Case Study: Olivia Brabbs Photography

Olivia Brabbs Photography is a well-established local business, celebrating its 14th year of operation this year. Olivia, who is a second-generation photographer and who grew up in Yorkshire, first started the photography business to offer wedding photography services as well as commercial photography. In the last 5 years the main focus of the business has shifted to exclusively offer commercial photography and branding.  

Olivia’s core portfolio of clients is made up of hospitality, lifestyle, tourism and heritage businesses. This niche focus provides an opportunity to utilise a broad range of photography genres, which is one of Olivia’s strengths as a photographer. In her project for Bettys Café and Tearooms, Olivia has shot portraits, created still life shots, photographed food for commercial promotion and captured interiors beautifully for use online and in print.  

Since her university days, Olivia knew she wanted to work with people and her the love for creative work and photography has grown over the years and Olivia has created the Olivia Brabbs Photography to embark on this new and exciting journey. Olivia’s early pre-photography professional experience as an occupational therapist has fed into her approach and style of working with people today. 

Olivia says: “I’m renowned for my documentary style of working which creates images full of narrative. I also like to photograph people in a very natural and authentic way. I like to make people feel relaxed by building connections and working quietly and respectfully. When you capture the right moment – both the product and people shine.” 

2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for many businesses, with changes in rules and confusion around what could and couldn’t be considered ‘essential’. With the majority of Olivia’s clients having to temporarily close during lockdown, it has given her an opportunity to take a pause and have a fresh look at her business.  

Olivia’s business has not been eligible for any formal government support schemes, but was able to secure some support from the Micro Grant scheme from City of York Council during the initial lockdown period and more recently a Business Recovery Grant administered by Umi on behalf of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership with the help from Make It York’s Business Growth Manager, Louise Saw. The grant was used to support the business by purchasing necessary equipment to improve safety for on-locations shoots and equipment needed to effectively style and work from home. Olivia has worked on improving the company’s website and has also published a new Covid-19 policy on her website, to show how she can continue working safely, which contributed to clients picking up in December 2020.  

Many businesses Olivia works with have used the time during lockdowns to look closer at their online products, working on new launches and re-branding projects. With social media being very “content greedy” and professional image portfolios being the attention-grabbing point for brand, more businesses were looking at investing into working with Olivia. Her ability to offer a safe working environment, flexibility and expertise have helped secure more contracts and grow her business.  

Make It York began supporting Olivia’s business in March 2020, by helping Olivia to deal with the complicated situation around the pandemic and her challenges in securing any type of funding to help mitigate the impact. Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager at Make It York, has helped Olivia by looking at building the company’s brand and maintaining visibility even during the period of no active work.  

Olivia says: “It’s been such a positive experience working with Louise. She has provided much needed support during lockdown restrictions and has helped me shape and refocus my business with a view not just on survival but also longer-term growth. Louise has offered friendly support whilst also challenging me. In addition to our formal zoom sessions, she has kept me informed of opportunities and relevant business information. Due to her support, I have had an application approved for a business recovery grant which is going to be invaluable in helping me wether the impact of Covid restrictions on my business.” 

Looking to the future, Olivia is working to build her reputation on a national level and is particular passionate about been seen as a go-to photographer for Yorkshire brands. 

To find out more about Olivia Brabbs Photographycheck out their website:  

To learn more about the business support Make It York are offering and how our team can help your business, please visit or email 

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