Before opening his studio, Stuart was a sergeant in the mounted branch of the Metropolitan Police for 18 years. He was in the Police for a total of 30 years, also serving on response teams in South and Central London, both as a constable and sergeant.
Stuart completed the initial part of his training while he was still serving in the Police. This included him attending some photographic days at a studio covering lighting and posing. Operating and administrative systems were covered on other occasions at Head Office. Once retired from the Police, Stuart made the successful move to his own studio in Sidcup during the autumn of 2016, where he specialises in Baby, Family and Pet photography.
The studio location was planned to be easy for customers to locate. An open-plan area, with parking available, it is also within a short walk from Sidcup railway station, and bus stops are nearby. There are restaurants as well as coffee shops within a short walk, all of which have been enjoyed by Stuart’s customers at some time, either before or after a session.
Stuarts reasons for choosing a franchise are outlined by him… “Having not run a business previously it would have been very daunting to set out on your own with so much to learn. Even though there is still the same amount to learn, there are plenty of people to seek advice from which makes the process slightly easier. I chose Barrett & Coe because I liked the work ethic and attitude of the company. A couple of others that I had seen had not filled me with confidence with regard to their operating systems and attitude. There is constant support, and we also have bi-monthly meetings with the other franchisees and there’s continuous photographic training, particularly different lighting set-ups, as well as constructive criticism on your work. Best work practice is also covered, and you pick up hints and tips from other franchisees as to how they best achieve their goals.”
Stuart’s personality and way with his customers, along with his hard work and skill at capturing stunning images, is a winning formula reflected in his Portrait Excellence Award as part of the Barrett & Coe programme for continual excellence. He then went on to win the Barrett & Coe Photographer of The Year with his portfolio of family, baby and pet photography which was recognised as outstanding by the judges. Stuart has also undergone further training to achieve a Licentiate Qualification with the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) and the Master Photographers Association (MPA).
Stuart told us: “I am delighted with my achievement and pleased to not only have reached this level of photography but also be part of a group which works hard to maintain standards within the industry. Every day at work is different for me, but I love capturing the expressions of babies, children, and families (pets are welcome too!) in portraits my customers can keep forever. Seeing their faces when they view their photographs always make my day. There are vast differences between what I am doing now, compared to what I did while in the police force. I’m still dealing with people on a day-to-day basis which I really like, at the same time being able to take photographs, which I love!”
Stuarts advice for anyone thinking of taking a franchise is “Don’t expect everything to happen overnight, but if you follow the systems that are in place, then it’ll work for you.”
To view Stuart’s work please visit www.barrettandcoe.co.uk/sidcup