Today I’m showcasing photographs from my Business Stories photoshoot with Elizabeth Searle Designs and chatting with her about business and her experience having her photos taken. If you feel nervous about your photos being taken, or unsure if your office or studio would look good in pictures, Elizabeth’s interview is a must-read!

I have spent a morning with Elizabeth in her Egham studio and capture her as she worked. The aim was to create a series of photographs that showed how intricate each drawing is, and how much time it takes to create a work of art, as well as some casual portraits of Elizabeth herself.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and about your business

I’m a mother of two young children and live in Surrey. I set up Elizabeth Searle Designs in 2013 after taking redundancy from the UK’s largest greeting card company which was centralizing its business in the north of England. My job had included product-managing greetings card ranges, but I also designed my own ranges as a freelance artist so felt the time was right to set up my own small business.

I now specialize in using the pencil-drawn style of my most successful card ranges alongside the latest digital techniques in order to create unique artworks based on customers’ treasured photographs of people, pets or places. I love having that personal relationship with my clients and working with them to build up a trust to create a piece of art that they are happy to hang in their house or give as a gift. My business is very dependent on personal recommendations, so that’s a great incentive to ensure every single piece meets and hopefully exceeds my client’s expectations.


a woman with a cup of tea looking through a magazine

It felt like we’d known each other for ages and we had a good giggle throughout, which probably meant I was much more natural when you were actually taking the photos.

How do you juggle motherhood and business?

It can definitely be a challenge at times, not least because the intricate nature of my artworks means that each one takes quite a long time to create. I think the most important thing is to be flexible and don’t try to do your job and be a mum at the same time, as then both will suffer. It does mean that you can end up working odd hours and evenings were a particularly important time before my younger child started school, but now I have a good balance with a focus on work during school hours.

What has your experience been with business photography before our photoshoot?

I’d never used a professional photographer before we worked together. The obvious first answer is that I’m not particularly keen on having my photo taken, but I also felt that I was able to capture images of my work to an acceptable standard on my own camera or iPhone, and the expense was another consideration when my business is still relatively low-margin. The idea of having photos taken of me at work hadn’t dawned on me before it was suggested by a friend.

The return on investment in terms of how your business will be perceived by potential customers is well worth the cost, and Antonina is great at understanding how you need her photographs to reflect you and your business.

Did you have any worries or hesitations before our photoshoot?

I was anxious about how self-conscious I’d feel posing for photos, and I was also worried about how my office would work as a location and how it would be lit. But I was also excited about the opportunity to gain some fresh and professional marketing material, and loved the idea of more ‘natural’ poses as it reflected what I do and took the pressure of me having to pose for the camera.

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pencils and drawings on a table

Can you describe what happened during our photoshoot?

You were so friendly and immediately put me at ease, which really helped. It felt like we’d known each other for ages and we had a good giggle throughout, which probably meant I was much more natural when you were actually taking the photos. I realised that my concerns about how my home and office would work as locations were pretty pointless; as a professional, you knew exactly how to work in the spaces we had.

What were your first thoughts when you received your photographs this time around?

I was a bit nervous, but I loved them! I was so impressed by how a professional can use the space and light available to them to maximise the composition of the shots, but I also felt that you’d captured the process and personal nature of what I do. My artwork is all about encapsulating special memories and I never forget how much the subjects of my pieces mean to my customers, so I was really happy that came across in the photographs.

illustrator in her studio working on drawings

illustrator working on a drawing from a photograph

I was so impressed by how a professional can use the space and light available to them to maximise the composition of the shots, but I also felt that you’d captured the process and personal nature of what I do.

How are you going to use these photographs in your business?

I’ve already starting using them on my business social media channels and I’ve had a great reaction from clients and friends alike. I’ll be adding them to my website as soon as I get a chance too as they will really add to the content and examples of my work that are on there currently.

Any final thoughts about working with me and having your photos taken?

Firstly, don’t be put off by worries about cost or how you’ll look! The return on investment in terms of how your business will be perceived by potential customers is well worth the cost, and Antonina is great at understanding how you need her photographs to reflect you and your business. Secondly, don’t be put off by worries about the photoshoot itself. Antonina is so lovely, chatty and relaxed and that puts you totally at ease. Once you’re relaxed, she can work her magic!

various pencils in an illustrator's studio

I’m Antonina Mamzenko – a natural light newborn, baby and family photographer based between London and Surrey. I specialize in creating candid, natural family photographs with zero cheese and no posing and authentic commercial photography for creative brands, artists and artisans. I work all over London and Surrey, including Cobham, Esher, Thames Ditton, Richmond upon Thames, St Margarets, Twickenham, Teddington, Hampton, Kingston upon Thames, Surbiton, Kew, Chiswick, Putney, Fulham, Wimbledon, Holland Park, Kensington, St John’s Wood and Hampstead. Find more information about my photography sessions or get in touch to check availability and book your photoshoot.