📢New. Series. Alert! 📢
Introducing... The Storyteller Series.
Every day I meet SO many incredible freelancers and founders who turned their back on the 9-5 life. mostly in search of more meaning, autonomy, and sanity.
Because of my incessantly curious nature, when I spot like-minded business owners in the wild, I don’t just want the Instagram bio definition of what they do, I want it ALL...
The stories that made them, changed them, broke them (in a good way!).
And it’s WAY too selfish to keep all these stories to myself, right?
Every month, I’ll be showcasing a fellow “storyteller” who has harnessed the power of story in wildly wonderful ways - from content creators, to illustrators, to the fabulous brand and family photographer that’s kicking off the entire series: Angela Stubbs.
Today: We’ll be diving into, not just one, but Seven Stories with Angela Stubbs.
Can't wait? Skip ahead to:
Before we get started though…
Angela Stubbs is a brand photographer, based in York, who helps ambitious creatives, makers, and entrepreneurs tell their story and get noticed by their dream clients.
She’s been in business for 16+ years and made her first entrepreneurial leap as a family photographer, which she still does to this day alongside her branding storyteller shoots.
Angela's emotive, eye-catching images tell stories that words can’t (a picture says a thousand words… and all that jazz). And I know this first-hand, because she’s captured me and my business, without a thin-lipped, awkward smile in sight 👇
She’s also amazing at telling stories over cups of steaming coffee, and has recently set up the York branch of Ladies Who Latte. It's fast-becoming my new fave networking group because there’s no elevator pitch in sight - just strong coffee and good chat.
The Origin story
"Can you share the story of how your business began?"
I always wanted to run my own business but for a long time I had a career in the buying/marketing world for a large retailer. Photography was my hobby and I would often sign myself up for evening classes to learn more, but then could never make them because I was stuck at my desk working really late hours.
When I eventually left my corporate job, I didn’t jump straight into photography, I didn’t feel “good enough” yet, so I ran a childrenswear boutique. I used to hang photographs that I took of my friends' children up on the walls. Occasionally someone would ask about the images and I would tell them about my love of photography, and slowly I started booking customers from the shop as family photography clients.
Over time I got more serious about my photography, went on training courses, and as my confidence grew, I put more and more pictures around the shop and then I found myself running two businesses side by side. The photography business really started growing as more and more families found out about me, so I ran with that, and that was about 16 years ago now! In fact, one of my first paying photography clients just invited me to photograph their son, who’s setting off for university - it's crazy how time flies!
The Storytelling Philosophy
"How does storytelling play a role in your business? Can you describe your philosophy or approach to using stories in your work?"
My business is the business of telling stories with photographs and I do that as naturally as possible. When it comes to my family photography I want parents to look at the photographs of their children and say “yes you've really captured them” and with brand photography I want images to reflect what they do, where they do it, how they do it, and the people and the faces running the show - so that a stranger could get a sense of what it’s like to work with them straight away.
And the way I can tell those stories in images, is to build a genuine connection with the person on the other side of my camera lens. I want them to be completely at ease, so I use that connection and rapport that we’ve built from all the stuff we do outside of the actual shoot, to capture their real essence.
The Key Plot Point
"Can you share a key moment/experience in your business that led to a major change? How did this moment shape your business?"
It might sound weird, but for me it was the realisation that brand photography is actually a thing. Because when I first started out, there wasn’t a demand or need for photographing businesses in the same way as today because we didn’t have social media or have the digitally visual world we do now. So the moment I realised that brand photography was becoming a thing, that was a big lightbulb moment for me.
Because I started off in the family photography world, the parents I got to know over the years, the ones who ran their own businesses, would ask if I’d do the same story-telling style shoots for their brands: which was the beginning of my brand photography pivot - but it wasn’t even called that then, this was all pre-Instagram and LinkedIn, before it became a genre of its own!
The Daily B Roll
"If I was a fly on the wall in your business what’s the one thing I’d see you do the most?"
Oh, you won’t see anything too exciting! Probably just me referring to my CRM system (I use Studio Ninja), multiple times a day as well as my planner. Without these two things, I couldn’t run my business and stay on track with my projects and clients.
The Rising Conflict
"Is there anything that’s got in the way of your business success? How did you overcome it?"
The first thing that comes to mind is in the early days, it was ME. I was getting in my own way. I wasn’t charging enough and not valuing my own worth by believing that clients wouldn’t pay a higher price.
Now I’m a big believer that when you charge your worth you attract clients who value you so much more than the clients who want you on the cheap.
I was only able to see my true value when I started working with mentors and coaches. Having experts casting their eyes over your business is so refreshing and that was the turning point for me when it came to pricing.
The Conversion Story
"What story about your own business or services resonates the most with your audience? Why do you think it has that impact?"
I think I get a good reaction from people once they know I’ve been photographing families and businesses for over 16 years. Once they know that, I think they feel more at ease and comfortable because I’ve been doing this for so long, and have adapted to the changing demand and market, so they feel like they’re in safe hands.
The Story That Stuck
"What’s a piece of advice/lesson you’ve received that you’d happily share with other small business owners?"
This one is easy - because I tell everyone I know!
A very good friend of mine told me about networking and not only to go to networking events, but to try lots of different events and join groups, until you find your “tribe”. At first, this filled me with horror, I could only visualise function rooms of people thrusting business cards at each other and making small talk, but when I started actually going to them, and finding the right kind of events, I realised how right she was.
I loved it so much, and it’s given me such an amazing network of connections, that I set up the York branch of Ladies Who Latte, after going to the Harrogate branch for a few months, and loving their relaxed set-up.
Want to find out more about our Storyteller of the month?
Angela Stubbs Quick Links:
All images 📷 by Angela Stubbs
Pssssst! Do you run your own business?
Want to share your Seven Stories?
I'm looking for ambitious, story-loving business owners to feature for Season 1 of the Storyteller Series. 👇 Apply now 👇