These questions & answers are compiled from different interviews and questionnaires I’ve been asked to fill in over the years. I’ve tried to keep the selection to the kind of things I get asked most often, so there might be some repetition. I will update this FAQ intermittently if and when I reply to new questions.


Would you be able to tell me a bit about your life and career and what made you want to go into photography (product photography in particular)? 

I’ve always been creative and I used to draw and paint from a young age. Photography was more of a way of documenting my life for the longest time, but it slowly grew into something more. In the 00’s I started creating a lot of conceptual work and photography became my main creative outlet. In 2008, after a long career in magazine design, I decided to jump into running my own business and started Marianne Taylor Photography. For a long while I was a wedding & portrait photographer, but in 2015 I started the transition towards commercial photography.

Did you always see yourself doing photography or did you have other dreams? 

I’m not sure the actual discipline is super important to me, photography just seems to be in the middle of the perfect Venn diagram of things I have skills for, like doing, and people want to pay for. But to me, the creativity and freedom are the main draws – I wouldn’t mind being a painter or an author instead if those things worked out for me.

What GCSE’s and A-levels or college course did you do? 

I went through schools in Finland, so none of those. I went to an art college, and also studied some marketing.

What was your first creative job and how did you go about getting it? 

I really can’t remember what would have been the first… Possibly creating an illustrations for a cover of a new age magazine way back in the 90’s.

What is like as a product photographer on a day-to-day basis? Do you spend time on photoshoots, in meetings or traveling around? 

I try to have a pretty regular schedule (emphasis on try), where Monday is an admin day, Tuesday and Thursday are shoot days and Wednesday and Friday are editing days. Obviously, most weeks things move around due to product delays or rescheduling or last minute rush jobs. But I find it’s good to aim for a structure when you book, then you don’t end up overbooking yourself and burning yourself out.

Do you think that your photography style is projected to one gender? If so Is that something that is done on purpose or is it a style that you have adopted and fit all genders?    

I mean, I like girly things and pink, but I don’t think my style is overly feminine. I get a lot of male clients who love my work, so it must appeal to everyone.

How did you get/develop you style? 

I’ve always loved colour. Especially colourful cinematography. If I dig deep enough, I think my core inspiration still comes from movies where I’ve fallen in love with the colours, such as The Cell, The Secretary, In the Mood for Love, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and many more. I guess these are the origins of my current style.

Do you do any other form of art/photography? If so, would I be able to send me some pictures please?

Currently, I don’t really have time for anything else, but you can see examples of my softer consumer-facing style over on my old website

Are there any social, cultural or political elements that influence your work? 

I sometimes feel that I’d want to make more personal work with more of a viewpoint if only I could find the time. For commercial work, I can’t really impose my points of view outside of the visual/creative.

Where do you live?

I live on the rugged Atlantic coast of Cornwall in South West England. I moved down from London, and there’s really no other place that inspires me quite like this wild corner of the world and its changing moods of the ocean.

Where you work? Tell us a little about your lovely studio!

When I do stills photography, I work mostly from my little home studio. It’s pretty much filled to the brim with colourful backgrounds and props and stepping into it always lifts my spirit. For lifestyle photography, I often get to shoot on a beach, which really doesn’t feel like a bad deal either!

How did you get into photography?

I got my first camera when I was 11 years old so it feels like photography has always been a part of my life. I started doing photography professionally at the end of the 90’s in the form of graduation portraits and the odd wedding, but after that, I had a decade-long career as a magazine designer while keeping photography as a precious hobby. I’ve been a full-time photographer since 2008 – first shooting weddings and portraiture, and later moving to commercial photography.

How would you describe your photography style?

My main goal is to breathe colour into everything I do. I love playing with new combinations of colours and creating eye candy that supports the brands I work with.

What or who inspires you?

So many things… Cornwall with its wild seas and changing colours of the sky and ocean are forever inspiring. I also find inspiration from all things visual where the colours, light or composition draw my eye. I get excited about new colour combinations or the way someone in film or photography might use the light in a way I haven’t seen before, but also love getting inspired by other types of art. Music also opens up new imagery that comes from somewhere inside.

If you weren’t a photographer what could you imagine doing?

I’d probably still be a designer. But I do love writing, so I’d like to think I could be an author of some sort…

What advice do you have for any photographers starting out?

Be prepared to learn many more skills than just photography. Running your own business you have to wear so many hats, from being your own marketing manager to customer service and everything in between, and sometimes all that can be hard to handle for a creative mind.

Are there any other creatives out there who you admire?

Of course, there are loads of creatives I admire, on every level from legends to newcomers. When it comes to photographers, I will forever be inspired by people such as Miles Aldridge, Sally Mann, Nick Knight and David LaChapelle.

When or where are you most creative and how do you solve creative block?

I’m at my most creative when I manage to let go of all worries and overthinking and just immerse myself in the task at hand. Sometimes it feels so hard to get into that space, but one of the ‘mottos’ I live by is ‘action heals’. Often, when you just get stuck in and start doing, inspiration will follow.

What’s your current favourite kind of music to work to?

It depends so much on what I’m working at. I try to keep things a bit more upbeat for photoshoots so will often go for some electronic music such as The XX, but when I’m editing I like a more mellow vibe with something like Bon Iver perhaps.

Minimalist or Maximalist?

Not sure I’m strictly either… I certainly love an abundance of colour and beautiful items, but I also crave order, simplicity and practicality, negative space…

Where are you from and what’s it like there?

I am originally from Finland but came to the UK in 1999. The one thing I miss about my home country is the nature, space and silence. The population is fairly small in relation to the size of the country, so there are big stretches of wild nature where you don’t come across any people. In a way, moving to Cornwall has given some of that sense of quiet, undisturbed landscape back to me (or it had, prior to the pandemic!). But there’s still nothing quite like sitting by a quiet lake in the summer, where all you hear are bird calls across the surface of the water, or a perfectly white winter’s day where the only sound is the crunch of snow under your feet.

What got you to where you are now?

I came to Cornwall for the first time in 2001 and I fell in love at first sight. It felt like my soul had arrived home. From then on I came to Cornwall as often as I could and dreamt of one day living here. Eventually, I decided that life was too short to wait for a ‘retirement plan’ and moved to Newquay. It was a bit of a risk with most of my work having been in London (or aboard, which links from London allowed), so I had to come up with a different business model in order to make the move work. Hence I started building up the commercial side of my photography business, which consists mainly of content creation I can do from my home studio, plus lifestyle photography which celebrates the beach lifestyle of my new hometown.

How would you describe your photographic style?

Creative content for fun brands.

How has the ocean influenced your photography?

Hugely! I’m really enjoying the fact that I can offer a lifestyle element for my commercial clients based around the surfer vibe in Newquay. It’s amazing that we have a place in the UK where you get a similar laid-back feel of more distant surfer hot spots in somewhere like California or Australia. Of course, the rugged Cornish coast and our unpredictable weather throws in its own flavour!

What were your hobbies when you were younger have you always been interested in photography? 

When I was young I used to draw and paint all the time, it was pretty much the only thing I was interested in. I got my first camera when I was 11, and ever since then it’s always been a constant companion. What I love about being a photographer is that it teaches you to instinctively always notice the quality of light. This constant search of light, whether conscious or unconscious, helps you see and appreciate everyday beauty even when you don’t have a camera in your hand.

What first inspired you to create your own business?

I was never really built for office life… I started my first business in the late 90’s, and while I worked as a magazine designer for a long while after my move to the UK, that fire to be your own boss and forge your own way has always been there. Life of an entrepreneur is definitely not always plain sailing, it can be scary to have to rely on only yourself, especially if or when you have to face disruptive things such as ill health or big life or world changes. But still, even though it requires to get comfortable with constant uncertainty, it’s just the best to be in charge of your own destiny in such a concrete way.

What’s been the best bit of advice you have ever been given?

That life is tidal. That there’s no such thing as ‘having made it’. There will always be up and downs, everything is in constant change and you just have to try to get comfortable with the ebb and flow of life.

What’s been the toughest thing you’ve had to overcome?

While luckily I’ve never had to go through any major tragedy, there have been harder times… I had a few years of ill health which really made it difficult to see the way forward. It’s not only that keeping on top of work is hard when you are not well, but the psychological side is even tougher when you feel like you are constantly letting yourself and everyone else down.

Update March 2023: 

Life certainly threw in some harder times since I first answered that question! There was a whole pandemic to get through, but during the past few years, I also lost my best friend + another close friend to cancer. Going through grief has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do – and I suppose the journey is never quite over. But I’m finally at a place where colour and inspiration have returned, so I can fully appreciate the contrast to what life felt like for a while.

What software do you use?

I use Adobe Lightroom for basic edits and colour correction. I use Photoshop for anything that requires retouching, such as taking out support elements or comping images together.

I get so many ideas and plans but lack motivation help!

Motivation and/or passion are words that get thrown about in relation to creative businesses a lot. But the truth is that the most crucial component to getting shit done and reaching any ‘success’ (I put success in inverted commas as it means different things to everyone) are the systems you put in place that allow you to be consistent without having to find motivation or passion every day.

I really can’t stress it enough.

Have workflows in place for everything, even things that seem simple and seemingly inconsequential. Sometimes those niggling small things can stall us in a major way as they grow to create overwhelm and block all creativity.

To recap. Systems, systems, systems.

If you haven’t started with a presence/client base how would you have marketed yourself from 0.

When I moved into commercial photography, I didn’t have an existing client base. All my existing clients were in the consumer space as I had been doing weddings and couple/portrait/family shoots.

I had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to market to a completely new clientele. Before, I had heavily relied on Facebook and word of mouth due to dealing with private consumer clients. For example, my Instagram was only for personal use, not something I used for marketing.

I figured out that I got most traction with commercial clients from Instagram and Pinterest, so I really concentrated on building my presence on those. Building a commercial portfolio was a crucial piece of the puzzle, and test shoots continue to be very important part of marketing efforts. You really need to be consistent about putting your work out there and figuring out how to get it in front of the right eyes.

The landscape is always in flux, though, and I feel like I’m once again going through a bit of a transformation in terms on what I want to produce and where to find the right clients for that. There’s never a point where you have ‘arrived’, it’s about forever evolving.

What’s your favourite lens for product photography?

This really depends on what I’m shooting. My most used lenses are:

EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

How to get rid of the feeling of doubt/fear I have with trying to build a biz.

Your business is not meant to serve everyone, you only need to serve the people who ‘get you’.

The fear never really goes away entirely, which is a good thing as it keeps you from getting too complacent.

People will always have their own opinions, but that’s not your concern. You do you!

What do you think is the most important factor in being successful?

Consistency above anything else. Talent or vision or planning has nothing on consistency.

P.S. success also looks different for everyone. Never go after someone else’s form of success just because it looks shiny, figure out what feels like success to you (money, time, freedom, flexibility, etc).