London photographer shares top tips on turning your hobby into a business

As the UK enters its second lockdown, a London-based photographer and videographer told Leeds Trinity students to use this time to start working on their photography.

Haris Ahmed, who specialises in street photography, also runs a YouTube channel and has his own digital marketing agency, Haych Digital.

An example of Haris’s street photography.

Haris spoke at Journalism and Media Week, giving tips to students. He said: “If you want to be good at something you have to practise every day.”

He encouraged students not to let the current Covid-19 restrictions stop them from practising, describing how he used his daily exercise during the first lockdown as an opportunity to take pictures.

Haris said: “The only thing accessible at the time was going for walks so it just felt natural to keep a camera by my side.”

He recommended a challenge called the 50:50 challenge, which involves taking a photo every day for fifty days with one lens.

Haris explained that the restrictions led to creativity and having to find something to take a photo of everyday taught him how to turn the mundane into something interesting.

As well as creativity tips, Haris also gave an insight into business aspects.

A key piece of advice for students was to build a portfolio – even if that means starting out doing things for free.

Rather than seeing it as doing free work, however, Haris explained to students to see it as an investment in themselves.

Haris said: “People care about experience a lot.”

Even at this point in his career, Haris told the students how he had recently taken on some work with a hotel for free.

“I knew that if I wanted to do other hotels in the future, they would need to see another hotel being done.”

Another tip Haris had was learning about your subject material.

He describes how learning about culinary skills or finding out the right angle of a pull up ultimately helped him capture them on video better.

Finally, in a world where everyone has a smartphone and thinks they are a photographer, Haris explained that it is up to the photographer to add value.

“If anything, [everyone having a phone camera] actually helps me because then everyone is taking crap photos.”

To set yourself apart from the many iPhone photographers Haris said: “You need to help [your client’s] vison but take it to the next level […] and showcase that you are value for money.”

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