About Me - RayaCottrell Photography
It all started by chance. I had a free slot in my high school timetable and my dad just offered me a camera he had found in his shop. So the story began...

I took the photography class to close the gap in my schedule between drama and cinema, from my first assignment I was hooked. It was “Shadow and light”. Took my camera to the beach and started exploring. As there was no digital cameras back then it was all on film and until you got to the lab there was no way of telling what will come of it all. So I tried a few settings. My first picture was of the shadow of a sign post. After playing around with a few things I have noticed an older man sitting on one of the rocks staring at the sea. I found him and his expression intriguing, pointed at him and took the shot. The man caught me doing that, started shouting at me and chasing me around. On that day 2 things began, my love of and search for that wonderful balance of the natural light and the shades around, and my love for the journalistic/ candid camera style of photography. I finished at the top of my class and life began.

For an unfortunate reason I lost my camera and for 3 years I could not afford a new one, and was trying some other things. I took a fashion designing course, by the end of it I had got some money together and went out to buy a second hand camera, a Minolta 700x which I still have to this day. Camera in hand and some clothes designs on the side, I decided to combine the 2 and experimented with taking pictures of my designs. Realizing that photographing the designs was more enjoyable than creating them, I found a job as an assistant of a photographer specializing in products and a interiors in exchange for using his dark room.

I was lucky enough at this time to have some contacts at a small yet very popular venue for rock bands. From the up and coming ones to the top of the charts, everybody was performing there. I approached one of the performers and to my surprise not only did he invited me to his rehearsals, he also took me along to one of his shows. This was a whole new type of photography for me, inside, with no natural light in sight. I turned the flash on and started shooting, hoping to get that moment I was looking for. After developing the films I realized that for a few shots the flash did not fire, and in those shots the magic appeared.

Combining my passions for photography and the stage, I spent the next 5 years refining my technique of live performance photography. I was hooked by the lights and the colours and the excitement and energy of the show. I started getting jobs from bands and production companies, for shows and on music video filming sets, my unique no flash style intriguing them.

I got a day job with a top fashion photographer as his assistant and studio manager. The experience was great and I learnt a lot from him. It made me realise how much more there was to learn so I went back to school for creative photography, learning about colours, composition and new technique of processing in the dark room.

I became a nanny to support myself while continuing with photographing bands. I learned that I work well with children, we enjoy each others company. I stayed with that family for a year, until it was time for the boy to go to nursery. I am still friends with the family to this day. I moved on to be a manager of the children's club in one of the big hotels. Though it put my photography on hold, I gained a lot of experience and knowledge about children, falling in love with seeing the world through their eyes.

My next adventure was 3 years in acting school, returning to my love of the theatre. One of those years was spent in the UK, where I fell in love with London. 3 years later I had saved enough money to return, Minolta in hand, and no clear vision of my future.

All sorts of jobs followed, with no time to return to photography, but then life changed again. I met my husband, and for our first Christmas he got me a pocket size digital camera, and a new world has came to life.

As life moves on, friends getting married and starting families, starting to ask me if I wouldn't mind to take pictures of their pregnancy bumps. And when babies arrived if I would take a few of them with their new babies. And the babies turn 1, and 2 and 3 and would I? And this is how I started my business.

Since then I have upgraded my equipment, practised my techniques both of digital photography and editing. Always combining my love for natural light and natural almost candid shots, trying to capture that magical world of that moment. It is always a great joy for me to follow a family through time, from bump to baby, from baby to a child. Always trying to capture them as they are through fun and games.
My main work is as a family life photographer which includes pregnancy and baby shoots, family portraits and small parties i.e. birthday parties, Christening, Brits and small celebrations. I also enjoy street, nature, and architecture photography.
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