Being made redundant is a stressful thing to face, for most people there is the fear of the unknown, of how the mortgage will get paid, etc. and of course we often hear of voluntary redundance, but it is rarely that - I took 'voluntary' redundancy 15 years ago: the voluntary aspect was volunteer and we'll give you a good package, otherwise it will be compulsory and you'll get the legal minimum. Funny how they were able to claim there were no compulsory redundancies.
I was very lucky, in that the package was enough to pay off most of my mortgage, so that worry was minimised. I was then self employed for a year and a half, doing consultancy work, and made as much as I had been earning, with less hours. The one thing I didn't like about it, though, was the uncertainty that made forward planning difficult: what if another instruction didn't come along after this one? It always did, but it was a constant niggling thought in the back of my mind, and my wife's. Then I was approached to take on a permanent post elsewhere, and thought I'd try it, which turned out to be great until the holding company was bought by another that didn't want our bit, so sold us on to others who were keen to have it and wanted me, but I didn't like their ethics and do not consider myself a chattel to be bought and sold, so resigned - no redundancy this time! Just about to return to the consultancy work when I was offered the job I have now, an unexpected move but it suited us down to the ground, and it has been a very happy decade since.
The moral of this is that whilst redundancy can be catastrophic, it need not necessarily be so. Some people say it is the best thing that has happened to them, and it is certainly high on the list for me, so whist it may not seem like that at this instant, and it risks sounding patronising for others to say it, those of us who have been there are all willing you to get through it and find your own new successful furure - optimism and a willingness to move on can pay off, and hopefully your fledgeling photography business will take off.
I'm sure you don't need telling the areas where photography can earn well, once you find the local niche and get your name known. All the best with it!
One tip if I may, and this said without knowledge as to whether it applies in any way to you, nor if the system is in any way similar today: in my complete ignorance as to how social security worked, I had this naive idea that after 30 years of paying national insurance I could go on the dole for a few months while I established my business, with some support to tide me over - important if I had not had sufficient redundancy money to reduce the mortgage, as otherwise there could have been a risk of loss of house. Ha ha, the fiddlers can get what they want, knowing the system and how to beat it, and seemingly some manage to live well on it - but because I had some modest savings I could receive nothing until I had basically spent it all, and there was a delay of 3 months before I would be entitled to the basic jobseekers allowance (by which time I had managed to get up and running and didn't need it). If you do feel you need to try and claim on social security, find out the full position before you go in to see them, because once you have it is too late - spending any savings on equipment for your new business venture might be one legitimate way of reducing money in the bank, which you can't do once you've been to them as you may be expected to use it to live on.