This week Sara Dalrymple shares the story behind her business, and how she finally found her dream job in her 30s. Sara is an East London family photographer alongside being Mum to her 2 boys, Joseph (5) and Max (2). This week, we’re learning more about how she finally found a career she was truly passionate, almost a decade after graduating!
At school and university I’d always been one of those people who didn’t really know what she wanted to do, and when I graduated I moved to London and started a career in banking, for no other reason than because it seemed like the right thing to do with an economics degree. The best thing about my job was always the people I worked with, and as time went on I’d been feeling more and more disengaged from it and knew I wanted to do something that felt much more supportive and female-focused – with a tangible end product at the end of it. I had learnt in my 8 years at the bank that I was very organised, really liked meeting people and giving really brilliant customer service, and making sure that everyone had a really positive experience – but I had no idea what to do that would allow me to incorporate these things!
It was a time when lots of my friends were getting married and I realised that completely subconsciously I’d always be the one at weddings with my camera out, watching first dances through my viewfinder and trying to get the “money” shot, out of nothing more than pure love for a great photo. I’ve always been a really chatty, people person and when I started taking photos of friends of friends weddings when I first started out, they all commented on how much they enjoyed having me as their photographer, how relaxed they felt because of my bubbly personality and unobtrusive style in which I worked, and that felt like a huge boost. Coming from working in a huge open plan office to being able to call someone’s wedding day my place of work felt like a pinch me moment – even the long days on my feet without a break didn’t bother me, I was absolutely hooked from the very first one I did! There is nothing better than celebrating love, family and 2 people saying “I do”, and I would come home every time with the hugest smile on my face!
Before I launched I trained for a year with a fantastic photography company called The Trained Eye, as I’m the type of person who wants to learn as much as I possibly can about something before going it alone (I’m a complete perfectionist!) and it was such a fantastic way for me to learn how to make the people I was photographing feel comfortable and look amazing and relaxed. On top of this I had a brilliant photography mentor who used to set me crazy photography challenges, and then would critique my work, we shadowed weddings so that we could get to grips with all different light conditions, and become fully proficient with our cameras. It gave me the confidence I needed and meant that when I started out on my own I had a wealth of experience and complete confidence in what I was doing! I started Sara Dalrymple Photography just before I had my first baby in March 2013 and I am thrilled that I can now honestly say that I love what I do and becoming my own boss was the best decision I ever made!
To anyone that is starting out alone, I would definitely say my top tips are to get as much experience as you can before you make the jump, as it will give you that extra confidence boost to go it alone, whether that’s an official course, or shadowing etc, and to have a good support network of other freelancers around you, so that you can all help each other. I have made so many amazing friends through my photography journey and the courses I’ve done, and it makes such a difference knowing other people in the same field as you! I’m also addicted to listening to business podcasts – there are so many inspiring stories out there!
I love having complete flexibility to work around my home life: that’s not to say that I don’t work hard, but I’m so grateful that I can now choose my working hours in a way that is sensible for me, rather than being stuck in a desk job 8-6 every day with no flexibility at all.
There are so many things I love about running my photography business but the best one has to be the job satisfaction I get from helping people create beautiful memories with their families and knowing that they can pass down photos to their children which actually have us Mums in them! I now split my time approximately 50/50 between weddings and families, which is lovely because I am genuinely so passionate about both parts of my job. When it comes to families, so many of us spend most of the time behind the camera, but when little people grow up, they all want to see photos of us as well as them. I think of my photos as being like chapters in a storybook, so instead of taking photos in a studio, I much prefer to capture places and details that are meaningful for you: whether that’s your home, a local park or forest walk that you love. Meeting new people and telling their stories is something I will NEVER get bored of, and it’s pretty special to be able to say that!