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BPW Member Profile – Arlene Simpson

Hello our wonderful BPW community! September is almost here and that means that we will start our monthly meetings again! Until then, we have another MEMBER PROFILE for you, this time of our fearless leader, Arlene Simpson.




Photographer & Owner, photoart by Simpson


How I got started in my line of work, and the best lesson I learned along the way.

In 1978, after graduation, I went to work for Andrew Simpson – photographer and owner of Clearbrook Photo Studios, aka photoart by Simpson. I didn’t know anything about the field I was getting into. Andrew had done my graduation portraits and, in that hour, we talked about life and his dreams and aspirations. Within 2 months I was working at the studio, learning things that had never occurred to me could be a career.

Throughout the next 30 years, I enrolled in classes and took week-long seminars. I learned my craft and made sure I remained up to date with new trends and styles. Andrew and I work well as a team, the ying and yang of 38 years in partnership.

I learned in life that no matter what you do, when you wake up in the morning you have a choice. You can choose to either have a great day or a bad day, to either love or be annoyed with the person you are with. I learned to choose to surround myself with positive people at work and in my personal life.

My greatest achievement and my biggest challenge so far.

My greatest achievement is two-fold:

My partner, I could not have found a better man with whom to spend 24/7.

My 2 beautiful children, who have given my life such purpose and happiness. Ashley is exactly like me and Andrew William is a lot like his father. Both of our children have careers in the photographic arts.

My biggest challenge so far was acknowledging that my career has taken a big shift with the digital age and things are not as easy as they once were. My profession is not always taken seriously, but it has been my life. I wish people would not think of my field as a hobby (although for some it is) but as a profession. This is partly why people perceive photography as a “lesser” career compared to others.

Character traits one should have in order to be successful in my line of work.

In my job, you need all-encompassing character traits. You need to be friendly, compassionate and a good listener. In addition, I found that as a woman I needed to be strong. I wasn’t always outwardly strong… that came in time, but I always felt fierce on the inside, something that needed calming at times. You have to be able to laugh with your clients as well as understand the emotions involved in a photographic session. You have to be able to do what it takes to achieve your goals, not to give up and to just love people.

A resource (book, website etc.) that helped me professionally.

As a member of The Professional Photographers of Canada/BC for the past 30 years, I was able to attend lectures and receive instruction from world famous photographers and business speakers. I have been inspired to do better and broaden my expertise, as well as grow my business. Without my association with the Canadian photographers I would not be who I am today.

A person whose life and/or work I admire, and why.

I wouldn’t say that I admire any one person over another. Each person that has come and gone in my life has left an imprint and I have taken that and added it to the rest.

My take on work/life balance.

Early on in our work/home relationship, Andrew and I decided that no business conversation between us would be conducted after 8 pm. This separates our work and home life, leaving us time to relax.

I enjoy gardening, kayaking, hiking, white wine on my deck with friends, travelling abroad and weekends in Vancouver. Over the years, we opened the world to our children by having them with us when we travelled. I plan to do a lot more of all of this in the next couple of years, only this time it’s going to be just Andrew and I.

Advice to a young person just deciding on what career they are going to pursue.

Choosing a career these days is different than years ago, because now careers change every 7-10 years. I would suggest that you choose something that makes you happy… to love what you do.

It is very important to take a business course, especially if you are an entrepreneur, in both big and small business. As a photographer, you must know more than “how to take pretty pictures”. Knowing your worth is what your business will be founded on. This is a great career and the art industry is a fantastic way to move through the world, either through your clients’ eyes or your own.

How my best friend would describe me.

From my friend, Vivian:

“My long time sisterly-friend is one of the strongest women I know and respect. She is ambitious and hard-working. She protects and shares her joy and peace. She supports her family and friends. She is exceptionally inclusive and kind. She stands up for what is right, even if she has to stand all by herself.”

The title of the last book I read.

The last book I read was by Robert Goolrick, “Heading Out to Wonderful” a rousing and intoxicating historical potboiler!

My favourite thing about BPW.

In the beginning, my favourite thing about BPW was the opportunity to have lunch with like-minded business women from our community.  I did not know much about the organization. I had been told that this group would be a perfect place for me, and I thought I would give it a try. After a couple of luncheons, I became a member and was “volunteered” into the Woman of the Year 2015 organization committee.

I didn’t realize the impact that BPW has until I attended the National Convention in August 2016. My role quickly changed from Treasurer to President, one I was hoping I could fulfill with energy and new ideas. The friends that I have made through this group have been amazing.

Most of us probably don’t even notice important situations that are affecting women all over the world, unless we are somehow affected by them. I want to think that now I am there for the young women currently fighting the good fight, that I am part of the change.




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