Madeleine Penfold is a freelance creative lead and humanitarian based in Manchester. A sought-after photographer, Penfold worked for both creative and production studios before going freelance. Her recent charity project – supporting the Erenjang nursery school in West Africa where she once volunteered – is now a registered community interest company. Penfold also runs yoga and movement workshops in the city.
A quick summary of your career and education:
I studied film and media at college and advertising management and brand management at university, but I spent the majority of my uni days staring longingly at the arts school across campus.
After university I went to the US for three months. I worked for a creative studio before realising I wanted to be closer to production. I managed to get a role with The Gate Films, which lead to me being asked to launch and run a brand new film studio. I set up a charity project with a partner and made most of my money through photography.
Today I call myself a photographer and a ‘creative lead’ but that title may change tomorrow. My role is so varied, I work with a variety of clients; portraiture, video, lifestyle, reportage, sometimes branding, sometimes consulting. Ultimately, I’m telling stories and finding the best way to do this with the people I work with. My charity project is now a registered community interest company and it continues to support a nursery school in West Africa. Additionally, I run Yoga and movement workshops with two other driven and amazing girls.
What’s your most significant accomplishment to date?
In 2017 – with the help of the Mancunian community – me and a project partner raised £10K to rebuild a nursery school in West Africa. It was the perfect project in which I could use my skills as a storyteller for a good cause.
Who inspires you?
It’s hard to list answer this question – I need my own magazine for the number of people who inspire me. There’s so many unsung heroes and amazing people around.
Kathryn Cheetham who set up Manchester Cares in the North. She is dedicated and driven in helping other people through social engagement. Sacha Lord, owner of the Warehouse Project and full time Manchester legend. This man is twelve-years-old at heart, yet an incredible business man passionate about the music and nightlife scene. Jolie Studios – two leading female’s running their own interior business, producing incredible work, chasing their dreams around the world and having a dam good time doing so. Ben Wild, an artist who is still so young, yet wise beyond his years. He’s incredibly forward thinking and humble. Drew Forsyth is a fellow photographer who is not only incredible at what he does but also so giving with his time and honest within the photography industry. And Jessica Moorehouse, a junior doctor turned health and wellness innovator, using her passion and talents to get Manchester moving and really revolutionising the way people see fitness and mental health. Christine and the Queens – her music inspires me.
How has living and working in Manchester helped you achieve your goals?
Manchester is the perfect size and home to an amazing balance of arts and music. It has a really supportive feel to it. People here are giving and want to help you.
Read Next: Manchester’s 30under30 2018
What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Enjoy things. Work hard. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain – it’ll be the best thing you will do.
What are your goals of 2019?
Find a mentor. Keep an eye out for like minded people I want to collaborate with. Stay focused. Explore more. Think outside the box. Teach. Continue to work on projects that inspire me. Say no to ones I don’t.
Where do you see yourself in twenty years’ time?
By a beach living a very balanced life, hopefully with some incredibly meaningful projects behind me and event more meaningful ones ahead.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career so far?
Going from a stable and incredibly structured job to freelance and running my own business solo for the last 2 years. It’s a huge lifestyle change and there’s been a lot of steep learning curves. So far, so good…just about!
One word that sums you up best?
Read More: Manchester 30UNDER30 2019