Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Story of How I Began {Ad-Gifted}

Billingham Hadley Small Pro, best bag for photographers, mandy charlton, newcastle photography


*The bag in this article was gifted to me by Billingham, I was not paid to write this article.

In June 2007 I tentatively launched Mandy Charlton Photography, I knew nothing, I'll be honest, I had a camera and friends and family told me kindly that I was good (I wasn't, I was dreadful).  I'd looked around photographers sites, worked out the hourly rate and thought I can do that, erm...

In a way, I'm sort of glad I went into it blindly though it's something I would never recommend!  I joined a photography forum called DWF and I think I read every single thread on that board, I learnt by information, not just any information, the information of some of the best photographers in the world.

Occasionally I joined in, once I even posted a thread after feeling a bit low, I received some of the harshest criticism I've ever had, mostly it was warranted, I was a terrible photographer.
Billingham Hadley Small Pro, best bag for photographers, mandy charlton, newcastle photography

There were things I knew I wanted though, I wanted to be accepted as a good professional photographer, I wanted to not constantly have imposter syndrome (still working on that one daily ;) ) and finally, I wanted a Billingham camera bag, I'd read the threads, I'd perused the website and I'd lusted at the British handmade, beautiful, beyond beautifully skillfully crafted bags.

Billingham is a family company who've been crafting the finest bags for the top professional photographers for many years and each stitch, even on the inserts you don't really see, every single piece is designed and made to the highest standards.

As the years went by I achieved so much in my business, I learnt my craft, I shot hundreds of weddings, thousands of portraits and have lived a life I have loved for over a decade because of professional photography.

I never did get that Billingham bag though...

A few weeks ago, that company, Billingham, who make the camera bags of dreams, asked if they could send me one, I just had to pick!  Clearly, I was like a child in a sweet shop but after much deliberation, I chose the Hadley Small Pro in burgundy canvas with chocolate leather and oh my gosh, it was worth the 12-year wait I can tell you.  
Billingham Hadley Small Pro, best bag for photographers, mandy charlton, newcastle photography

I'm not a handbag type of person, I own 1 and I only use it if I'm going to conferences but this bag, for one, it's perfect for my small kit which I always have on me (I should state that I also have a mountaineering backpack full of kit which Stacey, my assistant looks after at weddings, I'm not just taking 1 camera and 1 lens to a wedding) and when I'm not doing photography I can take out the inner piece and I have a non-girly bag perfect for all of my needs.
Billingham Hadley Small Pro, best bag for photographers, mandy charlton, newcastle photography

Somehow Billingham found me by chance, in the way that the universe always delivers these things because you wanted something and then it happened, yes, sometimes it takes longer than others but in the end, you always get want you want if you work hard enough.

I'm so thankful to Billingham and I've recommended them for years without ever having one because quite simply, everyone who sees it, loves it and it goes with me, it's bright and happy and it makes me feel good in the same way other professional females carry their Mulberry bags as a badge of how hard they've worked.

Thanks also to my wonderful assistant Stacey who shot these images whilst I was shooting portraits of my amazing clients.



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