This weeks spotlight is on portrait photographer Lauren Pinhorn:
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m Lauren, 31 & a portrait photographer based in South Buckinghamshire. I specialise in makeover & photoshoot experiences for women and girls, designed to empower and boost confidence.
I’ve been married to Matt for 3 years and last year we managed to buy our first flat; so I’m enjoying making it our own! I’m a cold weather person and I’m currently trying to teach myself Finnish.
How did you get into photography?
I come from a line of photographers! Both my parents were keen photographers (my dad even won a few amateur awards) and I have some of my granddad’s old film cameras that I still use. I got my first camera when I was 3, when my little brother was born (possibly as compensation/a distraction!?) and haven’t stopped taking photos since. I always loved the process of putting a brand new film in to the camera and sending off a finished roll, waiting to see how my images turned out. (When I was younger, a lot of them didn’t include people’s heads!)
I only switched to digital photography later on. I studied photography at A-level, then at Nottingham Trent University, where I got to live in Lapland for 4 months, taking pictures of the stunning Finnish landscape. But it was only part way through my degree that I started using digital cameras; I just enjoyed being in the dark room and having to really consider what was in your frame as you may only have 14 shots per roll! But I love the freedom and accessibility that digital photography now provides us. People can create amazing art that, 10 years ago wasn’t possible!
I think there’s something inherently human about wanting to capture your world and the people around you. Psychology and anthropology also fascinate me (it’s why I’ve always photographed people), so I’ve always been interested in the deeper meaning in photographs and the reason we take photos. It’s one of the reasons I loved doing my degree, because we learned a lot of the theory of photography as well; I was one of those weird people who really enjoyed writing my dissertation!
I come from a very creative family and for years, I wanted to be a fashion or costume designer. Around the time I was finishing my A-levels, I realised I probably wouldn’t be able to handle the fashion world. It was actually at a New Years’ gig of one of my favourite bands where I had the realisation that taking photos is what I wanted to do, and that people can make careers from it!
What made you want to start your business?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak. From a young age, I was always thinking up little business ideas and ways to make a bit of extra money.
From a lifestyle point of view, the freedom and independence appealed to me. Being able to make my own money and not to have my day-to-day life dictated by a huge company, I think has always been important to some extent. I get bored doing the same thing every day!
From a personal point of view, I’ve always wanted to feel like what I was doing made a difference; like I wasn’t a cog getting lost in a machine. I work very closely with all my clients and each photoshoot is tailored to them, personally. It’s that love and attention I give every photoshoot that allows my clients to relax in front of the camera and ensures they’re getting the experience they want; whilst I know I am helping to empower them and give them confidence they may have lost along the way.
Who/what are your inspirations/influences?
I get a lot of inspiration from other photographers. I’ve always admired people like David Bailey and Annie Leibovitz; they’re probably my 2 photography idols! I also love August Sander’s portraits!
But, there are also loads of amazing photographers running businesses like mine who I take a lot of courage and inspiration from. It’s good to know it IS possible!
In my work, I also take a lot of influence from the Old Masters; particularly painters of the Tudor period. The portraits they created during such tumultuous times fascinate me. And I am hugely influenced by the idea that having your portrait painted was an event. It required hours of sitting and a lot of hard work on the part of the artist. These paintings were framed and hung in family homes, to be passed on to future generations and admired for centuries to come.
That’s what I want for my work. A photoshoot should be a special event and the art work we produce together is there to be admired and displayed in family homes, so it can be looked back on in the years to come and your descendants can see you and know you existed.
What’s your biggest success or achievement so far?
It might sound silly, but simply registering myself as a sole trader was a huge step for me. For years, I built up my portfolio and wasn’t making any money. When it came time to make things official, I put it off over and over again. I think it was the idea that if I was a registered, ‘proper’ business owner, there was more pressure on me to make it work. Actually, when I did make it official, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be and my business felt like a little sprouting plant or something that I then needed to nurture and help grow. While the tax return is still NOT my favourite thing to do, I know that every job I do, is helping me and my business (and my clients) flourish.
What do you do when you’re not working?
When I’m not working, I’m often thinking about work! I do make sure I make time for myself though. I love travelling and visiting new places with my husband, going to the movies, or trying a new place for coffee, or a new cake recipe.
I’ve been knitting and crocheting for about 12 years, too. It’s great for when you need to switch off and relax, but want to keep your mind and your hands busy.
What’s next for you/your business?
I’m getting ready to launch my Class of 2020 photoshoot experiences! These are makeover & photoshoot sessions, designed for young women and girls who are finishing school this year, preparing for exams, looking forward to prom and getting ready for their next life adventure. Whether that’s moving to university, starting a job or enrolling in college.
This time in a young person’s life can be pretty stressful and is often quite daunting. So, I came up with my Class Of… experiences, which takes inspiration from the American high-school senior photoshoots and glossy magazines, as a way to step out of everyday life for a while and be pampered, styled and treated like a celebrity!
These sessions are amazing confidence boosters too. I’ve had so many young people say they now have more confidence than ever, ready to take on whatever life brings their way next and that’s so exciting to hear!
These sessions are all about celebrating these young people; their achievements, the people they have become, and empowering them to go out there and take on the world!
Class of… will run each year and I want it to be a tribe of young women, helping and supporting each other, with event days and get-togethers, aimed at bringing people together and making teenage life a little less stressful.
Registration is open now at laurenpinhorn.com and the session dates will launch in January!
What advice would you give to people starting out?
A good camera will only get you so far. You need to learn your craft. Get out there and practice; find your niche and develop your unique style. I went through several business ideas and photography genres until I found what really spoke to me. But even when you find the thing you can monetise, make sure to take time to photograph for yourself. Find something you’re passionate about and love taking photos of, just for you; don’t make it all ‘work, work, work.’ I’d love to start doing more music photography in 2020, just for me!
You don’t need expensive equipment or all the latest gadgets to be a good photographer. You need to know how YOUR camera works at its best and how to use light. Just start building up a portfolio and putting yourself out there. Action creates momentum.