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 

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