In today’s interview, I have the pleasure to talk to another business owner who turned a lifetime passion into a career: photography.

Ally Whitlock is not just a great photographer but also a businesswoman who is passionate about educating her audience. That’s why she runs personal photography workshops, contests, and explains new types of photography (like Personal Branding Photography) and techniques in her very informative articles.

How would you explain your business to someone who has no knowledge of it?

I am a branding photographer in Croydon & a storyteller. I help entrepreneurs & small business owners project a professional image & make a great first impression online with high quality, personalised photography that communicates who they are & what they do. I use photography to tell the story of a brand helping them to connect with & engage with their clients & customers.

How long have you been in this business? And in other businesses?

I have been working in the photographic industry for 14 years. Initially, I worked for & with other photographers. I set up my first photography business in 2013, it still exists now & specialises in wedding photography. I set up Ally Whitlock Photography in 2019 to focus on working with entrepreneurs & small businesses.

How did you get started?

Photography has always been a hobby of mine. I was the teenager who spent all her pocket money on film & developing (in the days before digital, gosh that makes me sound old!). I went to art college but then got caught up in corporate life.
In my mid-20’s I thought it’s now or never & returned to university to study photography. After I finished at uni, I worked with other photographers & managed an independent photography studio. This proved invaluable experience as I learnt how to run a business without the pressure of it being your own business.
In 2013, I felt I’d gained enough experience in the industry & so went out alone. I’ve never looked back!

How do you attract your clients?

ally whitlock brand photography south londonPredominantly through business networking. People do business with people & I place a high value on building relationships with clients.
Saying that I am also working on improving my SEO to make my website work harder for me.

Can you describe your customers?

My customers fall into a number of categories. Many are small business owners & sole traders, predominantly in creative businesses who want photos for their advertising & marketing. I also shoot headshots for corporate clients & these, as well as the small business, are often city firms with a number of staff members need photographing.

Which things make you happy as a small business owner?

Happy clients make me happy!
That may sound like a bit of a cliche but I love it when a previously reluctant-to-be- photographed businesswoman, nervous about her image, is delighted & thrilled with her photos. Seeing the joy in their faces makes me happy.

Why do your customers select you over your competitors?

They choose me, because of me. As a small business owner myself, I understand that I am my brand & my customers buy into me as much as they do my photography.
I always say to people that it’s important that they like their photographer as a person & not just the photos in their portfolio.

Customer Retention: how do you keep your customers happy?

By taking amazing photos that exceed their expectations & help them grow their own brand!

Which challenges did and do you face, running your business?

Time! Not enough of it to do everything I want to do! There is only me & I want to keep it like that but because of this, there is a limit as to how much I can do.

Is there any business lesson you learnt through experience that you wish you knew about earlier in life?

Learn to say no when the client or the job is not the right fit for you, your business or your vision.

ally whitlock brand photographer londonHow do you maintain a good work-life balance?

I love to exercise & so I always make sure I allow time to run, cycle or go to the gym & this gives me much-needed downtime. It can be hard though particularly during peak photography season (summer) to get the balance right.

Which is your best strategy for time management?

Scheduling everything in my diary whether it is work or social. If it’s in the diary, it happens. If it isn’t, it may not!
Summary
Photo ofAlly Whitlock
Name
Ally Whitlock
Website
Job Title
Branding Photographer
Company
Ally Whitlock Photography Croydon