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3 Things I learnt the hard way


By Hannah Freeland


  1. Only YOU stand in your own way

Let’s get something straight. No one will ever give you permission to be awesome.

I know that sounds daft, but it’s oh-so true.


If you know you want to be exclusive, don’t wait for the gold envelope through your letter box telling you:


“Dear Miss Freeland,

We are so proud of you and excited to tell you that you have now reached EXCLUSIVE level in your business.


Go forth and be awesome!


Yours sincerely,



There are many voices and opinions out there. But try not to let the opinions of others determine how you run your business.


I stood in my own way for YEARS! Urgh, its grates on me now as I wasted so much time due to fear, opinions and confidence issues.


My mentor would suggest 5 different ways of building my portfolio, I would happily sit in front of her and nod my head, I would then get in my car and tell myself, well you can’t do that, you’re no way NEAR good enough, your camera isn’t good enough, etc etc… This was me standing in my own way.


There have been so many times now, that I have eventually come around to an idea, jumped in with 2 feet and even if it failed or succeeded it was always worth it. It moved me and my business forward and that’s the goal!


Just believe in yourself, be passionate and go for it- your business will thank you later!


2. Keep your gear up to date

Emily and I constantly talk about getting your processes in place and your ducks in a row. This includes looking at your gear and making sure it’s up to the job.


I was commissioned a few years ago to photograph an Olympic rider for a front cover shot and a 6-page editorial feature. I also shared this full day with a film crew from Channel 4, so it was a BIG DEAL.


I had a wonderful day on the shoot, all went swimmingly, I travelled home, popped my card in the card reader and it did nothing. No nice icon on desktop to tell me the card was attached, no pop up to import the images to my backup hard drive – tumble weed!


My card had corrupted and to top it all off, it was a 64GB card! I never use cards over 16GB, for this exact reason. If you lose a few images from the shoot, you can cover up the issue, but I had lost all my images!


To say I cried is an understatement.


My hero came to the rescue in the form of my partner Matt. He is a super techy guy and has all the hardware and software for every tech problem going. Through my sobs I explained what had happened and he needed to help.


He set up a station in our sitting room and started work on this 64gb card. Disclaimer: I got lucky!


Matt and I stayed up until 3am and he managed to recover 90% of the images.


Cards CAN just corrupt, sometimes it can be for no reason at all, but the lesson I learnt here is that I want the likelihood of this happening to be at its lowest. This 64GB was over 2yrs old and because I don’t use the big card often, it probably hadn’t been used for over 8 months. These little things add up to a big no-no!



  1. Don’t have 120 images in your online portfolio

This is going to be a short and sweet point. If you have 120 images in your portfolio, you are giving your potential client 100 more than they need to see. Clients will make their mind up about you and your style in only a few shots, and they will connect with one or two if you stick to your style.


Potential clients look for the shot they don’t like. I don’t know why us humans do this, but we do. We might love 9 out of 10 things about a hotel, but if there is 1 thing we don’t like then we will move on and search for another.

By only showing 10-20 perfect images to potential clients, they see enough and there is less chance for them to see something they dislike.


Don’t be like me and fill your portfolio with every nice image you own!