It’s funny, a lot of us always say things like “someone should totally start that up” or “OMG, that’s such a great idea”…… And then never do anything about it. This week we wanted to speak to someone inspiring who actually followed through with those ideas and is now a real trailblazer in the dating industry. Saskia Nelson, photographer and founder of Hey Saturday, the first company in the world to take dating profile photos is someone I’ve always had the utmost respect for. Not only is she inspiring in a business sense, but is probably one of the most down-to-earth you’ll ever meet.
Saskia was kind enough to take time out and answer 5 of our questions about communication, dating and what triggered taking the plunge and starting a an empire that now expands both sides of the pond……
1. What made you take the plunge to drop everything and start your own dating photography company?
Ooh I’d say about five years ago I realised that I was getting more and more frustrated working for someone else and found I spent a lot of my time fantasising about making my passion and talent for photography my ‘day job’. I was heading swiftly into midlife, didn’t have children (although I have step kids who are truly awesome) and kept asking myself if I was going to settle for the life I had or if I was going to try something new and challenge myself to wake up and start living. So yes, I decided to go for it. I’ve always been one of those people who didn’t quite fit in with the norm so it felt right that my business would be one that no one else had tried before. Having done online dating on and off for about 8 years, I spotted a gap in the market for good quality dating profile photos to help people make an impact on their dating profiles and start attracting more attention. Hey Saturday kicked off in London in 2013 and has since grown to have 9 photographers shooting in London, Brighton, Edinburgh, Glasgow and New York. We are launching in Birmingham and Manchester soon with plans to launch in LA next year. It turns out, people are realising that good quality profile photos do indeed attract more (and better quality) dates and they’re all over that.
2. When it comes to communication via dating profile pics. What is the one thing you tell your clients to do in order to show their true personality?
To show their personality, we recommend being photographed either doing, wearing or holding something you love or heading somewhere you love. Just the act of figuring this out, makes clients start to think about who they are, what they’re into and what makes them different. This is usually a good starting point. We also recommend that they make the effort just as they would on a first date. Everyone is different. Some people would book a blow-dry before a first date while others just rock up in jeans and a tee. So, we recommend that people prepare themselves for the shoot as they would for a first date and that helps them stay true to their personality.
3. A tough one (maybe not)…. Who would you say are easier to deal with when on a shoot? Boys or girls? Why?
Generally speaking, I’d say guys and girls are equally easy to shoot. It’s more about levels of confidence. The people who come to a shoot feeling good about themselves are really easy to work with and shoot. Those who
come feeling bad about themselves are probably our most challenging as we can’t really control how people feel about themselves. But we do what we can to help them relax and enjoy themselves and that tends to lead to a great shoot. The good thing about this is that looks don’t matter as much as confidence.
4. You must have a zillion success stories. What’s your fave?
I love that one of my clients, who is from Chicago, booked a shoot back in 2015 with Hey Saturday while in London visiting her sister as they don’t have a service like ours where she is from. Within a few months of using her new photos, she met someone (who still has one of my photos of her as the wallpaper on his phone) and apparently he saw one of the photos I took and immediately thought “that’s the woman I’m going to marry!” They are now married and just had a baby this July. I love that we’re still in touch too. It’s great to hear back from happy clients as it reminds me why I set up the business in the first place, to help people find love online.
5. If you could photograph anyone in the entire world who would it be? Why?
I’m lucky in that I’ve already got to photograph the amazing photographer Martin Parr, which was pretty cool, although absolutely terrifying lol. But next on my list would be Erykah Badu, I reckon, because she epitomizes cool to me. The challenge of working with her would be scary but if I managed to get some good shots of her, that would be an amazing career high.