Interview with a career change mum - Rachel Rimell
Today I interview the lovely Rachel, I am lucky enough to have worked with Rachel as a coach and she is an amazing and talented lady.
Rachel Rimell Photography is a London lifestyle family photographer. Documenting the everyday ketchup and cornflakes moments of life as beautiful works of art, creating natural and relaxed family portraits with a contemporary yet timeless quality. Capturing precious moments, creating timeless portraits.
1. What gave you the idea to start up your business?
I've always been a photographer. Even at a very young age I can remember snapping away at anything and everything with one of those old point and shoots with those flashbulbs you screwed into the top and they actually went pop as you used them (yes, I am that old!). So, after university I trained as a press photographer and my first proper job was on a newspaper in Scotland. I've photographed everything from the Royal Family to sheepdog trials and runaway pigs on the rampage in my press days. But the pay was atrocious so I eventually moved into the writing side of things and eventually Government press and communications which is where I worked until I had my daughter 4 years ago. I knew when I got pregnant with her I needed to change my work-life balance and I also really yearned to get back to something truly creative that didn't get stamped on and watered down by committee at every turn: something that put the fire back in my belly. I'd never put my camera down, so I didn't exactly pick it back up again but I changed direction and realised that photographing families actually gave me a joy I rarely felt about an advertising campaign or even as a press photographer. There's something lovely about knowing you're capturing special moments for a family - whether that be a newborn baby, a family day out at the park or just the family kicking back at home - that they will treasure not just for their lifetime but for generations to come.
2. What did you do to prepare to start up your business?
Firstly, I checked out whether there was actually a market for family photography. I'd never hired one because I was always the photographer! So I didn't really know if it was a 'thing' I could make a living from. I already had all the equipment (though I admit it gave me an excuse to upgrade/buy a few little pieces I'd had my eye on!). I initially thought I would teach other parents photography - something which I've come back to with my new classes at Dreamcatcher cafe in Crystal Palace. I photographed a few of my new NCT friends and built up a portfolio, got together a website and started putting my services out there mostly on local Facebook groups to start with.
3. Which aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?
My first challenge was having a portfolio that was more family and child-centred and not just my own. I enlisted the help of friends and extended family as my models. After the birth of my second child I took some time off to get to grips with the whirlwind that is having two kids under one roof and by the time I came back to it the market seemed flooded with other family photographers. Now I was competing with many more who had built up a name while I'd been away. I really needed to work out what differentiated me, who my market was and how to reach them. Ruth really helped me focus on what my USP is, where I want to be aiming and who I want to be targeting. I'm still working on the how!
4. Describe what your business does and who you target it at / your ideal client
My photography is very much lifestyle-oriented drawing on my reportage background. Specialising in natural and relaxed family, baby and child portraiture, my aim is to document the everyday as beautiful works of art that families will treasure for years to come. My photography style is contemporary yet elegant and timeless and captures families as they truly are - no fixed grins or awkward poses, just natural personalities, gestures and expressions. I like to think of it as capturing the ketchup and cornflakes moments of life.
I work either in the comfort of my clients' homes or in an outdoor location such as a local park or woodland that is special to the family.
My clients are families who value high quality photography but don't want a formal studio setting. Rather they want to capture the true essence of their family - the interactions between family members, the quirks, the looks, the gestures. They want photography that tells the story of their family and captures that moment in time and they come back to me year after year to document their family growth and development. Most importantly to me is that they want my pictures on their wall! I don't focus on simply providing digital images that will lie forgotten on a hard drive or be briefly posted on Facebook - I want nothing more than my photographs in pride of place on my clients' walls where they will be looked at, adored and cherished. That's why I work only with the highest-calibre professional print providers to focus on providing collections of images either as prints or wall art of exceptionally high quality to really showcase the images.
5. What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?
I truly love the fact that I'm providing something for my families that they will cherish for generations. I'm capturing moments in time that can't be recreated, that will be remembered through my images. When I finish a shoot, and upload the images ready to edit I still get the same feeling I used to get when I hand-developed photos in a dark room, washing the chemicals over the paper until the image emerged from the red gloom: nervous excitement about what I've caught and how much my clients will love them.
That and of course being able to be my own boss, follow my own creative spark and work my own hours around my children.
6. What has been the biggest challenge?
Valuing my art and finding the right clients who value it too. I am a premium lifestyle photographer offering a boutique service but I still get enquiries from people who want my style but don't want to pay for my experience and my art. And that's fine - there are photographers at every price point in the market to suit every budget and style. It's taken me a while to find my style and my focus and to know my worth - I just need to get better at marketing to the right people.
7. If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would it be?
Have a clearer idea of where you're aiming from the outset and who you're targeting and don't be afraid to say no to the wrong clients! I'm not afraid now!
To find out more about Rachel follow her here: