hour flight to Ocho Rios!
The chap replied: ‘Bring the baby, and your husband – we’ll look after you all!” I was on that plane like a shot!
Down To Business
Two years later my second baby arrived and the business was booming. My office manager left for pastures new a week before Jacob was born, which left me flitting between breast feeding and taking bookings. I was miserable. I was generating lots of income but was as tired as I had been when I was teaching! Only this time I had a toddler and a newborn to think about.
Long story short, I stopped. There were a number of factors, and I still loved education, but I needed a break so I took one.
It was an incredible learning curve. Though I had sort of been running a business previously, photography was outside of my field. I love taking pictures, connecting with people and, most of all, telling stories, but the business side of being a wedding photographer was totally new to me.
I met amazing people, learned loads and got some real clarity about work life balance. The skills I picked up are still in use today. I knew it wouldn’t be forever as my heart was still in education, but climbing to the top of a new mountain allowed me a completely different view. Ultimately, it led me to where I am today.
Here’s a couple of interviews I did during that time.
Photography 121 Podcast Interview
This audio interview is long but hilarious! I’m sure I sound naive in parts because I totally was! But it’s also a window into what it looks like when you run, stop and notice that the destination is the same one that you just left, only more refined. There’s a lot to be said for taking the scenic route.
Moms Who Click Interview
Moms Who Click is an American website that interview some fabulous photographers – including me! Here’s my interview from 2011 before my third child was born.
We’ve been hooked following a few rising stars across ‘The Pond’, including Alex Beadon who we interviewed earlier this year. Through Alex we met Jaz – an amazing photographer with a wit as sharp as her eye for amazingly images. Check out her Shutterrock site, where U.S inspiration meets UK edginess. Phenomenal! Or should I say Brilliant?! Either way, Jaz rocks and you will absolutely love meeting her. Without further ado, we reveal Jaz!
Your name: Jaz Ampaw-Farr
Your studio name: Jaz Ampaw-Farr Photography
Location: UK but I’m international baby!our Style
In 50 words or less, how would your clients describe your photography?
I can do it in one! Fun. They’re not describing the photography, they’re describing the experience they have as a client. Photography-wise though I’d go with Natural. That’s a massive compliment because I am constantly and cleverly directing shots without my clients noticing!
Are you self-taught or classroom trained?
Like many creative people I have always taken photos. I love stories, memories. I grew up in foster care and there and no photos in existence of me before I was 16. When I decided to go into business I found the best people photographers and asked them if I could come and hang with them.
I found Annabel Williams Contemporary Photography Training through Brett Harkness and did their Bespoke course. Dunring that coursed I got to train with Tamara Peel, Stewart Randall, Nikki Hill, Xander Casey. I also did a week with Jerry Ghionis to develop my images and have done lighting and some business coaching with Damien Lovegrove.
An amazing photographer whom I admire is Gisela Olson. She told me to check out Jasmine Star so I did. I visited her website, found her blog and read EVERYTHING! I also clicked on EVERY link and read EVERYTHING on those sites! I found Kevin Kubota, Showit, David Jay, Design Aglow, Dane Sanders and read and read and read!
Describe your photography journey to date?
I spent a year feeling as if I would never make it because I wasn’t stylish enough, lacked talent and just plain wasn’t allowed! I remember reading about Jasmine Star and DJ meeting on a luxury yacht and hanging out. I looked around my tip of a three bed-roomed semi, with my two kids staging a mock sea battle in the background and thought ‘Man, who am I trying to kid!’
Then I found Dane Sanders’ book FastTrack Photographer and it resonated so much with me! I had already been inspired enormously but it felt like Dane was speaking directly to me in the book. Long story short, ShutterRock was born – my dream of a photography festival taking US inspiration and adding a UK edge to it. An open and honest community of photographers interested in being authentic, building a business based around who they are, celebrating positivity.
What was the pivotal moment when you decided to become a photographer?
It was more gradual than that for me. My training business was taking me away from my family a lot and I was constantly tired. I allowed myself a moment of clarity and realised I could do whatever I put my mind too! I took some time out, remembered taking photos made me happy and dared to dream big.
What’s the best marketing tip that has worked for you?
David Jay and Zach & Jody Gray are all big on organic relational marketing. I love the idea of the power of a gift. I focus on making clients fall in love with me by being me. One of my brand (and personal) values is generosity. I have never done and never intend to do a wedding show. Instead I spend money on gifts, invest time and genuinely love my clients. I only work with people I can do this with. Keeping my integrity is crucial.
What gear would we find in your camera bag?
My 5D Mk2, and 40D back up camera, my monopod, my 24-70 and 70-200 2.8 lenses, my 580 flash and STE 2 Transmitter, a shed load of batteries, Love Heart Sweets with my details on (they’re my business cards), a pre sucked lolly, a solidified sausage from down the back of the sofa that my daughter, Trinity thinks I haven’t noticed, and a small Buzz Lightyear that my son Jacob was playing ‘spaceship crashing into Mummy’s camera bag’ with.
Best advice you would give your 20-year old self?
Get your unibrow waxed! I mean, did no one notice?! Other than that nothing! I would say not to worry so much but my 20 year old self wouldn’t listen. I was prancing around to Madonna’s Vogue and appearing on Blind Date thinking I was sooooo cool!
Best advice you would give a new photographer?
Spend £10 and get Dane Sanders Fast track Photographer Book. Read it. Do what he says. Also, build your business around you and you’ll never have any competition. No one else can be you!
What would surprise people most about you, whether it is photography related or not?
I danced in Cher’s video ‘Do you Believe’. My default setting is misery. I can juggle, I’m not on any drugs (everyone wants to know where I get my energy from – life Baby!)
Three things I can’t live without…
Ed, Trin, Jake
I wish I had more….
Time – the only thing I can’t have.
The most important lesson I ever learned was…
You can teach what you know but you can only create what you are.
My favourite time of day is…
When it’s light. I don’t like the dark!