This week we spoke to Sarah Toon of Sarah Toon Photography
Hi Sarah, thank you for talking with us today! Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
At school I wanted to be an architect, but I became a PA for an accountancy firm, married, 3 children but my passion for photography and architecture continued. Then in 2013 when I turned 40, I bought my first DSLR, Nikon 7100 and I haven’t looked back since. I made a decision to become a professional photographer and in November 2016 I gained my LRPS (Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society), January 2018 I gained my LSICIP and June 2019 my ASICIP (Associate of the Society of International Commercial and Industrial Photographers). This is what motivates me most, gaining qualifications for my passion as the hard work is worth the effort.
What motivated you to set Sarah Toon Photography up?
I’ve always loved photography ever since I went to a darkroom class at school. Over the years I had various small little film cameras until one day I bought my first compact digital camera. Back then I didn’t really have a clue how to use it or what the settings meant, I just loved taking photos. As the years went by, I purchased my first bridge camera and then began to experiment more and learn about all the settings. I subscribed to Photography for Beginners magazine and it was there I was published for the first time with images I had sent into them. I won online competitions, photos in newspapers etc. That was when I knew I wanted to be a professional photographer and set up Sarah Toon Photography.
Were there any setbacks you had to overcome?
The biggest challenge to date is becoming recognised as a professional in my chosen field. Architectural and Construction is a hard nut to crack at times, especially being female too. So many people take their own images on their phones these days, but once I show them how a professional photograph looks and we compare them to the phone shots, that’s when they realise the true worth of a professional.
Obviously, finance is a challenge too. The day I left my office job and became self-employed I vowed I would be financially independent for my business. I’m lucky that my husband is also a chartered accountant, so I do get great business advice.
What would be your dream photography project to work on?
My dream photography job would to be a travel photographer. I adore travelling and every street and corner is the adventure.
Did your eye for photography come naturally to you?
I’ve always had a creative gift. At school I took Art, Design and Technology (on the pretence I was going to be an architect). I can paint, draw, and I’ve extremely creative with my hands and I love DIY. Over lockdown I built a decking out of old pallets which look great and made a herb garden too, again out of an old pallet. I never throw things away just in case I want to make something out of them.
Are there any female photographers whose work inspires you?
Inspiration is a tricky question. I have always been influences by images and not necessarily knowing who took them. I have a lot of female photographer friends who are magnificent wedding, portrait, baby photographers but to find a truly inspirational female architectural photographer, my search continues.
Do you have any advice for women who are just starting out in your industry?
My advice would to trust in your ability. Each shoot can be different and at times challenging. I work in confined spaces a lot of the a time, especially on site, but knowing that you can do the job, overcome the obstacles in your way, adapt to your surroundings quickly and know that you can be the best in your chosen genre. I have mentored several students over the years, my current student is my 15 year old daughter who has taken GCSE photography, she’s also my greatest challenge ….! I love to teach photography; I have a gift I can share with others and to see them grow from a “I’ve just bought a camera” to “I’ve just won a competition” is fabulous. At my local camera club, I help and teach Lightroom.
And finally, for our Desert Island Round, three tracks, a book and a luxury?
Ooooooo desert island……
Tracks: Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen, Does Your mother know – ABBA, Uprising – Muse
Book would be A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
A luxury would have to be a hairbrush haha
This was Sarah Toon of Sarah Toon Photography, interviewed for our #WiCW series – a compilation of articles from inspirational women in the Construction and Trades industries. Want to get read more? Check out our resources section. Want to get involved? Have someone to recommend? Get in contact with us on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org