Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lenses and Cameras, A Question Of (Auto) Focus

As a photographer who highly values pin sharp images,  any technology that can help improve the consistency and accuracy of focus is essential and something worth investigating.

Lens calibration used to involve sending camera bodies together with all lenses back to Canon or Nikon service (at much expense in cost and time!) they would make sure everything was correctly adjusted. However, in recent years camera manufacturers have included within the camera a micro focus adjustment setting on their mid-range and professional cameras. Great though this feature is it puts the onus on us, the photographers, to understand and make use of this functionality.

I've recently been made aware of software that makes the process of auto focus calibration straight forward and gives a high level of confidence the calibrated values are correct. Having recently replaced my two main camera bodies with the latest and greatest from Canon it seemed a good time to have them calibrated.

It's easy to assume a lens and camera body, particularly pro bodies and lenses would just work perfectly together, sadly this is not always the case! As an example, the brand new 35mm f1.4 mark 2 prime needed virtually no adjustment on one camera body, the software clearly showed my other main camera body required significant adjustment with this same lens, an adjustment that would be noticeable in my real world images.

Below are a couple of images, one of the software showing how much difference it made to the 35mm lens and I couldn't not include an image of Ted (who supported me throughout the calibration process this morning!).

Great software, highly recommended, Reikan FoCal Pro, more details on their website at http://www.fo-cal.co.uk

Screen shot showing FoCal Pro with the before and after image crops

Ted, along with the FoCal Target, 35mm prime after calibration, shot 10000 ISO 1/60th,  f1.4 wide open.

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Monday, July 04, 2016

Audrey Kelly ASWPP

Independence Day.

In recent years, more and more females  have shown just what they can do within what was once perceived to be a very much male dominated profession, this can only be applauded. I would think that it must be very close to 50-50 men v women today.

Welcome to another young lady who is setting the pace with exceptionally high standards for others to follow in her footsteps. Audrey Kelly, based in  Dungiven, Northern Ireland who only started her business in 2012  is rapidly making a name for not only her business, C2 design and her clients but in a much wider context in the professional world of photography.

Audrey is first and foremost a wife and mother to two children, so how she manages to fit everything that she does into her business and every day life, one can only begin to imagine, she is a bundle of energy, never short of conversation and very genuine. Once she has your trust, you have a loyal friend. Something a mentee, mentor relationship requires.

I first met Audrey at SWPP in 2014 during the SWPP conference in London, she expressed interest in my mentoring services, guiding her her towards her qualification journey and improve her work towards her goal.

 I asked her what she wanted and she replied, to become qualified within the SWPP, I asked if she was already at Licentiate level, her reply was,

 "no, however, I would like to eventually get Fellowship". So, no shortage of  confidence there ".

Admirable  to set your sights and to aim high I thought. I then asked what genre she would like to qualify in? Her response , " both wedding and portrait ". That was something that took me by surprise as most photographers want to specialise in one particular genre. I looked at her work which was of a good standard in both styles, however, she needed direction and I felt it would be a considerable period of time before she would have work exceptional enough to submit a panel at Fellowship level, however,  I told Audrey it would be possible  get her wish if she was prepared to work, albeit not Fellowship at this point, but a starting point for her to progress.

  I felt that Audrey was not quite prepared for me to be so honest and candid about the work and point out what I considered to be quality work for clients, but not necessarily up to standard to go anywhere near to Fellowship. Honesty and integrity for both mentee and mentor  
 has to be total.

I think at that stage, Audrey needed time to take stock and I did not hear from her for a few months, thinking that perhaps she had decided to wait until she was in a stronger position as a starting point.

Eventually I was delighted to receive a call from her saying that she was now wanting to start the process of improvement. It was decided to work on two styles to gain her Licentiate, both wedding and portrait. Audrey then went on to say,

  " this work has to be mine, I do not want to copy anyones style "

During the work evaluation and assessment period we undertook, Audrey said that she takes huge inspiration from  horror movies, often watching them until the early hours of the morning. She adored the cinematic quality and wished to bring that into a personal project she was doing. At this point, I was thinking,  nutcase, then she went further and said she often visited clairvoyants ( Mystic Meg ).
Personally, I do not believe in all that mumbo jumbo, however, it turns out that she predicted stardom for Audrey, who am I to argue ?

This particular portrait above, was entered into the PPANI awards and Audrey was delighted to take first prize and earn the title of , PPANI Photographer of The Year, a huge honour.

Creative time followed in  France for a couple of weeks took place in 2015 which proved to be so fruitful. 

Upon return, she contacted me and we looked through the complete set. I was amazed at what she had managed to achieve, I suggested we should submit a panel to SWPP for January 2016, top secret with nobody but the two of us aware. I felt that we had enough to get an Associateship. I said it was a shame that she had not taken more images as it would have had a very strong chance of gaining her a Fellowship. She replied;

  " no worries, I have something else in mind "

 Not only has she enjoyed wining competitions for her work in the UK, but following on from her outstanding achievements at the SWPP conference in London, Audrey is currently receiving  enormous success  internationally after her recent entries into the WPPI,  Las Vegas in 2016.

 It was at this convention where her fine art work was assessed as being of outstanding quality, creatively and unique, make no mistake with competition entries coming from all over the world this would have been a very tough arena in which to have your work assessed.

 I am certain within the space of a few years we will all be drawing inspiration and admiring her work.

This print scored 92 at WPPI 2016

I am certain we will discover an awful lot more about her work and progress, her attitude is one of complete dedication to her craft, to be seen as one of the very best in Ireland and much further afield. I can see her becoming one of the future influencers in photography, already she has been invited to speak at the SWPP conference in 2017, where I am sure her classes will be full with delegates keen to listen to what she has to say and show.

Once Audrey decides to do something, she does it, throws herself headlong into whatever work she is currently doing, it may be wedding, portrait or her fine art work, which is where her heart lies strongly.
 She is prepared to travel to learn from the very best tutors available, willing to invest both financially and a considerable amount of time away from her family in her quest for personal and professional development. Interestingly, Audrey travels extensively to attend workshops that appeal to her, USA and Europe recently.

Printing by Paul Williams 01202 732211

So, there it is, many congratulations Audrey, it might be time to visit Mystic Meg once more:)

More of Audrey Kelly at

www.c2photographyanddesign.co.uk and my instagram accounts @c2photoanddesign @akfineart and @akellyphoto


kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mark Seymour FSWPP

Once again I find myself in an extremely happy situation writing a blog about one of my incredibly successful mentees.

 This time it is to celebrate and also congratulate Mark Seymour who has become the first photographer in the UK to receive a fellowship in Documentary Wedding Photography. Fellowship is a very arduous process, but just looking at the work here, you have to agree it is both well deserved and worthwhile.

Wedding photography being the hardest discipline  to achieve this status in.

Mark has worked tirelessly to achieve his goal, on the way  many setbacks throughout the journey, mainly as a result of listening to advice that was possibly not in his best interests, or by photographers that were not fully understanding this particular genre of wedding photography and his work.

 When Mark gained his Associateship around five years ago, he expressed to being somewhat disappointed not to have been upgraded to his Fellowship. That particular day I was serving as chairman of the panel and suggested that he should persevere and apply at a later stage, just as his work evolved and became more refined.

 Had he been successful on that occasion, I wonder if Mark would have pushed himself to produce this, therefore, I believe it was the best thing that could have  happened to him and his continuing growth as the superb photographer that he has become  today.

 He suggested that if ever he decided to seek fellowship he would come to me asking  my help to mentor in assisting him to achieve that aim, however, we drifted apart somewhat, seeing each other occasionally, messaging on Facebook and occasional telephone calls.

 Eighteen months ago, Mark called me to say he was applying to the MPA for his Fellowship the following day, I was a little taken aback and slightly disappointed that he had not asked me to guide

I wished him well and he kindly offered to send a link through to me showing his layout and selection, as soon as I observed it, I had severe reservations about his selection and formed the opinion he may well not be successful, sadly that turned out to be the case.

 Like anyone that is passionate about their work, Mark was naturally somewhat saddened by the result, he telephoned me on the return journey from the train after the assessment to inform me that he had been unsuccessful, he said , just as many do at the time.  " I will not submit again ". It was pretty evident from the tone in his voice for anyone that listened just how disappointed he was.

Fast forward one year, following telephone conversations Mark visited me here in Bradford Peverell, we discussed his work and revisited it,  over a period of weeks we had finally assembled a very strong submission. Some of which is published here.

Mark is in my opinion one of the very best in documentary photography, along with Jeff Ascough.
He is highly sought after in the Jewish community and he is the first person most will turn to when a marriage is in the family
His use of light, composition and narrative is exemplary, impact and moments caught without intrusion.

Taking a back seat and capturing a true emotive moment, right lens, right place.

This truly is an amazing capture, if ever there was a decisive moment, surely this has to be just that.

Once again, choice of lens, viewpoint all there . And anticipating the peak action.

Final celebratory first dance, full of action and expression on the bride.

I think you will all agree that this brief insight into what Mark achieves on a wedding day is truly inspirational. There are many that consider themselves to be true wedding documentary photographers, none approach anywhere near this.

So, what next ?

Mark then showed me some of his work that he had documented during the demise of his father who was suffering from dementia. Mark had recorded the complete period from when his father was diagnosed, right up until the very end.

I suggested that he should consider submitting this as well, although Mark was unsure as to whether he had enough to make a complete set at Fellowship, once again, we revisited the hard drive and pieced together the whole story, very moving and poignant. This shows just how dedicated Mark is to documenting life and indeed sadly in the case of his father, his resulting passing.



Unfamiliar surroundings.

Dedication from his wife.


The end is nigh.

Powerful in the extreme, emotional , definitely deserving of the title of " Best Fellowship Application  SWPP Convention, January 2016.

Words from Mark.

I’ve been a professional photographer for over twenty years and in that time not only have I established a very successful wedding photography business, I have really carved out my own distinctive style of photographing and editing.

My photographic style is embedded in the genre of documentary photojouralisim, also described as reportage, photorealism and photoessay.

Documentary photography as its’ finest engages the audience in someone else’s story, their experiences, life. They evoke an emotional response in the viewer, making you smile, laugh, cry and even shock.

My photographs whether they are wedding, my personal projects on street, are totally unorchestrated, natural, and a truthful representation of the subject. I capture candid moments that together will tell the subjects unique story with all the emotions and will provide a lifetime of memories.

I like to use a lot of beautiful contrasting black and white when I edit, as this enhances the intensity and depth of the image, often likened to the work of fine artists in the renaissance period using a technique called chiaroscuro. For me documentary photography is most effective when processed in black and white. Mayfair fine art dealer William Lansbury recently came across my work and quoted “If Caravaggio had a camera these are the type of images he would take”.

Great documentary photography requires all the elements of photography in its highest artistic form, including good composition and beautiful lighting. In addition there is a crucial component that elevates a documentary photograph to one that truly captures a moment in time, telling the story of the people within the image with all its emotion, and as a photographer it is about having the experience to know where to position yourself so that you can capture that illusive moment within a single frame.

Over my career I have won many awards, had my photographs published, even the National Portrait Gallery in London holds my portrait of Jimmy Choo in the national archives. My website has the many testimonials I am proud to share from my many wonderful couples. But gaining a fellowship was a very important milestone to achieve in my career. For me documentary photography, particularly in wedding photography, is highly skilled and requires a photographer to work at a level beyond the formal posed traditional wedding photographer. Within the photography community there was a lot of debate as to whether a documentary panel could reach fellowship status. To have my peers judge my work at fellowship level was an incredible reward for all my hard work but also I hoped that it would set the standard and inspire other documentary photographers to develop their style.

The wedding panel reflected my work in the Jewish community, which is one of the areas of photography I am probably most well known for. There is such a contrast when shooting a Jewish wedding, between the black suits and hats of the rabbis, deep in serious conversation at the synagogue, through to the party atmosphere and energetic dancing of the wedding reception. I want my couples to enjoy their day, engage with their friends and family and leave me to capture the unique story of their day with all its emotional moments, naturally.

The dementia panel has a deeply emotional connection for me as the twenty images have been selected from my personal project, documenting the decline in my father’s health following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. John Easterby, former Head of Magnum UK, contacted me saying ‘These are the best and most poignant images I have ever seen on this subject’. I had not expected the worldwide media attention that the images would then receive after the Alzheimer’s society heard about the images, and Ronnie’s story would go viral, helping to show others what this is like in real life. The images have led to interviews on Sky News and articles worldwide from Japan to The Mail online and the BBC.

I have to be honest and say the process of getting my panel ready was more of a challenge than I expected. I have such a personal connection with my images, but I had to look at them again to critique them at another level to be able to select twenty images that together gave a complete story, but were also a statement of my technical ability and my creativity, as well as reflecting by passion and unique style.

Having a mentor was key in this process; being able to have another critical eye to challenge my decisions and make me evaluate every choice made me raise my own bar. It enabled me to think and question my panel until I knew I had a set of images that were going to represent what I wanted to say about me as a photographer.

My double fellowship is an immense achievement and I am so proud. Being able to share, work with and inspire other photographers is a really important part of my career now, and I love the time I now dedicate to my documentary training courses. But I am still learning and looking to be inspired with each new project and situation.

  1. kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Susan Renée ABIPP

Selecting a mentor can be quite a daunting experience and a very tricky decision, one not to be taken lightly. It would be extremely unwise to select someone that does not possess the ability to highlight  strengths and weaknesses and of course then to demonstrate how to make the difference to their career. Once the strengths and weaknesses have been ascertained, then and only then do you have starting point to make the improvement.

Susan plucked up the courage and called me. Her ethos is, to give her clients  her very best at all times, that sat well with me. I have always driven forward to be the very best that I can possibly be.

This call was to be a career changing move for her, Susan was of the opinion that although she was producing work which her clients loved, the artist inside  was waiting to be realised and her full potential to be exhibited for all to see. I was confident that Susan had complete faith in me.

 Susan operates a highly successful wedding and portrait business in Aberdeen, Scotland.  Her clients are falling over themselves to assure the wedding day would be covered by her, so why would she wish to go further?

 The answer could be discovered by studying  her previous career of teaching, reaching the dizzy heights of not only Head Teacher, but Head Teacher of all Head Teachers in Scotland. Not wishing to rest on her laurels, Susan took the decision to enhance her skills in available light, composition, and refinement of her photography.

Susan also desired to gain a qualification within the BIPP, we decided we would work towards a Licentiate, but aim for Associateship status. This calls for dedication and perseverance, which was never in doubt in Susan's case.

This was going to prove to be somewhat of a logistical nightmare, Aberdeen being  the opposite end of the country to sleepy Bradford Peverell in West Dorset.

Travel would involve  a flight from Aberdeen to Manchester, followed by a second one to Southampton,  finally a train ride through the New Forest, from Southampton to Dorset. Pretty much a full day of travel with a very early morning alarm call.
Additionally there would be an emotional price to pay being away from her beloved sons, Spencer and Cameron for three days.

 The photograph below is one that was taken by one of her best friends, I personally think this sums up how she feels about her boys. It is a personal favourite of hers.

Susan had asked me to consider taking her to the next level, not wanting to take advantage of anyone or discredit my mentoring business, I would need to see the basics were already in place, if the photographer is not experienced enough, I would turn them away until the time came that they are ready to push themselves forward. It would be extremely  misleading and somewhat devious to tell someone that they were ready, far better to wait until the time is right to take the step up. It demands time and patience to achieve something worthwhile.

I studied a Susan's work displayed on her website and immediately knew I could assist her to become a superior photographer. Her site demonstrated to me that I would certainly be able and highly delighted to assist her in the process, however, it needed to be tweaked to take her to the higher standards needed to gain her qualification .

Looking at diaries, this was  never going to be easy when looking after a family, we decided to take the three days consecutively, July 14th - July 17th 2014. During this period, I became to understand who Susan was and just how talented she was already, but lacking confidence in her work.

The second day was going to be a location tutorial in Milton Abbey, this would  be led by Susan this could have proven to be quite intimidating unless it is handled skillfully and indeed  sensitively, however, it is essential in order for the mentee to grasp the subtle differences in light control and body posture.

Finally the third day was back in the classroom to go through a comprehensive set of notes on the delicate lighting employed by myself, something I have been using for 25 years.

The following weeks and months, Susan set out to capture the work needed, gradually her submission was building into a fine body of work. Body posture was imposed dramatically, casual posing and composition as in the portrait of the groom below.

Susan had it in her mind out to capture something special at each and every wedding she attended, this proved to give her a focus, as opposed to just hoping something would present itself in front of her. In this instance, elegance and refinement combined with subtle lighting assured her of a timeless classic.

While admiring this sensitively handled portrait, it demonstrates to me just how skilled Susan was in both capturing and creating this poignant study, the bride grasping a framed photograph of her mother who had recently passed away. This would have required trust on both sides, I personally feel this is one to be extremely proud of, the expression says it all. Mum would so loved to have been there at her daughters wedding.

Nothing was going to spoil this brides day, determined top get something worthwhile  Susan
has asked the bride to venture out into the snow, a slow shutter speed has captured this snowy scene to perfection.

January 2016, Susan visited me once again, this time to select the submission to BIPP, it soon became evident that we had more than we required and the selection process took place, at this stage I was very confident that the panel would not only make the target , but exceed that and was upgraded to Associateship on March 2nd.

 Looking at the available light portrait in the final image, handled with precision, detail from highlight to shadow, the work of a true professional wedding photographer.

Many congratulations Susan Renée.

Here is Susan's Facebook post in celebration

I'm somewhat overwhelmed and humbled to let you all know that I received my Wedding Associateship with the BIPP today. I had submitted what I believed to be a Licentiateship Panel so, as you can imagine, I am absolutely shocked and delighted! A lot of blood, sweat and actual tears went into the submission (particularly the supporting evidence), but the journey to get there, ie the taking of the pictures, was an extremely pleasurable one thanks to the mentoring, encouragement, belief and company of Kevin Wilson
I began making my visits to Dorchester on Tuesday 15th July, 2014 and the improvement in my work in the last 18 months is incredible. Kevin has taught me to look at light in a different way and to be more confident when posing clients. To be honest, most of the people I work for and with won't ever ask whether I'm qualified of not, but they undoubtedly have and will continue to reap the benefits of having 'Kevin's voice in my ear' when it matters on their wedding day. 
So, Mr Kevin Wilson, I salute you. You are a wonderful and gracious teacher (and I should know wink emoticon ), and I appreciate everything you have done for me and my boys. And finally, I hope this doesn't mean I don't get to visit Ted, ahem, I mean YOU, ever again.....?!

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset