Interview With Belinda Burton, Empowering London-Based Portrait Photographer

Belinda Burton is a London-based portrait photographer who's fanatical about photography and expresses a "…passion to empower all women, no matter what age, size, race and occupation, that they are worthy of admiration." We had a chance to connect with her and share her story with Shutterbug readers. 

Belinda Burton. ©Jessica Lee

Shutterbug: When, how and why did you become interested in photography?
Belinda Burton: I first became interested in photography soon after I started working in the corporate world. I was a qualified accountant by day, and I was attending an evening Art Diploma course out of interest in the evening (I have always been both a logical and creative person). One of the core subjects was photography. I invested in my first big SLR camera and, a couple of weeks later, I took it with me on a business trip, during which I ventured into the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. I used rolls and rolls of film among the sand dunes (those dates pre-dated digital cameras), and I could still vividly remember the excitement of waiting for my negatives to be developed. From then on, I was hooked! I explored all photography subjects and genres. Travel photography was my first love and, ultimately, I set my sights on portrait photography.

"When I photograph multiple people, it is as much about capturing the connection as making them look beautiful." ©Belinda Burton

Shutterbug: What brand of camera and lenses do you usually use?
BB: I have two camera systems – Canon and Fujifilm; both have their own merits. I have a collection of prime and zoom lenses. The ones I use mostly are 35mm, 50mm, 85mm for prime, and 28-70 or 70-200 for zoom.

"I like to inject a sense of glamour and surreality in my photos, this is one in front of the Eiffel Tower." ©Belinda Burton

Shutterbug: What are your goals when you capture an image?
BB: I want to create images that make my clients proud, and that often involves portraying the most photogenic and flattering sides of them. That comes from my personal experience – I am not photogenic by default, and as a youngster, I felt that bad photos really dented my confidence.

These days, people are much more used to being in front of cameras but many of us still don’t like how we look in photos. In fact, a survey conducted by the Women and Equalities Committee in 2020 suggested that 6 out of 10 women in the U.K. feel negatively about their bodies. Often women feel they are not "enough" or up to society’s standards. To counter that, a set of great portraits or boudoir photographs can do wonders for a woman’s self-confidence and mental health.

"I love that as a job I am recording milestones and most special moments for my clients." ©Belinda Burton

Most importantly, I believe that this shouldn’t be the privilege of women who own media-perfect bodies. I work with women of all body shapes and all ages to bring out the best of them, enhancing their look through the best angles and poses, lighting, styling, and photographic techniques.

Shutterbug: If you could do it all over, what would you do differently?
BB: As a pro, I would've decided on my niche quicker. I started being a generalist in people photography, as I wanted to cover every genre! It was when I decided to niche into glamour-style portraits (with a strong focus on women), and felt so empowered by it, I thought – "why didn’t I do it earlier?"

"I photograph men too! They require different posing directions and styling compared to women." ©Belinda Burton

Shutterbug: What advice can you provide for Shutterbug readers?
BB: I love photography as it is an area that I can keep learning – even though I got sucked into the subject more than two decades ago. My advice is to never stop learning. I used to do every course I could find time for in every photography subject matter at the very start. As I gained more knowledge and experience, I became pickier. Now I focus on learning from trainers and world-renowned photographers whom I look up to.

If you're planning to make photography your profession, then it's vital to be at your very best in terms of skill set. It's a competitive industry, and everyone has a smartphone. Only when your work is highly convincing can you make it as a professional photographer.

"My first magazine cover! That was when I started in the industry as a wedding photographer, before becoming a full-time professional." ©Belinda Burton

Shutterbug: What else would you like to say to Shutterbug readers?
BB: Go back to basics from time to time. Remember: photography means "art of light." While it's important for the pros to have high-quality equipment, ultimately, the quality of light and how we leverage it massively affects our work. It's always worth going back to the drawing board and experimenting with what you can get out of natural light before you add on the complexities.

Belinda Burton's studio is located at 8 Uplands Road, London N8 9NL. Connect with her via her website, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Special thanks to Zoe Hiljemark, Zoe Hiljemark PR, who helped make this story possible.

"This was taken in Antarctica, during those days when I travelled the world with my camera as an amateur photographer." ©Belinda Burton

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