It can be extraordinarily challenging to balance business strategy, logic and focus with creativity and artistry. But that’s exactly what high-flying accountant turned successful photographer and business owner Belinda Burton has done.
As the founder and CEO of a successful portrait photography business, Belinda has an innate ability to draw out what lies within, while capturing the exterior beauty and truly empower the women she shoots. It is Belinda’s passion to empower all women, regardless of their background, orientation, identification, age, appearance or occupation – because she believes that everyone is worthy of admiration.
Belinda’s career story and work ethic are fascinating and reveal a couple of important lessons other CEOs can learn from.
Don’t be a one-trick pony
Now a full-time photographer, running her own successful company Belinda empowers women by capturing them at their very best on film. But Belinda didn’t start out as a photographer, she gravitated towards it over time.
Born in Hong Kong, Belinda qualified as an accountant aged 25-years. She enjoyed a successful corporate career in Sydney, Australia, before deciding to move back home to Hong Kong. Eventually, however, she decided to relocate to the UK to enrich her life experiences.
Despite her flair for business and aptitude for numbers, Belinda has always been drawn to beautiful things and thrown herself into activities involving arts and crafts. Alongside her career in accounting, she secured an art diploma in the evenings. It was during this time she purchased her first big camera, which really piqued her curiosity in the subject.
When I met her, I was fascinated by her determination and drive to continuing learn new skills and hone existing ones – whether in fine art, fashion styling, interior design, scuba diving or travel writing. Belinda is both bold and brave in her relentless pursuit of discovery. Importantly, she has never stuck with just one thing. She’s never been a one-trick pony.
Her ability to constantly upskill paid off, with her interest in amateur landscape and travel photography leading her to discover her love of photographing people – in particular her fascination with how the camera can capture something different and mysterious to how a person can appear in real life. Once she felt she had achieved all her corporate career goals, she embarked on her career in portrait photography – mastering the tricks to create images that capture and enhance her subjects.
Choose the value of happiness
In my line of work, I’m fortunate to meet many values-led business leaders and entrepreneurs. Belinda is one of them and driven by the value of happiness, which to her means fulfilment in whatever she chooses to do. Significantly, she has placed happiness at the heart of every career choice– including accountancy.
It’s all too easy to become stuck in a career rut and just live for the weekend. Or to be consumed by work – missing weekends altogether. However, Belinda tells me that she believes that anyone can create their own happiness and live a life they love. Importantly this comes from doing our job in the best way we possibly can – regardless of what that is.
For her, the value of happiness has meant relocating and recalibrating over the years, until she finally found the place she wanted to settle and the job she loved. Whenever she felt she wasn’t as happy as she could be, she moved on or learned a new skill, in order to heighten her sense of happiness.
Happiness is also her core value in servicing her photography clients. Making her clients happy through powerful and beautiful imagery, as well as the uplifting portrait photo shoot experience itself, is one constant driver for her to excel in her portrait photography business. She believes enjoying the process is just as important as achieving the results.
Recently, Belinda ‘shot’ me – and I was blown away by her infinite patience and willingness to allow me space to be myself. As well as a gifted photographer, Belinda is a qualified makeup artist who has completed fashion styling courses with some of the most prestigious fashion colleges, including Central Saint Martins. This enabled her to offer me styling advice and makeover services on top of our photography session.
One of her clients told her that having their portrait taken was the best thing they’d ever done for themselves. I can’t help agreeing – it was a wonderful feeling to be ‘seen’ and appreciated for who I am.
As a leader and a human-bring Belinda stands apart. I believe this comes from the value of happiness and Belinda’s willingness to pursue it and relocate and reinvent herself to achieve it.
Written by Dr. Mandeep Rai.
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