Sari Robins-Laughton feels lucky that she’s found what she loves to do, and can be her own boss.
“I feel like I’ve hit a goal quite early on,” the 24-year-old Oamaru photographer says.
“I have my own business, and its a cool business.”
She started Sari-Renee Photography after completing her training at Otago Polytechnic in 2017.
To begin with, the photography was more of a side hustle while she worked two other jobs in Dunedin: tempering chocolate for Ocho and working at wholefoods store Taste Nature.
“I just worked, and during that time kept taking photographs as people contacted me, doing the odd job here and there.
“Just over a year ago, I was busy enough to leave one of my jobs, to make it a wee part-time thing for me.”
It was exciting, but “a bit scary”.
“You have to really back yourself to do something like that.”
Robins-Laughton has since moved back to North Otago with her partner Tim Denniston, and they are living at Teschemakers while they save to build their own house.
She works at Brydone Wholefoods two days a week, and has picked up a day at the Whitestone Cheese Cafe in town for some extra money.
“So three days a week working and three days editing.”
The young photographer loves working with people and gets her joy from seeing the happiness she can provide her clients.
“I love when I go and do a photoshoot for someone, and I go home and I edit and then I deliver them their gallery .. and when it goes well, and all your things come together, you know, you’re really excited to present the photos to the people.
“And just the response you get back is awesome, and in yourself you know if you’ve done well, as well, and that’s something to be proud of.”
Robins-Laughton describes herself as a “manipulator of light”.
“You kind of twist what you’ve got to make a good photo.”
Sun flare is one of her favourite things to use to create a “really cool photo”.
She is happy with the way business is going, and feels like she is always improving.
In a district where talented photographers are not thin on the ground, she is always open to learning more.
“Rachel Wybrow has been an inspiration of mine right from the get-go.
“My partner Tim bought a photography session for us for Christmas last year. So that was really exciting and was really nice to touch base and talk to another [photographer] .. There’s definitely some really inspiring people in Oamaru.”
A next step for the business might be videography, as she is keen to learn more about the art, and thinks it might become the preference over photography for things like weddings.
“At the moment, I feel like people want a photographer and video is creeping in. But I feel like pretty soon, its going to be the other way around. Because video’s amazing. You can sort of get that extra level of emotion and expression.”
For now, Robins-Laughton is pretty happy with where her business is at.
Ultimately, she would love to be a full-time photographer.
“I do really want to put my effort, heart and soul into seeing where I can go with this. But I’m in no rush, because I do love my wee day job.
“I feel like its a tough industry to find your place .. you don’t know if you’re going to do well, until you are doing well.”
Social media is integral to Robins-Laughton’s business, and she mostly relies on word of mouth.
“I feel like each time you go to a job, that’s your own best advertisement.”