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Photographer of the Month: Nikki Bowling
Wedding photographer Nikki Bowling made the jump into property photography in 2014. Still working freelance, she now counts FocalAgent jobs as 60% of her overall workload and calls it her 'dream job' - not least because of her amazing relationship with her Business Coach at FocalAgent, Annie Peddie.
Read on to find out about the transition from event and wedding photographer to property photographer; how to make sure family life stays top of the list and Nikki's top tips for making the most of working with us at FocalAgent.
Shooting with FocalAgent since: Summer 2014
Locations covered: York, Pickering, Malton
First camera: Pentax film camera and a medium format Bronica
Favourite photographer: Impossible to say!
Hi Nikki! You've been building your FocalAgent business since 2014, but you were working as a wedding photographer before. How did you break into the field?
I studied A Level art at school and my favourite part was the black and white hand printing in the darkroom. I loved the process of not knowing what you had captured and patiently using the chemicals to reveal the image.
From school, I went to Harrogate College of Art and Design and studied Photography and Design for four years. After college I didn’t want to work for anyone else, so I set up my own business in 2001. I got into shooting weddings, and this is where my passion and niche has been for the last 10 years or more. I am very good at photographing people, dealing with them in the right way, and capturing those beautiful, candid moments. I love being a part of someone’s special day!
By 2008, I was exclusively shooting weddings. I stopped networking and tailored my website for weddings. I took the jobs as they came. Working Saturdays fitted in perfectly with looking after my baby daughter. However, when my daughter started school, I started to grow the business again. Monday-Friday were free and weekends were family time, so weddings because less viable for me.
My wedding work was flourishing, but I did find it difficult to break into new markets. I wanted to work in estate agent photography, as I knew it would be flexible, regular work that would fit in within school hours.
How did you make the transition from wedding to property photographer?
I started looking into it, and came to realise that a lot of estate agents either already had a photographer they were happy with, or did the photos themselves. With no real portfolio of property images to show, it was difficult to get a foot in the door.
One day, I was searching online for part-time opportunities for photographers in my area, and FocalAgent stood out to me. I applied, was accepted and haven't looked back!
What were your first impressions of working as a FocalAgent photographer?
To be honest, I thought it might be too good to be true. FocalAgent was offering exactly what I'd been looking for for months: property photography work in my area, a regular stream of jobs and regular income. It sounded amazing and started happening right away.
My first job was difficult, but I had already built a great relationship with FocalAgent and the properties I was sent were close to home and a pleasure to shoot. Even when I get a less polished home, I've learned how to shoot them in their best light.
And what's it like now?
The FocalAgent team are there for me and support me. I still do weddings and portraits but the 60% of my workload that FocalAgent gives me is a huge help. The regular payment, support and the professionalism of the company are amazing.
FocalAgent seems to be going places and expanding at a huge rate. I love working for such a great company and I hope I'm able to grow with them for many more years. It's become my dream job and my Business Coach Annie is amazing!
What's your advice for newbies to property photography?
- Make sure you respond to job offers as soon as possible.
- Take a diary out on the road with you and communicate openly with the agents so they know what's happening.
- I always tell home owners to expect me at a certain time, but explain that I'm coming from other jobs so could be a few minutes either side. If I get held up, they're fine with it and if I manage to pull back some time, it's just a bonus.
- To be requested for jobs personally is a real honour and the agents need to be respected and looked after - they're your clients.
- Treat the home owners with the same respect - you're working in their home, after all.
- My last piece of advice? Enjoy it. It's a fantastic job!
All of the photography in this post is attributed to Nikki Bowling. You can see her website and more examples of her work here.