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  • Writer's pictureSarah Tulej

London and Rotterdam photographer - my story 2020

How I became a professional portrait photographer

I absolutely love taking relaxed, natural portraits of people with a creative feel. People these days really want to avoid boring, corporate looking headshots, or family portraits that look posed and forced. Getting people to open up and get confident in front of the camera is the key to getting professional photos that are packed with personality.

Not so green anymore... Photo: Lauren Davies

I have been taking photos since I was about 6 years old. The first ever photos I took were during a long afternoon in a beer garden with a little pink plastic camera and a roll of film with 24 photos on it (remember film?!) snapping my parents' friends. Then fiddling with my Dad's slightly broken SLR and taking photos of lego figures set up in minature scenes in the field behind our house in Lancashire.

It was when I saw one of my friend's portraits of his girlfriend (my best friend) with the wonderful blurry background, and then seeing my sister's art college friends' photos that I got a 'proper' camera. After quizzing a photographer friend (the brilliant portrait photographer, Alice Whitby), she told me to do a course to learn the fundamentals so I'd find out how to get those gorgeous photos I wanted to take for myself.

East London family photography: smiling baby standing at a window
One of my absolute favourites of my little sidekick

It has always been people I've loved to photograph. I have been, at times, a bit obsessive about capturing moments in time, way before we all had phone cameras. But it was when I was pregnant with my son (now 3 years old) that I got to grips with 'professional photography.'

I feel incredibly lucky now to be making a career of taking portraits and professional headshots of the lovely variety of people that get in touch with me. I've worked with young families, architects, pizza entrepreneurs, a record label manager, marketers, doctors and even a Miss England finalist. This totally suits my love for variety, meeting new people and getting creative.

Professional London portrait photographer Sarah Tulej holding camera
Capturing the moment. Photo: Lauren Davies.

Now, since people seem to like a list, here are some more fun(ish?) facts about me...

🌵Since I was a teenager I have been a collector of house plants and my boyfriend is driven nuts by our out of control cheese plant

🌵As well as being a photographer, I am a sustainable food and fashion expert

🌵I am obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race and have spent literally hundreds of hours watching sickening lip syncs

🌵I am a cunning linguist. I speak Spanish, Portuguese and French, and have started learning Dutch. Other attempts include German, Serbian and Italian

🌵My surname is Polish - my grandfather Piotr came to live in Leeds as a refugee after WWII in the 1940s

🌵I put brown sauce on everything, most importantly when having a boiled egg.

🌵I have never watched Dirty Dancing, Labyrinth or Gremlins, which is totally baffling to people of a certain age

🌵My favourite place in the world is the Lake District which is not far from where I grew up

🌵My son has a mother from up north and a father from down south, and so is ‘bi-lingual’. He will say grass (rhymes with ass) and grass (rhymes with arse) depending on who he is talking to!

🌵The first ever roll of film I got developed was (unintentionally) 24 photos of the sky - taken with my pink plastic camera. I was devastated. But it didn’t put me off my love of taking portraits of people - which I am so happy is now my job!

If you would like to discuss getting some creative and relaxed portraits for your work, business or indeed your family, I'd love to hear from you!

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