Interview with a Professional Photographer

My Women at Work interview series is all about showcasing amazing women who are making work WORK for them!

These are women who’ve found a career that they love, women who’ve started their own business and women who manage to juggle being a mom with making an income. I’m in awe of all of them! They rock!

Today I’m sharing my space with a Professional Photographer…

Often thought of as a “Dream Job” by many, Marike Herselman has managed to make her dream job of being a professional photographer a reality. She currently works as a portrait photographer in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Read on below to find out more about Marike and discover what she loves about her chosen career path….

Tell me more about yourself and what you currently do?
I was born in the Karoo and brought up in the Winelands, where my passion for photography was encouraged by my father. Now I run my own business as a portrait photographer, specialising in corporate portraits (head shots) and personal profiles.

When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
I was in school when I started playing with my dad’s camera a Pentax Spotmatic F. He was so supportive that I was allowed to create a darkroom in our home. I was a school photographer and did not see any other option but to make a career out of my passion for light.

What did you study – was it in this field or something different?
I did a 3 year Diploma in Photography at Ruth Prowse School of Art.

What was your first job in the industry? and what path has your career taken since?
As a student we had to assist photographers in our 3rd year but my first permanent job was with Heidi Erdman at the Photographers Gallery za in Cape Town. I was introduced to 2 of my idols, Jurgen Schadeberg and Roger Ballen and was surrounded by photographers that had a love for art and appreciation of light.

After that I worked as an in-house photographer for a model agency as well as photographer at a family portrait studio and, lastly, as assistant to a stock photographer, who taught me everything I know now about retouching.

Four years ago I got the courage to say goodbye to a salary and started to build my own photography business.

What have been the highlights?
I work in little victories and appreciate each small accomplishment. My first set of lights, my first studio, the first time someone contacted me from my website. The first time my image got published and then every person that I meet that enjoyed the way I captured them.

What’s the best part of your job?
I work with people and light, my two favourite things! Meeting people and being allowed into their homes, lives and, in a way, their soul, so that I’m able to capture that person in their raw, honest beauty.

What is the most challenging part?
Most people that I work with really dislike being in front of the camera and I do get people that often don’t like images of themselves, not even the ones I took. I have done some research on this thought so go read my blog about the Psycology of a Portrait if you would like to understand this as well. So my job is to make them as comfortable and make the camera ‘disappear’.

What is your typical day, or maybe week if days are very different?
That is the beauty of my job. Every day is different, every shoot has it’s own challenge and each subject it’s on insecurities to contribute.

What are the “secrets” to your success?
Put in the hours! Work bitch, but be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to rest before you burn out. Finding that balance is semi-impossible, but try to stick close to that centre.

What do you do for fun in your down time?
I’m a surfer and a runner. I love being outside and, being Afrikaans, I love cooking, baking and wine!

What do you still want to achieve?
My business still has far to go. I would like to grow into JHB and be recognised internationally as well. The vision is to be the South African Annie Leibovitz!

Thanks for reading this far. I’m trusting that this article will be the catalyst for some of you to make a career change of your own… or possibly be the inspiration for someone just starting out in the world of work to choose this as their field of study!

Either way I’d love to hear from you so remember to leave me a comment below!

And if you know someone (yourself included) who you’d like to see featured in my Women at Work series please drop me an email!

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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