With Make­light founder Emily Quin­ton

The Make­light founder takes time out from be­hind the lens to share the se­crets of jug­gling fam­ily life and her on­line com­mu­nity

Mollie Makes - - Contents - Words: HOLLY JOHN­SON Pho­tographs: INGRID RASMUSSEN Mol­liemakes.com

If you’re guilty of non-stop In­sta­gram scrolling (us too), you’re likely to recog­nise the flower-filled fine art shots that have gained Emily Quin­ton over 80,000 fol­low­ers on the plat­form. One half of a hus­band and wife en­tre­pre­neur­ial team and with four young chil­dren, Emily started out by sell­ing her botan­i­cal pho­tographs at art fairs be­fore ‘ac­ci­den­tally’ be­com­ing a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher when friends ap­proached her to shoot their wed­ding.

Af­ter ap­pear­ing on Chan­nel Five’s How To Take Stun­ning Pic­tures, she re­alised her pas­sion lay in teach­ing oth­ers and her on­line com­mu­nity, Make­light, was born.

Emily now spends three days a week in her West Dul­wich stu­dio film­ing videos for her web­site and run­ning on­line work­shops to help blog­gers and mak­ers grow their fol­low­ing with stand­out pho­tographs. De­scrib­ing her style as ‘fem­i­nine, pos­i­tive and joy­ful’, it’s easy to see how Emily’s work has gained an in­ter­na­tional fol­low­ing. We vis­ited her light and airy workspace to find out more about her cre­ative jour­ney. De­scribe your­self in a few words. Colour­ful, fun, stylish. Tell us how you first got into photograph­y and why. I started tak­ing pho­tographs when I was seven years old and al­ways dreamed of be­ing a pho­tog­ra­pher. While study­ing plants for my PhD, I took lots of images at Kew Gar­dens and shared them on Flickr, which had just launched. Peo­ple started ask­ing to buy my images and I got a cou­ple of lo­cal gallery shows of my botan­i­cal work. I then started cre­at­ing a body of fine art photograph­y, which I sold at lo­cal art fairs. It was through this that my friend asked if I would pho­to­graph her wed­ding. I didn’t ever plan to be­come a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher, but one wed­ding led to an­other and I got hooked! So how did you go from wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher to on­line teacher? Pho­tograph­ing wed­dings was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and I got to work with some won­der­ful cou­ples all over the UK. But as our fam­ily grew, the work be­came more stress­ful. I started blog­ging at The Start Up Wife – a life­style blog that was filled with cre­ativ­ity and fo­cused on my life be­ing mar­ried to a start-up en­tre­pre­neur, my hus­band Ste . I knew that start­ing a life­style blog would be the ideal way to

kick-start my dreams of build­ing a cre­ative com­mu­nity. From these small be­gin­nings my on­line pres­ence grew, es­pe­cially on In­sta­gram (@ emi­lyquin­ton), where I shared a daily im­age of flow­ers.

From here, I be­gan teach­ing work­shops, first in hired spa­ces and then in my own stu­dio. I orig­i­nally thought my stu­dio would be­come a hub of all our cre­ative ac­tiv­ity, with work­shops be­ing held there. In fact, it was our on­line pres­ence that re­ally took o , and I was asked to o er our work­shops on­line for those not in the UK. How do you bal­ance work­ing cre­atively with the de­mands of fam­ily life? With four chil­dren and a busi­ness that’s very much in start-up mode, there re­ally is no typ­i­cal work­ing day for us. De­pend­ing on what child­care we have on hand, some days I have six hours to work and oth­ers I have twelve. Ste re­cently joined the busi­ness full-time to o er more tech­ni­cal sup­port to mem­bers, so he and I work most evenings too. I usu­ally work from our stu­dio in West Dul­wich: it’s a big space flooded with nat­u­ral light which I’ve filled

‘I be­gan teach­ing work­shops, first in hired spa­ces and then in my own stu­dio.’

with things that in­spire me – from props and flow­ers to books and mag­a­zines. My days usu­ally in­clude time spent film­ing and writ­ing con­tent for our cour­ses and blog, tak­ing photos for In­sta­gram, teach­ing stu­dents, tak­ing part in live Q&As on Face­book, and oc­ca­sion­ally try­ing to squeeze in do­ing the ac­counts too! What’s been the big­gest strug­gle in get­ting your busi­ness o the ground? As some­one who is in­ter­ested in lots of things, hon­ing in on a clear fo­cus for the busi­ness was ini­tially tricky. There are things I’ve had to give up along the way in or­der to see our vi­sion for Make­light hap­pen – whether it was my wed­ding photograph­y busi­ness or some­thing small like a monthly craft mail-out idea. While the things I’ve given up were both in­ter­est­ing and good in them­selves, there’s no way to do them all while re­main­ing fo­cused on the busi­ness. Are there any tools or ma­te­ri­als you couldn’t live with­out? My iPhone! I rely on it for so many things, both in life and in work. I use it to take the pho­tographs that I share on In­sta­gram and I use mo­bile apps to man­age our fam­ily life and stay in touch with the Make­light team. I also swear by washi tape – no other fil­ing

sys­tem comes close! Now I washi tape ev­ery­thing to the wall – whether it’s party in­vi­ta­tions, spelling lists or let­ters from school. This makes them easy to read and they never get lost! Tell us the most im­por­tant busi­ness les­son you’ve learnt. To just start. It doesn’t have to be per­fect at first, but by get­ting go­ing and push­ing for­ward, you’re do­ing some­thing sig­nif­i­cant. Also, don’t be afraid to out­source. Build a team around you who bring a range of skills that com­ple­ment your own. And just keep on im­prov­ing with each new step you take. Even if these are lit­tle steps, soon enough you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come. Is there any­thing that’s been key to you achiev­ing your cre­ative goals? Hard work, fo­cus and a be­lief in what we’re build­ing, along with a few lucky breaks. Life gets so busy and there’s com­pe­ti­tion spring­ing up all around, but by re­main­ing true to our vi­sion and fo­cus­ing on our

own process we can en­sure we re­main au­then­tic and true to our­selves. I also aim to con­stantly de­velop my skills by join­ing in with other cour­ses and work­shops, and reg­u­larly meet­ing with other cre­atives to share ideas and to learn from one an­other.

Can you tell us what projects you’re cur­rently work­ing on? In­sights re­ports, hash­tag tools, Photograph­y For Mak­ers Level Two, new mem­ber­ship… We’re con­stantly de­vel­op­ing the tools on o er on the web­site, and those like our handy hash­tag li­brary and In­sta­gram In­sights re­ports help you un­der­stand more about your pro­file, which makes such a di er­ence to your busi­ness.

Fi­nally, what’s the best piece of cre­ative ad­vice you’ve ever been given? I’ve learnt so much about the free­dom of cre­ativ­ity from my chil­dren. They have a beau­ti­ful way of be­ing cre­ative, be­ing free and just be­ing in the mo­ment. It’s en­cour­aged me to let go of per­fec­tion­ism.

It’s so hard to be cre­ative if you’re feel­ing re­strained or un­der pres­sure, whether that’s due to be­ing too busy or com­par­ing your­self to what those around you are do­ing. Let­ting go and em­brac­ing the free­dom that it brings un­locks so much more au­then­tic cre­ativ­ity.

01 Since study­ing Ecol­ogy and Geog­ra­phy at uni, Emily has been fas­ci­nated with botany. Each chang­ing sea­son brings a host of new shapes and colours. 02 Ev­ery­day items can be used in un­ex­pected ways. 03 Emily col­lects pat­terned wall­pa­pers to use as...

01 Botan­i­cal post­cards and vin­tage prints bring life to the walls of Emily’s Lon­don stu­dio. 02 Emily tries to take some­thing new for In­sta­gram ev­ery day. 03 Emily and her hus­band, St­eff, have col­lected vin­tage cam­eras for 20 years.

01 The stu­dio is filled with cre­ative, in­ter­est­ing items to in­spire stu­dents. 02 More quirky col­lecta­bles. “I source things wher­ever I go,” says Emily. “Our lo­cal mar­ket, eBay, Etsy and car boot sales.” 03 Emily takes photos ev­ery day. “This sim­ple act...

01 Flow­ers are a big fo­cus in Emily’s styling. “I get nearly all my f low­ers from The Fresh Flower Com­pany in East Dul­wich, Lon­don.” 02 These big, blowsy dahlias are Emily’s favourite blooms.

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