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Starting as a full-time Barrett & Coe photographer with his own studio in 2017 was a major step for Stephen Hands, after spending 37 years working in the City as a broker. Photography had always been his passion from an early age, and Stephen saw the franchise, and the support it offered, as a way of achieving his ambition.

Stephen told us “Taking on a franchise seemed the best idea rather than going it alone. The ability to learn from an experienced group is invaluable, also you are helped by a client flow from day one, although you need to be prepared to do your own marketing. Initial and ongoing training is excellent, both from photography and studio management aspects. Again, this is invaluable for a new startup. And being part of a group is brilliant – its great to be able to ring someone up for advice when needed, and attend the franchisee meetings which are held regularly.

My life has changed completely. A typical day is firstly getting the studio ready for the days’ clients. In between shoots I prepare viewings, confirm future bookings, get orders ready for the lab, and handle incoming enquiries. There is never a dull moment.

Also, working on Saturdays is a first for me, but it comes with the satisfaction of running your own business. One of the best things about my new life is meeting new families and creating images that they love. To see the reaction from clients when they see my work is fabulous and makes all the hard work worthwhile!

There are challenges of course, and I found these to be primarily time management and priority of the workflow. Using a dedicated CRM is a must to handle the many jobs running a studio involves. I have taken on an assistant to handle the day-to-day administration of the studio and this is a definite plus allowing me to concentrate on the product, while overseeing the client handling process.

I was careful where I located my studio. It is based on an industrial park which has benefits compared to being in the high street, such as parking. As its on the ground floor Mums find it easy to manage with their prams etc, and for grandparents if coming for a family group session. The area has some fine country pubs to visit after the shoot to complete the family experience!

My advice would be to make sure your time management skills are your main focus. Be prepared for hard work, but the satisfaction that comes with owning a successful studio is priceless.”

Stephen continues to go from strength to strength with his studio. He has also gone on to achieve the accreditation LBIPP and has been a monthly winner of the Baby of the Month competition, as well as a Photographer of the Month win.

To view Stephen’s work please visit

Barrett & Coe Fantastic Photography
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