'Top dog' photographer develops new career through business support programme
A former music and art technician has let her imagination off the lead by capturing South Yorkshire’s pampered pets on film after securing help from Launchpad, a unique programme aimed at helping would-be entrepreneurs to build and grow new businesses within the Sheffield City Region.
Animal loving Christine Wilson decided to prove it was possible to teach old dogs new tricks by focussing her efforts on setting up photography and media production company CW Media Productions, which specialises in pet portraiture.
Christine first became interested in photography in the 1980s, after working alongside her brother who regularly took pictures of the Royal Family and saw his work published in newspapers and magazines.
After being made redundant from her career in the classroom, Christine decided to enrol on a TV Production degree at Leeds Trinity University, joining her daughter who was also working towards a degree in Psychology.
Unsure about a future career path but keen to build a career in media, Christine’s ideas finally clicked after creating videos for local animal shelters to help animals in their care find a forever home. The experience made her ‘paws’ for thought and after leaving university life behind, she decided to apply her newly developed skills, coupled with a first class degree, and try her hand at carving out a career in the world of animal photography and videography.
Despite working as a freelance wedding photographer in the 1980’s, Christine realised that the market place had changed significantly. Unsure how to turn her ideas into a reality and in need of support, Christine approached Launchpad for help.
The fully-funded ERDF programme, delivered throughout the Sheffield City Region, is designed to offer support and guidance to new entrepreneurs, equipping them with the skills they need to succeed in business. After approaching the programme, Christine started working with a business advisor who helped her to refine her business ideas.
The support Christine received enabled her to access specialist support to give her business the best possible start, helping her to understand the financial and legal implications of running her fledgling business, as well as learning how to attract new customers.
Since starting her company, Christine and her pet photography has started to ruffle a few feathers amongst South Yorkshire animal lovers, resulting in a growing number of pet commissions including calendars for local animal rescue centres and promotional videos of dogs looking for their fur-ever homes. Her success has also seen Christine secure a number of more unusual assignments, including capturing the arrival of the Dalai Lama’s Gyuto Monks who came to bless land affected by fracking near Woodsetts.
The success of her business has given Christine the confidence to continue expanding her services whilst raising funds for local animal shelters and is currently looking for local businesses to sponsor promotional videos and charity calendars, whilst also planning to hold family photo shoots in South Yorkshire based residential care homes for both Mother’s and Father’s Day.
Christine Wilson, C W Media Productions, said: “Britain is rightly known for being a nation of animal lovers! It seems only a recent trend, but pet photography is actually a tradition which can be traced back as far as the 1400s, when wealthy aristocrats and merchants captured their canine companions on canvass.
“When I was made redundant, I decided to apply to study TV Production at university after taking my daughter to various open days and saw that age was no limit when it came to widening your expertise and gaining new skills. My experiences at university inspired me to build a business around my two loves in life – animals and photography.
“Working with Launchpad opened my eyes to the world of business and I was more determined than ever to work for myself. My business advisor provided solid, straightforward advice without the jargon and I know I can still count on her for advice and support as and when I need it. At the same time as running C W Media Productions, I am studying for a Master’s degree so I am busier than ever!”
Julia Millea, Business Advisor, Launchpad, said: “Christine had a clear vision for her businesses when she contacted Launchpad for support. I worked with her to streamline her ideas and ensure she received the knowledge, skills and advice for the aspects of business she was unsure on, such as marketing and finance, providing her with the tools and best chance to thrive.
“The Launchpad programme provides entrepreneurs and start-up business owners in the Sheffield City Region with everything they need in order to launch their business, grow their business and survive in business, at absolutely no cost.”
Launchpad is a unique scheme which forms part of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub. Financially supported by the European Union Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Princes Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the Sheffield City Region who are thinking of starting their own business, or have started trading within the last two years.
For more information on the Launchpad programme and how it operates throughout the Sheffield City Region, contact the SCR Growth Hub Gateway on 03330 00 00 39 or visit www.scrlaunchpad.co.uk