Turning hobby into business ‘is best decision I have ever made’

Graham Ross from www.HappyDaysPhotography.co.uk with Alan Hamilton from Carrickfergus Enterprise. INCT 46-109-GR
Graham Ross from www.HappyDaysPhotography.co.uk with Alan Hamilton from Carrickfergus Enterprise. INCT 46-109-GR

What is your business?

I provide a range of photography services including weddings, pet and family portraits, events and product photography.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up doing what you are doing now?

My motivation originated from wanting to change my working life, and the passion and enjoyment I got from photography as a hobby. Combining these two things lead me to the idea of starting my own photography business. I took photos for my family and friends and began teaching myself how to edit and present images. To further develop my knowledge and skills I took courses through Northern Regional College

Did you always want to run your own enterprise?

As my love of photography grew I realised my ambition was to work for myself and be my own boss. This seemed like the next big step for me to take and since making the decision I have not looked back.

What skills/qualifications do you require for the role?

The main skill I require is obviously the ability to take a good photograph. As my business developed from a hobby I have learnt a lot of the knowledge and skills for this over time, through practice and research. I have also attended NRC to obtain City & Guilds qualifications in photography, and am currently studying for Level 3. The other skills I need are interpersonal, being able to put people at ease and make them feel comfortable in having their photo taken, and business skills such as book keeping and marketing.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when setting up and what support did you get?

My biggest challenge was taking the chance and leaving a full time job to go work for myself. I found my family and especially my wife to be very supportive in this and gave me any advice or assistance I needed. I also took part in the Business Boot Camp programme through Carrickfergus Enterprise. This provided me with a lot of useful information, allowed me to network and helped me to produce a business plan.

What tips could you offer those considering starting their own business?

Plan what you are doing, and know what you are getting yourself in to. Research your market, for example I practised on family and friends for months before starting my business. Perseverance, don’t give up. It can be long hours and hard work at times but it is worth it.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

My plan for the next 12 months is to continue what I have been doing but to hopefully grow my customer base. I have recently opened a studio on Balmoral Avenue in Whitehead and I hope to invest in some new equipment to keep enhancing the products that I am able to offer.

What do you get up to in your free time?

My business is my hobby, so I do still enjoy taking photographs for fun. I also enjoy football, reading and watching films, and spending time with my wife.

If you could swap places with anyone who would it be and why?

I would swap places with a younger me and tell me to get into photography earlier and therefore start my business years ago. It is the best decision I have made and only wish I had done it sooner.