Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hi! My name is Lucy Ray, and I’m an Underwater Photographer and Photojournalist.
What does your job involve? What happens on a typical day?
There is no typical day for me. I do a variety of different photo shoots so everyday is different. I can be shooting underwater at a swim school one day, then out on a newspaper assignment the next. Some days are spent editing photos and videos, and I also have to do all the behind the scenes work with a business like marketing, websites, social media, customer service, advertising etc, so it’s really varied.
What’s great about what you do?
I love the variety of what I do and seeing different things, going to lots of places and meeting different people. I feel very lucky to take pictures for a living since it’s so many people’s hobby. It’s a privilege to do something you enjoy as your job.
What are the toughest parts of your job?
There is lots of heavy, expensive, equipment to carry and lots of travelling. I do spend more time in my car getting to the shoots than I spend actually taking the photos! As a freelancer, you have to take the work when it’s offered, so I often have to change plans last minute. I might get a call to do a shoot the next day so I have to re-arrange everything at short notice.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
I have recently held a solo exhibition of my underwater photography. I've had my work used in national newspapers and an album cover, and I’ve been lucky enough to win some awards and honours.
What's been the biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
Covid was obviously very challenging as pools were closed and this made it very difficult for me to continue my underwater photography. My journalism work did continue though and I worked on a lot of health stories.
What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
My A levels were Biology, Chemistry, and Art, so I was always torn between art and science. I loved photography so [I] took an extra A level at night school as my school didn’t offer photography. I went on to university to study Genetics but I worked on the student newspaper throughout my degree and really enjoyed Photojournalism. So I did another course in press photography after graduating and went to work as a newspaper photographer. I spent over a decade working as a staff photographer on regional and national newspapers before going freelance and setting up my underwater photography business.
Have you noticed any changes in the industry in recent times? If so, what?
It’s changed so much. Everyone is a photographer now – everyone has a camera in their pockets. Now it’s about finding a niche that you can excel at because there is so much more competition for content.
How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?
Everything you experience feeds into your work. Despite not working in science, I draw on things I learnt whilst studying for my degree into my business every day. Working hard, always showing up, dedication, and commitment are the most important qualities you can bring to a job and you can learn these on whichever path you choose.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Work hard, be reliable, have fun! You will get where you want to be.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in your field?
Take lots of photos, read photography books and magazines, and take a course in photography.
Where can people find you and your work online?
FB: @starfishphoto Instagram: Starfish_underwater_photo