We had the good fortune of connecting with Dawn Bowery and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dawn, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
After decades of always working for someone else and having a rare “staff” position in a creative field I wanted to be have more freedom in my life – both in terms of my schedule and work – life – balance but also to be fully responsible for the creative vision of the project from start to finish. I also wanted a challenge and to push myself out of my comfort zone.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My photography business offers a bespoke service to my clients and delivers high end magazine quality images. Most people are understandably nervous about having their portrait taken and to help reassure them we speak on the phone a few times before the shoot – making sure that they know what to expect in terms of the process and how to prepare. For corporate shoot I make sure that I’m clear on the brand values, website design and and deliverables. Often, I end up consulting on the website design and always guide people on what and what not to wear. It’s important to take the time to get to know the person and put them at ease. When the shoot is fun and relaxed this comes through in the portraits. It’s a balancing act of keeping things light and chatting to the client but at the same time dealing with a multitude of technical and creative challenges! There is so much to think about – keeping my clients happy and meeting the requirements and deadlines. I like to under promise and over deliver. I’m proud of my business and the reputation I’ve built over the years. It didn’t come easily but I think my creativity and authentic approach combined with my visual effects for film and TV background helped enormously in terms of dealing with clients, tight deadlines, and post production.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Great question! I love having guests and enjoy sharing my LA and California life with them. A visit to the Getty Museum on the hill is a must – the architecture is superb and the views of the city are spectacular. In terms of places to hang out and restuarants I would take them to Soho House in West Hollywood – it is a private club for creative people and has the most beautiful roof top restaurant. The entire space is gorgeous – a wrap around balcony and a luxury screening room. I’d take them to a BAFTA screening – they often have fabulous Q & A’s which are fascinating. Exploring my local Laurel Canyon and sharing with them the history of the bands from the 60s who used to live here – including Jim Morrison of The Doors, Crosby Stills & Nash, Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell and The Byrds. Near the beach – the canals in Venice are magical – it’s always lovely to wander along the canals followed by exploring the cafe’s and boutiques on Abbot Kinney. For people watching you can’t beach Venice Beach and the skateboard park. I am lucky to have lived in Santa Barbara for my first two years in CA when I was working in visual effects and it remains a very special place to me. So I’d definitely take them for a drive up the coast to Santa Barbara for a day. My favourite things to do there are renting a bike for a few hours and cycling along the boardwalk from the harbour to Butterfly Beach and I never miss going to the boathouse at Hendry’s Beach followed by a long walk on the beach.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m fortunate to be both creative and technical. My creativity comes from my Mum and my technical brain from my Dad – so I thank them both for what they passed down to me and for their love and support. For photography you definitely need to have both skills and wear many “hats” – from having a great eye and instinctively knowing what makes strong composition to understanding the technicalities of the camera, lighting and the post production. Back in visual effects days when I was working at BSKYB I took a ten day photography course in Morocco with Creative Escapes. At the time I had a what I thought was a safe full time job and never imagined that the course would propel me into being a professional photographer. I met the talented Helen Abraham on that course who was changing careers. We were the only two from the course who followed our passion and dreams and went on to have successful businesses. She has always been a great inspiration to me and encouraged me along the way. One of the photographs I took during that course in Morocco was selected by the Royal Academy of Arts in London for their Summer Exhibition. It was a huge honour to have my work hanging in their historic gallery. This was a jump start into the world of fine art and as a result I began selling to collectors around the world. I have to thank everyone who supported me in the launch of my coffee table portrait book “California Dreaming: Real Life Stories of Brits in LA”. This was the turning point in my photography business. Having Ioan Gruffudd on the cover, and featuring portraits of celebrities including Nigel Lythgoe, Martin Jarvis, Dame Zandra Rhodes and Peter Asher gives credibility and is a wonderful showcase of my work. In recent years I discovered the Palm Springs Photo Festival and have found it to be an incredible place to be immersed in photography and learn from others. It is important to keep learning – to keep pushing myself. I was fortunate enough to be on Dan Winters four day workshop last year who pushed me to the next level and continues to inspire me.
photographer: dawn bowery subjects: Andrew and Kevin Atherton Ioan Gruffudd Katherine Pegova