Paul Hassell

From sales manager to snapper, Paul Hassell made the leap 13 years ago and has found success and fulfilment in spades

Paul Hassell is a people person – warm, chatty, friendly, interesting and crucially, interested. While sales and photography aren’t obvious bedfellows, the qualities that made Paul flourish in a sales environment for decades also puts people at ease in the studio making for pleasing final outcomes. He says: “From the outset, I knew that my interest in photography was going to be based around people and therefore my work is story driven. I love to hear the story and journey of that person and I have always seen the image as a gift that reminds me of that time and place.”


Aged 46, Paul joined a local photographic society in Birmingham because he just wanted to understand how to use a camera but was quickly hooked. He remembers: “From walking through the door on that very first evening I knew this was going to be a place I’d return to.” Thirteen years of dedication later and Paul has been lucky enough to photograph some incredible people and capture some special moments as well as gaining an FRPS distinction which means he’s a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

He says: “I’ve been rewarded with some amazing moments like seeing Mo Farah break numerous records in Birmingham and at the Olympic Park in 2016. I’ve photographed Commonwealth and World Champion gymnasts and met hundreds of amazing individuals who have sat with me and shared their stories.”


A particular project that Paul’s proud of is his work in Romania. He made two trips in two years to the country, documenting how remote villagers have lived since time began. He says: “In essence time had stood still, but now young people are moving to big cities in search of prosperity and a different way of life. They are leaving behind their elders only to see their heritage slowly disappear.”

Paul’s photographs from these areas depict the survival of the older residents living hand-to-mouth trying to maintain their traditions and beliefs. Paul recalls: “I was fortunate to gain their trust and that engagement allowed a relation of character and community but also circumstance, which is sadly based on their inability to change.” Going forward Paul aims to embark on more projects possibly involving non-government organisations (NGOs) in the hope that his skill set will help people.


Today, Paul still enjoys engaging with people and their stories and for the last three years he’s dedicated his time to photographing dancers, in particular ballet dancers. He’s collaborated with Birmingham Royal Ballet artists which you can see more of on his Instagram page. He captures strength and movement brilliantly but also a softness somehow.

Paul recalls listening to a talk by a professional photographer who said that one of the hardest things to do as a portrait photographer is to get a person in front of the camera. Paul reflects: “I’ve been very lucky over my short time as a photographer to have some kind of gift, to relate to that person and form a photograph.”

PEOPLE PERSON: Check out Paul’s work at and follow on Instagram @ha55ellhoff