Natalia Segura’s true love for photography and the demand from private clients motivated her to start her own business focusing on wedding photography.
What’s your story?
I “ran away” at age 18 with a bohemian photographer 12 years older than me, travelled across Europe hitchhiking, met and spent one to one 1 hour with Annie Leibovitz in person, assisted at photo sessions, developed black and white photos in a dark room, experienced going hungry for a few days and then going to a soiree dining with Jon Voight (father of Angelina Jolie) etc. Although the relationship with the photographer turned out to be extremely abusive and very sad in the end, the artistic seed has been sown into my soul. So, I finished Economic University in Bratislava, learnt a few languages and started my career. Few years forward, I met the true love of my life and thought that’s it. Then, due to crisis in 2008, I quit my job as a marketing manager and followed my husband to China. Once there, I was bored and picked up on my “old” hobby – photography. Initially, just for fun but soon people wanted to pay me to take pictures of them. At first I did a lot of family sessions, weddings and ended up with business portraits and lifestyle photography. Since then, many small and big brands, magazines turn to me to supply them with photos.
What excites you most about your industry?
I get bored easily. Once I learn something I become a very annoying employee. I need to learn, grow, explore, try to find new and better ways to do things. Photography is a never ending process. I want and have to learn all the time. I need to keep “upgrading” my game. I get to meet a lot of interesting people from all over the world. Every project is different! I can learn about other industries too. I like new situations and enjoy the fact that I need to be creative and flexible for this job. It is a great combination opportunity for me to use my formal and nonformal education and my job is not connected to only one place. I don’t like when people say they are their own boss, but I love that I own my job! What can be better?
What’s your connection to Asia?
My last child was born in Guangzhou. Dream job (or better a company to work for) of my husband is in Hong Kong. Before relocating to China my innate skill as a photographer was unearthed. My first exhibitions were in Asia. My company “was born” in Hong Kong.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Hong Kong and Singapore. Although I have never been to Singapore I have few clients from there and the work relationships are as smooth as in Hong Kong. Of course, the current situation in Hong Kong causes a bit of anxiety due to uncertainty but I still believe that the city is strong enough to recover soon.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Nothing in communication is obvious and don’t take business personally. To check your “to do list” every evening and every morning applying prioritization matrix! You probably know it: Important/Urgent/Less important/Not that urgent
Who inspires you?
At first I think the energy should come from within. Ideas keep attacking me. 😀 From industry it will be Peter Lindbergh, Ellen von Unwerth, Sally Mann, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz and many others. From my entourage it will be my husband and my kids. They all love my work and are my biggest fans. Both daughters Sofia (the youngest) who is super energetic, creative and sparking being and Clementine who always supports me and gives me loads of compliments together with constructive criticism. My son used to work as my assistant before going to uni and it has been very inspiring seeing his huge progress and natural gift for visual art.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Probably how quickly a civilized and one of the safest cities in the world can turn into almost a war zone, referring to Hong Kong. How easily people can lose a sensitivity and society can be divided into groups who hate each other. Simply, how all things in life are fragile and aren’t granted as we like to believe. More personal thing, that my son (from the first relationship) wants to do photography at least as a hobby or part time job while his uni studies. You can see him on one of the photos a few years back as my assistant during one event shooting. Think today he would appreciate the company more.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Use social media earlier and more often. I would be more expensive much earlier. I would buy better equipment faster and finally I would be more daring in general – use contacts I have. For example, recently I asked a former friend from Shenzhen who is now a principal in an international school in Bratislava if by any chance I could be their photographer. The answer? Why didn’t you let me know earlier? We have been struggling to find a photographer who can provide this kind of service for an international school!
How do you unwind?
Dancing with my daughter. Beer with my husband. Netflix by myself.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Cebu, Plantation Bay and Badian resort/island. It’s very child friendly and beautiful. I like to go to Macau for staycation – big hotel rooms, great pool and evening entertaining. I don’t gamble though. We also had a wonderful time in Hard Rock Hotel in Bali.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Think it’s a little cheesy but still contains main great messages about money and life. Think it should be mandatory for kids to read Kiyosaki’s ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ same as ‘Lord of the flies’. Other tip: Dan Ariely, Predictably irrational and other books from him! Love it!
Shameless plug for your business:
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This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of two best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.
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