James was born in Belper, Derbyshire, and after 15 years running high street studios, as well as being given opportunities to travel the world, he’s thrilled to be opening his very own studio just up the road from where he grew up, in the village of Nether Heage. “After failing my A Levels, due to answering the wrong question, I spent two years at Coventry University studying Geography before realising that it wasn’t for me (that and I’m not a fan of colouring in). I was then able to go off and travel the world and this is where I discovered my love of photographing people.

Whilst in Guatemala we were welcomed into a village for a couple of weeks and it was a true privilege to have been allowed to get to know the community and photograph their relationships and culture. On the day of landing back in the UK I went and enrolled with Derby University where I did a foundation degree and, subsequently, a bachelors degree in Fine Art Photography. On leaving the university I gained a job with Olan Mills and achieved turning that branch from one of the worst studios into one of the top ten in the UK. Sadly, in December 2007 the company was forced into liquidation, however this led to me running Firefly Photography, a commercial high street studio for over ten years.

During this time I also got married and we had three daughters. As the professional photographic industry’s needs changed, so did ours and we made the big jump to go from highstreet “bums on seats” machine to bespoke and chilled… For those who have worked with me before you will no I’ve never been great at time keeping and I’d always stay with clients until we’d achieved a killer portfolio of imagery!

We bought a 200 year old barn and, despite the odds, we managed to save it from a tumble down ruin of no roof, deteriorating foundations and one “long eared” endangered bat (which was subsequently saved and released into the wild with the 999 others that they claim are left in the UK) to what you see today. I still don’t run on time however the bespoke nature of Studio1825 means that Kirsty and I are able to dedicate so much more time to each of our clients and I’m finally able to create the imagery I’ve waited 15 years for. I’m so proud to say, welcome to the home of the studio with James.”


Kirsty moved to Derbyshire over 12 years ago, when she was accepted as a humble student on the UK’s only “Creative Expressive Therapies” course at Derby University. Despite vowing she would never leave her beloved home county of Yorkshire, she quickly fell in love with Derbyshire and has never looked back.

“Having been born in the house my parent’s still live in, the move down the road to Derby was a huge step for me! I’ve always had a love of the theatre however it was possibly decided that performing wasn’t for me when I forgot the baby Jesus whilst reenacting the role of Mary in my school’s nativity… I then, apparently, instructed the parents to pass the plastic baby over their heads before sitting back down to sing the second chorus! I like to think this was a moment in learning leadership skills and not, as many would say, exercising my scatty, and slightly bossy, nature! Many years later, I was fortunate enough to be given opportunities to work backstage at some of Yorkshire’s top theatre venues including Leeds Grand and Bradford Theatres and this, with my love of people, led to be choosing to study Creative Expressive Therapies (drama pathway) at Derby University.

Despite meeting James in the local student pub on Friar Gate, I still managed to graduate and enjoyed work as a Practitioner working with a number of schools & education departments across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire as well as a time with Chatsworth House… Throughout this time James and I were really surprised at how much my degree and his expertise in studio photography coincided and so, in 2012, we decided to put our heads together and we (almost!) haven’t looked back. Following the birth of our third daughter we made the conscious decision to move away from the high street and, although it took 2 ½ years, we’re now loving the freedom our own studio gives us both in creativity with clients and around our family life.

Personally, I also really enjoy a consultancy role, within the photographic industry, which allows me to work with other studios in building on the foundations they have and using my degree to create useful, engaging and interactive ways of communicating with clients both in marketing and once in the studio. It’s certainly not the career I had planned when sat down in the school office and asked “what I’d like to do”, all those years ago, but it’s a unique role I wouldn’t swap!”