No, I’ve not always been a photographer, well not in the sense you probably think of. I didn’t leave school, study photography and then launch into life as a photographer. I took the scenic route! And yes I’m self-taught over many, many years and very proud of it too.
I was thirteen when my Grandparents bought me a little Kodak Instamatic camera for my birthday which promptly came with me on holiday to stay down south with family where I visited Whipsnade Zoo. I suspect somewhere I’ve still got some of those images – I must look them out.
It was a VERY basic camera and of course internal shots were VERY yellow as the the camera shot what it saw. However despite not being totally impressed by the colour always I was wholly and totally smitten!
I read lots and desperately wanted to go to university and study photography but I couldn’t work out how that would be possible. All I had was my little Kodak camera I had no means of buying a good camera and the thought of finding the ready cash for the film I’d need left me cold. It never occurred to me that the university would have cameras, film and more …. but I was very naive and I knew I’d not have support at home either.
I ended up leaving school before my A’s and taking off to London for 18 months as a nanny, it was a great experience but I was happy to move back North.
At 18 I bought my first SLR cameras, a Canon AE-1 (which I still own) and a Canon A-1. My boyfriend and now hubby had the same cameras and we spent all our spare time out taking photographs. I was in heaven. But still not following the dream of becoming a photographer ….
The picture is of me age 18 out in the woods near where we lived doing what I loved most, with the person I loved most. All these years on he’s still there which is great don’t you think? The picture is a scan of a very bad print – I should have the negative somewhere …. but I’ve got a huge amount of images to sort and catalogue so for now with limited time on my hands, this is it.
Life continued to get in the way of my dream and so:
- I learnt to touch type – an agonising experience I’ll share another time
- Did a good bit of temping – showed me where and who I didn’t want to work for along the way, but also introduced me to a good many different sectors
- Joined my OH in catering just so we could spend more time together
- Ended up managing bars and kitchens and winning awards despite no formal training
- Had children and left work to home educate & keep pigs, goats and hens
- Went back to work when my OH became very ill and nearly died (another story for another day)
- Then fell into a computing degree as you do (whilst still home educating, nursing my OH and looking after animals!)
- Worked in computing for several years
- Created a web business with my OH as he got better that morphed into high med tech (another story ….)
- Began to shoot for clients – a case of you are not putting those images in my website thank you …. my beginnings as a photographer
- More and more photography work and I was in my element
Finally in 2014 I started off on my own to follow my dream and at long last I was a photographer and Sue Todd Photography was born!
To begin with in 2014 I was shooting product photography, families and events. I did some weddings but those and family shoots I decided definitely weren’t my bag. Over the years I’ve photographed so very many different things, from socks and wellingtons, through to mechanical engineering parts, jewellery and even funeral lifts! (Did I say I had a lot of stories to tell?)
But then I was advised to niche by my mentor and that it ought to be food ….. I’ve not really looked back since. I still shoot commercial work but the majority of my work is food. I love every day and I’m so happy in what I do, more so than in anything I’ve ever done career wise.
All those years before I got to follow my dream were so valuable looking back though.
My time in catering is an obvious one that’s still so useful now, but time spent working with different industries, being behind the scenes a great deal, the opportunities I had to work not just with small SME’s but also with some huge corporates like E.ON, Legal & General, Bayer Pharma and even NASA! (Yes that’s another story, as it’s not every day you get to fly to San Francisco to talk to NASA ….. ). Working within their branding constraints and working methods, setting up training that went out across 53 countries worldwide, negotiating at board level, the project management, the list just goes on.
All of that comes into play now and I’m so pleased to be able to draw on it. So my path and story towards becoming a photographer was far from straightforward but I’d not change a thing.
So yes, while it’s easy to regret things not done sooner, sometimes the things you do instead are perhaps there for a reason and to fuel you forwards when you do reach that dream. How did you reach your dream? I’d love to know.
Want to work with me? Give me a call. And do follow me on social media you can find me here: