After winning a bet with the editor of the Sunday Times, Andy Barker found herself working in France once a month for Living France magazine.
Since then, she's become an award-winning property photographer who counts FocalAgent property shoots among her favourite freelance photography jobs...
Shooting with FocalAgent since: June 2017
Locations covered: South East London
First camera: Pentax
Hi Andy! Let’s start at the beginning: how did you take your hobby to a professional level?
It started when I was a waitress. Through work, I got to know the editor of the Sunday Times. I won a bet with him, which ended up with me working with a journalist for Living France magazine. I loved it, and knew I wanted to be a full-time photographer!
Before working with FocalAgent, how did you build your client base?
I won some awards along the way, which helped me get my name out there but really, each job I’ve done well leads to another.
I’m sociable and proactive by nature, which works in my favour as networking is the best way to win new business leads.
Other than that, I’ve always been really bad at any self-promotion – I’m aware trying too hard to promote can push some clients away. It’s a tricky balance, so I started speaking to some friends who told me about FocalAgent.
What attracted you to working in property photography with FocalAgent?
I’d been shooting for some architects and Grand Designs magazine and had discovered a new love for interiors.
My photographer friends were already working with FocalAgent and I thought it sounded like something I could do well.
I was really attracted by the quick turnaround, automated billing and flexibility as well – it sounded like it’d really suit my way of life.
As I’m based in London, I face certain travel challenges. I was worried about congestion charges, parking and other costs, but I decided that if I could keep the jobs local, I could cycle.
I do that now, and it has the added benefit of going home for lunch and checking on my dog – not to mention keeping fit!
How do your estate agent clients respond to your work?
I’ll never be the quickest photographer. I’m too fussy for that. I love a high-end image, but luckily, so do my clients. I have some great local estate agents who prioritise me. They even change appointments to work with me, which is a lovely boost!
And what about your Business Coaches at FocalAgent?
I get amazing support from the guys in the FocalAgent office. They’re lovely, kind and supportive of my other freelance work outside FocalAgent.
They know that most of my freelance photography work doesn't come through FocalAgent, and they let me ask for more (or less) work, depending on my other commitments. They do an incredible job of juggling to make it work.
What are your favourite things about being a property photographer?
Working on FocalAgent jobs lets me get to know my area better and supports my fascination for property. The estate agents and FocalAgent staff as great fun – especially Melissa and Heather! They couldn’t have given me more support. It makes me want to work harder for them, and not just because the finances add up really well.
Thanks to Andy Barker for sharing her story - and her favourite FocalAgent photographs - with us! You can read the interviews with our other Photographers of the Month here.