The Redcar and Cleveland Enterprise Team has helped Ian Harland recover from the devastation of redundancy and develop his love of photography into a new career.
The future did not look bright for father of three Ian when he lost his job at a carpet store after 19 years service, but after four eventful years, the 45-year-old couldn’t be happier.
Ian from Skelton is now specialising in wedding photography, trading as ‘iphotographix’, with bookings already stretching into next year.
“The name came because everything these days seem to start with an ‘i’ and I’m Ian. So it seemed perfect!”
The Enterprise Team’s expertise and support has put the finishing touches to Ian’s ambition, while he is also working part-time as a sales representative for photography giant, Canon.
The route back to work initially took him to Teesside University, where the mature student completed a three-year degree course in accountancy and finance.
“It was a big decision, I’d left school with not a lot, but I just wanted to be working for myself, although I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I enjoyed university – but I didn’t live the lifestyle! My children thought it was funny…dad’s going to school!”
A chance look at the university notice board gave him his next big boost. “There was an advert from Canon – I like the company, always used their gear. So I rang and they came straight back. I had to go to Edinburgh for an hour and a half’s interview then off the Bristol the next day for three-four days training,” he remembers.
His regular contacts with retailers around the region was to convince him he could make a living turning his love of photography into a business proposition.
“I was in one store and this chap was telling me how good a photographer he was, and what he was charging for weddings. So I went home and looked at his website – and realised I could do just as well!
“The Enterprise Team’s help and guidance has been terrific, I couldn’t have done it without them. They helped me with workshops on marketing, e-commerce and web design. And the help’s still ongoing.”