Thursday, July 30, 2015

Joanne Gower - ABIPP

I thought it would be interesting to vary the content of this post in as much as instead of coming from me, it is Joanne's own thoughts which makes very interesting reading.

I became a wedding photographer by accident. My best friend was getting married for the second time and asked me to do her photographs for her. In total ignorance of what it involved, I accepted, mainly because she told me if I didn’t do it, she wouldn’t have a photographer at all. I ran by the seat of my pants and did what I did by instinct. I must have done something right, because I suddenly had lots of enquiries and brides wanting to book me. For the first couple of years, I carried on, in complete happy oblivion, producing wedding images for delighted clients and not even thinking much about what I was doing. I then made the fatal error of starting to look at what other wedding photographers were doing, and by doing this; I convinced myself that I was doing the wrong thing! After all, no one else seemed to be doing what I was doing; working with available light, and the trend seemed to be for off camera flash and horror of horrors, I knew nothing of this mystical art! 

So, in a whirl of anxiety, I did various courses, bought training DVDs, read books and generally filled my mind with all sorts of new ideas. Twelve months later, I had a body of work and a collection of images that I couldn’t relate to. Whereas, in the beginning, I had had my own style and a way of working that sometimes frustrated me, but often gave me joy, I now had a collection of images that I felt disassociated from and unhappy with. In utter desperation, with a very heavy heart, and following a rather intense couple of hours one Saturday evening with a large bottle of red, I emailed Kevin Wilson asking for help. On the Sunday morning, when the phone rang, and my husband told me it was Kevin, I thought it was a wind up! Kevin’s uncanny perception was evident in his first words to me, “Had you been drinking when you sent me that email?” My shock and embarrassment were further heightened, when he followed up with “I’ve had a look at your website…” Ruing that bottle of wine and cringing at the thought of him actually looking at my work, I squirmed as I had never squirmed before!  I needn’t have worried, he followed with a cheery, “I can help you!” Despite my acute embarrassment, the relief was massive and within that first brief conversation, I learned enough to know that this was going to change the way I approached my photography forever.

Kevin mentored me for 15 months and in that time, I squirmed and suffered many times. Mainly at having to show him images that I know didn’t cut it. However, he has a unique ability to deliver feedback on your work in a way that makes you think rather than shrink! He encourages you to examine your work and to identify the weaknesses as well as pointing out the strengths. Never once did I feel that I was being criticised and I always came away from our conversations feeling positive, inspired and excited about what I might achieve. Working with Kevin gave me the confidence to be creative, the determination to work hard, the ability to be self-critical, the tenacity to keep trying and the inspiration to be different and avoid the commonplace. Mainly, I desperately didn’t want to let him down, fearing I would be the first of his many mentees to fail to make the grade! His guidance and belief in me, when I doubted my ability, kept me going and pushed me to find a way to achieve the results that I was seeking. I shed many tears (and I am sure I drove him to a few too!) and drank more than the odd glass of wine! There were a few times when I wanted to give up, and I almost fell at the final fence, when preparing my panel for my BIPP submission, but Kevin’s total confidence in my ability gave me the courage to go on.

I learned so much from working with Kevin, not just about photography, but about myself and what I am capable of if I really set my mind to it. Even now, when I am not under his expert guidance, I am continually surprised to see that each time I shoot, there is ongoing improvement and the skills that I developed under his guidance, continue to evolve and help me to grow as a photographer.

Under Kevin’s mentorship, I submitted a panel of work to the British Institute of Professional Photography with the faint hope of achieving my Licenciate qualification. To my utter astonishment, I was awarded the Associate level. Que another bottle of wine!

Kevin’s mentorship enabled me to reconnect with my own creativity. More importantly, he is a lovely person with the patience of a saint, and somehow, despite my determination to convince myself that I am crap, he gave me the confidence to be the photographer that I longed to be, and to achieve standards that I thought were beyond my reach.

If you are thinking about working with Kevin, stop thinking and sign up. You will be investing a very small amount in comparison to what you will get back!  It isn’t easy. You will work hard and Kevin does not spoon-feed you; he challenges and encourages you to seek your own solutions, offering guidance and feedback along the way. For me, this makes him a truly exception teacher, because it means that not only are you improving your own photography skills but you are also developing the skills to continually reassess your own progress and keep your work moving forward.

Working with Kevin, gave me permission to be the best photographer I can possibly be. Thank you Kevin, there are no words to express just how much this means to me!

One of the best things about Joanne is that she is constantly looking to improve and move upwards. 

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Monday, March 30, 2015

Kevin Wilson FBIPP Mentee Profile

Scott Johnson FBIPP

My first encounter with Scott Johnson was at a BIPP awards ceremony in 2014,  this was for the Peter Grugeon Trophy, this annual prestigious award is in recognition to the candidate that is deemed to have submitted the  best associate submission in the preceding twelve months.

The next occasion was at the SWPP convention in April 2014, Scott was watching the final judging  of the 20 x 16 annual competition, it was evident that Scott had taken took a keen interest in this process, particularly as he had entered the various categories, this is a valuable learning experience for anyone wanting to know "what not to do in a print competition".
During one of the breaks, Scott approached me and asked if I would mentor him to his Fellowship, both in BIPP and SWPP in wedding photography.

Scott, being full of enthusiasm could not wait to get started, a date was set in the diary for 2015 to attain his fellowship, we targeted the first assessment day , March 10th 2015.

Scott brought his portfolio to me of his Associate panel, which was of a good standard, but nowhere near enough to go to the ultimate level, fellowship.

 It was then that we decided it would be best to start from scratch and use nothing from his A submission, it is not to often that someone would want to undertake this route, however, those that know Scott will understand, he does not lack in confidence, or indeed determination and enthusiasm for the craft of fine wedding photography, which in reality is the most demanding and difficult of genres to succeed in.
There are only 18 wedding fellows in the BIPP, that shows just how rigorous and demanding it is to be successful.

If anyone was going to attempt this task, I felt he was the man that could do it. After all, he does have a Black belt in Karate, so that demonstrated to me that he can be disciplined.

Scott had developed a talent that needed to be expanded upon, it is far too easy just to plod along in the middle lane, Scott was not made that way, he possessed a great eye for location, however he was lacking in the finesse of posing his subject and control of fine lighting, this was something he could be taught, having the eye was the most important element that cannot be taught easily.

So, the journey commenced in April, initially on a 2 - 1 with one of Scott's closest friends, after this taster day Scott  took the decision immediately to start in earnest with my mentoring.

Journey is not an understatement when you consider the 400 mile round trip to Dorset each time he visited, plus the financial cost involved. During these days  we would assess his progress and identify any weaknesses that were developing.

Each time Scott came to visit during the following nine months, the path was becoming clearer for him, he was going away with a clear and precise path that he needed to pursue. He would go away full of inspiration to carry forward to the next wedding.

The  work was getting visibly stronger and refined, exhibiting the elegance within his work  was  for his clients, as well as for his own self esteem, his Associate panel by this time was a distant memory.
Design and symmetry, coupled with composition was now falling into place.

Fellowship application is a discipline that has to be given the utmost thought, care and attention with no half measures, or failure is guaranteed, no short cuts and no need to rush, it is a journey to cherish and it certainly is not a race.

 Scott wanted to achieve so desperately that he would not let anything stand in his way, his head was down and on a mission.

Scott had placed his trust in me completely, having been told by two other photographers that he was a long way off fellowship, naturally he was delighted to hear that I could see real potential in his work.

Late December 2014, we met and reviewed the work and set about making all the other vitally important issues that go into creating success, never once did Scott question decisions I made, after all, he trusted me as much as I trusted him.

Fast forward to February 2015 and we were ready to commit to final output, trimming prints, placing in the correct sequence and now Scott could do no more until March 10 th 2015 .

His work was presented in front of the assessors and a unanimous decision was taken to award

Many congratulations Scott, the journey was well worth all the time and effort you placed into this project, your future is secure and now one of the leading wedding fellows in BIPP.

Ted wishes you well.

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kevin Wilson Mentoring Profile

Sam Mcdermott ABIPP Wedding Photography

My first encounter with Sam was in 2013, although not in person.

 Sam had submitted a portfolio of wedding photographs to the British Institute of Professional Photography in consideration for a Licentiate status.

 Unfortunately on this occasion, it was unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. Nobody wants to fail, quite soul destroying. However, so much has been gained from failure, had Sam passed on his first panel, he would not be sitting in the position he is today.

 Sam being a young man full of ambition and testosterone, he was totally deflated. He was keen to see what had gone wrong, a telephone call was made, a brief discussion took place and Sam made up his mind immediately, he wanted me to mentor him, particularly as he had long been an admirer of my work. 

During our discussion, Sam informed me that he was a third generation photographer, his father and grandfather before him, so qualification was important to him, he wanted to do it for himself .

Two weeks forward he was on a plane from Belfast to spend time with me, we spent considerable time studying and  practising the techniques I have implemented, both in the studio and out on location,  in addition to attending three of my wedding workshops.

 Sam felt he needed to go right back to the beginning, this was a complete shock to me, but really just what I wanted him to say, he was prepared to take his time, develop a sense of understanding of what makes a fine image, starting with exposure and composition, reflectors, light assessment and the quality of what would work,  more importantly what would not in a given location.

Once this had been mastered, we looked at posing and composition, one step at a time until each topic was thoroughly understood. 

Body position in relation to light, shape and contour was looked at in depth, composition with a similar process followed.

Output was discussed at length, I explained that print quality and presentation would play a key role in his submission, Paul Williams 01202 732211 was the printer chosen, someone I have known for many years, best of the best. 

Enthusiasm for the craft has to be mutual, which made the process much easier for us both, I believe sincerely that if you pursue qualifications and awards, you are not just in the business for the monetary gain, it is a two way process, it is about giving of your very best to the clients.  once this process has been completed, you will always be aware of pretty much everything that may come your way during the course of a wedding day.

As the weeks passed, his wedding portfolio became much stronger, narrative was taking shape, finesse shone through after each week. He was beginning to create the style he craved for.

As 2014 progressed the foundations became visibly stronger in his work, he could have submitted in the autumn of that year, although we could have placed a panel in front of the assessors that would have ticked the boxes,  this young man was not wanting to tick any boxes, he wanted to impress.

(After all, have you seen his ostrich skin shoes and sharp suits?)

 He was excited about some of the weddings coming his way in the autumn and winter. It was decided to hang fire, this was to prove to be a very wise decision, particularly as his prediction of flexible couples , keen to help in his quest for him to be successful combined with fine locations were going to really reinforce the folio.

Fast forward to December 2014, all images for discussion were collated and printed, ready for the first quarter A & Q day, March 10th 2015.  On this particular day, I also had two other mentees in attendance, more of that in the next blog

Up at the crack of dawn and Sam was on his way to the airport to exhibit his application for his Licentiate qualification, something the assessors were unwilling to do , instead he was instantly upgraded to the higher level of Associateship and nominated for the highly coveted Peter Grugeon award for the very best Associate panel of 2015.

It would not surprise me in the slightest if I were not here in the next 12 - 18 months, writing about him on attaining his Fellowship, so father and grandfather, you can take great pleasure on what you have instilled in this son, grandson and lovely guy.

Today, I feel proud to have helped him achieve his goal, a friendship has evolved which will last for many years to come, a few fine wines will undoubtedly be drunk this evening in Belfast.

Many congratulations young man. 

Sam Mcdermott ABIPP ARGB

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

" James Musselwhite FMPA FSWPP "

I have known James for around 12 years, he was in his twenties at the time, working for a Venture studio.

 I recall thinking to myself,  far too nice and talented to be working for an employer.
Venture was never really going to allow him the freedom that he would ultimately need if he wanted to become a photographer in his own right, purely for the simple reason that he was employed to do a job for the company and he would have been under restrictions. 

He set a goal to have his own business, which he now has, working with his young wife Felicity, her role in the business is partly as a creative, but more than that, her support for him has been unwavering, pushing him and instilling confidence.

 As a partnership it is easy to see how well the clients see them working alongside each other, they are a young , handsome dynamic couple, wanting to produce work that is perfect.

James approached me several years ago and asked if I would mentor him, after looking at his work, I decided that it would be something I would enjoy, particularly as James shares the same passion for his work that I feel for mine. I explained that it would be a bumpy ride, but with effort and drive he could do it. 

Success comes as a result of working hard, nobody is born a great photographer, it is just the same as in any other walk of life, you get out what you put in. James applied himself to the task ahead, working towards his Associate grade in the Master Photographers Association , this he achieved around 3 years ago with a collection of beautifully executed studio portraits. His panel was well planned throughout and flowed from one creation to the next, all printed in B&W, naturally it was very well received by the assessors.

 A couple of examples from James' Associate panel.

It was pretty clear that James was a Master of subtle lighting, it was this very strong element which went into his Fellowship. I often feel that once you have been awarded an Associateship, the step to Fellowship is all about refinement and finesse.

 James placed everything into pursuing qualifications, which has seen him evolve into a brilliant photographer, he now stands alongside the very best of the best in the business of photography, he will be looked up to by many who will be aspiring to follow in his footsteps, few will have the patience or skill do that, however, with the right attitude it can be done. 

Countless hours, days, weeks and possibly months are required if you want to be seen as one of the best at what you do, in return, this rewards his clients with a much higher standard of work as a result of James's dedication. 

This is exactly the approach that I wish all my mentees demonstrate during the time it takes to achieve their qualification, it may be a licentiate level, associate, or fellowship, the very highest award available to photographers within the professional associations. Or it could be to just have a goal to improve their photography skills, nevertheless, dedication is required.

In the case of James Musselwhite, this was exactly the case, he set about assembling a new submission, this time for the highest prize of all Fellowship, on September 19th 2014  he was  awarded not only with his fellowship, but went on to be rewarded further with the finest submission of 2014 in the Master Photographers Association. This is an accolade to be applauded, the best of the best. 

"More than anything, a fellowship submission, should bear the insignia of a true craftsman and master of his craft, the panel will sit comfortably as a set, truly the work of one person with a distinguishable style." ( kevin wilson )

January 2015 saw James excel once again, this time with another fellowship for the same panel at the Societies convention held at the Hilton Metropole in London.

James acceptance speech at the awards dinner was truly humbling, just as he is himself, his wife Fliss was there to see him receive the highest acclaim, where he duly told all in the audience that baby number two was on the way, a very fitting tribute to end the awards night.

I for one will always hold you in high esteem, you have deserved these accolades and a panel to be so proud of. But more than that, you are my friend. Let the portraits speak for themselves.

Jolly Good Fellow

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset