As a mum of two young children herself, Liz Lockie is forever trying to capture those precious moments that fly by so fast. She loves to specialise in babies, children and families, capturing wrinkly newborn feet and chubby thigh rolls, the cheeky, innocent smiles and those special moments between families. With her gentle approach, she ensures every shoot is completely led by the little people in it. Here she talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind Liz Lockie Photography, the biggest breakthrough for her business, and her plans for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I have always loved taking pictures and learning how to use a proper camera. I always said I was really an old lady stuck in a young body as my idea of a fun day as a 21-year-old would be a nature walk with my camera to see what I could snap away at! I knew how to party! But in all honesty, it just shows how much passion I have for it. Once I started my family in 2016 and attended a few sessions with various wonderful photographers, I saw how amazing it was to give that to families. I loved how they all had their own styles and ways of interacting with the children. Images of such a personal and vulnerable point in life that you quickly forget! I like to think of myself as a ‘gentle’ parent, encouraging my own children to let their emotions out and talk about feelings so I continue this approach with my little clients – there’s no expectations of them and I get down to their level to interact with them so I’m not just a scary lady with a camera in their face!
I also found I wanted lots of digitals as I loved making my own photo frame galleries all over the house and using the images on thank you cards, etc., and it didn’t seem very common to get the digitals – they are often just an added bonus. So this was something I felt I could offer too and wall art as an additional option but not a necessity. I already had my camera and just literally started to see what would happen…
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
So I did my research and decided what sort of style I’d like to begin with. I think with anything in life, you are forever evolving but to have a base and a skill set to really hone in on and perfect is what would make it successful. I have always loved bright whites over dark and moody. So I got a roll of white backdrop paper – nothing fancy! I opened a Facebook business page and worked for free (I was on maternity leave at the time with my daughter being 9 months old) for a good few months and invited lots of families through my door to let me practise on them! A lot of friends came to help and offered me their babies to photograph and some kind strangers who took a risk that the pictures would turn out ok and they’d be laughing with free images!
I didn’t have a studio space, so I used to transform my kitchen each night before a session the next morning. Between my husband and I, we’d carry out the dining table and chairs to the garden and set up a cheap softbox I’d got from amazon! You really don’t need a lot to just give it a go and see where it takes you! I slowly built up a portfolio, created a simple website with some basic low pricing, got some public liability insurance and began advertising! Spending evenings watching Youtube videos and following photography teachers made a huge difference too over time.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Now this sounds a bit odd, but it was actually Covid. It meant I could stop and reflect on the first 8 months of business and decide which path I wanted to take next. Sometimes life is a never-ending merry go round and you don’t get much chance to slow down and reassess. I kept my sessions running slowly by doing doorstep photography on my local walks with a long-distance lens and all money was put to the Trussels Trust Food Banks. I kept up a social media presence, did some online courses and once things began to open again, some in-person ones too. I completed my infant first aid, trained and passed my exams with The Academy of Newborn Photography. My daughter’s dolls became my guinea pigs when I couldn’t have real babies in, to practise various wraps, camera angles and lighting on – I have far too many creepy doll images stored away! I set up a proper studio space and increased my admin knowledge by introducing contracts, terms and conditions and other policies, which was all ready for reopening in April 2021. After a few crazy busy months, I invested in some better lighting and equipment too, which I feel really increased the quality of my work and it’s just been on the up from there ever since – I love it!
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
That’s exactly what it is – always a balancing act! It’s me trying to be present for my children in the daytime and also not glued to my laptop all evening trying to catch up when my husband is wanting to chat. I find I have to be quite strict about when I work, which isn’t easy when you run your own business and the world has 24/7 access to you through your phone. I have set working days when my children are at school or childcare and if I need extra time, I will work some evenings and a few hours on a weekend if it fits in with the family. One of my biggest fears in life (as many other parents I’m sure) is my children feeling I wasn’t there enough. I don’t think any parent ever really feels they have got it right – it’s just changing things up and seeing what works! I do know I love my work though so it’s important for me to make time for it and focus and it’s great for my children to see me with a career I’m passionate about! As my studio is within my home, they can sometimes help me set up or try new things before I have clients in, so it’s nice they are involved a little.