Being Strategic and Creative, and Helping Others Reach Success – An Interview with Nina Mace

Nina Mace is a UK based family photographer who specialises in outdoor photography and has been doing so for the past 11 years. She has also extended into photography training and mentoring, as well as children’s commercial photography. She has won both The Guild of Photographers’ family photographer of the year award and professional trainer of the year from the SWPP and continues to grow and experiment. This year she has tried her hand at dog photography, and is in the running for SWPP pet photographer of the year. 

What got you into photography?

N: I was always the friend with the camera – even if I look back to before I had a professional camera. I always wanted to organise everyone to take a photo to remember an event or day out. I was working in marketing for large international organisations and had my 2 children (now teenagers), deciding whilst on maternity leave that now was the time for a career change. I took a photography course with a local photographer, Stephanie Belton and then decided I would start building a portfolio and website in the background. 

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Photo by Nina Mace

What drew you to family photography in particular?

Having my children was my inspiration. I wanted to capture them growing up. Everyone around me was starting families and when I saw the joy they got from the images I produced, I knew this was for me. I have photographed weddings and dabbled in personal branding photography but keep coming back to photographing families outdoors. 

You also run photography workshops – tell me a bit about this?

After I won Family Photographer of the Year, photographers started to get in touch asking for training. I ran a few workshops first to test the waters and loved seeing the lightbulb moments that the attendees were having. I then took the workshop on the road around the UK and found myself getting into lots of discussion around business and marketing. This then led to the launch of my marketing training which has now grown significantly. I now train on outdoor photography, editing, marketing and SEO, and I have loved seeing so many photographers succeed! At the same time, I do keep my familyphotography running alongside as it’s important I see how the market is shifting and changing, especially after the last few years.

Camberley Photographer
Photo by Nina Mace

What kind of influences do you draw inspiration from?

This is a great question as I have found that following too many photographers can lead me to comparison rather than growth, so I try not to look within the photography industry. If I want to kick start my mojo or feel inspired, I will run casting calls and go and shoot a family with no pressure. I will look for new locations and try shooting somewhere I haven’t before. I also find it really inspiring to shoot with other photographers who are really different to me style wise. I look at their lens choices, positioning, lighting decisions and it inspires me to experiment more.  

Photography training and photography workshops
Photo by Nina Mace

Do you have any favourite photographers or creative influences that have informed your photographic style, and why?

My inspiration tends to be from photographers who have really found their place in the photography world and own it! They are being 100% true to themselves and it shows in their photography but also their marketing. A few examples are Suzi from Little White Photography, Maggie from The Tog Academy and Tasha from Natasha Ince Photography.

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Photo by Nina Mace

What kit do you shoot with and what’s your favourite bit of kit?

I have always been a Canon shooter, but in the last year I made the switch to Sony mirrorless as, at the time, the Canon mirrorless was out of my budget. I use the Sony A7iii with the 135mm lens alongside the 70-180mm f2.8 Tamron because it’s so light! Weight has become a real factor over the last few years as I spend so much time getting up and down from the ground, I need it to be easy. 

What are you working on at the moment?

I am prepping for my Spring family mini shoots and running my SEO course for Photographers.

nina mace Pet Portrait December 2022 123500
Photo by Nina Mace

What would you say is your goal with your photography?

I want to create a business that works around my family and shoot images that my clients love and will cherish forever. I would say I am more strategic than creative, but I still want to evolve my family work this year. As a personal goal, I also want to photograph my own family more and make sure I am in the photos! It’s too easy to say, “when I get thinner” and “I have no makeup on” but my kids don’t care and won’t in the future, so I need to be braver! 

As a female photographer, do you feel that you face any particular challenges? Do you feel that the industry is favourable towards women, or would you like to see any changes?

Personally, I haven’t felt any disadvantage from being a female photographer, but I think this may be because of the genre I work in. I hear stories of female wedding photographers not being treated as they should, and this needs to change.

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Photo by Nina Mace

What advice would you give to budding photographers?

  • Experiment with all types of photography when you first start and see where your heart leads you. Try weddings, families, babies, commercial, music, fashion, you name it! 
  • If you want to run a business, make sure you invest in marketing training as much as you invest in photography training – the market is incredibly competitive, but you will put yourself at an advantage if you have your social media and website on point early.
  • Find a group of photographer friends – mine are invaluable to get creative with, and to use as a sounding board. Make sure they aren’t afraid to give you really useful constructive criticism when you ask for it as this will help you to grow. 

You can view some of Nina’s lovely work on her website and follow her on Instagram

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