A HIGH-FLYING career woman quit the security of a 20-year job in finance to follow her dream of being a professional photographer.

And only 18 months after setting up her business, Janet Broughton has won a prestigious award.

While working as a financial controller, Mrs Broughton, from Harwood, always felt she should be doing something else.

But it was not until five years ago that she found what she was looking for after taking up photography as a hobby.

Mrs Broughton, aged 47, soon realised she was talented and signed up to distance learning courses to retrain.

Once she had gained the necessary qualifications, she quit her job and worked part-time at a photography company while she built up her business, J Broughton Photography.

At the beginning of last year, she left the photography company and launched her own business full-time, specialising in portraits of children, newborn babies and horses.

Mrs Broughton joined The Guild of Photographers and submitted one of her portraits of nine-year-old Lydia Robinson to their monthly awards and won a coveted Gold Bar — a nationally recognised award.

She said: “I was really pleased about this award because I was one of seven people that were chosen for it out of 2,000 entries.

“I wasn’t very creative when I was in my 20s. It wasn’t until I hit my 40s that I found my creative side.

“I’m proof that you can change your career at any age. It’s worth the risk leaving the security of a regular income to pursue a dream if you know it’s what you really want.”

Mrs Broughton had worked in accounts since leaving college.

She said: “I have always done something accounts-related, but in the past 15 years I have had this feeling that I should be doing something else.

“I would say this to people and they would laugh, but I felt that being a financial controller, which I was before I changed my career, was not right for me.

“I wasn’t actively looking for anything, but I really liked the idea of doing something more creative.

“I started taking photos about four or five years ago. I absolutely loved shooting portraits in a more relaxed setting as opposed to in a studio, so I decided I wanted to do it as a career.”

Mrs Broughton handed in her notice at her finance job in April, 2011, and started working towards creating her own business.

The mother-of-one said: “Thankfully, everyone at work was very supportive, as was my husband, Jim.

“I wanted to make sure I invested in the right training — and I still do because you can always develop your skills as an artist, whatever job you have, otherwise you stand still.

“I think the biggest thing is getting used to going out and being with different people each day.

“When you’ve been in an office for a long time and see the same group of people each day it’s a bit of a shock not to be doing that anymore.”

Lesley Thirsk, director of the Guild, said: “I’m delighted that Janet has achieved this award. The Guild has very demanding standards when judging photographic competitions.”