Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

My job explained: Photographer

kate photographerKate Beatty is a freelance photographer. Read on to find out why she thinks what she does is ‘magic’.

Can you tell us a bit about your job?

I am a freelance photographer. I specialise in portraiture and documentary work. My clients are varied and include Channel 4, the NHS and The Royal Shakespeare Company.

What’s your typical working day like?

Every day is different. If I'm shooting it is nearly always out on location as opposed to being in a studio. I will get to the location, meet with my client, meet the subject and plan what we will be doing. I then set up my cameras and lights and begin the session. I then come back to my studio and do post production and edit the images. If I am not shooting I can be doing a number of things; going out to agencies with my portfolio, marketing, accounting or researching new ideas.

What attracted you to photography?

My grandfather was an amateur photographer and I used to go with him into his dark room and think that the way he made the pictures was magic! I then developed a love and understanding of the great photographers and went from there. It’s such a wonderful medium.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I like the flexibility my work allows me. I don't work 9 to 5 and I don't work in the same place all day, which works well for me. I also like the creative expression my job allows me.

What’s the most difficult thing about your job?

The most difficult thing is running a business. I am not only a photographer but account manager, sales manager, marketing manager etc. I have to go out and get work, when I feel my real skill lies in taking pictures. Staying motivated enough to go pitching for jobs and shooting new material just for personal use is the most challenging. 

What qualifications do you have?

I did art, theatre and business at A-level which stood me in good stead for the future since taking pictures is only about 40% of what I do. The rest of the time is spent doing my accounts and all the other parts of running a business. I then decided to do a HND in photography which was a very technical course. It gave me a great foundation in lighting and technology. I then went on to do a photography degree as I felt it was important to have one for the future. I got a great deal out of my degree both theoretically and practically.

What other skills do you need?

People skills are a must and networking is vital. You also need a good understanding of marketing, accounts and how to run a business.

Was it hard to get your first job?

Yes. I had a solo exhibition of my degree work and my first client saw the show and commissioned me off the back of it. I have found that most of my clients are repeat business and recommendations. It is tough to get the work in the first place but great when you have it.

What advice would you have for people who want to be a photographer?

I would say get as much experience as you can. Assist photographers first to find out the area you want to specialise in and then learn lighting and technical skills. Photographers work in different ways and it's great to gather as much experience in your early career so that you can develop your own style. Style and individuality is vital, I think it's important to stick to your guns and be true to yourself. Finding a niche is a good idea too.

Why do you think art and photography are important?

Photography is a wonderful form of communication which can create a narrative and evoke emotion as well as being a great form of documentation. The world would be a very grey place without art and artists. It makes us look at things differently.

Related links