Tuesday, May 3, 2011

BEHIND THE LENS: With Jaz Ampaw-Farr

We've been hooked following a few rising stars across 'The Pond', including Alex Beadon who we interviewed earlier this year. Through Alex we met Jaz - an amazing photographer with a wit as sharp as her eye for amazingly images.  Check out her Shutterrock site, where U.S inspiration meets U.K. edginess.  Phenomenal!  Or should I say Brilliant?!   Either way, Jaz rocks and you will absolutely love meeting her.  Without further ado, we reveal Jaz!

Your Name: Jaz Ampaw-Farr
Your studio/business name: Jaz Ampaw-Farr Photography
Location: UK but I’m international baby!

Your Style

In 50 words or less, how would your clients describe your photography?
I can do it in one! Fun. They’re not describing the photography, they’re describing me. It’s about the amazing experience they have as a client. Photography-wise it’s Natural which is a massive compliment because I am constantly and cleverly directing by engaging with them and without them noticing!

Are you self-taught or classroom trained?
Like many creative people I have always taken photos. I love stories, memories. I grew up in foster care and there and no photos in existence of me before I was 16. When I decided to go into business I found the best people photographers and asked them if I could come and hang with them.

I found Annabel Williams Contemporary Photography Training through Brett Harnkess and did their Bespoke course. Dunring that coursed I got to train with Tamara Peel, Stewart Randall, Nikki Hill, Xander Casey. I also did a week with Jerry Ghionis to develop my images and have done lighting and some business coaching with Damien Lovegrove.

An amazing photographer whom I admire is Gisela Olson. She told me to check out Jasmine Star so I did. I visited her website, found her blog and read EVERYTHING! I also clicked on EVERY link and read EVERYTHING on those sites! I found Kevin Kubota, Showit, David Jay, Design Aglow, Dane Sanders and read and read and read!

How many years have you been a professional photographer?
I finished the Bespoke course in 2010 so I suppose since then. I still have another business training teachers in literacy (another passion!)

Where do you want to take your photography business in 5 years?
I spent a year feeling as if I would never make it because I wasn’t stylish enough, lacked talent and just plain wasn’t allowed! I remember reading about Jasmine Star and DJ meeting on a boat and hanging out and looked around my tip of a three bed roomed semi in Milton Keynes, with my two kids staging a mock sea battle in the background and thought ‘Man, who am I trying to kid!’ Then I found Dane Sanders' book FastTrack Photographer and it resonated so much with me! I had already been inspired enormously but it felt like Dane was speaking directly to me in the book. Long story short, ShutterRock was born http://www.shutterrock.jazampawfarr.com/ - my dream of a photography festival taking US inspiration and adding a UK edge to it. A open and honest community of photographers interested in being authentic, building a business based around who they are, celebrating positivity. In 5 years time I will be doing 10 weddings a year at a minimum of £10k each, 8 portrait shots and ShutterRock UK will have made an enormous and fabulous impact in bring people together and empowering photographers.

Also I will have an 85mm 1.2!

Is there a photographer who inspires your style?  Who would that be?  Definitely Annabel Williams and Jasmine Star. If you’re a woman who likes taking photos check out Annabel Williams! She taught me it’s 5% camera and 95% psychology. Engaging with someone whilst having a camera in between you is a real talent.

Favorite location to take photos?  Anywhere in natural light. I am a natural light freak!

Favorite vacation spot?  Anywhere with my family. I love Cornwall in South England but have also worked in Jamaica which is so cool. Well, obviously it’s extremely hot but you know what I mean!

Your Business

What was the pivotal moment when you decided to become a photographer?
It was more gradual than that for me. My training business was taking me away from my family a lot and I was constantly tired. I allowed myself a moment of clarity and realised I could do whatever I put my mind too! I took some time out, remembered taking photos made me happy and dared to dream big.

What’s the best marketing tip that has worked for you?
David Jay and Zach & Jody Gray are all big on organic relational marketing. I love the idea of the power of a gift. I focus on making clients fall in love with me by being me. One of my brand (and personal) values is generosity. I have never done and never intend to do a wedding show. Instead I spend money on gifts, invest time and genuinely love my clients. I only work with people I can do this with. Keeping my integrity is crucial.

What’s the most surprising thing a customer has asked you?
At the beginning I had to feign nonchalance every time a customer spent money with me when I was actually bowled over!

Favorite print lab?
See, this is a test! I want to say some flashy lab! I do use Loxely and One Vision just for prints but have also used Jessops which makes me feel like I’m not a pro!

Your Gear

Are you Canon or Nikon (or – “other”):
Canon - David Bailey had me hooked when I was 7 years old!

If you could only have one lens on a photo shoot, what would it be?
24-70 2.8 I can do so much with that lens!

What brand bag do you carry your camera in?
It’s a sushi pink faux crocodile skin Jasper Conran weekend bag that I have added padding too. Really easy to spot at a weeding!

What gear would we find in your camera bag?
My 5D Mk2, and 40D back up camera, my monopod, my 24-70 and 70-200 2.8 lenses, my 580 flash and STE 2 Transmitter, a shed load of batteries, Love Heart Sweets with my details on (they’re my business cards), a pre sucked lolly, a solidified sausage from down the back of the sofa that my daughter, Trinity thinks I haven’t noticed, and a small Buzz Lightyear that my son Jacob was playing ‘spaceship crashing into Mummy’s camera bag’ with.

Are you a natural light fan or strobe fan?
Natural light all the way baby!

Are you PC or Mac?
I have both but photography is all Mac. I mean it just does what it supposed to without all the fuss!

Your Tips and Tricks

What post processing tools do you use?
I am proud to say I use Lightroom exclusively. I honestly don’t know how to edit a photo in Photoshop! Also, now I use the amazing ShootDotEdit for my editing. They do it better than me in half the time and actually seem to enjoy it!

Do you shoot in Raw or Jpeg?
Jpeg. I’ve tried RAW but none of my clients have ever noticed a difference so jpeg is easier! I aim to get it right in camera as I would rather spend an evening reading Stick Man to my kids for the 200th time than clicking a mouse 200 times!

Best advice you would give your 20-year old self?
Get your unibrow waxed! I mean did no one notice?! Other than that nothing! I would say not to worry so much but my 20 year old self wouldn’t listen. That’s why Alex Beadon blows me away! I didn’t know what day it was at her age! I was prancing around to Vogue and appearing on Blind Date thinking I was sooooo cool!

Best advice you would give a new photographer?
Spend £10 and get Dane Sanders Fast track Photographer Book. Read it. Do what he says. Also, build your business around you and you’ll never have any competition. No one else can be you!

What site do you use for your photography and why?
I am a Showit Showgirl! I have my main website built in Showit and can have as many other websites a as I like as Plus sites (all my clients get their own) Check out www.darcie.jazampawfarr.com

What Else Should We Know?

What was your worst photography experience?
I didn’t give a client anything in writing and they thought they were getting a £4200 album for £125. It was horrible! I maintained my composure thought the viewing but came home and cried.

What would surprise people most about you, whether it is photography related or not?
I danced in Cher’s video ‘Do you Believe’, my default setting is misery, I can juggle, I’m not on any drugs (everyone wants to know where I get my energy from!)

Tell us something else you’d like us to know:
I have no idea when the clocks go forward or back. However, every year someone casually mentions it just in time!  I mean every year, how cool is that!

And just because we want to know you, fill in the blanks

Three things I can’t live without….
Ed, Trin, Jake

I wish I had more…..
Time - the only thing I can’t have.

The best thing about being a photographer is…
Connecting with people.

The most important lesson I ever learned was….
You can teach what you know but you can only create what you are.

My favorite time of day is…
When it’s light. I don’t like the dark!

Click this forward, we LOVE Jaz!


  1. Yeeha - I'm famous! Now to tell all my friends!

  2. Jaz, you've always been famous for just being you, and will continue to be too! x

  3. woohoo Jaz, congrats , really interesting article

  4. Fab Jaz. A real interesting read. xx

  5. Beautiful work and wonderful interview!!!!!

  6. oh honey, you make me so, so proud!!!
    I love who you are, your spirt and you amazing energy.
    You are generous, you are artistic, you are fun,
    The interview is 130% you and I love that you have found your voice.

    xxx will tell everyone;-)

  7. Super interview Jaz. You work is as beautiful as you are and I know many people will want to book you after reading this :D

  8. Jaz, you inspire me. Keep on keeping on... xxx

  9. Annabel WilliamsMay 4, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    Fantastic! What amazing pictures, amazing story, amazing energy - go girl - you are going to be a star. Fact.

  10. Love your spirit, energy and drive. So much of what you say resonates with me completely! I can't wait to meet you lovely lady :) xxx

  11. Jaz, true inspiration as always!

  12. Love you Jaz! Great interview, as ever.

  13. Go girl!!! You ROCK!!! Fantastic interview, full of your wonderful energy and love/zest for life. You are an inspiration and fabulous friend!!!

  14. I LOVE this, and I LOVE you, Jaz!

  15. Note to self - 'DON'T DRINK TEA WHILE READING JAZ INTERVIEWS' now I have to clean my screen from laughing tea splatter! You rock girl - plain and simple and it's a pleasure to know you x

  16. You Guys! make me laugh! Tracy - My friend Kier laughed once and mashed potato came out of his nose. things could always be worse!

  17. Fantastic interview Jaz, well done!! :)

  18. Really enjoyed reading that Jaz. Always feel very inspired and go-getting after reading one of your interviews. Felt the same after meeting you at the SWPP. Since then when i go to under-sell myself i hear your voice and words pop into my head "How much do you value yourself, and time that you could be spending with your family?" Then it makes value myself and charge that bit more!
    So much you had to say resonates - clients soooo book the photographer and experience, it's not just about photos (or i wouldn't be getting any business!) and natural light all the way baby! Also, the 85mm is a lens i would LOVE to have in my kit!
    Made me smile about the sausage and spaceship :)
    Well done on another zesty interview and your exciting new venture.
    Ps. Blind date!? Do tell more!
    Emma Thwaites x

  19. Jaz you are a rock star, but you already knew that right? ;) Great interview! :)

  20. your wedding looked amazing. the owls looked so cool.

  21. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)


Thank you for your kind words. We appreciate and read each and every one.