Who is Freddie Child Villiers and what do you do?
I am a freelance commercial photographer living in Cape Town, South Africa. I specialize in Fashion and Advertising for online and print media. I was born in the UK and came to South Africa when I was thirteen. I am a self-taught photographer and started my business while I was in high school. At the time, I shot anything and everything I could ranging from portraits of children for families, sports and events for schools as well as real estate for agents and publications.
I was the type of kid who pulled apart the cassette player to see how it worked. So, naturally, after Matric I decided not to pursue a tertiary education but rather to develop my business. This is a decision that I have never regretted.
How would you define your style or art?
I learnt early on in my career that in order to survive as a photographer I needed to treat my photography as a business. This has made it difficult to define a specific style because I need to be adaptable to meet the needs of my clients.
That said, I am very meticulous. I would like to think that my work is pretty contemporary, both in aesthetics and technicality. However, when I have more ‘creative freedom’ I like to challenge common perception and push the norm.
What inspires your work?
Cliché as it may sound, my work is most often inspired by the subject in front of me, or the client behind the production.
I have a pretty quirky way of looking at the world and would say that I am fortunate to draw inspiration from many things – music, movies, banter among friends. Inspiration cannot be forced. Acting on this inspiration and turning it into imagery is usually more difficult.
What are you currently working on?
Freelance work is unpredictable. I have been overseas for around five months of this year and now that I am back, I am trying to focus on some new work to debut with a website that I am launching later this year.
What advice would you give young creatives looking to do what you do?
Hmm.. Let me rather approach this from the perspective of what I’ve learnt as a freelance photographer.
Treat your photography as a business.
o Yes we get to play with cool toys but at the end of the day we are still only offering a service and a product. It’s not for the faint hearted. If I’m not working, I’m not earning.
- Always be professional.
o Treat every job as if it’s the biggest of your career. Keep your best foot forward as bad press is a killer and is extremely difficult to overcome.
- Be confident but not arrogant.
o Showing off the size of your ego will get you nowhere. Have faith in your abilities but try to remain humble.
- Don’t be scared to ask for help.
o Starting a business can be a daunting prospect. Don’t be afraid to make friends with other photographers and seek their advice.
- Try to distance your emotions from your work and consider criticism.
o It is important to be able take criticism well. Some may be constructive, some not. Learn from the stuff that is and forget about the rest. Remember, there will always be people who don’t appreciate your work – take it in your stride.
- Try and differentiate yourself from the pack.
o There are millions of photographers out there. In many instances your work alone may not be enough to sell itself. Be prepared to go the extra mile – even if it costs you a bob or two.
- Don’t allow yourself to be bullied by clients or peers.
o You will be amazed by how many people will try to take advantage of you. Stand your ground. Try to get as much as possible in writing and to avoid potential problems, I would strongly recommend that you seek the assistance of a lawyer to help you draft various contracts and release forms.
- Don’t accept work that you can’t deliver.
o There will be a time in your career where you will feel that you have bitten off more than you can chew. Be realistic about it. If you are worried that you cannot deliver the type of work that a client is looking for, it is better to turn them down than to give them something they wont be happy with.
- Don’t accept work that may reflect badly on you and your business, even if the pay is good.
o It is very important to analyze every angle for each job. You do not want to find that you are facing heavy criticism for being associated with something unpleasant. It simply isn’t worth it, no matter how badly you need the money.
- Don’t be disheartened if you don’t win a pitch/ job.
o It is important to remember that most clients will be looking for a specific look that goes with their brand, campaign etc. Try not to feel disheartened if they decide to go with another photographer. These things happen, move on.
- Always do and deliver the best you can.
o It is important to only put out the best work that you are capable of. If you take on a job at half your fee, the worst thing you can do is put in half the effort. Every photograph that you deliver reflects on you, your business and your ability.
- Lastly be honest.
o Be transparent with everyone that you work with, especially your clients. Don’t try swindling anyone because you think that they can afford it. Be happy and do an honest day’s work.
Where can our readers follow your work?
I am launching a new website later this year, so I would recommend that you keep an eye out for that.
Bit of a shameless plug but if you are interested in learning more about photography and the industry, my twitter feed is full of articles that you may find interesting.
Otherwise you can find me, and my work, using the following:
Alternatively feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org