Big question, tell us about your journey into photography. How did it all begin?
Photography is something I have always been fascinated with and passionate about; from a young age I remember family holidays with disposable cameras. Even though at the end of the holiday you’d have to come home, I always remember that excitement of getting rolls of film developed and re-living the holiday all over again! In fact, each trip I go on now, I always make sure I have a disposable or polaroid camera – there is something so lovely about having a physical copy of an image that you can hold and keep forever.
It was around the age of 14 when I got into digital photography, my secondary school was starting up a new Photography course and I jumped at the opportunity (mainly because it sounded like fun). I absolutely loved the course, I found it was a way I could really express myself and experiment with different styles. I then continued to study Photography as an A Level where I learnt a lot about the technical side, spending many hours in the darkroom. Graduating with a degree in BA Photography at the University of the Arts London was where I really noticed the value of networking and understanding the industry. It was at University where I really saw it for an opportunity to become a career.
The year I graduated, I worked hard through the summer and winter months, generating a large portfolio that would showcase my work. Although it was and still is long hours and hard work, it never really feels like work when you’re doing something you love! I would encourage everyone to work hard in their passion because one day, it’s very likely it could become your career! No hard work goes unnoticed or unrewarded.
Explain your style to our readers.
I’d say my work is in-trend fashion focussed combined with a dreamy glow. I try to keep creativity at the forefront of any shoot as this is where you engage the audience through captivating and unique angles, edits and style. I feel like it’s only in the last year or so that I have found the style that I love, although I am also open and will always be keen to explore new avenues as this is how your style develops and changes with the times.
Photography is a world of beautiful subjects, styles + formats, how do you stay on top of the latest trends as well as remaining perfectly unique to your brand?
Great question! For me, it’s the bravery to step outside your comfort zone and not to be afraid to try new things! For example, on shoots I often ask my model to try a pose that I haven’t shot before – this is the only way for you to know if it’s a pose you’d like to keep using or if you need to change your angle and way of shooting in order to make that pose work. Another thing is to remember your brain is like a big filter sponge, it will only take in visuals if you consistently supply it with them! I feed my brain with visuals everyday with the use of search engines like Pinterest – it’s full of creative people showcasing amazing visuals and work. You’ll find the more you expose your brain to creative visuals – the more you’ll use these throughout your work.
Wow, you have come so far. What was the initial inspiration to start your own business?
I always knew that I wanted to follow my passion and for this passion to become my work, even if it wasn’t my sole income. I’m a firm believer that you should focus on the things that make you happy; if you put enough work and hours into these things, they will one day pay off – even if it’s not the route you initially thought! Creative people I met in the industry was another big push, I exposed myself to as many successful people in my industry as I could and wasn’t afraid to ask questions (that’s the only way you can learn quickly, right!). Networking was the fundamental reason I was able to become freelance and one of the ways I meet new clients nowadays!
We love your shots! Where can we purchase your prints? Do you have a favourite, and why?
I have a few of my travel photography work available on my website – www.lydiacollins.com under the shop section. Initially, I started selling these to raise money for the devastating bushfires in Australia at the start of 2020 – to my absolute surprise, I raised just over $6000. When I ended the fundraiser and took the photos off my website, I had several messages asking to purchase some for presents and for peoples new homes, I felt so grateful. So I decided to set up a permanent digital print shop on my website where I update each time I go on a trip.
What was your first piece of kit, and what would you recommend to beginners looking to expand their hobbies?
My first piece of photography kit was actually borrowed from my dad and it was his Nikon – I think it was a D40 paired with a 16-35mm 2.8 lens. I used this as a hobby camera when I was going through school and college. When I had saved up enough money, I bought myself the Canon 70D – I used this camera for a long time before investing in the camera I use now which is the Canon 5D MKIV.
For a beginner camera, It totally depends what you want to be using it for and if you want to have the option of interchangeable lenses as some cameras, like compact cameras, often have fixed lenses. There’s a lot of great and affordable cameras on the market this day and age so definitely explore your options. YouTube is an amazing place to source reviews for cameras and lenses – definitely do some research but don’t be too nervous as most companies offer a 7 day return if you’re not totally happy!
You must miss travelling so much! With the world sadly on stand-still, how have you adapted to continue being creative?
I miss travelling SO much, I had planned to be in Australia the beginning 3 months of 2021. It’s so important to remember that this situation is temporary and things will get back to a new normal, even if it’s not totally the same as what we knew… who knows it could be better!
I have split my time being creative behind my camera but also down other avenues such as painting, glass cutting, reading – anything that gives me that same creative buzz! It’s amazing how much joy you can actually get from trying something new!
When we can, where will you be travelling to next?
Hopefully Australia as it truly is my home away from home and I have a lot of friends there that I am desperate to see! But honestly, I would love to go to Europe and explore some beautiful destinations that I have not visited yet! This time, as I imagine for many, has made me realise how accessible and easy travel was – I want to definitely make the most of being able to travel to Europe so easily from the UK.
Tricky, but where is your favourite place you have visited?
Work-wise – I’d have to say Tulum in Mexico, it completely blew my mind and I was able to shoot with some incredible women for a beauty brand and ended the trip shooting a 4 page spread with a magazine!
Travel-wise – The Philippines is a destination that totally shocked me with it’s endless beauty. Every island is so different and offers breathtaking beauty such as waterfalls, turquoise waters that are rife with tropical life, huge rope swings off palm trees – I could go on but if you are lucky enough to travel there, you are going to absolutely fall in love with the place and people!
Are you an early riser or a night owl, and do you have ritual which you stick by to maintain productivity?
I am absolutely an early riser. I love the simple pleasures in the morning of making a coffee before anyone in the house is up and having a moment to myself. I find my productivity in the morning is so much better. A little routine which I have been doing for the past 9 months is to laptop work or shoot in the morning until 2/3pm, workout or go for a walk, come back and read my book before making dinner and winding down for the evening. I also said to myself in the first UK lockdown in March 2020 that I wasn’t going to work on weekends unless absolutely essential. I have pretty much stuck with this up until now, with the exception of a few occasions if some of my clients can only shoot on weekends. Having a big break every week really helps me maintain productivity and focus when I am working.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I actually get a lot of my inspiration from other creatives, not just photographers. I find most of my inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram – there are so many talented people out there and I love finding new accounts and styles! Some Photographers that I love are; Jessica Kobessi (her YouTube is filled with creative ideas and she offers some really great tips!), Bonnie Cee is an Australian photographer that shoots the most beautiful swimwear campaigns, Clint, an LA Photographer, blows me away with his creative shots and edits – he also creates some beautiful imagery on film.
I also listen to a lot of podcasts which keep me motivated; The BossBabe Podcast, The Health Code, The Creativepreneur Podcast are a few of my fave! Also The Winging It Podcast by my friend Lucy Hitchcock and It Starts With A Click by my photographer friend Olivia Bossert are amazing! I honestly could go on with the amount of people that inspire me on the daily, I think we are so lucky to live in a generation where this sort of motivation and career advice is so accessible!
What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
To really put myself out there when it comes to networking and to not be afraid of rejection. Rejection is a common fear in most people but it isn’t always a negative thing, it can actually shape you towards the career that you’re destined to be at. I only really started networking and contacting people that inspired me at the age of 22/23 but I would recommend from such a young age to just talk with people about your passion and ambition as you can learn so much from others.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs at the moment?
Again, network as much as you possibly can – even if it’s online or sending someone an email! The more you put yourself out there, the more chance you’re giving yourself for doors to be opened. At the early stages, say yes to a lot of things, even if you’re unsure it’s the route you want to go down. I learnt and shaped a lot of my career by saying yes to shoots that didn’t interest me to begin with but allowed me to meet with people that were a big asset to my career moving forward.
Also, graft and work hard but always reward yourselves with days off with friends – don’t burn yourself to the ground as you may begin resenting the very thing that actually gives you so much joy. ENJOY THE PROCESS – it’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of career building but remember to take a step back and be proud of yourself for the little achievements you’ve made.