Photography jobs

Denise Maxwell: How to make your photography business a full-time job

Owner and photographer at Lensi Photography since 2011, Denise turned professional after leaving a full-time job in the NHS and photographed some of the world’s most famous people, such as Barack Obama and Usain Bolt. Her client list includes the BBC, Starling Bank and Gumtree and she covers events such as London Fashion Week and the BAFTAs, and most recently the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Denise’s work has appeared in publications such as Vogue, The Independent and The Guardian and she is part of the UKBFTOG management team.

Denise shoots a range of different genres, from portraits to events, advertising to weddings, and defines her style as being clean with natural editing. To see his work, check out his Instagram: @lensi_photography

Speaking at the Photography Show and Video Show 2022 (opens in a new tab)Denise will give her talk “Money Mindset – Making a full-time living from your side hustle” on Saturday September 17 and Sunday September 18, starting at 10:40 a.m. on both dates.

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Wizkid performing at Wireless Festival Birmingham. (Image credit: © Lensi Photography)

What’s the first step to going full-time?

Gather your wallet – most of us buy things based on what we can see, not what someone tells us they can do. Build your portfolio to the point where you would actually commit.

So practice, practice, practice – take your camera everywhere and build your portfolio from life. My first portfolio consisted of college assignments and all the social events I attended, which then became examples to show to potential clients.

My first client came via a recommendation from a friend; I suspect that many first customers are people from social and family circles.

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Georgia-Mae Fenton of the England women’s gymnastics team at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. (Image credit: © Lensi Photography)

What’s more important for finding work: a neatly curated social media feed or a sleek website?

Even though I update my social media more than daily, having a good website is also important.

In my experience, large companies tend to look at websites first, then your broader social footprint – which is what most of us do when shopping online: website first, then social networks.

American rapper and songwriter Cardi B headlines Birmingham’s Wireless Festival (Image credit: © Lensi Photography)

How important is it to price your work correctly?

It’s vital, and if you don’t know how to do it, ask someone else for help. Many photographers I know fail to become full-time not because of the quality of their work, but by underestimating the cost of doing business.

If you don’t make enough money to pay your bills and have some left over for your profit, photography will never become your full-time life.

I hear things like, “I’m just shooting to cover my expenses,” and that’s okay if you don’t want it to become your livelihood. But if you do, it’s not enough to cover your costs.

Denise Maxwell (Image credit: © Lensi Photography)

When is the best time to take the plunge and go full-time?

I was forced to work full time after losing my permanent job, so this was my turning point to turn pro.

But if you’re getting to the point where you have to book a lot of vacation time to cover jobs that have come in, or have to turn down work, then now’s a good time to change.

The England women’s gymnastics team win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022. (Image credit: © Lensi Photography)

Were you afraid it wouldn’t work?

Yes absolutely! Before the point where I am now, I had worked all my life, and like most people, I was used to knowing that my paycheck would go into my bank account on a certain day of the month.

So the idea of ​​having to earn your own income becomes scary! When I mentor new photographers, I like to show them how you need less than you think, and how even if you make less than your take home pay as an employee, it often means you have more. money in your pocket when you’re self-sufficient. -employee.

Certainly, it is easier for some people than for others; I didn’t have a young family at the time, got my mortgage at a very manageable point and so on. Everyone has to make the decision to go full time based on their own circumstances, but it’s doable.

See Denise’s website (opens in a new tab) & Instagram: @lensi_photography (opens in a new tab)

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