Creative Careers: The photographer ~behind~ the blogger
Chances are that if you have an instagram account, you've admired this babe's work without even knowing it. Kirsty McLachlan is the woman behind the lens of The Little Magpie - travelling the world with blogger Amy Bell to create a sumptuous stream of images with a distinctively dreamy aesthetic.
Having made the leap to full-time freelancer a year or so ago, we caught up with Kirsty to learn more about the the work + creativity that goes into sustaining and growing a successful business built on capturing stunning content.
How did it all take off for you Kirsty?
I've really always been interested in photography as a hobby, and loved dressing up and taking random photos and videos with my friends when we were young. I loved art at school but never had the opportunity to study photography in particular, so I didn't consider pursuing it until I was around 17 and the time came to begin applying for university. I'd just returned from a school expedition to Mongolia and China, where I took hundreds of travel snaps along the way, and realised that I'd quite like to give photography a go as a job. I was accepted onto the BA(Hons) course at Edinburgh Napier University and have been living in Edinburgh and building my career since.
Has it always been your full time career? What did you do previously?
I’ve had various part-time jobs over the years that have supported my photography work - retail, waitressing, barista, fast food restaurants.
I’ve also worked with an Edinburgh based creative studio which was great experience. I’ve been full-time freelancing for almost a year now.
You work with some pretty well known names, The Little Magpie, Space NK, Hard Rock Hotels, Swarovski, Kate La Vie, ROX, Specsavers x Balmain and NAF Salon. How did you get your first gig/what was your biggest break?
I think things started really small when I was at school, I remember photographing album artwork for a local band who paid me £30 and I was SO chuffed. Things started to slowly snowball as I moved to Edinburgh and began meeting people and making connections. I'd say flying to Berlin to work with a travel company felt like my first big break, and now that feels like a very long time ago.
When did you realise you were onto something?
I can't remember a specific moment, but over time I realised how much I really loved what I was doing and how rewarding it was to have people love the photos I was creating for them. I reached out to local businesses, brands and bloggers, and those that got back in touch went on to be steady clients that helped steer my career.
What's the script, is this your job or your passion?
I’d honestly say that photography is my passion and I’m lucky enough to be doing it as my job. Things can be tough as freelancer, and sometimes the stresses are all you can think about, but over time I’ve learned to separate the business side of things and always make time for work that makes my creative heart happy.
You jet off regularly on all kinds of adventures with The Little Magpie (aka Amy Bell) the babefaced fashion and travel blogger. Did you know each other beforehand? How does the photographer/blogger relationship work?
Amy and I met when I was working with Kate (La Vie). Kate recommended that I drop Amy an email as she was looking to work with a Scottish photographer too. We started shooting and over time began working with each other really regularly, and became best pals! To travel with someone for work you really have to be on the same wavelength - we know each other’s energy levels and are great at bouncing ideas off one another. It really feels like a dream job though, as we spend days exploring and laughing and taking photos along the way.
Any advice for aspiring photographers who want to work with established bloggers?
I’d say reach out to people you admire that you think your photography style would suit. This goes for individual bloggers and brands as well. If working with bloggers is what you'd like to do, fill your portfolio with relevant work - take portraits and fashion shots of your friends and build it up from there. Working with small bloggers and local businesses is a brilliant way to expand your portfolio and get your name out there, and then you have something to show established bloggers who are looking to work with someone new.
What's the best thing about your career so far? and the worst/hardest?
The best thing about my career so far has been the opportunity to travel and work with amazing people and brands. There have been a few real *pinch me* moments in the past year where I feel like my hard work has taken me to places I never imagined it would. Like any creative pursuit, it hasn't been easy and I've been through my fair share of low moments along the way. Freelancing is stressful and there have been real knocks in my confidence when things haven't gone to plan, but learning to push through these times makes the good times even more rewarding.
Your work is incredible. How would you describe your style?
Thank you so so much! My style is generally quite natural and intimate, and I always try to find unique creative approaches. Somebody recently described my style as a blend of whimsy and polished and that sounds about right.