Brewing her own little storm in a teacup, Birmingham born and bred Anam Anwer shares her story of becoming a self-taught Photographer and Videographer.
Reminiscing back to the moment she received her first camera on her eleventh birthday, Anam re-lives the excitement of pulling back the flap to snap a picture with the small Digital HP. Obsessed with selfies at that point in her life, her journey with photography evolved beautifully.
Eager to establish where the passion to become a photographer came from, we talk and explore Anam’s life and key moments that contributed to inspiring this as a career choice. Fortunate enough to travel extensively during her youth, she vividly remembers using her first camera to capture images of scenery, the details of leaves and the essence of nature and the rawness of safari in Kenya.
The fascination continued to develop from this point onwards and after sadly losing her dad a couple of years ago, the reality of how precious captured memories were became increasingly evident. Dealing with grief, led to the reassessment of career choice and pursuit of something meaningful which she enjoyed and felt gratified by. Sifting through old photos, irreplaceable moments in time, she knew she just had to take the plunge and give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?
“it’s not the camera – it’s more about your skills and ability to use it to create magic”.Anam Anwer
The digital HP wouldn’t quite cut it, so Anam began to research extensively; in search of a camera worth investing in – the valuable tool that would assist in kickstarting her career in this new and quite daunting arena. She opted for a Canon 1300D, recommended as suitable for amateurs and admits to still utilising it to this day. Although the Canon 1300D remains close to her heart and such a special camera that has captured many incredible pieces of work and allowed her to launch herself into the industry, she has upgraded to a Sony A73. With little knowledge of cameras, I try to establish the differences and am advised that the Sony A73 is perfect for switching between photography and videography, so it is fabulous as a multi-purpose option, and she still gets excited every time she uses it! Regardless of choice, Anam is quite clear in the belief that “it’s not the camera – it’s more about your skills and ability to use it to create magic”.
Fenty Beauty brand
So, how does one “teach themselves” to become a photographer/videographer with no formal training? Dedication to researching and hours and hours of learning new techniques through YouTube videos, Skillshare and Udemy. Keen to know how Anam went from this – to working on a campaign for Rhianna’s trailblazing Fenty Beauty brand, I pick her brains a bit more!
“If you ever feel like doing something and have a desire or a passion you are considering pursuing, just do it, go for it. Dreams are only a mindset away from reality”.Anam Anwer
What was your first professional photography job?
I remember seeing an old acquaintance from college, who is now a professional dancer, posting on social media that she required a photographer to take some portraits. I reached out saying I was available; she asked my rate (to which I questioned – what is my rate?!), and we took it from there. As I already knew her, I don’t think I felt as nervous as I would have, and I embraced the moment. It felt natural to me, and I was strangely calm, perhaps because this was something I cared about profoundly. The only nerves I experienced were those of excitement.
What major campaigns have you contributed to?
My first big job, which I am still so proud of to this day, is the Fenty Beauty campaign that I shot in 2019. I mean, Rhianna, wow – she’s a global phenomenon and me, I got to shoot for her brand. Words cannot describe how much confidence this instilled in me. I felt like I was finally on the cusp of success, and this was such an imperative milestone in my career.
Another more recent campaign was with Gym Shark, one of the world’s fastest-growing fitness companies. It was weird, as, at the back of my mind, there was always a personal desire and goal to work with them, and when it came to fruition, it verified to me that nothing was out of reach. We all have those moments in our lives and careers where we doubt ourselves and our abilities, and this is the campaign that reinforced that self-confidence in me and reminded me that I’ve got this – I can do anything! To have such a massive brand trust me based on my past work was such an amazing feeling.
When I am on a shoot, I always have that tiny tingle of nervousness, no matter how large or small the scale is, as I genuinely care about my work and strive to achieve my client’s brief. However, on this shoot, I remember I felt so calm. I was just embodied in the moment, did not overthink for a second and felt like I was meant to be there.
How did covid impact your ability to freelance, and how did you overcome this?
Prior to lockdown, I had a couple of jobs that paid quite well; however, I knew they would only carry me through a couple of months. This was really concerning, but I began to pull on resources. I contacted people in my network to remind them I was available. The first month was difficult, but then I had to make a decision to offer discounted rates. This worked well with local artists, as it was apparent that a lot more people were becoming more creative during lockdown, and the emergence of bespoke, creative start-up businesses was rife.
All in all, despite the tragedies of the pandemic, lockdown proved fruitful for business as it made me work harder and focus on future direction, so I am grateful for that.
What are your specialities?
They’re varied! I have shot a lot of versatile genres, but I enjoy shooting brands, unique services – anything that allows me to have creative direction and full control over this. As I have a personal passion for health, sports and fitness, I also really enjoy this. The shoots are fun, real, allow me to capture movement, moments and play around – not as structured and planned or rigid.
What’s next for you?
The aim is to step away from operating the camera and move more into direction, piecing things together. I would love to work on bigger budgets, higher quality productions and do fewer jobs. Having a team to delegate to would be ideal!
Is there any advice you would give to someone considering launching a freelance business as a photographer?
Yes. Regardless of the industry, the goal and what you want to do, I’d say if you ever feel like doing something and have a desire or a passion you are considering pursuing, just do it, go for it. Dreams are only a mindset away from reality.