I have been interested in photography since the age of 13 when I borrowed an old Chinon camera off my dad to take some photos on a holiday in Wales. I couldn’t believe the results from this old manual camera and a fascination with photography was born. During the last 20 years I have dipped in and out of photography and now, as an Assistant Headteacher in a secondary school, I have found an outlet for my photography through photographing school events such as the Year 11 Prom.
My interest in framing was a response to satisfy my practical and creative urges. I have always enjoyed arts, crafts and technology and missed having projects and seeing a finished project. My wife suggested that I should think about setting up as a picture framer which seemed like an ideal way to compliment my interest in photography.
After a quick search on the Internet, my wife came across DIY Framing. I quickly enrolled on a weekend course which covered the basics of framing and mount cutting. The workshops were without doubt the most rewarding training sessions I have ever attended and I quickly learnt a workshop routine that I still use today. To drive home on the first day with a complete, framed photograph was a wonderful feeling and just confirmed to me that this was going to be an enjoyable release from the pressure of my full time work.
Shortly after returning from my training weekend, I visited the DIY Framing Headquarters in Beaconsfield where I was met by friendly and knowledgeable staff who helped me spend £1500 and return home with all the materials I needed to set up as a picture framer. I began by working from a small box room at home. Building frames was time consuming and often frustrating due to the lack of space but it helped me develop a methodical approach to building high quality frames.
Word of mouth is a wonderful thing! It’s true what they say. After one month, I looked back over the frames I had made and couldn’t believe the number and variety. I very quickly built up a portfolio of hand finished frames that showcased a wide variety of mount designs. A local shop owned by some good friends began selling my framed pictures of a local beauty spot and a photographer asked me to frame wedding photos as part of his business.
I have quickly expanded beyond my original rather small scale business idea. I now offer a complete photography and framing package through my website at www.andycunninghamphotography.co.uk and already have a number of wedding bookings for 2008 and 2009. Customers seem to really like the fact that they can get the whole package in one place without having to pay high street prices. I have had flyers and business cards printed and use the local free magazine to publicise my business.
DIY Framing has added an extra dimension to my work life balance. I still see the business as a hobby that only occupies my weekends and holidays and being in control allows me to decide how hard I work. I am already looking to expand my workshop, which is now housed in my converted garage, and in the near future will be upgrading to an underpinner and mitre cutter. It’s amazing how quickly you graduate to needing better equipment.
If your thinking about it, seize the day, you won’t regret. I love to see the finished product and even more so the look on the customer’s face when they unwrap their precious photo or artwork. If you really want to go for it, think about how much you can realistically afford to spend on setting yourself up and visit the DIY Framing staff in Beaconsfield. Then when you get there, convince yourself that adding a bit more to your budget is a good idea. You won’t regret it as you will quickly grow in to your investment and feel glad that you pushed your budget that little bit further.