Who says you shouldn’t work with children or animals?

Published: July 7, 2020

A former Telford College photography student has carved out a thriving career snapping pictures of young children and pets.

After starting her career shooting weddings more than a decade ago, Rachel Bailey now specialises in portrait photography and runs a studio in Weston Under Lizard.

And now she’s turned her attention to the cuter things in life wanting to capture everything that makes babies and dogs so special.

“I really love having dogs in the studio, they are really fun. I really love posing the newborns. They are always very sleepy so they are easy to pose and it’s the same with the puppies as they like being cuddled.”

Her first job in the industry was working as a photographer’s assistant for weddings before setting up her own business in 2010.

Speaking to the Shropshire Star’s Weekend supplement, she said: “I was at a friend’s wedding and I was put on the same table as my friend’s photographer. I got talking to him and I was fascinated. I became a second shooter for him and I started doing more weddings on my own. I then set up my first studio.”

Rachel began her training with a City & Guilds course in photography before studying for a foundation degree in art and design, specialising in photography, at Telford College.

Rachel Bailey with Mark Cleghorn of Xperience Group. Picture courtesy of the Shropshire Star

She was then awarded a place on Staffordshire University’s one-year business start-up scheme and a £5,000 grant towards setting up her first studio, which was in Shrewsbury, before moving to Weston Under Lizard four years ago.

Since then Rachel has offered a mixture of modern and fun photo shoots including babies, families and fashion portraits.

She describes her style as “creative, fun, engaging and relaxed” and she takes pride in capturing the true spirit and personality of the people and subjects that she photographs.

Her aim is to create a relaxed environment through engaging in conversations, listening and paying close attention.

“I really love meeting new people, no client is ever the same and I like new challenges. The best part of being a photographer is when they come back to view the photos and they are really happy with them. It makes me happy that they are happy,” she told Weekend.

When lockdown started Rachel had to stop holding shoots at her studio but she was determined to dedicate the time to fully prepare for re-opening and build relationships with customers and the community.

One of her priorities was revamping her studio, taking into account social distancing guidelines, with the aim of restarting her business with more of a focus on newborn babies and puppies.

“The studio has been redesigned and painted. I’ve decluttered and got rid of lots of stuff I don’t need any more. I’ve got new props and backdrops,” said Rachel.

During lockdown Rachel also set up a Facebook group for mums in Shropshire and Staffordshire to help new mothers and pregnant women during this unprecedented time.

She wanted to create a space where the members could share stories and tips and ask for advice.

“The idea behind this was about mindfulness and bearing in mind mums-to-be and new mums didn’t have the support from midwives and health visitors like before lockdown,” Rachel, who has two young children aged four and seven, added.

She also set up a Facebook group called Shop Local aimed at promoting small businesses in the area and remind customers they are still here.

Two years ago, Rachel joined the Xperience Group, made up of professional photographers across the UK and Ireland.

Each year it runs a competition celebrating the world of photography and thousands of images are submitted by hundreds of photographers.

Rachel was delighted to have one of her portraits chosen as a runner-up in 2019 and this year she has two photos in the finals due to take place in November.

As well as of her studio revamp, she has ensured it’s a safe environment for both her customers and herself by installing hand sanitiser in the reception and studio, a fogger for disinfecting, two-metre distance stickers and sneeze guards.

Rachel, who has now started taking bookings again, is also deep cleaning the studio after every shoot and also has gloves and masks available for people to wear if they wish.

“I was a bit nervous about it but all of the clients who have been so far have been really pleased with it. It’s nice to get back to work,” she said.