Life In Focus

Jo Jobling, Chief GirlBoss at Jo Cole Photography, gives solid advice for students who want to become photographers, whether they want to study it formally or pick up a camera and learn on the go.

Jo Jobling pulls no punches about whether photographers need to study the subject in university in order to make it a successful career. “I didn’t need to have that qualification. I chose to study it because it was a hobby that I wanted to continue. But photography is a subject that, if you have a passion for it, you can learn,” she says.

She points out that there are numerous helpful YouTube tutorials on techniques and editing that students can watch and follow. Furthermore, she says that many photographers would be willing to talk to students and give advice, they just have to reach out. “There are plenty of workshops around Dubai as well, so anybody can start it up, providing they have that passion and drive and motivation,” she adds.

Aspiring photographers needn’t be put off by the lack of fancy equipment either. When Jo started out her budget didn’t allow her to buy the best gear available, and she made do with a very basic digital SLR. “I would advise that you buy the best that you can afford. If you can’t afford the top of the range, then go for something priced lower and build your equipment up from there. Then it’s just about practise and research and learning. That’s all it is,” she says.

Photography isn’t just about getting the technical aspects right, though, and Jo puts her success down to the dedication and discipline she throws into every single shoot, whether it is a wedding, family session, or a corporate event. She makes sure she is punctual, puts all her effort and attention into the shoot while she is there, and gives clients a sneak peak of the images either on the day or the day after. Finally, she makes sure she has the images edited and delivered within a realistic timeframe. “This ensures that my turnaround remains quick, clients receive their images soon after the event, and I don’t get any backlog of editing, which means everything can run smoothly,” says Jo.

One of the advantages to having her own business is running her own hours, which means she can balance her home life, including school drop offs and pickups, with the demands of her work while spending quality time with her children. Her business fits in with her life and not the other way around, and by her own admission she is not a very business-minded person. That’s not to say you don’t need business acumen if you’re a creative entrepreneur who is looking to grow their business.

Working as a photographer can be as big or small as you choose, and Jo firmly chooses the latter, as she currently does not want to grow her business. “I am happy to continue doing everything myself and this works well for me, both financially as well as keeping both my passion and creativity alive,” she says.