Dr. Denise Maxwell

In the face of everyday sexism such as "are you sure YOU took these pictures" Pro photographer Denise has succeeded shooting some of the most well known people and events in the world, mentoring others to help make their path easier than hers.

"And what does your husband think about you working away so much"
"Where are your children while you are here shooting"
"You did so well" (whilst being patted on the back or the worst one head, in response to me shooting an event ...
"IF you get in my way again, I'm going the break your camera"

These are just some of the everyday challenges Denise has faced as a female photographer in a still fiercely male and white environment. She has succeeded in spite of this.

Denise has been a full time professional photographer for 13 years. She is often questioned about who took the photos on her website, because whatever people assume a professional photographer looks like, it mustn't be her. She came from an average working class family, on a council estate, living with her mom and two brothers. She went to the local comprehensive, went onto A levels, a degree and various jobs working around Domestic Abuse and Racisms. Running a successful business and breaking barriers as a female in a male dominated field was not something mapped out for her.

After being made redundant from a successful career in NHS through austerity cuts she decided to start her own business because the lack of other viable opportunities on the market.

She started in event and portrait photography.  She naively did not think this male dominated industry would present such a challenge. As well as the business challenges of setting up and maintaining a business from a background of being employed rather than self employed, navigating marketing as well as perfecting your craft, to the 'normal' being talked down to, undermined and overlooked, to being threatened with physical assault from a male paparazzi.

She continues to be a successful photographer with an impressive portfolio but also extending the ladder by providing shadowing opportunities to emerging photographers to accompany her on various jobs. A recent student said "I never imagined I would get to do anything like this while still at Uni (shoot London Fashion Week) but Denise made this possible andIm so grateful".

Her portfolio has expanded to cover many genres including sports (The Diamond League Athletics, Commonwealth Games), fashion (London Fashion Week), weddings, red carpet, portraits, music, food and events.  

In 2023 Denise was awarded an honorary Doctorate, one of only 11 awarded by this University in that year for her work in the Arts breaking barriers and creating opportunities for working class people, women and black women in the field.

To date her varied career has led Denise to have photographed some of the most well known people and events in the world including people such as Barack Obama, Usain Bolt, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey.  She covers events such as London Fashion Week, The Brits and the BAFTA's and has a client list that includes The BBC, Gumtree, Starling Bank and Armani.  Her work has been published in Vogue, The Independent and The Guardian to name a few publications.  Denise also teaches her own workshops teaching emerging photographers how to make a living from photography, she also visit lectures at Sandwell College, The University of Wolverhampton, The Paris School of Luxury and The University of Birmingham.

Denise can speak on:
• Turning your struggles into strengths
• Operating outside your comfort zones
• Working in male dominated environments
• Unhelpful imposter syndrome thoughts
• Her experiences
• Her career to date and her path to success
• Resilience and tenacity
• Being a full time creative
• Experiences linked to being a black female in the industry

This is not an exhaustive list, but do please contact if in doubt.

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