Be Inspired Series
In 2000, he co-founded Venture Photography, now a global leader in the contemporary portrait photography market, with nearly 100 studios across the UK, as well as several in Ireland, Hong Kong and the USA.
What does your job entail?
I have the responsibility for running my NI Venture studios and the staff therein. I also have three studios in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. All of my studios have senior management in charge of day-to-day running.
Is it 9-5?
Definitely not! The studios open seven days a week and often until 9pm. This is to accommodate our clients and make it easier to photograph family groups. Additionally, much of my work can now be taken care of remotely, which has allowed my wife and I to spend time living abroad.
How did you get into this line of work?
I have always been interested in photography and was bought my first camera at the age of six.
In my late teens I was a keen and very competitive amateur photographer. I went on to spend 16 years working in the Department of Agriculture as a food and agricultural micro-biologist, but I always retained a passion for photography.
I had a part-time business specialising in portraiture, including taking environmental portraits for the Radio Times, which in 1987 grew to a full-time business opening as D S Campbell Photography in Market Place in Lisburn. The staff has now grown to over 50 in NI alone.
Outline your career to date
Early successes included a large number of Kodak Bride and Portrait regional wins, NI Wedding Photographer of the Year and the first Kodak Gold award to come to Ireland. This Gold Award inspired me to change my business from being a general practitioner shooting commercial and social photography to portraiture only. We quickly grew through the 1990s, expanding and taking on additional staff including photographers.
Tell us about your qualifications/training
Early in my career I achieved my Licentiateship, quickly followed by my Associateship of the British Institute of Professional Photography in portraiture.
To this day, very few NI photographers have managed to achieve this in the field of portraiture, and we were very pleased recently when Francis Meaney, the manager of my photographic team, became the most recent NI photographer who managed to achieve this.
By the late 1990s, I was involved with a small group of people who fervently believed that portrait photography in UK had to change if it was to once again become relevant to the modern family. This was the birth of Venture Photography. Venture is now a worldwide franchise and expected to grow internationally again this year.
Has the easy availability of good quality digital cameras had any impact on professional photographic studios?
I believe a number of things separate us from the rest of the market place (even though attempts are made to copy us throughout the industry).
The experience should be unique, where people's images are allowed to tell their story.
What qualities are required for your position -- personal and professional?
All our photographers are assessed and qualified. Most start with a photography degree and are then trained to diploma level by Venture. This initial training, which takes up to two years, is followed by ongoing training, and has resulted in Venture NI being awarded Creative Studio of the Year Worldwide twice.
Detail any projects that you are particularly proud of.
We have photographed over 50,000 NI families since we opened in 1987, a figure which astounds even me! The product is constantly evolving -- our range expands every year to the point where we are looking at future trends and our research and development team is working on new products three years prior to their launch.
Virtually all of Venture's framed products are unique to the brand, sourced internationally and pre-trialled to establish a desire from our clients.
The uniqueness is not only on the superiority of the product and images, but also the fact that everyone in the team involved in the process believes that the customer experience is paramount to our success.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Don't be prepared to be second best. Never put a portrait on a client's wall that you wouldn't be proud of if you walked into their home.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to fish -- both at home and abroad.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I was the first European to win the Hemmingway Cup in Cuba -- the oldest Big Game Fishing competition in the world.
Who has inspired you most in life?
Brian Glover-Smith, one of my fellow founders of Venture. He had the desire, ambition and ability to change an industry.