If you’ve been following My Swiss Story for a while, you must be knowing how close the Women Entrepreneur of the Month Series is to my heart. Via this series, we aim to bring out interesting entrepreneurial stories of women from all across the world to inspire, educate and motivate our readers. So, keeping the tradition of supporting and celebrating women entrepreneurs on this platform, today we have yet another story of the journey of Angharad Elliott – an interior photographer who calls herself a storyteller of spaces. Even though we had spoken so many times before doing this feature, reading her journey filled with many rich experiences was absolutely fascinating.
Intrigued to know more about her business and this off-beat sphere? Read on as she gets candid about the nitty-gritties of her life, business, and passions.
Q: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself
My name is Angharad Elliott and I am an interior photographer – a storyteller of spaces. As a photographer of other people’s homes, the question of where is home to me is ironic. I was born in London, Ireland is my home heritage and Switzerland is where I live currently. Each country in which I have lived (Ireland, England, France, or even The Netherlands) served their purpose as home at different stages of my life. I have also been fortunate enough to physically build my own home here in Switzerland; my roots are digging deeper (and quite literally!).
Driven by my passions, I have always let them guide me on my life’s journey: skiing, art and creativity have been my anchors.
I saw my first Vermeer when I was around five years old; I told its owner (at the time, there were only two Vermeer in private collections) that I preferred one of his other paintings and so began a precocious love affair with art and the Old Masters. After studying the Dutch Old Masters such as Vermeer and Rembrandt at university in The Netherlands, I worked in the art industry for several years. Through those art history years, I worked for art dealers, and auction houses and even became a research-driven “Rene Russo” character uncovering stolen art. In my work, I was overwhelmed by the artworks stolen and destroyed during World War II.
Apart from art, I am also passionate about skiing. I learned to ski as a young child in Ireland. Toothbrush ski slopes laid over lush Kelly green golf courses were my home every weekend: summer or winter, rain or shine. I was driven by the sport and all that it gave me. It even brought me to the Alps and gave me a love for the mountains. Admittedly, I first came to Verbier as a child long before I knew that I would make it my home.
Today, I still lecture in Art History as it is one of my greatest influences. I enjoy sharing and discovering the beauty of other artists as well as telling the fascinating stories behind each artwork. I am a storyteller; showing others how to see art through their own eyes helps me see better.
Q: Tell us about your current business
Haute’Xposure – the story is in the name. Based in the Swiss Alps, I started working (at altitude) to enhance the exposure of my clients. I create images for other creatives; interior designers, architects as well as real estate and rental agents; I photograph their interiors (and exteriors) so that they can visually promote their business, enhance their visual brand, increase their online presence, and ultimately attract more ideal clients and projects.
Q: Tell us your story, how did you come up with this idea?
I am a storyteller. Through art, I retell the stories that the artists wanted to share with us. Through homes, I am a storyteller of spaces. Previously when I was a translator, I retold other people’s ideas and stories from one language to another.
Since my university days, I have been doing translation jobs. Even when I worked full-time in the art industry, I continued to translate as a way to stay in touch with my languages. I saw it as a hobby rather than a side hustle. Art, recipes, books, and even financial documents, I translated them all. This ability to translate was my first experience working remotely.
When I decided to leave London for the mountains, I had no real plans apart from skiing. As we all know Switzerland isn’t cheap and so I bumped up my translation work. “Ski by day, translate by night.”
Long before remote-working was a buzzword, I was making it work for me. Without co-working spaces and a lot less internet, life was a little lonely. The life of an entrepreneur can be isolating at times; it is essential to create a work-life balance. We need people around us.
As my life in Switzerland felt more settled, I had the opportunity to teach art history in some of the hotel schools. This amazing experience brought me back to art and my passion for art was reignited. It was around this time that I decided to build my own Swiss chalet; well actually I had decided this when I was growing up as a child. As an adult, I think I had a more realistic plan. 😉
As I built my home, I was joined by a new husband who was himself reinventing his path. While his led him into the ski holiday market; mine led me into interior photography. Even back in school in Photo Club, I was fascinated with photography but never had the opportunity to take my creativity further. And just like that, I discovered that there were chalets and apartments to be photographed everywhere. Working with real estate agents and AirBnB clients, I learned the tricks of my trade. I discovered my equipment and my eye.
More recently, I have been working not just with chalet companies and property agencies but more and more with creatives. The collaboration with interior designers and architects is a more inspired process; a process that gives me great pleasure as I push my own boundaries and creativity to compose an image that tells their story and that of their spaces.
Q: What is a day like “in your heels?” or if you wear Flats (like me)
As entrepreneurs, we all know the hard slog that goes into running a business. But it is those moments – where we get to do what we are passionate about, these are the moments that drive us to get all the other parts of the job (the nitty-gritties) done.
I have two very different types of days depending on whether…
1. I am working behind the scenes
2. I am on a photoshoot
Working behind the scenes:
Behind the scenes, I divide my days between prepping for photo shoots, processing, and editing photos, talking with clients, working on marketing and social media strategies, and then all the other administrative stuff. Contrary to popular belief, there is a lot more than just photography that goes on behind the scene to support a photography business. As my business has grown, I have consciously been able to delegate responsibility; however, I still enjoy doing the social media part myself. The investment into social media is well worth the hard work – I have been able to cultivate relationships, find friends, and even have business opportunities.
Of course, shoot days are what this business is all about for me. Although photo shoots are intense, this intensity is actually kept to a minimum through careful preparation which is an integral part of the process. For me, a photo shoot starts when I first meet a client -talking with them, I discover more about my client, their space, and their vision. It is this vision that I am engaged to capture.
As the day itself draws closer, I finalize my preparations; the weather and the direction of the sun are huge considerations and as well as the choice of cameras, lenses, and lights. Every photographer knows that feeling of missing a piece of equipment on a shoot; you never make that mistake again, especially when traveling for work.
A little bit about my process – I like to arrive early, where possible so that I can calmly gather my thoughts. I walk through the space if I haven’t already had the opportunity to do a scouting session. I discover the light and the darkness. I uncover unknown elements that may challenge me or the ones that will eventually be in that dream picture. But I have to say this –
No photo session ever has the same plan.
Photo shoots are long days that require a lot of endurance and agility, regardless of whether these are mini-shoots or full days. Lifting heavy equipment, rolling around on the floor, and standing for hours on end is all part of the role. The key for me has always been comfortable shoes!
Q: For women entrepreneurs/leaders/content creators, what specific advice would you have?
As an entrepreneur, creating and maintaining networks is a number one priority. A network isn’t just about business. It is also important to have a support network that motivates you at a personal as well as a professional level.
Over the years, I have joined numerous networking groups with various perspectives in mind; it still surprises me how these groups cross over in value. For instance – I joined the Swiss network platform, Genuine Women as I was interested in the business support webinars being offered. It was through this group that I made many valuable connections and relationships.
I’m also involved with Interior Design Switzerland; an industry association being developed by the interior designer Mariona Dalmau. I believe support is key in every industry. Personally, I intend to provide support through educating interior designers about visual promotion, the use of imagery, copyright as well of course the creation of images.
Interior images from photoshoots commissioned by Sims Hilditch (UK), MALA Interior (CH/UK), Morgen Interiors (DE), L’Agencerie (CH), Keen Design (CH), AJ Design (UAE).
If you’d like to like to learn more about Angharad and Haute’Xposure, check out her Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can also visit the website at www.hautexposure.com for more information on the visual story, interior photography, and all things art!
If you are a female entrepreneur or know one whose story needs to be heard, we’re waiting to hear from you.
Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for more resources, our editorial panel is talking about – swiss travel, ex-pat living, mental health, nutrition, wellness, back to school, recipes, and activities for children. Stay well and stay with us!
To read posts from July, click here