About - Claire Watson Photography

How did I get here?

I’ve been studying people and landscapes through a camera lens since I was six years old (I'm the one with the camera, if in doubt). I was a very quiet child (something my friends and networking contacts might find hard to believe), with a passion for photography.

Back then, I mostly took photos of my rabbit (still working on picking the right focal point)—but I watched everything and everyone.

My first SLR was a Pentax. It came with me to Namibia, where I was doing research for my environmental science dissertation, in 2000. I was still photographing landscapes and animals at this point—people were to come later. My travels have taken me to the Caribbean, New Zealand and Mexico, to name a few, but it wasn’t until I went to China in 2008, to teach English and see the Olympics, that I bought my first professional camera and started to take more pictures of people.

Having developed my skills over 20 years, and after winning a local wildlife photography competition, I decided to turn professional in 2012. While I quickly realised that wildlife photography wasn’t going to be for me professionally (I’m not a fan of camouflage or lying in ditches for hours), winning the competition gave me the confidence to take the plunge.

I found my niche when I started working with small businesses. Each one presents a new challenge as I discover the best way to effectively communicate their stories. Telling these stories is one of the things I love most about my job.

I specialise in portrait, commercial and event photography and I run training courses to show businesspeople how to create images that appeal directly to their dream clients.

What my life brings to my photography

Whatever I’ve done in the past—from teaching English in China, to playing rugby for Scotland—taking photos has always been a major part of my life.

Working, studying and travelling in parts of the world from Orkney and the Caribbean to Guatemala and Vietnam has given me a talent for reading people, situations and landscapes. I try to use my camera to take images that capture my feeling at the time or the story of the moment. Well the good ones do…the rest are well-composed holiday pictures ;)

Time spent teaching English in China—and competing in triathlon and rugby at home and abroad—has honed my keen awareness of body language. The challenging nature of these situations means you learn pretty quickly not to rely on verbal communication alone. I use this awareness to help people visually represent their business effectively in their professional portrait photos.

Years of team sports, work and teaching have developed my talent for helping people get over their initial nerves and putting them at ease—something clients often mention.

“...despite the fact that she is armed with a camera, [she] manages to put you at ease, makes the whole photographic process relaxing and even fun. She has a wonderful manner, is very reassuring, and thoroughly professional.” Carol Thomas, Forever Aloe NB

“...I felt like I had a 10 minute chat with a friend while Claire was taking photos so I was totally relaxed. I had loads of great natural shots to choose from in the end ... it’s so important now to have great images and Claire gives a totally professional service.” Gurjinder K. Lalli

What I love about my work

Being a photographer and a trainer is all about communication—both visual and verbal—and I love communicating. Meeting new people is one of my favourite things, so networking isn’t just where I find a lot of my business—I also do it for fun. The other bonuses I get are:

• Helping people get over their dread of being photographed and showing them how to look positive and confident in their images—tiny changes to posture, eye contact and the way you hold your head make a big difference.

• Teaching people how to improve their photography for their businesses—it’s so satisfying to watch people’s attitudes change as they discover the power of images.

• Problem-solving and rising to challenges—like getting great photos in dark, badly-lit venues. I’ve never been beaten yet, but I’m always looking for new ways to communicate messages more effectively.

• Helping people tell their stories with the photographs I take. For me, the role of the photographer is to empower people and help them achieve—and that’s very rewarding.

• My studio in Leith—it’s light and airy with high ceilings and has a clean, open feel to it.

What else do I love doing?

My diverse client base means I meet lots of interesting people, supporting me to learn and grow as a photographer. I love that the different perspective I gain from working with clients helps me to keep refining my work.

I’ve ambitions for even more travel—something that had to take a back seat while I was establishing my business. Nearer to home, I’m on the look-out for over-worked and undervalued carers and volunteers—people who change the world for the better every day—to take part in a portraiture project looking at empowerment and commenting on societal values. I particularly like gently challenging people to look at the world in a different way and ask themselves what’s truly valuable.

Sport and fitness has and will always be an intrinsic part of my life. At the moment I’m recovering from tendonitis brought on by a foray into rugby refereeing which, fingers crossed, will be resolved by next season. So, to keep myself entertained, I Olympic weight-lift a couple of times a week, go to Pilates, walk up and back to and from town from the PR of Leith and am doing the NHS 0 to 5k run programme as part of my recovery. So if you can’t find me, look for a lunatic in Lycra.

I’m also trying to write a book this year as I fancy a new creative challenge, but I’ve yet to find the time!

Client’s words

“As a reluctant photography subject I have to say I was not looking forward to the session, but Claire was so friendly and professional and she really took the time to put me at ease. I am very happy with the pictures and the whole process from start to finish was seamless and great value.” Fiona Haywood, Haywood Human Resources

“Claire is a great photographer. She has that important special quality of making people feel at ease during a photo shoot. Angles, lighting, composition—all come naturally to Claire. The results are always impressive. Claire understands the commercial needs of the photographs she takes, so I am never short of options.” Giles Etherington, Brand Creation, Development and Communication

“...one of the best photographers I have ever worked with ... you didn’t even notice her at the event but the results of her work were amazing. All her shots were very natural and she was able to capture the mood of the event very well.” Derek Reilly, Deputy National President for JCI Ireland (Junior Chamber International)

Where can you find me… when not in Lycra?

In Edinburgh and the Lothians

I’m regularly out and about networking in Edinburgh and the Lothians. Come and say hello! These are all great events:

• ConnectED, every Tuesday morning, at Monboddo on Bread Street

• No Ties Networking lunch, at Monboddo on Bread Street

• West Lothian Chamber, various events

• Coffee Connections Edinburgh, at the Village Hotel

• Meet the Neighbours, at Malmasion in Leith

• Creative Circles, at CodeBase.

Find out where I’ll be next—get in touch! Alternately, I’m always keen to try new events so invite me along to your favourites.