Wednesday, December 11, 2019

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Rachel Twigger LBIPP

I am delighted and yet equally excited for Rachel, to announce that she has recently qualified as a full Licentiate member of the British Institute of Professional Photography.

 Rachel who lives in Ilkley, West Yorkshire 
has been working with myself over the last 12 months. Her journey started with this email November 2018.

Hope you’re having a lovely Friday; today’s weather in Yorkshire is simply stunning, hope it’s the same with you!

I am contacting you to enquire about the mentoring programmes you do and wonder if it would be possible to have a chat with you about how it works, what sort of cost is involved and whether you’d be prepared to take me on!

It’s taken me a good while to pluck up the courage to write to you, but today is the day, no more messing about ;-)

Looking forward to speaking with you,

Kindest regards,

Rachel Twigger "

So, what is mentoring? According to the dictionary it is an adviser to an inexperienced person. Looking deeper you could say, a consultant, tutor, guru, trainer, teacher, confidante or instructor.

I personally feel it is a combination of all the above. There is no magic short cut that can guarantee you success without time and effort, not to mention a cost financially. Therefore it is imperative to choose someone that produces work that inspires you, just as Rachel has done in her email. In addition it is wise to select someone that truly understands what is required. I have served as an assessor, judge and chairperson of all the associations and at all levels. I have also mentored some of the finest photographers practising.

When I consider whether a mentee is suitable, primarily i am looking for someone that posseses aptitude as opposed to an attitude or ego.
Reading Rachel's words, it is easy to see that she is one that does not have an ego, it is plain to anyone that encounters her will without doubt reach the conclusion of how much she loves photography.

 Her willingness and desire to understand the finer points is infectious and if we could bottle that, everyone would be a winner, just as she is proving to be.

 It would be pointless in working with a mentee that is not prepared to work hard to achieve a set goal.So, I want to be clear that it is not going to be a pat on the back from the doctor .

Rachel is the one with the aptitude, it did not take me long to realise that she has enormous talent and a desire to be as good as she can possibly be, not just for herself, more importantly she wanted her clients to receive the finest work she could produce. It was evident that she wanted her clients to be aware of her qualifications within a professional body.

Rachel agreed dates with myself and decided that as distance was considerable, it would be useful to cover the three days, the fashionable term now is a " retreat ". :) Fancy name that has little relevance as far as I a can see.

I live in West Dorset, in a tiny village without street lighting, gas or even a pub. However, we do have a fine bed and breakfast in the village that overlooks the meandering river Frome. Nickie the proprietor does a fabulous breakfast. Naturally,  if I am to recommend, I have to taste and experience it myself, so a retreat and a treat is what it is. I hasten to add, plenty pubs nearby with warm cosy fires. 

Three days is quite demanding and knowledge needs to be digested, evenings are not just for relaxing, it is to absorb the information that I share. This invariably leads us to discuss further during an evening out, with a fine wine.

Initial assessment of Rachel's work was extremely pleasing, it had a latent quality and talent that assured me that it would not be long before she qualified, 11 months later she did just that. Her work was assessed in October 2019.

Interestingly, Rachel's preference is to capture her work on film, mainly on medium format cameras' Pentax 6 x 7 (aka) Sam Haskins and  Fuji Pro 400H.

Here is an example of an image  that Rachel captured on film, I think you will agree that Rachel has an eye for styling and scouting for location. Beautifully backlit subject in a fine setting.

A relaxed pose with an excellent backdrop, no white sky to draw your eyes away from the main subject.

Rachel has demonstrated to the BIPP that she is equally at home and comfortable with studio work , light ratios and exposures all well executed. Her control of the situation results in portraits that will stand the test of time.

One of the first qualities I wish to instill with my mentees is to slow down. Shooting film demands just that, unless you have money to burn. Digital allows photographers to shoot endless imagery, hoping that one will be brilliant, this is not the best way to learn.

Film and medium format cameras demand skill, firstly, exposure has to be correct, shutter speed, aperture , composition carefully selected, all prior to releasing the shutter. Exposing for film correctly is an art in itself. This discipline has now been carried over into her digital work, time is saved in editing when exposures and colour balance are consistent, who wants to spend all day in front of Photoshop?

Rachel's personality as a warm human being is pretty evident within the expressions she manages to get, so trust from her subject is assured and that lowers any barriers between the photographer and client, so being a people person is one of the most important attributes. I suppose that goes without saying, especially as she is a Yorkshire lass.

Environmental portraiture is a genre that I have done from the very first time I picked up a camera. It is portraiture that is desirable and if handled well as Rachel has, it can command revenue that clients can appreciate as value for money being well spent.

Rachel and I are actively working together in order to qualify as an Associate, something well within her grasp.I will add a few more examples of her work for you to enjoy, then let you read what Rachel's personal thoughts are on this wonderful journey she has participated in.

A slight change of angle results in another relaxed portrait

Studio work

The background has been exposed correctly with a hair light that is not too dominant, clothing colour coordinated.

Photography for me began early, before I was 10 years old I had my own camera and begged my parents to buy me film!
My father was a great amateur photographer, as was my grandfather, so I was used to being around cameras and I remember loving pictures from being very young. Photographs of people and places have always been incredibly precious to me.
Here is a portrait of me as a child a picture which encapsulate my passion for photographs and memories.  This is a portrait my Dad took of me.  He developed and printed it himself. It’s incredibly special to me.   Through this picture my Mum remembers every tiny detail, the time of day, the room we were in, the jumper knitted by my Grandmother… it not only brings back that moment, but the sights, the sounds, the smells, even what she ate that day!

So perhaps it was inevitable that although I have tried landscapes, still life and other photographic genres, it is portraiture that has always been the one that fires me up.  Through every fibre of my being, I believe in taking photos of people – they don’t always seem special in the moment the shutter is pressed, because what you take a picture of, is right in front of you. But 5, 10, 15 years down the line, those pictures can mean everything. 
I’ve always wanted to be a photographer, but instead fell into a corporate career which has been good to me. My desire to take pictures never left me though, and my wedding present from my husband was a beautiful Nikon camera and lenses (all film – we’ve been married a while!). It was enough to reignite my passion for photography and once our children came along, my camera soon turned towards them.
After second shooting at many weddings and doing my own portrait work, I realised that it is not only my passion for capturing moments (both ordinary and extraordinary) which drives me, but also the interaction and engagement with my subjects which I love.  Working with someone, getting to know them, helping them to relax and actually enjoy being in front of the camera… I’ve found this can be a transformative and confidence-building experience for people.
So I’d discovered that portraiture was my “thing” but I realised that my work was not living up to my expectations.
I’d studied for a GCSE and attended many workshops alongside my corporate job, but I’d reached a stalemate – my photography had got to a reasonable standard, but not to the level I wanted. I couldn’t see what I didn’t like in my pictures and knew I needed some more personalised help to move me forward. 
I’d followed Kevin’s work for a while and decided to reach out to him – it felt like a big step, he’s mentored so many great names that I wondered whether he’d even consider taking me on! After a telephone conversation though, I knew that he would be able to help. He was very encouraging and very supportive and we were both sure he could guide me through the process of developing my skills.
For me, having Kevin as a mentor is not about him teaching me his style, Kevin’s work is stunning but I don’t want to be his clone, my work will ultimately be very different because I see things differently. However, he is a master. Of light, of composition, of subject, of colour tones and balance. And his breadth and depth of knowledge is second to none. After a couple of mentoring sessions, I knew things had already changed and I was starting to “see” things differently.  
If this was all I learned from Kevin, that would have been enough, but what turned out to be more important for me was that he has restored my faith and trust in myself. It’s so easy to criticise your own work, so easy to get down on yourself. I’d convinced myself that I was rubbish! But to have someone of Kevin’s stature and experience giving me a balanced perspective of my work (yes, there’s a lot to work on, but there’s also a lot that’s good about it!) started to re-build my faith in myself.  Learning to trust my perspective and my vision will take time but Kevin has had a hugely positive impact on building my confidence doing something I love… life changing!
The next steps for me are to find my “jam”. I feel like I’ve found my subject matter, I have new technical knowledge and insight, although I recognise that refining this will be a lifelong process. Now I need to discover my unique perspective on how to photograph people and will continue to work with Kevin as my mentor; I have every faith that with his guidance and encouragement, I will 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Janice Ward LBIPP

I believe Janice's calling was always going to involve artistic content, having achieved an A at A level in that subject during her education it was going to feature in her career.

 The perfect example of Janice and her spontaneity is within this  captivating, delightful candid portrait, had it been taken by the famous Cartier Bresson, it would be applauded as a masterpiece, However, it is every bit as good.

This lady has lived a full life and does not care what people may think or say, because she is an individual and full of confidence. The expressive hands, cigarette ash and glasses, headscarf all add to who this lady is.

This portrait  is making me want to know so much more about her, it is a photograph that will always carry universal appeal to photographers.

Initially, Janice trained within the NHS, this saw her becoming a highly skilled physiotherapist specialising in Musculoskeletal problems, a profession she loved .

Unfortunately, illness took hold with her developing a form of epilepsy and later unable to speak. This came at a time Janice was enjoying life as a Senior physiotherapist and In the Private sector  these are her words and her story. 

"A routine tonsillectomy shook up my career path suddenly , when after the op, it was clear something had gone wrong when I couldn’t speak. As I was recovering, I travelled home to arrive to see the news  breaking of the twin towers attack. at that point I also felt my own career was crashing down.

 Being unable to communicate verbally  had a profound effect on my personal and professional life. It was career ending.  I had a choice to stay indoors unemployable or venture out and educate myself whilst relearning to speak once more. I decided it was time for me to make decisions."

I enrolled on a Foundation Diploma course in Art and Design at The University of Gloucester, Cheltenham. It was not easy but I would write information down if I couldn’t make myself understood. At best I sounded deaf but I could now speak a little.

I studied Art History, Graphic Design, life drawing and photography. I spent time developing black and white film and I got my first tiny Sony Cybershot with a 3 megapixel sensor.

I took some images of my nephews just sitting facing into the sun with their sunglasses on but altered each slightly to suit their characters, I loved those portraits and they were carefully enlarged up and have been displayed on my sisters wall for years, once again proving how valuable photography can be to families and the wider world.

This was first indication of what I was going to love in Photography later.

At this point I was only seeing my husband at weekends so we decided it would be nice to have some professional family portraits taken by a cousin who is a wedding photographer. She took our family photos and immediately I said I would like to do this.

 She advised me to do a course online which I did and got my USA Diploma in Professional studies in Photography in 2016 at this time shooting on a Nikon D40 and kit lens. 

The boys were still really young  so Initially I dabbled In stock photography and  enjoyed the freedom that this brought to me. I invested in a Canon 5D Mk 111  and purchased a range of lenses in different focal lengths. 

I decided to further my career by attending a course in America, however just before I left I had a feeling something was missing.

Having become aware of Kevin Wilson's images recently and realising I had referred a friend to one of his workshops that I was unable to attend at that point. I emailed Kevin and left a message never expecting anything to come of it.

I was particularly impressed by his accolades spanning decades and his consistency and clear style. He had perfected what I was looking for even though I suspected weddings may not be my specialism. However, weddings are portraits of people after all.

I had been relatively successful winning numerous prestigious accolades  10 bronze awards in Child portraits, creative portraits and contemporary portrait categories for my studio work It felt good but the feeling I was off track was now growing.

I called Kevin , we had a conversation about how he would be able to help me. Subsequently, I booked a training session. Soon I was back out shooting outdoors, soon I was learning how to be myself again. I was feeling vibrant about my future, realising that I could pursue the path I wished to follow.

I wanted to address my weaknesses I didn’t have a consistent style. I wasn’t really understanding printing  and I was lost because I hadn’t found what was important to me in my own photography..

The first session with Kevin I was bit stressed as I hadn’t really thought about how many accolades he has won and worried I was way out of my depth. Having had an art background though meant that for me being mentored felt like I was following in the artists tradition of studying under a Master it really suited me . This is one of the reasons I often refer to Kevin Wilson as 'The Master.

So before I met him I got really nervous. I need not have been. He has a very good way of guiding and teaching so it all seems to happen very naturally if you pay attention.
I implemented everything I learnt immediately.

 He started to understand me more and realised I needed to find my own style using my strengths. He realised I wasn’t looking to necessarily look like his style, he suggested I go to view Don McCullin's exhibition in London, which I did and duly called Kevin saying, " you knew what that would do to me didn’t you?" When I called to confess to crying  and I had  to get  outside as I was overcome with the emotion of some images.

 Photography had only moved me in this way on three occasions now. First time was seeing Kelly Brown's Fine Art images of her mother, whilst fighting cancer , second time seeing Kevin Wilson's Centenarian project and now seeing raw emotion in Don McCullin's work. This all struck a chord with me, I wanted to create something on a subject that is also very emotional.

I am clearly an emotional photographer and I realised I had tried to hide this from my imagery so often and hence the feeling of being off track. Emotion, it blinded me to the technical, now I really understood. The next time I went to Kevin's studio I was to learn from my mistakes and grow my editing knowledge. 

This was where I was now on the right track I understood what was important to me in a portrait and why. Now I could harness the emotional side and pull up the technical side.
 I realised  The final time was to help me see more in depth re editing and printing.

I would show Kevin my RAWS with no deletes. I trusted the process and so glad I did as turns out it showed up some points I was able to really grow from. This was a very instrumental part of my learning.

Where I’m at now is still a huge surprise for me . I realise I am a Portrait photographer, I’m somewhere between candid and posed, I am my own style now. I understand that for me it isn’t all about just a pretty picture there needs to be a reason for taking it too, for it to feel right to me. I want beautiful imagery but I also want real and authentic photographs.

 One thing that may surprise is that even though Kevin is known for his elegant signature wedding and portraiture work, it is the images he captures of people through  his extensive travelling across the globe  that I really love and his project work. I have found that I  am more disciplined now in my work technically which actually allows me to maximise the emotional candid moments to best effect.

Having been mentored means I've grown as a photographer, I understand the industry better, I understand myself a lot better and I’m now more aware of what my strengths are to help me define my current and future work".


So, Janice as she has pointed out spent three days with me over a period of time. What struck me about her was that she was indeed her own person, having definite ideas about how she wanted to be seen as a photographer. I immediately seized on the fact that she was one to see the moment and react to it, highly observant and although Janice wanted to do portraits, her discipline to me was always going to be defined in documentary portraiture. I did not wish to change her in any way, to do that would take away the essence of Janice, it was more to hone, guide and assist with technical issues and help her to oversee a project that is very close to her heart.

This project was dealing and living with dementia, we spoke at great lengths on this subject and how it could realise the full potential of documenting every day life in a care home.

This would test Janice and stretch her photography to levels she had not encountered previously.

 To undertake a task such as as this requires a great deal of empathy and patience with the person being placed in front of her lens, this is where Janice's training as a Physiotherapist was going to repay dividends, knowing the capabilities of frail people, when to stop, how to handle the delicate person she was dealing with, each and every time.

Another ingredient needed in a project of this magnitude in my opinion is the ability to listen to their stories, be prepared, to spend time communicating with them, taking an interest both in their past and future, finally to have a love for human beings. The initial thing that struck me about Janice was just that, she is never short of conversation and takes a real interest in what others do and say. Janice possesses all this in abundance.

Between us we came up with a concept, a project that, would prove to be truly satisfying . Not just on a personal level, but within the defining of the genre she would be submitting her work to the British Institute Of Professional Photography, in pursuit of gaining her Licentiateship qualification.

I suggested Janice should consider approaching a few care homes outlining a proposal of what she wished to achieve with their co-operation, I also suggested that she should do it while it was fresh in her mind. This is where Janice's organisational ability came into play, she was on to them the very next day, soon an appointment was made and agreement reached.

Failure to prepare, is prepare to fail as they say. This is not in Janice's DNA.

Several visits were made to the chosen care home to see what problems and hurdles she may have to overcome.

Discovering that working in areas with little room to manoeuvre, light  that was not directional, lack of light, this all helped with her preparation.

This lady was the very first person that Janice photographed, she caught her in a moment while she was in conversation with her friend, showing how comfortable they were with each others company and also with Janice taking the photographs.The second image is her friend in reply, so the narrative shows their affection for each other. The third image is of them together which makes a fine cameo of friends in a care home, enjoying their time together.


This next portrait is a lady looking back at happier times with someone she loved, no longer with her, however, the portrait she is holding brings comfort to her.

Observational skills

What makes this interesting is the lady waiting in the background, adding narrative and depth, many would wait for her to move away, not Janice, she wanted realism as she has mentioned about her work and her identity as a photographer.

In my Room

On this occasion, Janice was able to go into this ladies room and capture her within her surroundings.

I find this to be a very strong editorial portrait of an elderly lady comfortable within the confines she finds herself


Time for Tea.

At the beginning of October 2019, Janice submitted her work for appraisal, beautifully crafted and printed photographs on fine art paper, her work was received with much acclaim, resulting in Janice Ward being awarded her Licentiateship qualification, this in itself was the goal Janice was working to, only to learn that not only had she passed, she additionally was judged to have made the best submission of 2019, this is an award that goes to the best of the best, well done young lady.

If you feel you would like to realise your dreams and become the photographer you would like to be, please contact me via email, tel 07595 347814

Friday, March 01, 2019

Catherine Beltramini Profile

kevin wilson photography | wedding photographer | dorset

Photographers often ask  how long does it take to earn a qualification with one of the professional associations?

 It is a valid question and is deserving of a quite detailed answer. Each candidate is individual, they all have differing needs and levels of expertise. This can be quite daunting for many, additionally, each association has different criteria.

I would suggest that this should under no circumstances be rushed, it takes concentration and skill in many aspects, the first is to take advice form someone who understands the requirement at each level. Licentiate, Associateship, and finally, the holy grail, Fellowship.

Honesty is paramount at this initial stage, be prepared to accept constructive criticism, it is in your  interest to listen to someone that you have faith in. How do you go about finding this required expertise, or a sympathetic person that will guide you through the process in the assembly of your submission?

 The different associations offer varying levels of mentoring for free as a benefit of membership, this advice generally will be limited access to the assigned mentor, after all, they have their own businesses to look after, initially it would be sensible  to enquire as to what will be included.

Take a look around and see a photographer that consistently demonstrates work that you are drawn to, for example if you wish to cover weddings or portrait work, it is of little value to see someone who specialises in commercial work.

If your needs are more specific, an in depth level of training,  coaching or mentoring is something you might wish to consider, alternatives could prove to be more beneficial. Personally, I offer a 1 day, three day, six months or twelve months. This dedicated and structured approach can be highly advantageous, you will not only have the best level of advice, in addition you will be guided through from start to finish and overseen at each stage on a personal level, in face to face meetings.

The service I offer is not just mentoring, it is a comprehensive in depth look at what you are currently carrying out in your own business, it will involve showing you how to create beautifully lit and well composed work, which in turn will lead you to create your own signature creations. This is something I have always looked to achieve in every commission, a style that is instantly recognisable.

Catherine Beltramini  came to me exactly one year ago, not as a member of any association just wanting to quietly find her own way. I scrutinised her work and could see that she had a real talent, especially with connection with her clients.
In the description I gave in relation to finding a mentor above, Catherine went through the process, she realised my work was something she could relate to, timeless elegant work that will always be sought after.

 Initially, Catherine came for a taster 1 day, liked what she saw that day and extended it to a further two days.

It soon became apparent that Catherine was ready to submit for her Licentiate qualification, the date was set for July 18th 2018, her submission was greatly admired due to the high level of work she had printed through Paul Williams laboratory, so much admiration that Catherine was nominated for the Peter Grugeon award, this is only given to the best of the very best and is indeed an extremely prestigious award. Catherine's submission consisted of 25 portraits, predominantly in natural light.
Below are a selection of portraits from the submission that Catherine achieved her successful result.

Catherine has a very quiet approach with her subjects, making them relax in a very short space of time, she will have captured the soul of her subjects.

Whether it be a location available light setting, or a studio set up Catherine has proved that light is light, if used correctly it will always provide the results that portray character and personality that  she is looking to achieve.

Not one to sit on her laurels, Catherine took the comments that she should consider applying her skills and submitting a panel for Associateship.
The available light skills that she was in possession of came to fruition in her next project, ensuring that the veterans would be portrayed in a quality light situation, within the confines of their homes. This requires a high understanding of light, their patterns and control, never easy in the confines of a home, using just the bare minimum of equipment.This is always the best approach as our clients can be overwhelmed with such a vast array of lighting etcetera.

Catherine placed a great deal of time and effort into this, tracking down of Veterans that would represent the forces that had served their country. This was planned to coincide with the centenary of the celebration of the ending of WW1. 

Catherine set out to create, portraits that would reveal dignity, character, charm, humour and respect for these amazing men that had served their country, and are now living out their lives in peace and quiet, quite a difference from their time at war which must have been terrifying for all concerned, never knowing if they would return home to their families.

Travelling light with one lens , one camera, one light, which for this project was window light and a backdrop, Catherine travelled far and wide, capturing these beautiful images. We decided that a sympathetic tone would be reminiscent of the times. The important part of all this is often in the presentation and printing. this task was once again entrusted to  Paul Williams to carry out.

 A few months later, November 7th 2018, this collection of poignant imagery was the submission that achieved Catherine her Associateship.
Indeed it was remarkable for Catherine to receive her Licentiateship in a relatively short time of becoming a member of the BIPP. To go forward and achieve her Associateship in such a short time span is really a testament to both her commitment to photography and her craft.

More exciting news for Catherine is that she learnt that her collection of work entered in the 2019 awards at the British Institute of Professional Photography has been shortlisted as a finalist.

So, back to the opening paragraph, how long does it take, here is the proof and your answer, hard work, determination and skill will get you through.