Est. 2008

Portrait of Janet PennyI can’t quite believe it but 10 years ago this month I left a job I loved and a group of colleagues I still miss, to set out on the challenging journey of running my own business. The truth is that I couldn’t have imagined what would happen in the intervening years or guess at whether I would still be running my photography business and still loving it, which I am.

I’ve always wanted to create images – my dad’s a photographer and I had a camera in my hands from a very early age. After spending my teenage years in a makeshift darkroom in my bathroom I went on to get a first class degree in Photography and Multimedia and an MA with distinction in Digital Art. My career veered into programming and I ended up at Abbey Road Studios for 10 years, having a whale of a time and meeting lots of amazing people. The call of photography was too strong though, and I eventually realised I just couldn’t ignore it any longer. That time away from it, working with a huge variety of people, was priceless; I’m not sure I could have come straight out of education and built a¬†successful photography business, I just wasn’t ready then.

Over the last ten years, lots of things have changed. I’ve gone from having two cute little boys in Key Stage 1 to two strapping teenagers. I’ve cared for and lost both my parents-in-law. I’ve photographed many many families and 100s of newborns. I’ve had the privilege of watching my returning clients’ families grow and flourish.

I’ve also learned a huge amount about running a business and I’m still learning. Here are some of the key things you might find helpful if you’re at the start of your own journey:

  • Competition is a great thing, it raises everyone’s game. I’ve come to be good friends with many local photographers.
  • Never compete on price, people choose you for your style, experience, quality and service, so that’s what I concentrate on.
  • I love networking, there are many amazing groups to help you with it, I’ve been to lots of them; you could spend your whole time going to them and never get any work done! It took a while but I found the networking group that works for me – Tunbridge Wells Mums In Business – and now that’s the only one I go to.
  • Having a business buddy is brilliant! I meet with another local business woman (Claire Witz of Qalbi) regularly and we brainstorm marketing plans and business ideas for each other. It’s a great way to stay accountable and breath freshness into your business.

If you’ve just embarked on starting your own business, I wish you every success and hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thank you to everyone who’s entrusted me with photographing their loved ones, I hope to meet lots more of you in the next 10 years.

Janet

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