My name is Rachel Stewart and I am a portrait photographer from Yorkshire, UK. I have been a photographer for almost eight years now.
My love for photography started after a serious health battle where I began to see things a lot differently. One random Boxing day my best friend and I went out and bought a bridge camera. From there I would take photos of my beautiful daughter and post them on Facebook. People would often comment and ask if I would take pics of their children and so it began.
In 2014 I qualified with a degree as a social worker, which I genuinely believe contributed to my photography as I learnt a lot about myself. I was at a crossroads in my life, photography or social work? So, I went with my heart and I started photography full time.
At first, I used my dad’s living room, friends’ conservatories, anywhere with light and eight years on, I now have a beautiful old shop studio full of character in a quaint old brewery town called Tadcaster. I feel very lucky! The name of my studio is often asked about, it is named after my darling mum Evelyn and her favourite flower Sweet Peas. She sadly passed away nearly twelve years ago.
My photography journey has taken a little longer to figure out. I did some weddings but decided to solely concentrate on my portrait work. I photograph mostly newborns, maternity families and children. In the future, I plan on focusing on mostly children and families.
I have worked with some incredible children and some mega funky animals, like a skunk, a raccoon, a raven, giant snails, snakes, a meerkat, a tortoise, bearded dragons and rats to name a few. I intend to add to this series soon and as you can gather I love anything wonderfully unique.
It’s taken a while to admit but I am very basic when it comes to gear. I clung onto my old Canon Mark II for years and it really was my workhorse. I won a number of photography competitions using this camera and one light set up (Elinchrom D-Lite ONE and 135 Elinchrom softbox), so I will never sell her.
Canon EOS R6 – I recently upgraded to this camera. It took a little while to get used to but now I love it. It’s sharp with a great eye tracker and simple to use which is great for me.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L – the most versatile and underrated lens. I use it for most of my portraits plus recently I purchased the 85mm and am excited to try this out. I also have a 50mm and a 35mm but I don’t use these much at all.
D-Lite One x two plus a 135 Elinchrom softbox which gives a beautiful soft light. I have a strip box and a grid either for contrast or a second light for darker images. I also have a one fifty indirect softbox with gives a soft even light, it’s a huge piece of kit.
A very, very old Billingham bag I got when I first started with photography. I am sentimental so will be hanging on to this.
Hardware & Software
I use my Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch and start with editing and culling in Lightroom. I then take them into Photoshop without using presets performing each edit manually.
I think photography is a journey. I am sure that we all have highs and lows, sometimes self-doubt, sometimes your images just fly and you feel amazing, sometimes they don’t. But I would always say keep ongoing.
I like to enter competitions, and have been lucky to win a few which literally makes me jump up and down with delight, but many have flunked for me as well. I use that as my ignition to do better. I will always be learning and think that you should never stop learning and creating.
I like to study images, read books, watch tutorials and study artwork. I have trained with other photographers in the past and will do so in the future as this all helps to shape you.
It has been a strange few years with Covid which has knocked me a little but step by step I am getting back into creating. When I am stuck I look at artwork, its story and the emotion, go into bric a brac shops, charity shops and car boots to get inspiration.
Sometimes I see children and an idea just falls into my head so I just ask the parents. Whilst they probably think I am a bit of a weirdo most times it’s worth it, looking and sounding a little strange that is.
I am lucky to have such a wonderful client base. I have worked with some amazing people, inspirational children and I am thankful for them all. I have made some of the greatest friends through photography.
Of course, I could not do any of this without my darling daughter Marcy who has just turned twelve, my dad, husband and friends. As I said, I am lucky to have amazing people in my life!
I am raring to go, and have recently started teaching one to one plus group workshops. I am so excited to see what’s to come.