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Clare Holness

“Plucky lass” realises her dream to become a photographer! crack

Armed with just her Nikon D90 camera, 24 year old photographer Clare Holness, is about to embark on one of the biggest challenges of her photography career to date; a summer wedding at Gloucester Cathedral!

Just one year into setting up her own photography business, First Photography, the local lass has started to make a name for herself in the world of wedding and portrait photography. The youngest of four daughters, Clare was brought up in the idyllic countryside near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. The tenant-farmers daughter, rarely seen without her camera in tow, loved photography from a young age; loved snapping away at school, but had never really considered it as a future career option.

At the plucky age of 15, the schoolgirl had set her sights on becoming a high flying Journalist and managed to wangle her way into working for a week at Stroud News and Journal to gain some experience. Clare spent 4 enjoyable days working with reporters on local news articles about stolen bikes, neighbourly disputes and local building demolition, but on the 5th day an outing with the papers photographer started something much deeper. She had most definitely caught the photography bug!

After finishing A-Levels at Sir William Romney’s School in Tetbury, Clare had decided to go onto University to study photography, but needed more experience to gain access to the available courses. So whilst working in Stroud for a year with her Sister, she did a part-time beginners course in Photography at Stroud College. It was all very basic stuff, all with film and black and white processing in dark rooms, but after a year of it she was completely hooked, and came out with Honours.

Clare then started applying for University courses and stumbled across the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, deliberating between Editorial and Advertising Photography or Photojournalism. It just happened that the interview for the Editorial & Advertising course first came first, she was offered a place and snapped it up immediately.

Along with the other 30 photographers on the course, Clare had the idea of becoming the next big fashion photographer! But within an hour of the first lecture, the hopefuls were informed of their misgivings surrounding fashion photography and the degree they were about to embark on. Fashion photographers usually begin by assisting other photographers and gradually working their way up from the ‘tea-maker’ to being commissioned their own jobs. But, determined not to give up on the University course, and wanting to learn more techniques and traditional methods of photography, Clare continued her studies. Banned from using any digital cameras for the first year of the course, concentrating on film and printing both black and white and colour prints in the darkrooms, Clare learnt a mountain of photographic knowledge. Through the second and third years she began to experiment with digital cameras and taught herself how to use Photoshop to enhance images and people with air-brushing techniques. The course was definitely not cheap with the costs of films, printing materials, cameras and exhibitions clocking up a lot of debt!

Clare graduated from University in December 2008 (at Cheltenham Racecourse) with 2:1 Honours, but was very hesitant to leave Cheltenham, so moved in with a few friends who had also decided to stay in Cheltenham after finishing Uni. She quickly began working for a local School Portrait Company based in Swindon; travelling around the country photographing children at nurseries and schools was a real challenge, teaching her a huge amount of patience, but was all worthwhile in the end! Unfortunately the recession hit, and as Clare was the last one to join the company, she was the first one out!

Whilst browsing the local Echo Newspaper, Clare saw an advert for a Baby Photographer at Cheltenham Hospital with the well known company Tempest. It was only part-time but revealed itself to be the excellent opportunity to work for an established company, whilst having the time to set up her own business. So in Summer 2009 whilst working at Cheltenham and Gloucester hospitals photographing newborn babies, she got a hefty loan to pay for the studio equipment she needed, and her family chipped in to buy her first professional digital SLR camera. The first challenge was deciding on the company name; something short, snappy and to the point! ‘First Photography’ was born! Catchy and simple, showing Clare’s wide range of photographic capabilities as both portrait and wedding photographer, whilst incorporating all the ideas of Baby’s first smile, babies first steps, first family portrait, first kiss as married couple, first dance...

First Photography offers a unique experience in bringing the studio to your home environment, with professional equipment and backgrounds. Being in the comfort of their own home means that children and adults feel more relaxed, resulting in a much more enjoyable experience, capturing the best shots. The informal, fun atmosphere enables the subject to feel at ease, with children’s favourite toys, music and outfits all at hand, making the photo session that bit more personal. Additional family members and even pets make regular appearances throughout shoots. And with wedding packages available from just £300 Clare has an incredibly competitive rate.

Through word-of-mouth and recommendation from friends and family her first jobs began to roll in, doing everything from catalogue images of car machinery for websites, to family portraits and wedding photography. In the last year Clare has photographed 10 weddings in the local area, including two at Roccoco Gardens. Currently preparing for the forthcoming nuptials at Gloucester Cathedral, Clare is also taking bookings for 2011, with May and April set to be the busiest months for weddings! Alongside her photography business, Clare also works part-time at Cancer Research in Cheltenham as it a cause very close to her heart, and coming from a very hard-working, ambitious background and like she likes to keep herself busy!