Thursday, October 23, 2014

Amy Lacey ABIPP in Wildlife

Amy Lacey ABIPP in Wildlife

On 3rd March 2014 at the National Photography Show, I was representing the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) as an assessor and mentor.  As usual this is a very busy time for the BIPP in attracting new members to gain qualifications.  One of the beauties of belonging to an association such as the BIPP is the depth and diversity of membership and their skills.  This day proved to be particularly productive when Amy Lacey BSc presented her portfolio for review on wildlife photography.  

Amy graduated from Bristol University with a degree in Zoology.  After graduating, Amy travelled to Africa to work on an Elephant conservation project which gave her the opportunity to further her portfolio and her online gallery.  During the following 10 years Amy extended her collection of work to include big cats, wildebeest, giraffe, birdlife and primates.  Amy travelled extensively throughout Africa, Asia and South America.  Upon her return to the UK she decided that she would like to seek recognition within the premier Photographic Association - BIPP.  

Although I am recognised as an expert in wedding and portraiture photography as well as a highly respected chairman and judge, I do have the ability to recognise raw natural talent and photographic ability, Amy had these qualities in abundance.  

The initial route through the BIPP as a qualifying member, however as soon as I viewed her portfolio it became evident that this was a step she would not have to worry about.  It became immediately apparent that here was a photographer that is deeply passionate about wildlife and conservation.  During our discussion I asked Amy about her wildlife photography and she responded with the following:

"I relish the unique challenges of photographing wildlife and my background has given me a real advantage in this field of photography: my in-depth knowledge and understanding of animal behaviour enables me to capture unique and beautiful situations that tell an important story and hopefully inspire viewers to appreciate and foster a desire to protect and conserve our wild spaces and the animals that rely on them for survival."

One of the delightful elements of her portfolio was the sheer attention to detail, composition, timing and feeling for the environment around her which not only showed the animal but more importantly its natural habitat.  At this point, I questioned the luck element within her work, a rather cheeky question as many people think they are wildlife photographers just because they have been on safari.  However I realised that this work was not taken just by chance.  It took all the skills of a hunter to capture such intimate studies as these.  Amy related to a situation concerning a leopard, notoriously shy and elusive, where patience was going to be required,

"After much tracking, I encountered a female leopard who had just made a kill. Unfortunately, she was concealed behind dense undergrowth guarding her quarry. Rather than passing up the chance, I decided to wait by a nearby tree where I anticipated she may choose to rest after feeding. After more than an hour's wait, I was rewarded by her climbing into the tree where I was able to spend time with her as she rested from the heat of the mid morning sun. Even then, photography was challenging due to the density of branches. Her attention was caught for a split second by a sound which made her turn her full face to me. I was satisfied with that amount of intrusion and decided to retreat knowing I not only captured the leopard, but more importantly, a slightly different location to that which one would normally expect."

Over the coming months I was exceptionally proud and honoured for Amy to place her trust in me as her mentor.  At this point although Amy had presented her portfolio in colour I suggested that her particular submission would be embellished further if we were to convert to black and white. After a few trials we both agreed that this was the best way forward. Presentation is also vitally important. We ensured that this was going to be both sympathetic and impactive. Amy's working profile was painstakingly assembled, giving further supporting evidence to her submission. Final selection was made, densities checked and adjusted as necessary. Many submissions fail on print quality, or should I say lack of. The task of printing was undertaken by Paul Williams and needless to say Paul interpreted her work artistically. 

Fast forward two months of exceptionally hard work and considerable cost, Amy presented her portfolio in front of the judges who were highly impressed both with the content and variation. After due deliberation, the assessors decided that this submission would pass at the Licentiate level. However, it was proposed for this particular submission should be awarded an Associate standard of the BIPP. Amy was introduced to the judges by the CEO and Chairman, Chris Harper, who informed her that her panel had been upgraded to the higher level.  For the future, Amy will be working towards her fellowship. I am in no doubt that this is not beyond her capabilities and I would encourage her to start thinking about this very soon. 

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset