Interview with Amelia Jacobsen Portraits

 

 

Originally from New Zealand, Amelia Jacobsen lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Amelia spent many years as a professional photographer capturing the best of everyday people, celebrities and sports personalities for New Zealand’s largest news agency. She built on this experience producing shoots for some of the world’s top end fashion brands and it was here Amelia realised she wanted to show ordinary women outside the media spotlight that they too could look as confident and extraordinary as the models they see in magazines.

What is your background, did you always want to be a photographer?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t own a camera. Right from a very early age my father taught me the basics of photography which lead to me taking it as a subject at school while on an exchange year in America. Before my passion for photography became my profession I started in hospitality, and then moved into the advertising industry. Looking back, I think these experiences helped form my opinions on the importance of good customer service and presenting a clear message for my business.

When I first arrived in Scotland in 1999 I worked for the Scotland On Sunday Newspaper as a Picture Researcher, before relocating to London to work for The Telegraph. I then returned to my native New Zealand for seven years where I worked extensively in film and TV before becoming a press photographer for the local newspaper. The newspaper work was what excited me most as I was dealing with real people and their everyday lives, rather than models or film stars. Photographing real people is infinitely more enriching and rewarding.

When I relocated to Scotland, the second time round having married a Scotsman, I decided to start Amelia Jacobsen Portraits. The business is a culmination of all my experiences: 5 star treatment for everyday people, bringing out the best in women by using fashion industry techniques and my personable style of portraiture. While working as a producer in the fashion industry, I realised it’s not the make up that makes a woman beautiful, that just gives confidence, it’s capturing that natural expression that reveals who we are through the power of a beautiful portrait.

Is there one person you would like to photograph, past or present?
In honesty, there is not one person in particular. I want to photograph mothers, daughters, sisters and families. Whether for business portraits or for more personal celebrations of our relationships, everyone has a great story to tell. When I photograph someone I’m fascinated by their potential. There’s a special relationship between camera and sitter and it’s bridging that gap to make the sitter feel at ease that produces the great results.

Have you found that business has come through recommendations?
Yes, my business is built on personal recommendations. I like my clients to enjoy the experience so much that they want their friends and family to experience it too.

The cost for setting up as a photographer is probably higher than any other new start, have you found it challenging getting the business started?
I have been a photographer for many years now so owning professional equipment has been an expensive, but gradual process. Because of this I was well prepared when I launched Amelia Jacobsen Portraits. However, the other costs that most people don’t appreciate are the day-to-day running of the studio, paying for top make-up artists, retouchers, printers and framers and also keeping up to date with new developments in computer technology.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
For a small business your reputation through word-of-mouth is the most important form of marketing – It doesn’t matter what budget you have, making sure your clients value your product will probably bring the biggest return. I have been fortunate to live in a few different countries and from this experience realize it’s important to pay attention to worldwide trends. Scotland is a highly educated and skilled nation, but not necessarily a nation of early adopters. I’ve found it invaluable to follow trends happening in other parts of the world then adapt them for here.