Spotlight: KT Bruce, Photographer
Each month we interview 2 members for our blog to showcase the variety of businesses that support our Chamber Of Commerce. In this interview, we speak to new member KT Bruce.
1. Hello KT, thanks for talking to us! How would you describe your business?
Photography with a difference, I really take the time to understand what my clients want and I work with them as individuals. I don’t offer ‘packages’ my work is bespoke - tailored to my clients’ needs.
2. When was it founded?
3. What's your background and how did it lead you to this business?
I became a photographer almost by accident! My previous career was as a teacher, we moved to Oxford and my husband was headmaster at a school in the city, I wanted to do something different rather than teach in the same school as him. I had a lot of free time, so I borrowed my husband’s camera and started taking photos of Oxford. I discovered that people really liked them, so I did an exhibition and sold out!
Around the same time, I became a chaperone to the school choristers when they were singing in the cathedral. I started taking photos of them at moments in between rehearsals and I discovered the power of images that are captured when people don’t realise they are being photographed, so portrait photography became another string to my bow. Things evolved from there in quite an organic way, I started doing some wedding photographs; I was then asked to photograph her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth when she visited Christchurch; I did the photography for the Bishop of Oxford for nine years during which time I was lucky enough to visit all sorts of places and meet some amazing people.
I was asked to work alongside three very eminent photographers to cover the Oxford Literary Festival and they were very generous in letting me absorb their skills, but it was definitely a trade barter as they recognised I had a great rapport with people, so I was the one to charm visiting celebrities into the studio and then everyone got the shots they were after. I realised that it was always worth spending time with people and getting to know them because that resulted in capturing the best images. But all of this has happened without any formal training. I always say to people when I began I didn’t know a bus stop from an f-stop – I didn’t have a clue!
4. What makes your business unique? Definitely my curiosity about people – I want to get to know them, the best photos aren’t necessarily the ones taken quickly. It’s always worth taking time. Sometimes clients struggle to describe the photo they are looking for me to capture but they know instinctively that they will recognise the shot they want when they see it. So, I never leave a job until I’ve got a photo that satisfies the client.
Also - have a look at my photos of people and look at their eyes. I need people’s eyes to talk to me. I need to see their soul – that’s what I’m looking to capture in my photos.
5. What are your business values?
To have a happy client and to enjoy working with them. Getting to know my clients so I can be clear on their expectations and fulfil them is vital.
6. What are your plans for your business in 2023 – what are you focusing on?
I would very much like to do more work with the businesses of Rye. Whether they need photography for their website or for particular promotional campaigns there are working on. I really want to get more involved.
7. What are the challenges your business faces this year?
I’m conscious that in the current financial climate, photography might be something that businesses decide not to budget for and to take their own images. Obviously, that’s understandable when budgets are tight, but a professional photographer is an artist and
will always be able to capture a better shot.
8. What are you most proud of in your business?
Without a doubt, it’s the long-standing relationships I’ve created with clients. Many have become friends along the way. Of course, I have favourites – Nicholas Parsons to name just one, now sadly no longer with us, was a gentleman beyond all gentlemen and I’m still in touch with his wife.
9. If there was one piece of advice you wish you’d had been given when you opened your business what would it be?
The advice I did give myself very early on in my career has stood me in good stead - ‘Never go home until you’ve got the photograph you want’. I’d only been working as a photographer for a few months, and I needed a photo of Rowan Williams, at that moment he was standing at the entrance to Oxford Cathedral, but the light was poor. I knew I had two choices, take a poor photo in poor light and go home, or get brave and ask him to come outside. I asked him and he was good enough to oblige and I got the photo I needed. If I was giving advice to a young person starting out in a photography career now, I would say – take your time. Build your relationships and care about what you’re doing. A lot of people are lazy with photo composition – relying on cropping afterwards, but my thinking is - why take a photo that isn’t right to start with? You lose quality with cropping – be aware of what you want in your photo and don’t rush!
10. The biggest change you’ve seen in your business or your business sector since you started?
It has to be the use of mobile phones as cameras. Everyone thinks they're good photographers! Of course, every so often people do get a good photo – but it’s more by accident rather than by design. For example – I might line up a great shot at an event and behind me is a row of people taking the same shot with their phones. They will think that the shot is down to their expertise, but really it’s because I lined the shot up for them – they just copied!
MEMBER TO MEMBER OFFER: Could your business use some professional photography for your Website, profile pics or products? KT is offering discounts for fellow Chamber members. You can contact her at email@example.com.
All images copyright KT Bruce Photography.