So – if you have stumbled across this interview and you are a photographer, prepare to be inspired. As someone who is pursuing a sideline career in photography I have found many challenges that I have had to deal with in the last 2 years. Sometimes, a lot of the challenges or frustrations I have faced are ones that friends or family wouldn’t necessarily always understand. As per most of my blog posts, I was searching the internet one sunny afternoon (or maybe gloomy) to find some photographers and groups to connect with after a few bad weeks of being overworked and underpaid. I needed to find somebody who could relate to the hardships one faces in a very competitive market. Some people with very small followings were not keen to connect (which was interesting) and some with bigger followings surprisingly were happy to connect via social platforms, and this is where I found Elspeth.
Elspeth has been a constant source of encouragement since and even though our styles are completely different, I have gained a lot of insight, boldness and determination to push through the hard times and pursue my own style regardless of what others think. The kindness of this photographer is surely another reason why she will be successful! She is always willing to help and guide others along their own journeys. I hope that you will be encouraged by her words and if you are feeling like you need a pick me up, make sure to follow her fb page and blog! (links below interview) – PS, she has also recently started vlogging and her video’s are super entertaining!
1. So, how did you get started as a photographer and what made you fall in love with capturing moments / images?
Funnily enough I actually took Photography as a ‘filler’ A-Level and it was the enthusiasm and freedom of the course and tutor that really engaged my love for this form of art! I learnt in film for a year before I even touched digital and I think the hours I spent in the darkroom helped me to reflect on life and turn me into the person I am today. When I was younger I originally wanted to be a fashion designer but discovered I didn’t have the patience to spend weeks, even months just making one piece! When I fell into photography by chance, I realised that this was the medium I could use to channel my love for fashion and put my stamp on the industry!
2. What inspires you as a person?
Other people! I love people watching, and talking to fascinating individuals who have their own story to tell. Which is lucky as this industry means I get to meet so many of these kinds of people!
3. What do you like to do when you are not taking photos and you can’t say editing? 😛
My dogs are my absolute little fur babies, I spend a lot of time on them and as anyone can tell who follows my social media they are a huge part of my life and family! Yoga and spirituality also takes up a healthy portion of my life and keeps my brain vaguely intact! Both help so much with my mental health problems as I suffer from anxiety, depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. I do spend 99% of my time working but I am also a keen advocate for promoting awareness of mental health problems and take time out of my schedule to talk to others about their issues. I find this helps deplete any stigma attached and starts to redefine normality within society when we all open up about how we really feel!
4. For someone looking to start as a photographer – what advice would you give them?
Choose your battles wisely and learn whom you should listen to – a lot of people out there in this industry will try and belittle you and their critique isn’t always constructive! Try not to take criticism personally as it’s difficult to develop your skill and talent when you have that barrier up.
5. You’ve recently officially gone down the self-employment route (which a lot of people dread) what was the process like for you?
Oh God it’s been fantastic! I wouldn’t have done anything different – I contacted The Prince’s Trust who put me on a 4 day enterprise course where I learnt everything from doing my own taxes to marketing and networking, I even have my own mentor whom I meet with on a regular basis for advice, guidance and someone to support me! Richard is fantastic for this because he’s not a photographer, but he’s a very business minded individual and really knows his stuff, this really works to my advantage because I’m not looking for a photography tutor, I’m after a business mentor! I’ve been self employed officially since September 2014 and I would never go back into employment.
6. Do you have any role models in the photography industry?
The photographer that will always stick in my mind for the reason why I went into fashion photography is Yanick Déry – he’s not overly well known but his work inspired me so heavily during a research project back in my A-Levels that I just saw it, looked and thought, that’s it. THAT’S WHAT I’M GOING TO DO!
7. Do you surround yourself with other creatives and do you think this is important?
Yes! I think this is so important – I spend a fair amount of time with Faye Halliday, an incredible artist from Stourbridge and the energy we can bring together when we’re both on a roll with work is insane! Even her beautiful Mum, Lou, always comments on how much more work I get done when I’m hiding in a corner of their home editing away. The one thing I do have to watch out for though is other photographers, some can appear kind and supportive to begin with but can easily switch and become jealous or demeaning towards you. Most creatives are fantastic though, and it really helps that we’re all on a very similar wavelength without mindsets!
8. What is your next project?
I’m actually doing some charity work at the moment with a charity called Funny Blood, they raise money and awareness for Platelet Function Disorders. Their latest task is 7 challenges in 7 weeks, as blood makes up 7% of our bodies; My part in this is that I’m photographing their challenges, last Friday was at the Worcester Wolves v Surrey United basketball match, yesterday was Clay Pigeon Shooting at Park Farm Shooting in Ombersley, Worcestershire and I’m actually about 10 minutes away from heading off to photograph a challenge in Pershore tonight with Worcester City FC. Fashion wise, my next projects aren’t personal at the moment because I’m doing much more commissioned work BUT I’ll be shooting a ‘before and after’ feature for makeup artist Cassie Rule mid-Feb, and then in May I’ll be working alongside the talented team at Peter Prosser Hair Salon in Hereford to produce more advertising images for their branch!
9. You were recently at the conservative conference featured by BBC – what was that like and how did you contribute?
Oh my god that was the most terrifyingly wonderful turning point in my career! Very long story short, BES (Business Enterprise Support) a non-profit company in the Midlands published a piece on my success story after completing The Prince’s Trust course; this was then picked up on by the Department of Work and Pensions because I am currently on the NEA (New Enterprise Allowance) scheme, put in place by The Conservatives. As you can see this was what lead me to doing the speech – originally I was going to be on a panel with Esther McVey, the employment minister, doing a joint question and answer session with other NEA case studies; then after I wrote my speech, I sent it over only to receive a phone call form the DWP offices informing me that I’ve reduced them all to tears and they want me to do a 3 minute solo speech before introducing the employment minister to the stage! As I suffer heavily from anxiety that was one of the biggest hurdles of my life. I was originally told that I would be talking to a room of around 100 people and it probably wouldn’t be on TV. I walked on stage and there were DEFINITELY more than that, AND it was broadcast live on BBC Parliament.
10. Where can our readers find you online?
http://www.elspethvanderhole.com – but if you want to contact me directly then my email address is email@example.com
Thanks guys! ❤
Elspeth is a Worcestershire based Fashion Photographer, working all over the UK and being published regularly throughout the world. With 10 years of experience under her belt and a collective online following of over 10,000 she is slowly but surely gaining recognition for her work. Throughout the course of her career she has worked with clients such as ASOS and Vidal Sassoon. Fashion photography is where she’s found her purpose in life; suffering heavily from anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder it’s what keeps her on track, keeps her focused and also gives an outlet to express herself.
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