Anna Levina, who came to the UK from Russia 10 years ago, decided to turn her love of baby photography into a business when she was pregnant with her second child. Here, she shares her journey and explains how her children have proved to be the perfect models
I was born in Russia and moved to England over 10 years ago. I’m a professional artist and clothing designer and it was difficult find job for me in the beginning because my English wasn’t good enough. Over the years I learned two new languages: Polish and English. This has helped me to adapt in a new country – I always want to speak the language of the country where I live.
I have loved doing photography since I was 15. I did a course in Russia and bought my first camera after I finished university and it was a love at first sight, but this passion didn’t take me far and I became a clothing designer which went very well back home in Russia. I met the love of my life and had to move to England to build our relationship. About two years ago, whilst pregnant with my second baby, I decided to study photography again. I took an online course with my favourite photographer in Russia and started taking pictures, thinking about the future. I love doing kids photography and my babies (I have a three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son) helped me to practice.
I started taking photos for money about four months after I finished my course. I started with Christmas mini photoshoots, and I had a good response from people – everyone loved it. I was about 35 weeks pregnant and doing three to four sessions a day! It’s an amazing feeling when people love what you love to do. So, I decided to turn my passion to a business, because when your work makes you happy that is the most important thing. Plus, I still can spend as much time as I want with my kids. They are growing up with me taking pictures of them and everyone is happy.
Baby photography was always my favourite. I wanted to go into new-born photography, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I studied a lot about this part of photography and did a few courses online to improve my skills – again, my kids were the best to practice on. They had no choice! They were my first models.
I had a full-time job before having my babies. I went back after my first baby and worked nights – which was incredibly difficult when you have one year old at home, wanting you all the time. Then I became pregnant again and working nights became even more difficult. After my second baby I tried to work part time but left that job and became a photographer. I’m still new and still learning. I am now a full-time mum and photographer. The first two or three years of a new business is always hard because you’re spending more than you’re earning. But I will get there, hopefully. I just need to spread my name around for people to know about my existence! I’m based in Thetford and have a home studio. I can travel anywhere – it just depends how much the client wants to spend.
My message to anyone thinking of following their passion and turning it into a career is: do it! The dream always comes true. You just need to really want this to happen and to have the good support from people around you. To do a job that you love everyday will make you happy!
Images supplied by Anna Levina Photography