Amelia McLeod is an Adelaide-based portrait photographer, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the recent Gathered SA Style Challenge event. While our conversation was short and sweet, I was able to gauge Amelia’s style of photography and found the brief interaction that I had with her enjoyable. During the event, Amelia photographed me and it was so much more than just snapping a picture. Given the fast-paced aspect of the event, she was able to quickly analyze the lighting, the angles, and the backdrop where I was situated and was able to create some stunning portrait shots of myself. Walking me through techniques to relax myself and position my body in a way that would be flattering, Amelia worked her charm and with a few shots, was able to create these beautiful shots:
Specializing in contemporary portrait photography with the aim of bringing into focus the person’s “great smile and a cheeky glint in their eye”, Amelia hopes that her photography will be able to unravel a glimpse into the personality of the individual being photographed, making it a unique shot that is also aesthetically pleasing and ever so glamorous!
In anticipation of her appearance at the upcoming Gathered SA market on July 13 + 14 at the Queens Theatre, I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Amelia to learn a bit more about her business – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Amelia?
Amelia: I am a pretty down to earth type of person, but always seem to have my “head in the clouds”. I have had a very successful career in the allied health industry as a cardiac technician for over 20 years. However, I’ve always needed a creative outlet, which I now channel into creating amazing photographs for my clients. I love to find the beautiful side of things (although I do struggle with slugs…)!
Tema: How long have you been running your photography business for? How have you found the journey so far?
Amelia: I have been in business for approximately 2 years, although, I had previously done work for friends and family. I love the creative side of the business – planning photo shoots, the sessions, watching people change in front of my lens, as they grow in confidence, and the end results when my clients see themselves with wonder. I have struggled a lot with the concept of marketing myself and the business – this has been the hardest part for me. As with any business, there are highs and lows, which can be emotionally challenging. But, I am really enjoying the journey. Oh, and I have learnt so much in the last 2 years, which is super exciting!
Tema: What inspired you to get into the medium of photography? When did it progress from being a hobby to being a full blown business?
Amelia: I always enjoyed photography as a child – my father would let us take photos and help us to get the exposure and focus correct from a young age. He would often let me have the last couple of frames on the film to finish it off. I photographed everything – from my lunch (budding food photographer), to the sunset (hello National Geographic!) and my family. About 10 years ago, I decided I needed a creative outlet to balance out the very scientific career I had and I bought myself a more advanced SLR and learnt how to use it. I imagined myself as a landscape photographer, but, it turns out I don’t like getting up early to get “the shot” in the perfect light. I soon realized that I loved to photograph people – to capture their moods and beauty. There are so many people out there who haven’t had a professional photo taken for years – some since they were in school! They only had their phone photos as a reference to how they looked – and let’s face it, they aren’t always the most flattering of photos. Worse still, many women are the ones behind the camera taking photos of their children, and they are never in front of the camera. When their children go looking for photos of them, what would they find? I discovered that I had a skill in being able to allow people to feel comfortable in front of the camera and that I could bring out their true beauty. A big part of my business is to be able to share that beauty with as many people as I can.
Tema: What would you say is your style of photography?
Amelia: My style of photography is quite contemporary with a magazine style influence – think Vanity Fair, Vogue and Marie Claire.
Tema: What motivates you to create that perfect shot?
Amelia: My clients motivate me. Everyone is an individual and we all have things we love and hate about our bodies. My perfect shot for my client is one that flaunts what they love and minimizes what they don’t. My aim is that when my client sees their photos, they can look at themselves with wonder and take their own breath away
Tema: What does the creative process look like?
Amelia: The creative process starts with a pre-session consultation. This allows my client and I to meet each other and decide if we can work together. During the consultation, I find out how the client wants to be photographed, with who, and what they want the photographs for. We also discuss outfits for the day, what to wear, and what to bring. On the day of the session, the client comes in and has their hair and makeup styled by a professional, before we run through the photo shoot, where I guide them on how to pose and how to flatter their body from head to toe. I will then edit 20-30 photos from the photo session and the client will return about 2-3 weeks after their session to choose the photographs they love.
Tema: What is the range of photography that you currently specialize in?
Amelia: I specialize in glamour photography and personal branding portraits. I also offer digital media and content marketing photo shoots, as well as conceptual portraits.
Tema: What are some styles of shoots that are popular among your customers?
Amelia: My clients tend to fall into the categories of wanting a beautiful, magazine inspired photograph of themselves to keep for themselves or gift to loved ones, to personal branding, where they want a professional stylized image of themselves to represent their brand and company (although they often want a bit of glamour at the end too).
Tema: How did you get involved with Gathered SA?
Amelia: I was looking for a space where I could promote myself and my business. I loved the concept of Gathered SA, because they showcase SA businesses and creatives only and I believe that it is important to support small businesses in the state. I also love a lot of the stall holders and what they have (I have to come with my own budget, or I might spend a fortune at everyone else’s stalls).
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience, when they purchase a service from your photography business?
Amelia: I hope that they feel like they have actually had an experience, not just an in-and-out type of service. I take pride in my customer service – from the moment we meet to the final product delivery, I want them to feel comfortable with me, and that they are part of the process with a voice at every step. I hope that when they look at their photos, they smile and take their own breath away.
Tema: What do you think is rewarding / challenging about being a small scale business in SA?
Amelia: Being a small scale business in SA has rewards and challenges. The rewards are that many people in the state want to support local business, wanting the personal contact, rather that doing everything online. This is also amazing, as you get to meet so many supportive and caring people. The challenges lie very much in sourcing products and suppliers. I try to find as much as I can in South Australia. However, sometimes this is not possible and then you need to factor in extra costs such as bulk purchase and postage to get stock and goods to us here.
Tema: What do you think helps your business stand out from the rest?
Amelia: I take the time to get to know my clients. Although I have a style of photographing, each client has a strong voice in how they are photographed. It is a collaborative process. I do not do the same poses for everyone, I seek individuality as much as I can.
Tema: Why should people support your business?
Amelia: Everyone should have a portrait that they are proud of. A portrait is more than just a pretty photo, it can ignite self-confidence and self-esteem in so many ways.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like our readers and your customers to know about you and your business?
Amelia: Having your photo taken with me is more than just a photo session – it is an experience. If you have a dream photo shoot in mind, I would love to help you create it! I will also be displaying some of my more conceptual work during SALA at Erb N Flo Cafe (153 Sturt St), supported by Cystic Fibrosis SA, from August 1 to August 31. It would be awesome if you came and checked out my work and the work of the others in the show!
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos by Amelia McLeod