A picture, so it is said, is worth a thousand words.

If anything, in recent years, the power of good imagery has become even more clear to businesses, with an increased focus on how they entice customers remotely during the pandemic.

Luckily, Cumbria is blessed with many great freelance photographers.

Among them are Jenny Woolgar and Sheenah Alcock, based in Carlisle and Furness respectively.

Jenny grew up in Carlisle and studied photography and fine art at Cumbria Institute of the Arts, now part of University of Cumbria, before getting a job at Cumbrian Newspaper (CN) Group as a photographic technician and then working for titles including Cumbria Life and Carlisle Living. She left CN Group to set up her own business in 2016.

“I did quite a variety of photography and I’d met a lot of people through working for the magazines and so that helped me,” she says. “I did a lot of social events but then I got to do a lot of other things like food and interiors as well and so that led to my business being quite varied as well.”

Jenny’s work involves a wide range of subject matter, working for local creative agencies as well as her own private clients, which include a number of cafes, restaurants and food producers. Among these are catering supplier Pioneer Foodservices and pub and restaurant the Old Bank, both in Carlisle, as well as The Crown, in Wetheral. Others include The Lakes Free Range Egg Company, Cumbria Tourism and Cumbria Health on Call, with most of Jenny’s work coming via word of mouth.

In Cumbria:

"That's a nice thing in Cumbria in general, you get to work with people and get to know them as friends and you have quite a close working relationship," she says. “Having a background in newspapers means I can help advise them on what kind of shots are going to work for the media. But generally it's important now for people to have strong imagery to promote things through social media and online, even if they’re just starting up they need that initial buzz and reach. The main thing for taking a photograph is to get people relaxed. You need to find out what makes people feel comfortable so they look natural in the picture and so they like it and they want to use it.”

In Cumbria:

Sheenah, who lives near Ulverston, also began her career at Cumbrian Newspapers, working for The Mail (formerly the North West Evening Mail) in Barrow and then MEN Media, in Manchester, before returning to Cumbria to become CN Group’s head of visuals and then setting up her own business in 2018.

She takes editorial photographs for newspapers and magazines, as well as her own commercial photography and having video clients. In addition, Sheenah teaches a photography course in Leeds at the weekends.

Her clients include Cumbria’s Family Business Community, which supports family businesses in the county, with Sheenah producing the organisation’s video content.

“First and foremost I am a photographer and running a business really follows on from that,” says Sheenah.

"The business bit allows me to be a photographer and enjoy and make a career out of something I love doing. I'm very lucky to have some great regular clients who come back all the time and they're very, very supportive of what I do and my creativity and what I can offer them.

"Cumbria is a place where I think businesses appreciate good imagery. It is a great place to be a photographer and to be in the creative industry.”

Sheenah says the pandemic only made it more clear to businesses how important it is to have good imagery and content, while many also pivoted to begin new ventures, creating a necessity for new pictures.

"I'm a true believer in collaboration and helping other creatives out. If I can't do something I will always suggest another person in Cumbria who would be able to do that and who I think will do a really good job. Cumbria is a very supportive and collaborative county to work in.

"I'm having fun. Life is short. Work should be fun and if you're not having fun, I think you should do something else.”