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penny haskell

she/her | Instagram | Site | Tiktok

Hey Penny, how are you?

Hey!! I’m doing great thank you

For those that don’t know tell us about yourself

Well.. I’m Penny, a freelance creative based in Manchester and London. Primarily focused on photography, I've expanded my skills over the years to include videography, creative direction, and social media content creation and management

We first met each other whilst working at UniAsItShouldBe run by John Smiths for the University of Bolton, how time has flown!

Absolutely, uni feels like a completely different era now! I genuinely miss our collaboration, Megan; you were a true pleasure to work with!

Working and studying is always difficult but in the current climate often necessary as student finance doesn’t cover all fees. How was this experience for you?

That is one element of studying at university I don’t miss, the broke student lifestyle. I had three different jobs during my 5 years at uni, and I definitely wouldn’t have gotten by without that extra income! Studying & working at the same time isn’t the easiest, it’s a bit of a balancing act, and my uni coursework took a hit sometimes!

A lot of the role was social media management, did you learn a lot from this experience?

Honestly, working with UniAsItShouldBe was a game-changer for me. It was like stepping into the world of social media. Sure, the job had its highs and lows, like any other, but it gave me hands-on experience running social media accounts. I already had the skills to create content, but the analytical side was new territory. UniAsItShouldBe let me learn on the job, and now I can carry those skills into other social media roles in the future.

You’ve worked multiple roles but one that sticks out to me is Studio Manager & In-House Creative, describe this role for us?

My absolute favourite employed job so far was at Editorial Studios – the OG photography studio in central Manchester. It was honestly a dream gig at the time. I kicked things off as an apprentice and worked my way up to being the manager.

Editorial Studios was a rentable creative studio. Every day brought something new – setting up the studio, assisting clients with their shoots, handling maintenance, managing finances, keeping the place spick and span, and of course, the icing on the cake, conducting shoots for our clients. One day it could be a model portfolio, the next day, snapping pics for an e-commerce handbag line.

This role was a game-changer for my creative journey. It pushed me to network, put my name out there, and utilise the studio to build my portfolio weekly. Unfortunately, the studio closed its doors, but I cherish every moment and experience I gained there.

Was there any lessons you learnt from this role?

Oh, absolutely! This role taught me a ton. It's not just about snapping photos or creating TikToks; there's a whole administrative side to being a creative. Networking and establishing your presence are absolutely crucial in the freelance world. I'd say it's 80% admin and 20% creativity.

On a more hands-on note, working at Editorial Studios opened up a world of opportunities for me to learn studio lighting. Learning studio photography can be pricey with studio hires, but being able to work with those lights daily was an invaluable experience that significantly boosted my knowledge.

You then left this role to join By Gamers For Gamers, how was your time here?

Joining By Gamers For Gamers was an interesting chapter. While there were some positives, it became clear that an in-house role at a big company wasn't my ideal fit. 

The day-to-day felt like a cookie-cutter routine with limited opportunities for learning and growth, and I found myself almost getting complacent.

Despite the challenges, I did meet some fantastic people, and I don't regret my time at BGFG. It was just another step in my journey, pushing me closer to my ultimate goal.

You’re now freelance, hows it been so far?

I am thrilled with my journey into freelancing so far, considering the time I've put into it. I won't claim overnight success or being fully booked, but I'm definitely heading in the right direction.

It's been eight months since I took on freelancing, and I'm reaching a point where I consistently have a good flow of clients each month. Sure, there are challenging times, like during Christmas when bookings may drop, but I'm learning to navigate these trends and adjust accordingly. There's always a concern about having enough bookings, but, thankfully, things are working out.

One of the most significant changes I've noticed is how much happier I am. The freedom that comes with being a freelancer is invaluable. Being a natural night owl, being able to tailor my work to my sleep schedule has made me so much more productive.

Do you prefer being freelance or working in-house?

Absolutely 10000000000000% freelance. While working in-house might offer financial security, the joy and fulfillment that freelancing brings into my life make it entirely worth it.

If you could describe your photography style how would you describe it?

Describing my photography style is always a bit tricky for me. I pride myself on being adaptable, able to tackle various styles with confidence. However, when it comes to my personal projects, I find myself gravitating towards creating imagery reminiscent of Bratz dolls with a Y2K aesthetic. If all my projects could capture this particular style, I'd be absolutely thrilled.

Are there any areas you would like to develop further?

Absolutely, without a doubt, videography and video editing are areas I'm eager to further develop. I've got the basics down, but diving deeper into color grading and exploring more creative shots is where I want to concentrate my efforts.

Are there any unforeseen challenges you have faced since becoming freelance?

Hmm, I'd say one of the unforeseen challenges has been finding the right balance with time. As a freelancer, there are no set hours or someone looming over you, which is both a blessing and a challenge. It requires a high level of self-motivation and discipline to stay on top of things.

You’ve worked with many high-profile clients such as Adidas and Sony Music, do you have a favourite client?

I'll always be grateful for the opportunities with high-profile clients, but to be completely honest, working with individuals and small businesses is what truly makes me happy.  There's a level of personal connection and genuine appreciation for your creativity that makes the work truly special.

What is your creative industry pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve in the creative industry? Easy. Businesses that drag their feet on paying freelancers. I get it, end-of-the-month payroll cycles, but sometimes it goes beyond that. The longest I've had to wait is four months! And, funnily enough, it seems like the bigger companies are the usual suspects for this.

Who are your standout creatives?

The first person who pops into my head is Maheen Malik, aka @dontbebasik, a brilliant Creative Director & Stylist based in Manchester. I'm constantly blown away by her creative prowess. We've teamed up for portfolio days and collaborated on numerous projects, and I love working with her. I'm excited to see where her next steps lead!

Another standout is @mathustudios, a multi-talented creative I've had the pleasure of collaborating with several times. Their work always leaves me shook whenever it pops up on my feed!


Last but certainly not least, there's Sara from @indigodreams_studio. She owns one of the cutest, sensory-friendly creative spaces in Manchester, and she's not just a photographer but also a vintage clothes stylist and an all-around babe. Forever inspired by her creativity!

For my final question, whats next?

I've got a big roster of goals on my plate. This year, I'm all in for seeing my freelance venture thrive, and I've got my eyes set on taking on more projects in London.

Looking ahead, the dream is to own a photography studio and eventually build a team to handle editing. I’m keeping it grounded and taking it month by month for now, but the ultimate goal is to establish and grow my own business and premises.

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