Over the past few months we have been working with Amanda McConnell, a photographer based in chesterfield, for her upcoming exhibition. We sat down with Amanda to get an insight into her life, her inspirations, and what been creative means to her.
What is your upcoming exhibition’s name?
"My exhibition is called Beyond the Lens with Happy World Photography… ‘it’s not what you look at, but what you see’"
Tell us more about yourself, what careers and jobs did you have before owning your own photography business?
"I've always been a creative person, with art and textiles being my favourite subjects at school. I wanted to be an interior designer when I left school but when this was discouraged as a career choice, I decided to follow a course in Business Studies & Economics at college whilst I worked two part time jobs as a waitress in a tearoom and a checkout assistant in Morrisons.
Going to college opened up a new world of opportunities for me when I saw a poster recruiting au pairs to work in the USA. I was only 18 but the thought of travelling to a different part of the world to work, filled me with excitement and once I get an idea in my idea, that's it! I had the time of my life socialising, meeting new people and travelling around the States. Looking back, having that freedom at 18 is something I'm very thankful for, as the world feels like a different place now. My time in the States helped me realise how much I loved working with children, so after 18 months, I returned home and found myself starting a career in Social Work, working with families whose children were at risk of being taken into care.
Over the following 6 years I worked with a diverse range of people who needed the support of social services, including Adults with Disabilities, before leaving to work in Adult & Community Education where I developed and delivered accessible learning programmes for the long term unemployed, in partnership with private tutors and FE Colleges. Before leaving to start a family nearly 10 years ago, I had moved to Loughborough University where I worked as a Consultant with a group of businesses looking at ways that we could bridge the gap between industry and education, through identifying the higher level skills needs within management teams that could be met through bespoke HE courses Before I left to have my son and subsequently start my own photography business and MOTUS Women Entrepreneurs Network, I had a varied career helping others in the areas they needed support. Nothing has changed there, as I'm still doing this, but now working with businesses who need unique images that positively impact their business through social media and online marketing. Photography will always be in my heart as it makes my soul sing when I know I've created something that others love too! "
How long have you been a practising professional?
"I’ve had my photography business as a professional Commercial Brand Photographer for over 5 years working with clients in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire."
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
"What inspires me the most with the images I capture as part of my Happy World Photography business, is nature and beautiful parts of our world where there’s breathtaking sunsets, stunning landscapes, amazing architecture and delightful flora and fauna. All the images I create have something about them that make you smile and they evoke happy, thoughtful feelings when you look at them, which is why I wanted to call my business Happy World Photography!"
What made you decide to peruse your passion and build a business from it?
"When I turned 40, I felt like I’d reached a crossroads in my life after leaving a well paid job as a Consultant at Loughborough University two years previously to be a stay at home mum to my son who is now 8. It was at this point that I started reading lots of personal development books, some of them the inspirational kind, written by women who had either been made redundant or who had voluntarily left their paid employment to start their own business that they’d set up to work around their family commitments, and that was the start of my journey to where I am now. Having had a passion for photography since I studied it at college in the days of film and dark room processing when I was 16, I knew that if I set up my own business, photography is what I would do, but it was the wonderful support and encouragement from my amazing husband that gave me the courage and determination to take that leap of faith. I remember him saying to me ‘you don’t want to die having regrets so go for it’! And I've never looked back... he's my rock, my soul mate and my 3rd ear!"
What made you chose West Studios when deciding where you should exhibit your work?
"You instantly feel like you’re in a warm, friendly and welcoming environment when you walked through the doors to West Studios. Hannah & Joby are always very helpful and nothing is too much trouble. I love the feel, space, natural light and white walls inside West Studios which is a perfect environment for my Happy World Photography Exhibition."
Beyond the Lens with Happy World Photography will be available for the public to view from Friday 9th March until Friday 6th April. Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm Saturday 10am - 1pm