I’m very lucky to say that Rachel Bragg, the lady behind Sweet-Images Photography, is a coaching client and friend of mine and it’s been an honour and a privilege to see her business grow so quickly in the last few months. I took the chance to ask her a few questions, so you could get to know her as well as I do. Enjoy!
Tell us about you and your background
I’m Rachel Bragg, I hail from Bedfordshire originally, a place I generally refer to as “The Shire”. However through a military marriage I’ve lived all over the south of England but now happily based on the Somerset/Dorset border. I’m an equine photographer who first started working in this field about four years ago. Initially as a freelance event photographer working for some of the country’s leading on site equine photographers and then more latterly I’ve been slowly building my equestrian portrait side too.
What made you want to start a business?
I knew very early on in my working life that I really didn’t want to be the person that lined the pockets of a faceless company owner for all my life. It just took me a long time to work out just exactly what it was I wanted to do enough to be able to step away from the corporate world and find my own feet. Don’t get me wrong, I worked for two amazing USA based global lifestyle brands whilst wearing my 9-5 badge for nearly 20 years, so it wasn’t that I ever hated what I did or even didn’t feel appreciated. I just knew it wasn’t for me forever. It was actually whilst standing at the side of a road with a little compact camera about 5 years ago whilst waiting for my husband who was competing in an Ironman competition (I was diligently taking some snaps of him whizz past on his bike) that I realised that much of my time in recent years had been spent taking snaps like this. Roadside, poolside or ringside. Initially this started from the outside of the show ring snapping away at my best show horse who was produced by a show team during the early ‘norties’ and then after meeting the man I married, with him at various endurance events. I no longer had horses of my own but wanted to be involved in the horse world in some way still. I put two and two together and finally made four.
How is Sweet-Images Photography different?
Well I guess one of the more simple answers to that is ‘me’. I don’t mean that in a big-headed way (and any one that knows me would know that’s not my character anyway), I just simply mean that whilst I don’t have a specialist skill or a unique business, I do have me on my side. From a photographic aspect my chosen style of images tends to be a more matt and de-saturated look that’s developing all the time.
What makes your Sweet-Images Photography special?
Initially I used to think this was a little tricky for me to answer because on the face of it there’s many other equine photographers out there and many of the basic ideas, image compositions and products etc can be quite similar. So I look at it in a slightly different way – it’s my fabulous clients actually make the product special. Each relationship between client and horse is highly individual. Photography, of any form, is about capturing moments or connections. Within equine portrait work a good photograph will directly highlight to those connected to the photo that it is full of meaning to them. A great photograph goes beyond that and reaches out to those totally unconnected to the subject too. It’s actually the way the client and their horse interacts with each other that leads me to be able to capture those moments that can make the product special.
If you had to sum up Sweet-Images Photography in five words, what would they be?
Equine photography that breathes emotion.
Do you have a motto or ethos?
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?
Not everyone is your customer. Square pegs and round holes just don’t work well together, however ever much you want to force them to. If I feel that what they are looking for from their images they would be unlikely to get from me, I will always suggest alternative photographers for them to consider approaching. It was only on Friday evening that I was discussing this with a potential client.
One thing that helps you run your business more effectively
Don’t laugh, I have a dictaphone….! I suffer with a bit of a butterfly head, mentally flitting here and there. I really do suffer with a brain that forgets or flits off to something else. I can’t tell you how many times I have to rewind audiobooks or go back a page or two in a book or think of a great idea and then have no ability to write it down or remember it. So the dictaphone goes everywhere with me. I even whipped it out whilst freelancing at Devon County this year and blurted something into it whilst a Steward stood next to me laughing. Also, when you really should have been called Dory, you get these great moments of ‘oh my gosh yes’, when you replay the dictaphone back at your desk and the lightbulb moment is thrown back at you!
Best thing about running a business?
The time factor – if I need to go to Boots at 10am I can. If my lunch break (hahahahahaha) comes outside of the recognised working 12-2pm slot, then what the heck! If I feel ill, or I need to just stop for a bit, I no longer feel awful about taking some time off to recover or to give myself a break. Yes it potentially impacts me financially but I don’t feel the stigma thats often associated with time off when you work in an employed environment.
Worst thing about running a business?
The time factor – sometimes pulling 18+ hour days because you feel you need to.
Top business blog you follow
Amy Porterfield is my current favourite.
Top business book you’ve read
I’ve read many in the last 18 months and I can pick things from most of the books I’ve read that have stuck with me. However the simplicity of Carrie Green’s ‘She Means Business’ means I really connected with it on a personal level. I think the fact that so many small business owners, run by women, also find this book in their Top 3 shows just how great a book it is. I have the physical book and it on audio and I’ll frequently stick it on in the car to give myself a little reminder.
One thing we might not know about you.
I’m actually an introvert. I’m not shy, that’s different, but naturally I find being in company really tiring, even when I’m enjoying myself. This isn’t always the easiest to manage from a business aspect, let alone a personal one. Not many will notice a difference or would even be aware of it because I do try very hard to be ‘normal’ and I do enjoy company and get involved. However, for me, after any kind of gathering – be it work, dinner out with friends or a simple drink – I really have to regroup myself. As a freelance photographer this can be really hard work to manage if I’m at an event for many days in succession and frequently the tent/camper van/hotel room is a sanctuary of a different kind for me…
Top business achievement.
Still being in business? Gosh I don’t know because I’m not sure I’m wired in that way and I don’t feel I’ve been going long enough, I’m still very much finding my feet. However having an article of mine in print in an equine magazine this year was pretty blooming marvellous for me!
Where can people follow you and Sweet-Images Photography online?
Website – www.sweet-images.co.uk
Facebook – facebook.com/SweetImagesPhotographyUK
Instagram – @Sweet_Images_uk
Twitter – @Sweet_Images_uk