On a recent trip to Perth, I was lucky enough to meet and work with Stylist and Photographer Meghan Plowman. I quickly discovered Meghan was a wealth of information and inspiration for anyone looking to make the move into a freelance creative career. After much hard work, Meghan is now enjoying the beginnings of great success turning her two passions, styling and photography, into a full time career. Shuffling around living room furniture, we got to chatting about the challenges of living a creative life, creating our own job descriptions and taking the leap of faith from a stable full time job to chase a dream. I knew I had to interview Meghan and share her knowledge!
DHS – Hi Meghan, how did you get started in the styling and photography industry? Did one come before the other?
MP – I actually began my career in graphic design however I have always had a passion for photography, film and telling stories through imagery. I had been photographing for a few years before I decided to embark on a styling career.
It was during my search for a way to tie together my interests I came across the role of a stylist through the work of mentors such as Sibella Court, Vanessa Colyer Tay and Glen Proebstel. I knew that I also wanted to create these images that were far more than products on a page, but clever story telling. I was hooked!
I began to build up a portfolio by styling and photographing my own work, then approached editors and agencies for experience. Networking with those in my industry exposed me to some great opportunities, which have grown from there.
DHS – I imagine that venturing out on your own comes with some level of risk and a fear of the unknown. How did you manage the transition from a stable full time job in to freelancing?
MP – There was definitely some fear of going out on my own that’s for sure. I know I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support of my family and friends.
Whilst working for an interiors boutique (before I ventured out on my own), I had the opportunity to work closely with the local papers. I found myself contributing ideas and images for interiors stories and assisting on photo shoots. It came to a point where I couldn’t say no to the opportunities coming my way and I had to trust in both my instinct and passions that more would follow and that I had to take the next step.
DHS – You’ve enjoyed great success and attracted much of your business from your Instagram profile (16,000 followers). How did you attract so many followers? Please share with us your tips!
MP – I have been so incredibly amazed by the support I have had from Instagram and the community it has helped to build. In fact I am seeing this worldwide with Instagram helping build connections and business in huge ways. It’s essentially the real ‘social’ media!
I began using Instagram as an outlet for my own photography and styling work, because I love taking photos. It’s still the reason I use it but it’s become more of a daily portfolio for me – I have developed my style and will keep developing it through the constant inspiration and quality of images I see everyday.
I think my main pointers with building a following on Instagram would be to interact with people, don’t be afraid to comment on their images and be specific. Tell them what you like about a certain image and why. Also, try to find your own consistency and build your own style, be it through your subjects, editing, and even the way you speak to your following. I follow some users who simply make me laugh!
DHS – What advice can you give to upcoming Stylists and Photographers hoping to build their own profile and portfolio?
MP – I’d definitely recommend looking for other creatives you admire who are also starting out, and collaborate on a project. That way you can all help build your portfolios together. I recall assisting on a shoot in the beginning where the team including a hairdresser, model, makeup artist, photographer, stylist and assistants were ‘paid’ in images. If you can come to an agreement with your photographer then everyone involved benefits from a professionally produced shot for their portfolio.
DHS – I can’t wait to see you upcoming projects, what’s in the pipeline?
MP – I’m really excited to have the opportunity in the new year to work closely with Mobilia and international design studio CulDeSac on an exhibition they are bringing to Perth called Design Circus, an adventurous concept to spark the imagination and challenge the way we see design. Think a full circus experience mixed with clever visual display of industrial design!
I will also be continuing work with a number of U.S. brands such as Hearth and Mornings Like These, where I will be developing branding as well as contributing lifestyle stories and photography.