Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Interview with Stuart Hawkings, Owner and Photographer at SnapShots77 Photography

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1- Hello Stuart, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure, I could follow the trend of the stereotypical photographer by saying that I have dreamed about being a photographer since a young age or that photography was always something I was interested in getting involved in after I finished school. I could have taken this approach, I almost did! But, would that really describe who I am? Nope, I would be lying.
I’ll be totally honest with you, I never dreamed about being a photographer. From as young as I can remember, right through to my teenage years, I never went out of my way to be creative. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, it was because I had other passions/hobbies. I was never the greatest at art, or creative writing, it was never something that interested me because I didn’t think I would be any good at it. It’s funny how the human mind works, I was of the opinion that my mind only worked in certain ways, so throughout my schooling life, I naturally played (to what I thought) was my strengths.
It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties when I hinted to my amazing Wife that I wanted a digital SLR camera that I really started to see things in a new light. I can’t really remember why I wanted it, but I never dreamed that what I have achieved would come from it. I’m sure my Wife didn’t as well, she may even regret it as she has to put up with me nonstop talking about photography. It didn’t take me long to realise that a camera was meant to be in my hand. It was truly something special. I don’t know whether it was the challenge of working out how to take images but I finally found a creative outlet that I was good at.
Four years and 350+ weddings/photo shoots after embarking on this journey as a photographer, I’m so grateful that I get to call this my “job”.

2- What are your business focus areas and why?
I love to be creative, kept on my toes – so to speak, therefore rather than just focus on one area of photography, I cover a wide range, from family portraits, newborn photography and CakeSmash shoots to model portfolios, maternity and weddings. In fact, one of my favourite aspects of photography at the moment is pet photo shoots!

3- How do you describe “SnapShots77 Photography” in few words?
Beautiful, modern, creative, stylish photography. A blend of relaxed creative portraits and natural stylish imagery.

4- Where do you think you are making an impact?
I never advertise for work. All of my work is generated from word of mouth. And I cannot thank people enough for going out of their way to recommend me to others. That in itself has made a big impact on me.
However, I would say with newborn photo shoots that is where I am making the biggest impact with my photography. These are definitely my most popular concepts. I think a lot of parents look at my newborn work and come to the conclusion that the babies must have been perfect throughout the photoshoot session, that is never the case! When I receive enquiries I like to put their mind at ease straight away and ensure them that they are in good hands. As well as having the eye for the perfect shot I have bags of patience, lots of experience and I am extremely laid back, just check out my 200+ testimonials on my website and across my social media sites. There’s always time to feed/change throughout a session. I’m in no rush to get the client out of the door. I only ever book two sessions per day. With your photo shoot, you are in a relaxed studio setting, it’s a home from home atmosphere.

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5- What are some things that most people don’t know about your job?
It has to be the post processing, the hours and hours of editing I put into after each session. I’m not one to just hand the photos straight off the camera, that’s just lazy. I always say that 20% of my job is the photography, a huge 80% is spent editing the images!
Beautifully edited images take them to the next level, this includes smoothing and softening the skin, enhancing lighting, professionally cropping, creating stylish typography (when required), the list is endless! I spend roughly 4-5 hours editing every photoshoot I undertake.
Wedding Photography is another aspect of photography that I absolutely LOVE! Again this involves roughly 8-10 hours of editing.
There’s a lot of time invested in editing. You have to have a massive passion for this side of the work.

6- Photography world is very changing. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I’m forever thinking outside of the box, learning new techniques and ensuring I am never standing still. I’m grateful to have so many supportive friends who have played a huge part in helping me get to where I am today. As I approach my 5th year in photography I have the drive and ambition to push my work to an even wider audience. Technology and social media play a huge part in my progression. To already have over 100,000 followers across my social sites is phenomenal.
I’ve just recently created and developed my own App which I hope will really take off and spread the word.
In the next 5 years? I hope I am still in the fortunate position of being able to call this my “job”. Developing my forever growing studio, passing the 1000 mark in photoshoots/weddings. Generally, just still waking up each morning and it being a pleasure to carry out the work I do!

7- What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working on “SnapShots77 Photography”?
Photography is such a saturated market. The early days were tough, but this is where my amazing wife and supportive friends came into play, helping me spread my name, developing relationships. After all, who would want to book a photographer that has no experience or references? Photography for me started as a hobby, an expensive hobby. After 4 years of working in this business, I am just about to break even, every penny I have made from photography has been invested straight back into the business. Upgrading cameras, building up the army of lenses I now have, investing money into my studio equipment with lighting, sets and props.

8- What can you tell to young people who are pursuing their dreams?
Believe in yourself. Don’t let others knock you down. Focus on your goals. Remind yourself why you are pursuing your dream. Concentrate on the positives. In business have budgets. But remember, to make money you have to spend money.

9- What are you most excited about at the moment?
At the moment it has to be my new App. I’ve spent a couple of months developing this and it’s such an awesome tool to showcase my work to a wider audience. My Wife always said I was a tech nerd, I think she may be right!
I get excited about meeting new people and have so many cool concepts in the pipeline too that I can’t wait to share with everyone!

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10- The last Word or final thoughts?
I’d just like to say thanks again to all my friends and family. Without your support and encouragement, there’s no way I could have got this far without you. Though SnapShots77 Photography is just me, myself and I, it’s a pleasure to meet so many new friends along this epic journey!
Stu –x-

And to know more about Stuart and his work visit:

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Noelle Elia
Noelle Elia
is a Financial analyst at PSPC. Graduated from Telfer School of Management, Finance/Accounting with interest to Entrepreneurship and New Media.
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