Christopher Heaney, Freelance Photographer

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Degree subject Design, specialising in Visual Communication
Job title Freelance Photographer
Employer Self-employed

I started my own photography company to allow myself total creative freedom – I had very strong views about the work I wanted to do and didn't want the limitations of working for someone else.

After graduating I took a course run by Invest NI, which introduced the fundamental aspects of running my own business. At the end of this I was given a start-up grant. I realised that I needed a website to attract customers and obtained sponsorship from Connect2IT, whilst my contacts from university provided the technical skills.

The hardest bit of starting up was getting people to notice me in an incredibly competitive industry. Winning ‘Best of show' in the Design and Art Direction exhibition helped me to win my first contract, with the BBC.

When starting up a new business it's crucial to keep on top of the paperwork – letting it pile up can cause you real problems. If you have big ideas that don't conform to the ‘norm' then stick at it.

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