Profile of a Shropshire Entrepreneur: Alex Hardie Photography

All photographers are ultimately narcissistic; we want you to love us through the pictures we make, myself included.

Business is booming in Shropshire. According to the county council, in 2013 there were 14,185 VAT or PAYE businesses operating in Shropshire, and a large number of them employed under ten people, suggesting a huge portion of the Shropshire business base is comprised of start-ups and entrepreneurs.

With this in mind, we decided to profile a local entrepreneur. These are the people who keep the Shropshire economy buoyant front and centre, and we wanted find out what makes them tick.

So, without further ado, we introduce our interview with Alex Hardie of Alex Hardie Photography:

LB: What is your name and occupation?

AH: My name's Alex Hardie and I'm a people photographer from Shropshire.

LB: What is the name and nature of your business?

AH: Alex Hardie Photography. I photograph people, mainly, but I also do some advertising work.

LB: What does your typical working day involve?

AH: When I'm shooting pictures it involves a lot of checking gear (making sure I have enough juice for my camera, memory cards, lights - that sort of thing). I also consider my appetite for the consumption of photography (by that I mean endlessly enjoying pictures on the web) a big part of my development as a photographer. I draw inspiration from that in the search for the ultimate picture. It's a mixed bag of very succinct work requiring very little effort, to a lot of hard slog getting the job done.

LB: How long have you been involved with the business?

AH: I've been shooting pictures for quite some time. But for money, only a few years.

LB: What is your employment background?

AH: I'm a marketer by trade, as well as a former journalist. Neither satisfies the creative side of me like photography. I've worked for some big companies and some little ones. Photography is my first love. I've also been lucky enough to travel all over the world.

LB: Do you believe Shropshire is a good place to set up and run a business? Why?

AH: I do. I'm a firm believer there's room for everybody. Many photographers don't have the personality to be successful. That's not to say I do. But in order to get the best portrait of a person you have to be able to get them on side, you know? Shropshire has a wealth of entrepreneurs, some of them extremely successful. Those I admire are the ones who satisfy my other passions, like coffee. There's an excellent roaster outside Shrewsbury, and the Shrewsbury Coffee House is one of my favourite places. I also adore EatUp in Shrewsbury. Aside from that, there's an artistic community here we should all be very proud of.

LB: What have been the biggest successes you and your business have enjoyed?

AH: I shot some portraits of Shropshire Paralympic gold medallist Mickey Bushell. That was nice. To be honest, my biggest success as a photographer is making a picture that I'm happy with.  Sometimes that happens, but not all that often. All photographers are ultimately narcissistic; we want you to love us through the pictures we make, myself included.

LB: What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in your work?

AH:  Perfecting the skill (a never ending process). And also helping people understand the true value of photography. I turn away as many clients as I take on. If they don't like me and just want a "photographer" at the cheapest price, they don't get it - we're not going to get along.

LB: What are your plans for the future of the business?

AH:  My plan is to get better. I loved photography before I made any money from it. It'd be nice to shoot more musicians. I've yet to find a Shropshire band I'm really excited about, though, I have to say.

LB: Do you have any tips or advice for other people looking to set up their own business?

It sounds trite, but for goodness' sake do what you love. Or do it better or cheaper than anybody else does it. With photography in particular you need to be an enthusiast first and a business person second. Otherwise you don't have a business. I'm far too impatient to do anything I don't really love - I just wouldn't stick with it. That may not be true of all people, but it's definitely true of me. Look for a niche - it's better to have a monopoly of a small market than it is to be having a bun-fight with everyone else for a slice of a bigger market, in my view.

Alex Hardie Image

Image of Alex Hardie