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