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Karen McBride was the very 1st guest at our Alex and His Sisters event in Altrincham last month

The networking events celebrate inspirational women in business and we chatted indepth with Karen and here are the highlights of that interview

Karen McBride’s music photography has gained her extensive recognition; often working in black and white, with images which grip the gaze of the onlooker. From Lou Reed to Liam Gallagher, Scotty Moore to the Scissor Sisters, she has documented a great number of artists – though her love for Manchester’s more secretive venues, grassroots music and new bands still persists.

What people say about Karen McBride says it all

“Honesty, integrity, soul. It is present in every shot she takes.” John Robb on Karen McBride

“To introduce Karen to a Manchester audience is rather like introducing Noel Gallagher to its music fans – they know her and they like her. A lot.” Bob Books

Here are Karen’s words of wisdom

On getting into the creative industries from a working class background …

“I always wanted to be part of the creative industries, even as a child growing up on a rough north Manchester council estate, art became my friend, something I could rely on. It got me out of being bullied at school and from that I knew if you create Art from the Heart then there was a good chance you could do something special with your life.

I didn’t get into the creative industries the conventional way.. It’s a long story but I fell in love with black and white photography and that led me to photograph my brothers band..other bands saw the work, liked it and so it built up from there.”

On finding your niche …

“How did I find my niche.

Well it’s so difficult I’m really because I don’t feel I found a niche so much, but what I did was I found a space for my work. In other words I found people that were interested in my skills as a photographer. I am a product of a council estate upbringing in other words I built my own way of working with people and brought that to the table so to speak. Obviously the client comes first, but so does your self- belief, because if you’re true to who you are and you really are ‘that’ person then ideas will come through. In other words you work as a team together with the artist and you come up with something great, and if that creates a niche, then that’s even better.

I think when you work as a sole practitioner you become stronger and that can create hostility from your contemporaries. I’m not really sure how to use the word niche in this context but I suppose style is more appropriate or because there’s lots of photographers do music photography I just that I decided to stick with black and white at the start and that became a strong part of my branding and it went on from there.”

On dealing with digital disruption …

“Talking digital disruption I’m not sure really how to approach this one but I come from a film shooting background in other words analog..So when I shoot I am I still think think film, by that I mean when you shoot on a roll from you have 36 photographs at a time and it slows you down and makes you think about each shot you take

So yeah the digital disruption comes from the attitude of ‘anybody can take a picture’ almost everyone has means to take a digital picture now through digital camera’s or phones. Don’t get me wrong you can get some great results. But when I am booked for a shoot I still think think film and by that I mean by that is when you shoot a roll you get 36 photographs at a time and that slows you down. it makes you think about each shot

It kinda beats the digital disruption and makes you stand out a little from people and the anybody can take a picture attitude. Yeah I don’t get me wrong you can get some great results. I think in its important to stick with your guns within whatever however your market.

Changes within photography and whichever your field is what you have to adapt to and accommodate

I’ve adapted but kept my traditional way of working but with the digital.”

On being a woman in a mans world (of the music industry) …

“Being a woman in a man’s world well what can I say about that, be a man be woman be whatever it is you need to be more importantly be yourself, because let me explain let me tell you a story. I was in a photo pit at a concert with 10 guys and one of the guys said are you not intimidated by 10 guys in the photopit and I said do I look like I’m intimidated by 10 guys in a photo-pit?, and so on that basis I chose to concentrate on what I was doing more and I took the best photograph I could possibly and it went viral, no one should feel they are in anyone’s world. But its good fun creating your own world”

On support (or lack of support from other women) …

“Woman, I think women can be quite mean toward’s you at and I don’t know whether that reason is with jealousy or or what, but in any case I think you have got to stay strong. I have a self belief and this trait is essential to service and build your business from. It is probably the most important ingredient you will have to run your own business, if the challenges come other woman look at why you’re being challenged and see how can use it and how can It improve what you’re doing, if they choose to waste their time challenging, you then use it to enhance what you do.”

On striving in search of perfection …

“Striving for perfection – it’s a long word is a strong word, one that you have to kind of think about, but my advice is do the best the absolute best you can. If that’s your perfection make it brilliant.

What is perfection? a perfect line a perfect corner perfect whatever it is, you are your perfection. Perfection is is basically what you put into your everything. You do within reason what you’re doing in your business or your whatever product you’re creating.

Honesty is the probably the best part of perfection, in my opinion, that you can have. If you’re honest in your business and transparent with that you should thrive.

Be your own perfection.”

For more info on Karen McBride and to see her work check out

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Alex McCann

Author Alex McCann

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