Women in business: Meet photographer and videographer Katrina Lipska

Women in business: Meet photographer and videographer Katrina Lipska

Even if you’ve never heard of her before, chances are you’ve seen Katrina Lipska’s work.

The London-based photographer and videographer has worked with several high-profile bloggers and YouTube personalities including Mimi Ikonn, Amelia Liana, Madeleine Shaw and Josie of Fashion Mumblr, to name just a few.

Lipska, 25, specialises in lifestyle, fashion and travel photography and videography.

As a child she recalls using her dad’s old digital camera with a flip screen to take creative portraits of herself with the self-timer. She later started taking pictures of her friends and her brother taught her technical skills and some basic video editing.

“I grew up with a camera always beside me,” she said.

In 2012, Lipska moved from her native Latvia to the United Kingdom to study creative direction at the University of the Arts London. While the course didn’t focus much on photography, Lipska said she enjoyed what she learned and is thankful that the experience brought her to London.

Humble beginnings

Some of Lipska’s early photography jobs began while she was still in high school, where she took pictures for Latvian fashion designers and covered events and press days.

“That taught me I really don’t like doing events and press days, and that I’m not good with big crowds. It took a few more years to be okay with saying no to these kinds of jobs, and accept that it doesn’t make me a bad photographer,” she said.

Lipska’s foray into video production began when she teamed up with her brother and approached brands to make videos for the local fashion week in Latvia.

“We used to email everyone and see if anyone wanted us to come to their shows and do a fun little video. And it worked! It really showed me the power of reaching out and putting yourself out there,” she said.

Lipska works in a freelance capacity now, after realising she disliked the routine and repetitiveness of a 9 to 5 office job.

“To be fair, I was pretty useless as an employee till lunchtime since my most productive hours were usually in the evening. And even though it was the nicest office job (beautiful office in a stunning neighbourhood, somewhat flexible hours, inspiring bosses, travel perks), I just felt I had to get out of it. So, I saved up 6 months’ rent and left,” she said.

“Having that office job was incredibly important though… it taught me how to compromise and how to be a better service provider.”

But making the shift from employee to freelancer was difficult – Lipska recalls sending countless emails to source work, doing work for free to build her portfolio and client base, and having several emotional breakdowns.

“I think it was my fear of the 9 to 5 and working for someone else that kept me going. I find that working for yourself does require quite a lot more discipline and willpower, and oftentimes you’ve got to work seven days a week, but the freedom of being your own boss is 100 per cent worth it.”

Women in business: Meet photographer and videographer Katrina Lipska

Building a niche

Lipska has become renowned for working with bloggers and influencers but this niche developed organically after working for a company that primarily created content for YouTube channels, blogs and Instagram.

“I really enjoy working with bloggers as it allows me to build very personal relationships and work closely with someone rather than a whole team who you barely know. I am much better at one-to-one communication than dealing with a crowd,” Lipska said.

One of the things she enjoys most about working with bloggers is that many of them have become close friends.

“With my regular clients, it doesn’t even feel like work as we have so much fun, we have so much to talk about on shoots, and we know each other well so we know how to collaborate,” she said.

“You definitely need to be very open and flexible when working in this industry, as it’s not just you who is the creative. It’s two visions coming together and a lot of the time you have to compromise. Some of my clients fully trust me with my vision but some have a really strong vision and know exactly the shot they want to get.”

Dear Diary

In addition to her freelance photography and videography, Lipska has also co-founded Dear Diary, a stationery business that sells stylish diaries, planners, prints, wedding journals and notepads.

She is responsible for all creative elements in this role, including producing photos and visuals of the products to promote them.

“Dear Diary is a physical, product-based business whereas, everything I do in my individual work is intangible. It is quite different, but I really enjoy it,” she said.

“I especially love helping out with packaging the products over the very busy periods. There’s something so therapeutic in being away from the screen and just folding boxes and attaching shipping labels.”

Lipska co-founded Dear Diary with her friends Zane Roebuck and Baiba Jurjane, and all three women have had to learn how to run a business from scratch.

But building a women-led business has been an “amazing” experience, Lipska said.

“It helps that we’re all women since our products are mainly for a female audience, so it’s easier for us to agree on a common vision. I’m not going to lie, it has been a true challenge at times, but it has only brought us closer together. We are crazy supportive of each other but also not afraid to speak up when we’re not a fan of something,” she said.

“I find what kills inspiration the most is constantly following and looking at what your competitors are doing.”

Career advice

Even though Lipska works in creative roles, she sometimes has to take breaks or seek inspiration to keep the ideas flowing.

“Music has always played a massive role in my life, so I find a lot of inspiration just listening to songs. Travelling, taking time off and alone time also play a massive role,” she said.

“I find what kills inspiration the most is constantly following and looking at what your competitors are doing.”

Lipska has also had to learn to trust her instinct when deciding on the direction of her career. One of her biggest lessons has been: If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

“I once had someone tell me I wasn’t great at what I was doing because I wasn’t acting how they expected a photographer to act. At the time, I took it seriously and tried to change all these things they weren’t happy with, but after a while I realised I should just play to my strengths. It taught me that I don’t need to swim against the current just because of one person’s opinion,” she said.

For women looking to thrive in their careers, Lipska said it is important to “do what you love, listen to your gut, and never give up on the first try”.

“Find a supportive community… and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. And maybe take the risk, whatever that might be for you. Life is too short to spend it on the wrong things.”

Sharon Green, editor

Sharon Green

Sharon Green is the founding editor of SHE DEFINED.

An experienced journalist and editor, Sharon has worked in mainstream media in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Forever in search of a publication that confronted the real issues faced by modern women, Sharon decided to create her own.