HomeRule BreakersCapturing Dreams: Belinda Burton's Lens on Entrepreneurial Success in Photography

Capturing Dreams: Belinda Burton’s Lens on Entrepreneurial Success in Photography

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As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who are encouraging and doing incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Belinda Burton.

Belinda Burton is an experienced and internationally awarded professional photographer, originally from Hong Kong, now based in London, UK. From her city-based photography studio, she creates “magazine-worthy portraits” of women; fine art style portraits, business portraits (headshots and personal branding) and sensual boudoir-style empowerment portraits.

She believes that there is beauty in everyone, at every age. You don’t need to be a supermodel – you can just be you – and still come away with professional portraits that make you feel incredible, give you a huge confidence boost and genuinely change the way you see yourself (for the better!). 

She has over a decade of experience in portrait photography and is also a professional hair and makeup artist. She is passionate about helping her clients to look and feel their best. She knows that when women feel their best, they feel great about themselves and that inner confidence can literally be life-changing! 

Here’s what we found out about Belinda’s everyday routine, followed by an exclusive Q+A.

Many thanks for doing this for us, please let our users know about yourself and your inspirational journey.

Hello. I am Belinda Burton, an award-winning portrait, branding and boudoir photographer based in London, UK. 

Previously a qualified accountant with almost two decades of experience providing financial expertise in the media sector, I always had a flare for anything artistic. Photography became my number one creative outlet after I first picked up my first SLR (a.k.a. proper big) camera when I was studying for an evening art diploma in my early accountancy career. 

I found that the narratives through the camera lens were much more subjective and selective compared to the surroundings we could take in with my own eyes; it could be a very powerful expression of art. I spent much of my spare time learning about all subjects and genres of photography and how to better my skills. 

There was a period during which I worked part-time as a wedding photographer while still in the corporate world. Eventually, the creative flare took over and I am proud to now be a professional portrait photographer, loving what I do and doing what I love.

What inspired you to start your own beauty-related business, and what is the mission or purpose behind it?

I am passionate about empowering women through creating stunning photographic images of them. 

In an era dominated by digital presence and social media, women can constantly feel judged on their appearance. A survey conducted by the Women and Equalities Committee in 2020 suggested that 6 out of 10 women in the U.K. feel negatively about their bodies. Often women feel they are not ‘enough’ or up to society’s standards. 

To counter that, a set of great portrait or boudoir photographs do wonders for a woman’s self-confidence and mental health.

Most importantly, I believe this shouldn’t be the privilege of women who own media-perfect bodies. I believe there is beauty in every woman, it is about knowing how to bring out the best in them. I work with women of all body shapes and all ages, enhancing their look through the best angles and poses, lighting, styling and photographic techniques. 

How do you differentiate your beauty brand or services from competitors in the market?

Photography is a rather saturated and highly competitive market, so it is important to stand out in terms of quality as well as a clear proposition. I have established myself in the niche of portrait photography and I also specialise in boudoir photography. Unlike other photographers, I am also a trained makeup artist and hairstylist.  

My work has been published in various magazines and on media platforms. I have also won international photography awards. These are all welcome recognition of my work. However, ultimately it is more important that my clients feel amazing while being photographed by me, and that they are delighted when they see the photos of themselves that I have created for them. 

I take pride in providing the greatest experience from start to finish, which is also a differentiator. I am also known for giving thorough and detailed posing instructions during the photo shoot, which I regard as the #1 key to achieving great-looking portrait photos. 

Could you share some of the unique challenges you’ve faced as a woman entrepreneur in the beauty industry and how you’ve overcome them?

As I work in a sector servicing primarily women, I don’t find being a woman entrepreneur as a disadvantage – indeed, it is an advantage because I understand my audience. I find the challenges more relevant simply as entrepreneurs; the constant juggling of priorities, multi-tasking and balancing the different business activities to keep the wheels turning. 

What strategies have you used to stay updated on the latest beauty trends, technologies, and product innovations in your field?

I keep learning every day! I still attend training with the great masters; going to trade shows and photography forums are great means to keep in tune with new developments and innovations in the photography industry. I also learn about new products and new perspectives by catching up with my fellow photographers. 

How do you balance the demands of running a beauty business with maintaining a strong online and social media presence?

Like all small business owners, we all struggle with multi-tasking. As you rightly point out, a strong online and social media presence has grown to a much bigger task over time with the demanding algorithms, thirst for constant content feed and vast number of channels to have a presence on. 

My answer to this challenge is to streamline and outsource. While I am responsible for creating my own content, I have help with the technical, logistical and administrative side of the tasks. 

What advice do you have for other women looking to break into the beauty industry and start their own ventures?

It is ok to be scared, but don’t let fear stop you going forward. Success in business is about trying and problem-solving along the way – you never know ‘till you try.

It is important to have a clear vision of your proposition, your targeted audience, your USP (unique selling point) and hence effectively, your brand. Start with your heart, but support decision-making with numbers and logic.

What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?

Motivation – We all have desires and dreams; it is motivation that gets us started. On a day-to-day basis, there is no structure. We can choose to do a lot or do very little, it is entirely up to us.

Persistence – running a business is far from smooth sailing, there are a lot of obstacles and fallbacks along the way, and we need determination and persistence to carry us over the tidal waves when they happen.

Confidence – we need to be confident about our offerings for others to be confident in them. If you are not confident yet, that means you still need to improve your skills or products. 

How do you ensure that your products or services cater to a diverse range of customers and address their unique beauty needs?

I work with a diverse range of customers. Despite their differences, ultimately they have the same goal – to look fabulous in their photos and believe in their own selves. For me as their photographer, the priority is to showcase the possibilities and to create a portfolio that encompasses women of all backgrounds and looks. 

Can you share some of your most successful marketing and branding strategies that have helped your beauty business grow?

I believe that there is no single marketing formula that is magical. In this era, which as you point out requires significant online and social media presence, my strategy is to have a very impactful online portfolio (website), and make sure the different social media platforms are consistent with quality content and messaging. 

I believe in investing in growing my audience and online brand. Whether clients find me through referrals, Google or social media, it is not unusual that they will follow and observe before enquiring. 

Also, servicing my clients to the best of my ability is a form of marketing. When clients are thrilled with the results you create, word of your business spreads!   

What is your vision for the future of your beauty business, and how do you plan to adapt to evolving industry trends and consumer preferences?

It is my hope that more women can come to know about my services and come around to the belief that they too can feel beautiful, even if they don’t consider themselves photogenic. Having an empowering photo shoot is a much longer-lasting investment than cosmetics. A set of professional beauty portraits will remind them of how fabulous they are capable of being and will preserve that moment forever. 

I read a lot of fashion magazines to stay inspired and on top of trends, and to explore how I can incorporate beauty trends into my photos when relevant. However, it is also important that the beauty captured in my photographs is timeless also! 

How do you give back to your community or support other women in the beauty industry, and why is this important to you?

By working with everyday women and bringing out the best in them, I feel that I have contributed to the women’s empowerment movement. 

While we are increasingly embracing diversity in the beauty industry, it is important that women can see that diversity is reflected in current beauty standards and that this is portrayed in the media and elsewhere.

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