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