Katie J Piper (aka The Woman’s photographer) on building an online personal brand.
"I wanted to break down the barriers of the 'professional veil' and just be myself and use photography as a a tool to build my community both locally and internationally"- Katie J Piper
You may have seen some photos I recently posted on Facebook taken during a photo shoot I had with the gorgeous Katie J Piper (a.k.a The Woman's Photographer). From the moment I saw Katie's work, I just knew I had to work with her. Not only is she one talented photographer, I just love her take on building a business in today's 21st century and creating a compelling personal brand that leverages the immense possibilities of online entrepreneurship. Knowing that so many of you will be inspired by her approach and find encouragement in her outlook, I asked Katie to share her story and insights with us:
How did you get into photography?
Whilst I was training to be an actress I would browse wedding blogs as a way to take my mind off the stresses and pressure of my course. I spent about 6 months browsing other photographer's websites/ blogs and was so inspired. It wasn’t a career I had ever seen myself doing before (I perhaps thought about it once whilst I was younger but never really seriously). I was attracted to the idea of setting up as a photographer because of my history as a painter, and it seemed like a really good transition from the painting and a new challenge. But more importantly, it was a way to be the captain of my own ship rather than leaving it to someone else such as a casing director to determine whether I was going to be a success or not.
I came out of drama school lacking confidence in myself and photography really helped me and got me back on my feet. I felt after such a rocky experience I had nothing to loose so my aim was to be completely fearless. However I have always been a bit of a perfectionist (something I'm working on!) My Grandad was a photographer and I always wanted to make sure I achieved high standards from the word GO so I literally threw myself into it, and read everything I could get my hands on which inspired me. I bought the turning pro magazine, I googled how to set up a business, all the accounts side, I highlighted sentences in magazines and read them over and over until it had absorbed into my brain! I mean it seems completely crazy because I have never really been a reader but I was working hard at something which didn't feel like work.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Most of my inspiration came from other people. I was inspired whilst researching the net about UK photography vs Californian photography. That lead me to buy books from photographers and entrepreneurs who I admired.
Style blogs, wedding blogs and photography blogs excied me because women in the USA were stepping up and being themselves on social media rather than holding up a professional barrier. Photography lent itself to that beautifully and these women were were showing all sides to their personality and creating a brand. I got hooked on following them- always feeling inspired- and just I knew I wanted to do that myself. I wanted to share my story too because I know it's the future. I wanted to break down the barriers of the 'profesional veil' and just be myself and use photography as a a tool to build my community both locally and internationally. I wanted to meet like minded people, connect with them and aim for clients who were more likely to become friends. That's why I market the way I do. The aim is not to just get any client, but those who I genuinely want to connect and work with.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Most days are different. I think it’s really important to have a schedule if you are self employed, and including exercise and daily things also helps because working on your own can be lonely if you don’t take the time to organise yourself! You are your own boss, so boss yourself around!
If i don’t have a shoot I will be answering emails, doing admin work, photoshoot prep work, social media, website updating, blogging, accounts, consultations and meetings... every week there is something different but these jobs are all very constant in my life, and it takes up several working days a week.
What's the best thing about being a business owner?
I am in control of my own destiny, and I am going for it against the odds. That challenge in itself excites me and keeps me going. My favourite quote that I always remind myself of is: "Live Simply, Dream Big, Give Love, Laugh Lots". I love that I get to follow my dreams but also that I get to share my story with thousands of people who also have big dreams, and if I can inspire them to follow theirs then that's all the better. It's funny though because I don’t see myself as a business owner because foremost I’m an artist; that's where I come from and where I live.
How do you keep motivated?
I love to come up with new ideas and goals. I think that writing down your goals and dreams down on paper really helps with motivation. I also love blogs which post inspirational quotes and I love sharing these on my page. My followers also keep me motivated because I can't wait to share with them on a daily basis.
What's the most important thing you've learned on your career journey to date?
That fearlessness is key to success. A positive mind is invaluable, perseverance is crucial and keep things as simple as possible (apply the 'less is more' through out your branding, your style, and your approach). Also, take the down times to have some breathing space. They are a chance to reassess, to question and to grow. They move you onto the next phase so never give up!
What advice would you give to women who are fed up in their careers and want to make a change?
A few things!
You only live once and it's down to making a choice and having clarity in those choices.
Have belief in your ability. Speak your thoughts and be assertive.
When Beth and I were having coffee on Portobello Road, we discussed how we all have so much more courage and ability than we think we do . If you push the human mind into life/ death situations you will be surprised how fearless and courageous a human can be. Be one of those people, and be proud of yourself. And just do it, listen to your instincts, break down the limitation and take risks. Sometimes the riskiest choices are our greatest ones!
Favourite place in the world?
The Mediterranean - because of the sun, the colour, the light; somewhere like a greek Island, because I've always dreamed of having a villa and a studio looking over the sea! .... again, anything is possible, keep those dreams alive! (Katie- you'll make it happen. And I'll be joining you!- Beth x)
To find out more about working with Katie and her bespoke photoshoot (I couldn't recommend highly enough!) just jump on over to KatiejPiper.com