“A classroom was never really my thing”
I talk all things wedding, money-making and “never work with children or animals” with young entrepreneur Ellie Taylor, owner of photography business Photography by Ellie Jayne.
C: So where did it all begin, Ellie?
E: I never really knew what I was going to do until I got to college, and by that point I realised university wasn’t the best path for photography. A classroom was never really my thing. The practical side was more important to me. I met someone that took me on as an assistant. I met her randomly and now she’s my best friend now. Now, I pay her to work for me and visa-versa!
C: How did all of that come about?
E: I use to ask every photographer around for experience, but it was so hard to find one that would help me. Then, I found someone to take me on and she liked what I’d done. I did a few weddings with her and now we’re working for each other!
C: Wow – so what happened next?
E: I studied at college for two years and now I have my own studio.
C: So, where did the money come from?
E: Well, weddings started first. Obviously, you don’t need a location to do that, so then I built the kit up as a I went with that. I never got a loan or anything because I wanted it to be self-sufficient. Then I loved the idea of doing studio shoots, so it started in my mum’s living room and then I outgrew that. Then it was in my living room, then eventually I got the opportunity to have a garden cabin, which I call my little haven. It’s my happy place.
C: How do you afford the up-keep?
E: Well, I’m really lucky at the moment because the cabin was already there, and it pays for itself through my photography.
C: The dreaded question through… What happens if your camera breaks on a shoot?
E: I always have back-ups of everything. I have two camera bodies, four plus lenses with me. More batteries than I can even say, and a hideous amount of SD cards and memory cards. I’m very cautious. I have them on me, in my car, in the venue so they’re easy to get to and safe from accidents. Things happen at parties!
C: How do you know what to charge and how much do you charge?
E: Oh pricing! I find it so hard to price myself, it’s like rating the quality of your own work and putting a price tag on yourself. I’ve built up the pricing over the last few years, maybe every 16 months or so I put the pricing up. I try to only take 20-25 wedding a year because I have the studio.
The studio is really difficult with pricing, new born shoots for example are pricier because the new born could be with me for quite a few hours – you need to settle the baby, change it, etc. Some babies come in and they could be an hour and a half and that’s it for example, or they could come in and be really unsettled. I do them at about five – ten days old, but they’re not in a routine so you can’t predict when’s going to be the best time of day. They control the session, 100%. A studio-shoot you might have a six month old ready to go, really smiley and done in half an hour.
C: Then how long does it take you to produce the images for your customers?
E: For a studio shoot, I try to get them gallery ready within 7-10 days. Weddings can be a lot longer with more photos so around 5-6 weeks, but I try to under promise and over deliver.
C: How has social media helped?
E: I think Facebook is my main social media. I’ve had it the longest. A lot of my enquiries come through there, and maybe a small handful through Instagram. Facebook and my website are the key things that are really important to me. I find it useful to boost the adverts but that’s difficult now they’ve changed the algorithm. But I can really target my boost which is very effective.
C: Which software do you use for editing?
E: Lightroom and Photoshop.
C: Where did you learn to use them?
E: College I learnt photoshop. It’s hard at first but then second nature. For wedding’s I like Lightroom; it’s a lot less time consuming. Photoshop is better for high-end edits, so for more intensive things like removing someone from a photo”
C: Do you find photography can pay for your lifestyle?
E: Yes! It’s my only job now which happened in January, and that was my fourth year of doing it. I went from full time job to a little bit of photography, to part time job and a lot of photography and now it’s all I do. So, I eased one up and I eased one down. The work life balance is a lot better.
C: Do you ever take time off?
E: Normally I’ll do it around shoots! I don’t tend to use the studio on the weekends anyway!
C: How many shoots do you do a day?
E: New born is tiring, so I’ll really only ever do one! There’s a lot of mess and washing! But over Christmas I do seven or eight a day. October tends to be crazy – because that’s when I do my Christmas minis. August too for weddings but last year June and September are my wedding months. This year May and August are mental.
C: So, is this the job for life now?
E: Yes I’d love to do it forever now. It’s great to fit round future plans. I think some people are really made to work for themselves, and other people perhaps like the guidance. I love building my own business and there’s only one person I need to rely on which is myself.
C: So you don’t wish you went to uni?
E: No I’m really happy that I didn’t. It’s a hard decision to make but I think personally, it would have been a waste of money and I have put the money into something else. If I had gone, I wouldn’t have enough time to get this experience or use the money to build up my equipment and build the studio. I think I would definitely be a few years behind where I am.
C: Have you ever had times when you’ve thought ‘I just don’t want to do this’?
E: There are times when you’re like, wow where’s the money going to come from and then suddenly you’re fine again and maybe that’ll happen again. But it’s the same with a normal job. You get to the end of the month and think wow I need pay day, the only difference is, you know exactly when that pay day is coming. I’ve never regretted starting it.
C: How did you decide what type of photos you wanted to take?
E: If you told me to capture landscape, I can’t. I need to photograph a moment. I’m very about candid things, non-staged photos. People’s love for their babies for example, it’s amazing. At college, I didn’t know how to photograph people, I was all about landscape. I do think money is in weddings, and they’re so much fun, you end up with hilarious photos and the ball keeps rolling.
C: Have you ever had a disappointed customer?
E: Not that I’m aware of! And what drives is me is the fact that I’m in charge and I only have one shot to get the day right.
C: How many photos do you send to them?
E: That totally depends on the day. The editing is very time consuming, hours and hours. Say I’m there for 10 hours, I will do that again four times over doing the post production of it all and the albums. But I love the whole process.”
C: Did you spend money on your website?
E: Yes, I did! I pay the yearly subscription but I have spent a lot of time on it and I think I always will. You have to keep adjusting it all the time or you sink to the bottom of Google. SEO is the bane of my life!
C: So, have you had to learn about that too?
E: Yes, I’ve been to day courses to learn about it all! You can do it in person or online and I find it so handy. Courses are so important for my job. You have to do the new born safety course too which I try to do once a year. There are so many things to keep refreshed in your mind and they help with marketing on these courses too
C: How did you find out about doing these courses?
E: I’m on an online forum of thousands of female photographers which is amazing. Through that you can do training and actual recommendations and so on. It is a lot of money to do training with a photographer so this forum helps me to know they’re established and worth the money.
C: Do you chat to your customers far in advance?
E: Yes, People book so far in advance too! I’ve got weddings booked for 2019 and enquiries for 2020! It’s so good for me to know this too because I can plan ahead. I can set my goals because I can tell how well it’s going.
You can find Ellie’s work by visiting: