Carmel King is a freelance photographer, based from her Leyton studio, Host. With over twelve years experience, she has worked with many emerging businesses, helping to establish an aesthetic and identity through images. Recently she has been documenting the creative community of Waltham Forest, with her ongoing series 'Makers & Manufacturers'. Carmel co-founded Hive Collective with Nat Harrison in 2017. She lives with her partner and three children in Walthamstow.
Hive Collective: You have always been freelance - how did you have the confidence to go it alone from the beginning and how did you get started?
Carmel King: I was lucky enough to get a job with a great design agency straight after finishing my photography degree at London College of Communication. I didn't have time to question it, I just dived in and ended up working for the client on further projects. They provided me with my bread and butter work for the next ten years and also gave me a network - the team moved on but they often commissioned me from their new place of work. This helped build my confidence, portfolio and contacts and led to me working for lots of charities and independent organisations.
HC: How has your business developed?
CK: In the early days I said yes to any job that came my way and that led to shooting lots of events and portraits. I've always loved working with people and shooting them in their working environment - reportage style with minimal kit. After I had my kids, I didn't want to shoot events so had to make a concerted effort to steer the work in the direction I wanted it to go - ideally shooting creatives in their workplaces and working with independent brands on their lifestyle and product photography. I embarked on my own personal project 'Makers & Manufacturers' and managed to secure some Council funding to continue the pilot project. This project introduced me to a huge network of local creatives many of whom became clients.
HC: What or who do you love photographing?
CK: I love working with professionals who have a real niche. I enjoy capturing their passion for their craft and product and sharing their stories with the wider community.
HC: Why did you start Hive Collective?
CK: After an initial business coaching session with Nat Harrison she encouraged me to start my Makers project - not to over think it, just to shoot some portraits and see where it would lead. We did a skills swap and that led to us meeting regularly and enjoying having someone to bounce ideas off and being a bit accountable to when setting goals with our own work. After a year of meeting and formulating various plans, we created Hive Collective, a space for freelancers and business owners to meet, share knowledge and skills, learn from one another and inspire each other to succeed.
“ I think it’s important for my kids to hear me talk positively about what I do and not just call it ‘work’. “
HC: Any tips on being a mum of three and a freelancer?
CK: It's always a juggle and I do have to work evenings to catch up on the time spent with the kids after school but I love the flexibility of being freelance and being able to go to assemblies / take time off during holidays etc. I plan out the week ahead so I can chat to my partner on Sunday evening and work out who is doing which drop offs / pick ups as the kids always prefer to know who's doing what. I talk a lot to them about my week, filling them in on my projects and who I've met as I think it's important for them to hear me talk positively about what I do and not just call it 'work'.
HC: How has living in Waltham Forest contributed to your success?
CK: It's a hugely creative, supportive community and a lot of my clients live and work locally. I have a studio in Leyton so have met a lot of people in that part of town as well as Walthamstow where I am based. I like working for local businesses - it makes me feel connected to the area that I live and saves me commuting!
HC: What's next for you?
CK: I hope to launch my Makers & Manufacturers booklet this Spring after two years working on the project and have embarked on a similar series in Southwark documenting the 'making and mending' economy in and around the Old Kent Road area. I love learning about London's past and thriving creative scene
You can find out more about Carmel King here: W: https://www.carmelking.com/ I: @carmelkingphoto