FOR schoolgirl Sophie Skipper, photography started as a hobby.

When Sophie was aged 15, she discovered a love of photography when he father bought her a professional camera.

Fast forward ten years and Sophie runs a Colchester-based photography business.

Sophie Skipper photography, based on The Causeway, Great Horkesley, has just been nominated for a business award.

She said: “I did A-Levels in chemistry, geography and maths but I was always good at the technical side of photography as well as the creative side.

“When the time came to leave school in September 2011, I went to university.

“In 2014, I graduated from the University of South Wales with a degree in photography.

“A month later I applied to become a medical photographer at Basildon Hospital online and got the job.

“I had never done the type of work before but it was very varied.

“One minute you would be taking pictures of rare skin diseases and the next you would be taking pictures of a patient whose life had just been saved by the hospital.

“I enjoyed it and I loved the job, but then the medical unit I worked in was being dissolved, so I decided I would leave.

“I was aged only 23 at the time and although I had experience under my belt, it was a very specialised field.”

She decided she had the skills and experience to set up her own business.


A sample of "Skip's" tasty work

She admitted: “It was a massive risk, but I decided it was now or never, I just had to do it.

“I got a small business loan from the Prince’s Trust, they have advisers who work through a business plan and then provide funding and they were fantastic.

“The Prince’s Trust was so helpful in getting a loan to set up a business.

“I started with a commercial type of photography, doing professional business headshots with a creative twist.

“That was my main service and I ended up buying an iMac to work from home.

“And that was it.”

Sophie’s business is now booming.

She now has over 200 regular clients and she has tripled her business’s turnover in a year.

Her range has now also grown and she has taken photos at events ranging from weddings to public relations events and family photos.


A PR shot in Sophie's creative portfolio

The business has a Facebook page and a website on which Miss Skipper also runs a photography blog.

She is committed to the business, working seven days a week - but she is reaping the rewards.

Last year she attended Colchester’s Colbea, Colchester’s business centre, for advice on how to expand the business.

She attended a course called, In the Making for Success, on Friday morning for two months.

Miss Skipper said: “I then got a phone call a few weeks later from the business centre.

“I had been nominated for Best Young Business Client which I won at an awards ceremony at Wivenhoe House, Colchester, sponsored by Fenwick department store.

“I am really pleased and I love what I do, and I’d like to start teaching others too.

“Since starting my business, I have felt many rewarding and proud moments, and always try to remind myself of my achievements during the testing times that all businesses experience.

“This however, felt so great, as it is some recognition from the people around me of all the hard work I’ve put in over the past 18 months.

“And more importantly it comes from people that I look up to and have huge respect for.”