Our (ex)Students: Becky Swallow

Art

Becky is a fine art equestrian portrait photographer, who takes pictures of people and their horses. She started her successful business ‘Dressing Up Box Photography’ in 2012 after her journey at College studying Beauty Therapy, Photography part-time (levels 2 & 3) and then the full-time Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, Photography.


AM: What was it like being a student at Kendal College?
BS: I’ve always loved photography. 10 years ago I bought a bridge camera, a step up from a normal camera. My dad has always been into photography, I showed him the camera and he liked it, so that was a good sign! He also lent me a professional camera and I went out and did more, He encouraged me to do the level 2 in Photography and I haven’t looked back!

Dave is a great teacher and is a specialist in mountain photography. He doesn’t teach you how to take a photograph, as everyone has their different creative perspective, so he doesn’t put his way of doing things onto you.  He instead questions what you’re doing & why, and teaches you to explore your own style and find this for yourself. One brief can then result in 20 very different pieces of art!

It was a completely immersive world, being surrounded by all the creative students meant it was a hub of activity. We often worked with music and film students, as everyone wants great pictures, and it was great to be part of what everyone is doing. You walk into the Allen and it’s got an energy, you just have to walk in to be inspired, there’s always people around singing, playing music, dancing. I walked through the doors and I felt at home.What were your most memorable moments at Kendal College?  When we’d just finished the Ideal Worlds exhibition at the Castle Dairy. I’d taken my piece out and walked it over to the Allen. I sat in the photography room and Matt Burke, the Head of School, popped in. He said ‘that’s amazing, whose is it, I want to buy it for the College’ The piece still sits in Reception at the Allen building, and I was paid the asking price. It was made at College, exhibited at College, and then College bought it, that’s really special.
I also had the opportunity to work at the international Comic Arts Festival with really famous comic artists. There was a private gallery view and I was the official photographer for the evening – some of the photos were then used for the international press!

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AM: What are you doing now?
BS: I’m a fine art equestrian portrait photographer, I take pretty pictures of people and their horses.

I set up Dressing Up Box Photography in 2012. I knew I wanted to set up my own business from the level 2 Photography course. I started with general photography and have focused on equestrian work over the past 2 years. I’ve found where I’m at creatively with the horses. I love the connection between people and their horses, it’s so special, you can’t replicate that, it’s fascinating. A lot of traditional equestrian photography is at shows, with horses going over the jumps in the ring, but you don’t get the connection through these. I aim to capture their connection and turn it into art, which they can have on their walls for years to come.  I’m really passionate about that shot, as every relationship is different. I spend time understanding their relationship and putting that into a picture, so it’s totally different from client to client. It’s great to give someone that experience, as well as beautiful piece of art. It’s amazing to present them with their piece and to watch their face, often they say things like ‘Wow that’s my horse!’.

Horses get under your skin; they transport you from everything else going on. I’ve always had horses and ridden, there’s a real happiness I feel being around them. I understand how a horse looks and how it moves and I also understand portraits, so it’s about putting the two together. If I was paying someone, I would want them to understand horses. My heart & soul goes into what I do.

AM: What are your aims for the future?
BS: I would love to be asked to commission a piece for the mounted force, I’d love to do that! I’d like my work to be well recognised and to take photos with top eventers, that would be my goal.

I’m going to continue to focus on equestrian photography, but as I also get a lot of requests for wedding photography, I’m going to set up a separate people based business for portraits. This will be called Rebecca Swallow Photography.

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AM: If you could give one piece of advice to people considering College, what would it be?
BS: The advice would be more to parents than students – You don’t have to be good at art to be a creative person. I hated art at school but I make a living being a creative artist. You don’t have to be doctor to have a respected profession – bringing happiness into people’s lives is just as important. If you took art out of the world, so there was no music, no entertainment, no internet or printed material (as everything you see is designed by someone), what would be left?  We should be encouraging more people to carry on being creative.

Quick Fire Questions

Pinterest or Instagram? Instagram
Most creative environment you’ve been in? The College, absolutely!
Artist you’d most like to have a coffee with? Annie Leibovitz – she does super fantasy, so much goes into it, every detail is researched and a massive team comes together to make one image, she’s amazing!
In 10 years’ time…? To be asked to do my style of pictures for team GB.


Find out more about Becky’s business on her website – www.dressingupphotography.com

If Becky has prompted an interest in Art, Design & Media @ Kendal College, we offer a fantastic range of courses. Start your future on our website.

The interview was conducted by Adele Mundy, the College’s Student Services Manager.


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