How I quit IT to pursue my dream job…
I’ve always wanted to be a Graphic Designer growing up, but that idea got cancelled when my typical asian parents freaked out and told me to ‘get a real job.’
Confused and heartbroken, I settled for second best and pursued a career in Business IT consulting after graduating from Bachelor of Science + Masters of Business Systems degree at Monash University. I was a Senior Business Consultant for 8 years where I consulted for large corporate CEO’s, senior business + technology teams on multi-million dollar IT transformation projects. I excelled at my job but it wasn’t enough to shake off the creative vibe I’ve manifested for years.
It was until year 2011, I took a leap of faith and walked away from my IT career to make my photography dream a reality. I opened a photographic studio with my hubby and proudly branded it as Finessence Photography. We spent 6 epic years meeting and documenting memories as a duo for couples + families.
One day, I rolled up into a luxury vintage store named Madam Virtue. Upon purchasing for my first ever Chanel bag, the owner Dean Hewitt and I striked up a conversation around haute couture + fashion, then out of the blue he invited me to an exclusive photo shoot the following day to work with a global influencer super star called Byran Boy. He was one of the original pioneers of fashion blogging.
From the kismet visit at Madam Virtue, I transitioned from wedding photography to travelling overseas for fashion week to capture street style fashion, to now living my absolute dream job as a fashion filmmaker + photographer for brands.
I have worked with international and local brands such as Vogue Australia, Puma Australia, Bally and Samsonite to name a few, and I’m a trusted Nikon Z Creator + Profoto partner.
When I’m not behind my Nikon camera, you will find me at cooking for my family + friends, gardening, or tucking into a great biography book or listening to The New York Times podcast.
Are you ready to get creative with a go-getter like me?
【Insight into my CAREER】
Watch my full story below:
sponsored by NIKON AUSTRALIA
A curated list of awesome Australian and global brands I’ve worked with:
My work has been featured on numerous online fashion blogs, media, social media and print:
Articles of Style, Australian Fashion Guide, Bonds & Me blogsite, Boohoo.com, Buzzfeed.com (Manhattan, New York),
Boyfriend Magazine, Collective Hub, Cosmopolitan Australia, Fashionisto, Famous, Farfetch UK, Fashionising.com,
H&M Facebook Fanpage, Khloe Kardashian Facebook Fanpage, Louboutin World Instagram, Marie Claire (Netherlands),
Milk & Soda, Mini Maven, Mr D (Mens Style Magazine), Net-a-Porter, News.com.au, Laer Kids, Samsonite, Style Magazine,
Vogue Australia, Vogue Italia, Weekly Review, What Would Karl Do blogsite, Who What Wear Australia
I asked my clients to describe their working experience with me:
Renako, Marketing Manager – Style, Puma Australia
Mary, Group Marketing Executive, The Lancemore Group
“I am very grateful to have worked with Karen Woo recently for our Shop the City campaign. Karen’s approach to her work, the level of thought and expertise she brings, and the team she assembles, is nothing short of incredible. We have enjoyed a very productive and open relationship, resulting in fantastic outputs, achieved in tight timeframes facing a number of challenges. I look forward to working with Karen and her team again in the future.”
Callum, City Marketing Manager, City Marketing and Corporate Affairs
“It is without hesitation that I recommend Karen Woo and her incredible team. Karen is an incredibly gifted photographer and human being. Insightful, creative and motivational when working on several assignments for us at Sofitel.
Since partnering with Karen and her team on our National Gallery of Victoria, Dior Fashion Cocktail shoot, we achieved over 1,517 cocktails sold an increase of 35% in our total beverage sales and I contribute this to Karen’s eye to take images that delights the audience and entices them to purchase. The success of the campaign has also been recognised in Vogue Australia magazine, social media as well as Vogue Japan. I would without any reservation recommend Karen to you.”
Evan, Head of Communications & Marketing, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins
“Karen is an absolute delight to work with. She innovative and creative and always goes above and beyond to ensure a excellent result. Karen brings a great energy to all of her projects which shines through in the photography and videos that she produces. I couldn’t recommended her highly enough.”
Anna, Founder, Bared Footwear
“Karen Woo is a gem. I wanted to use Karen because I knew her by reputation and on the occasions our paths had crossed, I found her to be a really genuine girl and someone who was really passionate about her craft! We discussed my target customer, my creative direction and she took on board all my opinions, but then she added so much more. From recommending lighting, colour palette and poses to coming along and checking the location before our shoot, she was able to build on my ideas with her creativity and experience to create far more powerful images than I had imagined. She is well prepared and super focused. And who doesn’t love working with someone who finished a full day shoot with 30 mins to spare!
Karen’s results speak for themselves, our campaign images tell you that, but in particular, I would recommend Karen to someone like me, who lacks experience! Her experience and manner mean that you’ll get excellent results. And I think I can speak for the whole team and say that – when it comes down to it – if you’ve got to hang about for a whole day at a shoot – pick a cool chick that makes it a fun day for all!”
Sarah, Fashion Designer & Illustrator, One of a Kind Denim
“Karen Woo is a master choreographer of modern imagery. Her workspace is where contemporary fashion, motion picture and razor-sharp concepts meet hashtags and hip music. And it’s all delivered by a personality that is outrageously witty, warm and refreshing.”
Chris, Applied Photography Lecturer, Melbourne Polytechnic
With her expertise in fashion photography and the success of her own social media accounts, Karen Woo was invited to be a panellist on our 2019 Melbourne Fashion Week Conversations session entitled ‘Creating Engaging Social Content’. Karen did an amazing job providing her insights as someone with clear expertise in harnessing the power of social media, and was kind enough to stay on and chat to attendees afterwards. She was also so professional and a delight to deal with in the lead up and on the day – I would have no hesitation working with Karen again in the future. We’ve had brilliant feedback on the event which is certainly due in part to Karen’s involvement.
Elise, Event Coordinator, Melbourne Fashion Week
“We’ve been working with Karen for over three years now and she’s been instrumental to the success of our content strategy. Karen understands the requirements of our brands and produces content tailored to each brand’s strategy. Her photography and creative direction has enabled us to elevate our brands and market them to more premium audiences. Whether it’s content for catalogues, POS, websites or social media, Karen’s eye for style and detail ensures our ad creative is engaging and high quality.”
James, Social Media Coordinator, Samsonite Australia
“Karen was amazing to work with. From being really easy-going to her professional work ethics, working with her was a breeze. The work that came out was nothing short of stellar! ”
Nelson, Managing Director, Benjamin Barker Aust Pte Ltd
“We want to thank you for your amazing ability for capturing the essence of our products in such an enchanting way! Having worked with you and your team on our recent timepiece launch, you have certainly exceeded our expectations and we found this experience with you extremely unique. I would high recommend your services to anyone who is looking for a talented, professional fashion photographer who is a joy to work with, and has the ability to put you at ease, while we focus on other aspects of the campaign. Thank you again for everything.”
Frances, Founder and CEO, Christopher Frost Timepieces
“It was a pleasure teaming with Karen Woo for the St Giles 360 campaign. We were drawn to her because of her style of photography and from the moment we connected, I was inspired by and appreciated her professionalism, sense of authenticity, and enthusiasm for the campaign. She fully engaged her community in the campaign and played a key role in extending its reach. I highly recommend Karen Woo and look forward to teaming with her on future projects. ”
Venicia, Piranha New York City
“It was a wonderful experience working with Karen, who was very meticulous in planning the shoot and made sure to keep us updated in all aspects of the shoot, both of which we really appreciate. We love her eye for photography and what she produced for us! We look forward to seeing more of her great works. ”
Kimberley Kok, Head of Marketing, Social Media of Charles and Keith International
“In my five years in the Melbourne fashion scene, I have worked with many high profiles photographers such as Candice Lake, but none are as professional, friendly and with a really creative and fashionable eye like Karen. Evey single time we collaborate, I am always thrilled with the outcome. Her creative eye sets her apart from the rest and her honesty and experience in working with models, ensures my time on set is efficient and makes me feel confident to trust in her abilities. You just need to look at her photos to see just how good she really is. The key to the success of my blog is the photography and I have no hesitations in saying that Karen has helped me to be where I am today in my fashion blogging career. I see big things for Karen, and I am honoured to say that I was with her from the beginning of her journey.”
Jess Dempsey, What Would Karl Do
“I hired Karen to shoot street style for a client after stumbling across her Instagram, and was so blown away with the work she delivered! She has impeccable taste and working with her to co-ordinate the shoot was smooth and simple.“
Brodie, Editor of The Good Copy
“From the moment we met with Karen we knew she understood our vision and she did an amazing capturing this. We had two day action packed days on location with Karen, her energy and creativity was contagious and we can’t wait to work with her again. ”
Stevie, Head of Marketing & Events of St Kilda Football Club
“Karen is sooooo enthusiastic and energised. It was a really fun shoot. She also makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. Karen was very prepared and followed the direction that I had set. She created a mood board and referenced the images I’d put together in the brief. She worked tirelessly the whole time and was really patient and open to ideas. The shoot I did with Karen ended up being used to promote the release of my new EP.”
James Varnish, Electropop Musician
“Karen and I met six years ago when I first started my business. I am so grateful for the day she walked into my life. Karen not only takes the most beautiful photographs but she is also the most easiest to work with. She is always bright and sunny, whilst professional and suggesting great ideas and provides great feedback. Karen also gives great direction to the models when required but always takes photos that are natural as possible. She has helped me so much with my business by showcasing my work at its best and always me with the best of her connections so I can advance further. I only hope that anyone who needs a photographer is lucky to find Karen as she is just an amazing person inside and out and absolutely fantastic at what she does. Her passion is just palpable. Much love you to my dear!! xxx ”
Aimmey Pham, Miss Aimmey Hair & Makeup artist
“Although I’m not a model, I have done a number of photo shoots through my life as a professional musician. As a photographer, I’d say that Karen Woo is beyond great. Karen is a cut above in her professionalism and abilities. I was simply stunned by the quality of her photographs and never have dreamed that someone could produce such amazing work. She is very easy to work with and put me completely at east. I have no hesitation to recommend her based on her incredible talent and expertise.”
David Willerdorf, Singer/Song Writer
“Karen was an absolute joy to work with when she took my personal branding photos. She was a professional from day one but was also extremely fun, relatable and took the time to understand my branding and style, whilst providing her creative input. The variety and quality of the images were just what I was looking for. I’ve had so much great feedback on the photos. Thank you Karen! Hope we can work together again in the future!”
Candice, Leadership Coach