Photographers found focus by responding to call of the wild
Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Jacky Bloomfield, one of the duo behind Highland wildlife photography firm M&J Bloomfield
“It took time to find the right house, but we love every aspect of Highland life”
How and why did you start the business?
My husband, Mark, and I, originally from near Windsor in the south of England, moved our home and business to near Kiltarlity in the Highlands three years ago.
Photography has always played a major role in our lives.
Both my father and grandfather were involved in the industry and photographic paraphernalia surrounded me as a child.
But while I enjoyed taking photographs I certainly never thought of it as a full-time career.
Mark, on the other hand, has always been passionate about photography, picking it up at an early age. He gained a place at art college studying it before going on to enjoy a long career as a commercial photographer.
I had a successful career in litigation, customer services and as a senior personal assistant before redundancy struck both Mark and myself some 15 years ago.
While redundancy can obviously be seen as a threat, it can also be a great liberator. It was the catalyst we needed to start our own business.
M&J Bloomfield Wildlife Photographers seemed like a great idea at the time, and so it has proved to be.
Based initially in the south, after spending six or seven winters working in the Highlands we thought: “Why travel 600 miles when we could live there?”
It took us a long time to find the right house, but we love every aspect of Highland life.
We’ve been kidnapped by nature, spending our time watching and photographing the amazing variety of the natural world.
How did you get to where you are today?
Lots of reading and study, then spending long hours in the field watching and waiting. Our business falls into three categories – taking and selling, commercial and design, and tours.
Pictures we place with libraries sell to television, newspapers and printed media all over the world.
Individuals also purchase our images for their homes. When someone chooses to live with our pictures for perhaps the next 50 years, it is very humbling and engenders a great sense of pride.
Design and commercial work are also important to our business. It may not be wildlife-related, but again it allows us to continue taking wildlife and nature pictures.
Moving to Scotland made us think about running tours – these are tailor-made, and we offer a unique experience.
We want people to get the most from their time with us, so we ask them what they want to achieve. If they want to see the spectacular Highlands or learn more about a camera or a bit of software, we can help.
With every training course or tour we run, we aim to inspire people – giving them confidence and fostering in them the same passion we have for photography and the natural world.
Who helped you?
Friends and family have helped and supported me throughout my life. Networking was important when we started, and some of the people I’ve met through networking are now great friends, though moving to the Highlands meant we had to start the process again.
I recently joined the Federation of Small Businesses, and its services have already proved invaluable.
What has been your biggest mistake?
We should have started running our own business a lot earlier.
What is your greatest achievement?
Running my own business, with Mark.
If you were in power in government, what would you change?
I’d put nature on the school curriculum. Children need a good dose of “Vitamin N”.
What do you still hope to achieve?
See a Scottish wildcat in the wild.
What do you do to relax?
Go horse riding.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I’m reading a book on British moths.
What do you waste your money on?
How would your friends describe you?
Compassionate, friendly and someone who has an infectious laugh that always gets others going.
What would your enemies say about you?
None of my business.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
A 4x4 but I would love to drive a Jaguar E-Type.
CAREER CHANGE: Jacky Bloomfield and husband Mark started their wildlife photography business after they were made redundant
Jacky says it’s humbling when someone buys a photograph for their home