When Vin McGuire finished his degree in photography at Robert Gordon University last year, he didn’t intend to set up his own photography business. However, the brick wall the 32-year-old father of three encountered when looking for a photography job persuaded him to take the plunge.
‘I’d just spend three years studying in a professional setting but was constantly told I needed experience,’ says McGuire. ‘It became frustrating.’
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A pressing need to feed his family provided the mature student with motivation some graduates may lack. McGuire established VTM Creative Moments Photography on a self-financing basis on 16 January 2017, just months after completing his studies.
From its Paisley base, the company offers a range of services from wedding photography through portraiture to corporate photography. So far, it has shot more than 10 weddings, but it is the straight portrait service – the company also has a boudoir service producing posed images of clients in their smalls – that has proved the most popular.
‘At the moment, it’s portraits and fashion portraits,’ says McGuire. ‘There’s such a big market for weddings, and people undercut each other. Hopefully next year that market will pick up.’
Another strand to VTM Creative Moments’ business is the book cover market. It produced the cover for self-published author Bobby Livingston’s weight-loss title, Fat Bob Slim.
‘We’re talking about other book covers,’ says McGuire.
In all its work, VTM Creative Moments aims to offer its clients something different. McGuire sums up the company’s approach as being high key.
‘We like to be bold in what we do with make-up use as well as shooting,’ he says.
The company’s base at Storage Vault in Paisley has helped it to achieve this aim. While McGuire loves shooting on location, trying to create bold looks out of the boot of a car was less enjoyable.
‘It’s nice to have a studio to do the make-up,’ he says.
The studio at Storage Vault is small – about 135 square feet – but meets the company’s needs. Crucially, it was available on flexible terms. This allowed McGuire to get his business off the ground without the financial headache of committing to a lease.
‘Other places asked for a month’s rent in advance, but at Storage Vault we can pay by the month and there is no rolling contract,’ says McGuire. ‘I also appreciate the staff’s hands-on approach. They are very supportive.’
For make-up, the company works with make-up artist Dani Cunningham, who also does hair work. She spends time with customers determining what they want ahead of the shoot – input that can be particularly important for wedding shoots.
‘People have different ideas about what they want for their wedding,’ says McGuire.
Working with Cunningham is part of a separation of responsibilities that is important to McGuire, who also works with videographer Andrew Hazal.
‘We have a beautiful trust,’ McGuire says of Cunningham. ‘I have no say in what she does. I trust her to get the make-up done to standard.’
Mutual trust comes from mutual understanding. In that spirit, McGuire is an occasional speaker in the beauty department at West College Scotland, discussing location-shoot logistics – and learning from his pupils all the while.
‘It’s good to get a feel for what they’re doing and keep up-to-date on the fashion side,’ he says.
Currently, VTM Creative Moments’ customers come mainly from the surrounding area, including Glasgow. However, a client who came down from Arbroath for a boudoir shows the company’s reputation has spread.
‘It was great to think someone would travel 110 miles to use our services,’ says McGuire.
In the future, McGuire would like to see VTM Creative Moments become a limited company. The extra staff this would involve might be drawn from a pool of friends from his university course. However, that is very much part of a ten-year growth plan. For now, he is simply focusing on picking up new business and doesn’t want to tie his company down to any particular goal.
‘We’re happy to be doing what we’re doing,’ he says.