Just a few days off the launch of the new look ‘Moya Slade Photography’, it feels like the right time to take a look back at how an earth I got here! Putting pen to paper or in my case finger to key is always a job I have put off. However, as part of the new me, I have made a promise to myself that I will write my ‘Blogs’ to keep you up to date with what I’m doing. So here goes number one…..
My journey began over 15 years ago. After 10 years in the PR industry, I felt need for a change… I quit the rat race of London, went freelance and decided to go back to college to study Photography. Always being a passion when growing up, a little camera regularly in my hand and then working closely alongside photographers on fashion shoots for my job, I wanted to follow my dream. Art and Design College beckoned. I enrolled on a diploma in Photography and It was great fun. Not long after my studying began, I was very lucky to get offered a job in a Portrait Studio in Kent as general ‘dogs body’. With a determination not to be making the coffee or answering the telephone, I soon wangled myself some training behind the camera. Finding that I could actually take a good photo and following a period of time that one can only describe as a ‘A baptism of fire’, I found myself working as one of the studio photographers, shooting mainly babies and children. I loved it!
A busy two years followed and I knew photography was something that I needed to have in my life. However, I started to find working in a studio ‘creatively restricting’ along with the confident thoughts that of course I could make all this money for myself…….I decided that I was going to give it a go on my own…the birth of ‘Moya Slade Photography’.
I bought a new camera, a Canon D60 a couple of lenses, some editing software …advertised locally and even managed to take a couple of clients with me. I started photographing children and families and even the odd dog or two out on location in my local area. Looking back now I was extremely lucky that it worked. I look at my work and think I was extremely lucky to get clients! My goodness how times have changed…with location portraiture relatively new and not many people doing it, I secured enough business to get Moya Slade Photography off the ground. I knew absolutely zero compared to what I do now, I relied heavily on my ability to see an image, I shot on aperture priority (AV) not manual, my kit wasn’t professional enough, I let my camera tell me what to do and I didn’t understand natural light..All of these things SO fundamental to the success of my business now!
After a relatively successful two years running my business, I was delighted to find out that I was pregnant with our very much longed for first baby! Of course I was determined to carry on but it didn’t take long to realise I wanted to spend the precious early days with my baby and this wasn’t conducive to giving the level of service that I had previously been able to. With that came the decision to leave my photography business sitting on the back burner. Another baby followed along with a very difficult personal time dealing with a serious neck injury which resulted in major surgery, making the option of going back to work unthinkable and impossible.
Although I continued to take thousands of pictures of my own children my business remained firmly shut and with it came a tumbling of confidence in my ability to take a good photo and run a business, something I know many women experience.
By the time my youngest started school I was starting to get itchy feet, experiencing an overwhelming desire to do something for myself. I must have looked at so many options: midwifery, counselling, reflexologist, magistrate but not once would I allow myself to think that I was good enough to go back to my photography…I found every excuse possible, with thoughts of not good enough, too much competition, technology has moved on etc. However, during this unsettled time I was very blessed to meet Ann Dickens, a local physiotherapist in Oxted. Our paths coming together through my neck injury and the need of a long period of rehabilitation to get my physical fitness back, we spent many hours together! She quickly became someone I talked freely to and I soon found her becoming a friend and confidant and an amazing inspiration to me! She too had climbed many mountains in her life and she constantly encouraged me not to be fearful and made me believe anything was possible if you put your mind to it!
Finally in January 2013 with the support of my husband, I found the confidence to enrol on an online photography course to see if I could knock the rust away and find my confidence again…I dusted off my camera, literally! and started back on the road of studying again. I was so excited, I felt alive again and could feel my passion seeping back into my bloodstream, it was liberating!
Not long after the start of the course, Ann suggested that I met a friend of hers, Paul Sanders, a Professional Fine Art Landscape photographer and ex-picture editor of The Times. She felt Paul’s raft of experience and natural ability to teach and pass on his knowledge, would help me. In April of that year, I booked a 1-2-1 training session with Paul. Thinking that I would like to explore landscape photography, as that would be a good hobby to have, we arranged a session in the local Bluebell Woods. It turned out that on that day Paul had to go to a job first to shoot some shots for a church brochure in Sevenoaks, he asked if I would like to go with him and practice taking some candid shots again of people. Almost paralysed with fear I surprised myself, finding that I actually really enjoyed it and that photographing people still came naturally to me. It’s funny how life goes, I look back on that day and think how I’d set out just to brush the dust off, how I remember asking myself ‘What the hell am I doing standing in the middle of a wood with a strange man and a camera!’ but I’ve never looked back since. Moya Slade Photography started to tap me on the shoulder and say hi! Ironically, Paul and I are now good friends and work colleagues. He too, has been an enormous source of support and inspiration to me and one of the biggest mentors of my business over the last 2 years.
So that’s where it all began again…I quickly changed my very dated Canon D60 and bought my beautiful, ever faithful Canon 5D Mark III, a love affair that is still going strong! I started to cut my teeth again on photographing my friends children. My first shoot involving 6 children, one mad dog and 4 friends as an audience in the Bluebell Woods..not something I chose to do again in a hurry! I set a website up, bought new software (again!) and continued to train and update my kit. Learning how to shoot manually with confidence, getting to know how my camera worked and all the beautiful things it could do under my guidance. My learning curve was a steep vertical climb but I never once wanted to give up.
Word began to spread about my work. After shooting my daughters play as a favour to her teachers, I was approached by the Bursar at her school in Oxted, to quote for coming in for the day and taking images for their advertising. Two whole days of taking pictures of the children at work and play in and around Hazelwood followed. I was exhausted but absolutely elated at what I had achieved. That was the start of a working relationship with Hazelwood School that is still going strong.
I have recently just shot the 3rd year of advertising images for them, along with the honour of being asked to photograph the head, Maxine Shaw and numerous plays and events. My Portrait work was also going from strength to strength. My style was evolving and my confidence with my own abilities building month on month. I also started to support Paul Sanders with local photography workshops, surprising myself with how much I enjoyed teaching and passing my knowledge on to others.
2015 has been a massive year for me and my business. In January, I joined SWPP, the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers and attended the SWPP conference in London. It was at this time that the path of fate took me to a workshop on how to photograph Children with Confidence, run by Kate Hopewell-Smith, renowned UK and International Photographer. I was so inspired by her and absolutely loved her work. Kate’s work ethos and advice completely started to change how I thought and worked. I then decided to attend a full-day workshop with her in the March. At the end of this day we started talking about the possibility of me coming on her mentoring scheme. She took me on in May! Four months in she has completely changed how I work, think, shoot. She has believed in me and gently pushed me in a direction that I never thought would be possible. Her constant support and advise has really, truly changed me and ‘Moya Slade Photography’. A change that I believe will mark the path of my business for many years to come.
So here we are, another year end looming but for all the sleepless nights, hours of worrying, not seeing my family, paying money into the bank in Hello Kitty hair bands, spending whole days with printer ink smeared over my face and hands and shouting profanities at my computer…I wouldn’t change any of it….I have found my confidence again, my mojo is back and I’ve found the ‘New Moya’….. I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring…photography is in my bloodstream and woven into my soul and I can’t imagine life without it!!!!