Good Morning Folks,

What a whirlwind weekend it has been; Saturday I was photographing a lovely wedding in Tunbridge Wells, Sunday I was exhibiting at The Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells and after a dash to the airport on Sunday night I was at the 2012 Master Photography Diamond Jubilee Awards in Newcastle!

Just to give you a little background; the Master Photography Awards are held once a year in Newcastle; members and non-members are invited internationally to submit prints for judging during the summer and these prints are judged in August.  Finalists are notified sometime in September and the top five for each category and then the winner is announced at a glitzy awards ceremony in October.  The evening started off with a champagne reception where all the finalists’ prints could be viewed, and I only just made the last five minutes of this due to flight delays.  It is then on to the serious stuff but before that begins there was a delicious three course meal, which for me was most welcome after a busy weekend.

I still cannot quite believe it, but I had four images in the finals!  The first category of mine to be announced was the David Mathias Portrait Award and you could have knocked me down with a feather when I discovered that both of my images had made the top five; you can only imagine the surprise when I was announced as the winner!  I went to collect a very lovely trophy and my Awards of Excellence certificate for the other image.  As this is the diamond jubilee year for the Master Photographers Association all winners were presented with a beautiful MPA silver badge.

The second category of mine to be announced was the Dennis Hylander Wedding Award; more knocking down with feathers to come because the judges had only nominated two images to go forward and not five; both of them were mine!! So I won the category and received the only Award of Excellence in that category too.  I had another little jaunt on the stage to receive another lovely trophy and Award of Excellence certificate.

It has been quite a year for me but the one person apart from my poor long suffering Husband, who quite frankly should be nominated for some sort of sainthood, is my poor long suffering mentor Kevin Pengelly.  He runs a very successful photography business with his wife Sabrina in Suffolk; he is  a double Fellow with many, many awards of his own in recognition of his amazing imagery.  When I first went to see him; I did not think much of myself or my work, but it was him who saw something in there and helped me to nurture the style that I knew I was working towards but could not quite grasp.  He had confidence in me and it was this confidence that gave me the courage to forge ahead.  Mentoring is a very special skill indeed,  not only do you have to be one amazing photographer with faultless knowledge of technique and light, but you have to posses the personality to critique effectively without destroying that person.  You need to be able to guide them but not hand hold them, as one of the most important parts of mentoring is to allow that person to make their own discoveries.  Kevin possesses all these qualities and I am quite humbled that both he and Sabrina give up so much of their time for me and the other photographers he mentors.  Kevin I know what you will say, but I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart; mere words are not enough to express my gratitude; thank you!

So what images won?  Well here they are in the order they were awarded and I just want to thank everyone who was a part of the imagery, without you there would have been nothing to submit.


This image was taken on the Emma Tindley Couture 2012/2013 Shakespeare in Love Collection shoot at the very beautiful Wakehurst Place.  India our model who co-owns Maids to Measure was wearing Emma’s Portia Dress and Alison J Smith was the creator of India’s divine hair an make-up.  I also have other images of an amazing combination of Designer bridal wear and bespoke bridesmaids’ dresses. We probably had at most 2 minutes to capture this image!


This image was taken in the studio and features Brooke who was giving her unborn Sister Summer Lily a cuddle.  We had a lovely time that day and I have since photographed Summer.  Next year is going to be a special one for the family as Mummy and Daddy are getting married, so lots to look forward to at their wedding.


This image was taken just after the wedding service in the Orangery at The Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells, Kent; this venue has a lovely mix of classical and modern so there is plenty of variation to suit most couples.  The image looks so serene but again we had probably at best two minutes to capture this image; at the sides of this room was the amazing Deniz and the brilliant hotel team waiting to create the reception room.  Donna, Craig and I had loads of fun that day; again thank you for being magnificent.


Last but certainly not least; South Lodge Hotel, Lower Beeding West SussexThis image was taken in one of the bridal suites and I love it because Heather and Roy had some quiet time together and they could really take in this wonderful environment.  The viedographer, my assistant and me were ‘wowing’ all over the place and to be honest I could have photographed in there for hours; the only downside being that their wedding would have turned into a 3 day photography marathon if I wanted to utilise everything this venue had to offer!

Just one more image before I go; a rare picture of me and the President of the MPA Hoss Mahdavi with said trophies and certificates.  The look I was going for was eccentric dog’s dinner; I think I managed to pull it off :)))!

I hope you enjoy the imagery and again just big, big thanks to all those involved, my Husband and my Mentor.

Claire 🙂

If you would lke to see more of my work pop along to my website Woodland Hill Photography