We’ve been following Sophie Darwin and her beautiful photography (Sophie Winter Photography) for some time now. It’s hard not to be drawn to her imagery and the way she effortlessly captures such beautiful moments. We find out how Sophie got started and built her career as well as some of her photography tips.
How did you get into photography? Was it a passion that progressed into a career?
That’s exactly how it started and as I began defining my style I started to share my images on Facebook and Instagram. I then started to get enquiries and my business has grown, mostly through word-of-mouth, since then. At the beginning, I was lucky to spend a summer second shooting weddings with Andy Le Gresley. This unpaid work was probably the most valuable of my photography career and it was here that I realised that photography was something I needed to do for me. My first solo wedding came about when my friend asked me to shoot her big day. She had total faith in me but I was so nervous I barely slept the night before, terrified that I was going to mess up… but I didn’t and these are still some of the favourite photos I’ve ever taken.
You have a recognisable style which is so natural and captures moments so beautifully. How did you create a distinctive signature style?
It’s funny I’ve had photographers talk to me about ‘my style’ and I find it difficult to describe because for me I’m not thinking of it as a specific style I’m just shooting people and moments that grab my attention. With that in mind I think I fall into the slightly alternative style of photography, which is basically a break from the traditional. For me it’s about seeing things in a different way and is probably not the sort of photography you might expect to be taught about in a formal setting. My images are not strictly bound by the established rules of form and composition. They’re a little quirky… a bit like me!
I’m sure a lot of readers are wondering what your favourite equipment is?… Have you got any tips for amateur photographers?
I have a Canon 5D Mark III and I rarely have my 35mm lens off. My tip to newbies is to keep it simple. When I started out as a hobbiest I had all the gear and no idea. To be honest, it was total a waste of money. It’s not about having the latest flashy equipment. It’s about discovering what kind of photography inspires you and going out there and practising. When I started out I took my camera everywhere and photographed everything! I soon realised I didn’t have the eye for landscapes, or the confidence for street photography but I did love capturing the emotions between people – family and wedding photography made my heart sing.
What do you use to edit your RAW footage have you ever considered running an editing workshop?
I work within Lightroom and keep it really simple. I’m not into lots of Photoshop and manipulation. I tried lots of different editing styles and presets but the style I prefer emulates the look of contemporary, popular film stocks. I’m likely to go dark and moody over light and airy – it’s just a matter of style. I have never thought about running a workshop as I’m no wizz when it comes to Lightroom, I know the basics and I keep it simple. Perhaps I’m the one that needs to go to a workshop! 😉
What’s the best thing about running your own business and the most challenging?
The best thing is being the decision maker but with that comes a lot of responsibility. The greatest challenge is finding the balance between my work and family life and getting the right balance for my daughter. Having a young baby is definitely the toughest job of all and I often find myself plagued with mum guilt when I’m tucked away editing. Thankfully my partner is my rock, he second shoots weddings with me which is really awesome. We’re a team in life and love and it really works for us.
Have you got any advice for those trying to start a business?
It’s all about passion and working hard. My best advice would be don’t let people put you off. There are some weird people out there that love to tell you can’t do it or you’re not good enough. Don’t listen to them. Stick with people that support you and encourage you and they’ll help you to fly.
How to do you juggle motherhood and running a business?
I could definitely do with a few more hours in the day but the key is to be organised and realistic with what I can actually achieve. I limit the number of weddings I do in a year because I want to be the best professional and mother I can be and I don’t want my work to suffer from creative fatigue. However, I think having a child has been really helpful with my family photography, I find it a lot easier to read a situation now than I would have a couple of years ago. Having my own little person definitely helps me identify with other people’s children.
Who in the creative industry inspires you at the moment?
Gosh – that’s a tricky one. I get a lot of my inspiration from so many sources that sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the talent out there and then that starts to have a negative effect on my confidence. Some of the Instagram feeds that I follow just blow my mind – these people are just so talented. I’m a member of a few Facebook groups that are brilliant for advice and guidance too (e.g. LooksLikeFilm and Documentary Family Photographers). These online communities are a great place for inspiration and to help keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
What would your ideal Sunday in Jersey look like?
Without a doubt it would be leaving my phone and my camera behind and spending it with my partner and our daughter, just the three of us with no interruptions. Regardless of the weather we’re always outside. We can be splashing in muddy puddles in St Catherines woods or making sandcastles on the beach. I’ve been blessed with a family and being outside appreciating all that the Island has to offer is key to the perfect Sunday for me.