Wedding Photographer

Meet the artists who quit their jobs to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams

Giving up the day job to pursue a full-time hobby is something most people have probably dreamed of. The biggest hurdle is funding; Foregoing a salary for the uncertainty of self-employment is a risky move, but for those pursuing this goal, the risks are worth taking.

From construction worker to coastal artist

For Tom Inglis, in his youth, painting was one of his greatest pleasures. When he left school he trained as a carpenter and started working in the construction industry in London where he grew up, and continued to paint in his spare time.

He says: “I studied art at school but I didn’t get along with the teacher, who said that I was painting too fast and that I should take more time, so I didn’t choose this career option. It wasn’t until I started watching American painter Bob Ross on TV that I realized it was okay to paint quickly.

Inglis spent time working overseas, in the United States, Australia and South Africa, where he met an artist who created landscapes of local townships from cardboard and scrap wood. “His work was amazing, and it got me interested in the idea of ​​ethical art,” he says. “It also made me realize that what I really wanted to do was give up my job to paint full time.”

It wasn’t until 20 years later, after moving to Norfolk with his family, that his dream finally came true, and it was Covid-19 that presented the opportunity. “When the pandemic hit, the construction company I worked for had to shut down and I spent the entire lockdown painting,” says Inglis.

He also continued his idea of ​​ethical art, collecting discarded wood and using it to make frames for his paintings. “Ultimately the salvaged wood became my canvas and I painted over old doors, window frames, even an old guitar,” he says.

When restrictions eased, Inglis began looking for premises where he could paint and sell his work locally. He rented the old village post office at Brancaster Staithe on the North Norfolk coast and set up his studio, with start-up costs around £1,000.

With the region’s iconic salt marshes, beach and harbor just a stone’s throw away, there was no shortage of subjects to paint. And being based in one of the region’s most popular tourist spots, he had no shortage of customers keen to buy his art, which was priced between £45 and £600, with average prices between £180 and £250.

He says, “At this point I didn’t want to go back to my old job, but I knew I had to sell enough paintings to make a living, so I decided to give it a year.

Eighteen months later, Inglis is painting full-time in his studio, where he makes 90% of his sales, exhibits in galleries in Norfolk and London, and also sells online on Etsy and via social media. He says: “It took a long time to get here, and the pandemic was the catalyst, but I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing now for anything.”

From cabin crew to wedding photographer

As a cabin crew member of a well-known airline, Marc Bates was used to a hectic and often stressful lifestyle. To relax in his spare time, he took up photography as a hobby. However, in 2007, after losing his beloved grandmother, he began to question his career choice, as the pressure began to take its toll. He quit the airline industry, took a year off to spend more time shooting, and also discovered the world of wedding photography.

“I started out as someone’s assistant, carrying their camera gear, organizing group shots, etc., but I learned a lot about the craft,” he says. “Photography has always been my dream career, but it was a secret dream. When people asked me about my photography, I would tell them that I had taken wedding photos, but only as a side job.

But the secondary hustle didn’t pay off enough, and Bates had to find an additional source of income. He briefly returned to working for an airline, which he describes as one of the best and worst decisions of his life.

“It was a toxic work environment and my mental health suffered,” he says. “Work-related stress turned into depression and anxiety and I was fired from work.”

He then landed a job as a private driver for a well-known hairdresser, who, as an added benefit, offered Bates free business mentorship, giving him the knowledge, confidence and motivation to turn his job around. of photographer in a full-time job.

Starting a photography business is not cheap. Fortunately, Bates had a friend who worked for Canon and allowed him to use his personal discount to buy his first camera, a brand new Canon 5D MK2, in 2011. Over the next five years he acquired all the equipment he needed, some of it used, to be a full-time, part-used wedding photographer.

His determination paid off when he was twice voted Best British Wedding Photographer in 2018 and 2020 by the UK Wedding Awards, and he now flies around the world, not with cabin crew, but as a destination wedding photographer.

He says, “No matter how ready you think you are to make the change, it takes a leap of faith,” he says. “I believed I could pull it off, but ultimately it was still a gamble. It was also the best decision I’ve ever made, so just go for it.