Welcome to our Little Black Book, an inspirational series of business stories and insights from our brilliant members.

Sally Golden

Sally Golden on the composition of connective photography

By Sally Golden

Headshots, Events Photographer, and Smartphone Educator

Sally Golden, the person behind the lens and creator of the Old Bond Store’s member portraits, found her calling in photography 12 years ago. After 30 years working in retail, a photographer put a camera in her hand and she immediately felt a connection with the craft.

Her photographic journey has taken her across the world from Iceland to the Caribbean and Morocco. Sally’s skills are captured throughout her emotive work, from her love of the South Coast and sailing photography, to her connective portrait photography. She is now expanding her business and sharing her knowledge through her popular smartphone photography workshops.

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Which cameras and equipment do you shoot with?

I’ve only upgraded my Nikons twice. I started off with a standard Nikon camera; you could actually get away with using a £500 camera in photography. People think they've got to buy a £3000 camera to get a good photo but it’s the person behind the lens that’s more important. I've stuck with SLR digital cameras. The equipment has evolved and gone over to mirrorless but I haven't switched to that product yet. I’m sticking with what I have because I love the effect that I get with the cameras I've got; the lenses are fantastic and the cameras are excellent quality.

What makes a good picture?

Any picture of people is about having a connection with the person. If they are looking at you, you need that connection. Composition is also key; there are some very basic editing composition rules, if you follow those, they can really make an incredible picture. Having connections, and composition are the main components for a good picture.

How far do you edit photographs after a shoot?

I only do basic retouching - just very small tweaks to enhance people’s features. For me, it's about getting as much as you possibly can correct in the camera when you take the photo so you haven't got too much to do afterward.

How do you capture emotion in your subjects?

I'm quite a laid-back person; I'm quite chilled. It doesn't matter if it's one or 100 people, I'm me. I’m quite a chatty person so we tend to get a conversation going instantly. We chat and then I know when I can start taking photos because I can see that person's shoulders relax. Because we're chatting about normal things, they feel at ease, and then that enables me to get that connection with them for photos.

Connecting with the subject is vital, not just for people but for places too. I'm often told how my pictures evoke emotion.

Do you have any of your own favourite photographs adorning your walls at home?

I have some sailing pictures that I absolutely adore. I love seascapes, I love being on the water myself and I take any opportunity to get out there, I always end up with a camera in my hand. I've got some really beautiful sailing shots; my favourites are those photographs taken on the South Coast. I adore this area when you’re out on the water.

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"People think they've got to buy a £3000 camera to get a good photo but it’s the person behind the lens that’s more important."

Sally Golden - Headshots, Events Photographer, and Smartphone Educator

How did lockdown influence your creative processes?

During lockdown, I obviously couldn’t do headshots and events so I started running my smartphone workshops on Zoom. Lots of people were really enjoying learning because most people don’t know how to use their smartphone for photography. Lockdown gave me an opportunity to have one-to-ones on Zoom, and then I realised that actually, it was quite a niche.

Since then, I’ve been going into bigger corporate businesses. It’s a real treat for the team and I love that. I may have 15 people that I’m training all at once on using their smartphones. That side of the business is definitely growing and it’s a side of photography I’m really enjoying because I love teaching people.

Have you got any tips for using a smartphone for photography?

Fill the picture with interest – don’t have huge blank spaces of nothing.

Frame it. For example, if you’re in the forest and your children are playing in the forest, make sure that you include trees around them in the picture to tell the story; the trees will also frame the picture and the children within the picture.

"Connecting with the subject is vital, not just for people but places too. I'm often told how my pictures evoke emotion"

Sally Golden - Headshots, Events Photographer, and Smartphone Educator

If you could photograph any person or place, who or where would they be?

I would love to photograph Barbra Streisand.

In terms of a place, I love Scotland. I’ve been to the Isle of Skye twice this year already. I just love photographing mountains and the Lochs – it’s so beautiful.

Is there another photographer who you admire?

I really admire Yousuf Karsh. He escaped genocide in Armenia as a young man and he migrated to Canada. He famously photographed people like Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Muhammad Ali. To leave his family at such a young age and to go on to have such a fantastic portrait photography career is incredible.