Passion and a Camera alone are not enough - My article published in Turning Pro Magazine

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Good Morning Folks,

Today's blog is an article that has been published in Turning Pro magazine, so a little different to my images that are usually published, this is a national publication aimed at photographers. I was approached last September to answer some questions and I am pleased to say they have published a piece about me; happy days. I just wanted to mention my brilliant mentor Kevin Pengelly FBIPP FMPA as he was not mentioned in the final piece. For those of you who are interested, here is the full piece that gives more details and also gives a thumbs up to those who's training has helped me on my photographic journey to date :)

I hope you are not too bored and happy reading!

Claire :)

You achieved Associateship level with you membership at both the BIPP and the SWPP- is this correct?
Yes that is correct and I also have my Licentiate with the MPA along with the Diploma in Photographic Practice (DipPP).

Could you explain a little about how this is achieved?
Once I made the transition to full time in 2007 it was my aim to make progress through the distinctions with the professional organisations. I was continuing to build the business so this process did not start immediately but I realised where I wanted to be placed in the marketplace I needed to train and gain my qualifications. The first port of call was to improve my knowledge and I did this through Photo Training 4 U, now called The Photographer Academy, which is headed my Mark Cleghorn. This is an on-line training resource and suited my needs perfectly as I could choose where and what to watch that was pertinent to me at the time. I gained my Licentiate with the SWPP in 2010, then my Licentiate with the MPA in 2011. My Associateship with the SWPP was gained in March 2012 and the BIPP Associateship was achieved in August 2012. I have also gained a few awards along the way, which is nice.

Could you name a few courses you took which contributed towards this level?
The main training resource was Photo Training 4 U in the beginning, followed by courses with Trevor and Faye Yerbury, Marco Dukta, Martin Grahame-Dunn, Kevin Wilson, Uzair Kharawala and Doug Gordon. I make decisions on the courses that I want to attend based on my current skill set and the elements I want to perfect. The trainers that I choose to learn from are very experienced and have been in the industry for many years. There are too many that train today that still have a lot to learn themselves!

How long did it take you to reach this level?
For the SWPP L it was probably about a year.

What kind of modules are required?
The process of gaining your L, A and F is not about modules but the consistency and standard of your work. Many things are judged during the mentoring stage and finally at judging or assessment day. The DipPP has a series of 7 modules. It is all written work along with a series of prints too.

Are they more practical or theoretical, or a blend of both?
The L,A and F are all about your skill and creativity as a photographer and the DipPP is all about your business and theory.

What were the contact hours like- if any? Is this a something you can do entirely online?
The L,A and F are very intense and you have to be prepared to put a lot of work in, mainly on your own and only with contact hours if you have a one-to-one mentor. Photography is made up of many elements and the three distinctions really do test these more and more as you progress. The ultimate pinnacle is the Fellowship; it is hard, which is why only the top few percent in the country have attained it. The DipPP was a distance learning course, the information had to be sourced entirely by the candidate so no text books to work from.

BIPP courses have Creative Skill Set ticks. Did this or any other kitemark influence your decision in taking the course?
The BIPP has a completely different approach to qualification; their ethos is to get to know the photographer and in order to do this so much more work has to be shown. My first three qualifications were panel based and it did take me some time to get my head around what they wanted but wow was it worthwhile. I submitted for my Licentiate qualification and I passed, unbeknown to me the work was then assessed for the Associate and I was upgraded. The work I showed the BIPP was prolific and they really did know me as a photographer by the end of it. Prior to my membership being accepted I submitted 40 images (20 from weddings and 20 from portraits) so they could assess my current ability. This process should not be easy; when gained these qualifications should be something to be proud of.

Have you taken advantage of the SWPP mentoring service?
When I was working for my original Licentiate with the SWPP I did take advantage of their Mentor Me Service. This is a brilliant way of getting used to being mentored and having one's work critiqued without the terror of it being face to face! It takes time to get used to having image critiques and because it is anonymous (well sort of) it makes the process more palatable. I do feel that if you want to progress further then nothing can beat a personal mentor, which I have now. Without the Mentor Me though I would not have developed that ability to stand back that helped so much when Kevin became my mentor; it's a worthwhile benefit of the SWPP.

Do you intend reach fellowship level with either training body?
Fellowship is the pinnacle and I would love to reach that pinnacle; always striving for the next goal is my version of Continuing Professional Development, to me this is important so that skills do not become stale. I am extremely lucky to have my mentor, Kevin Pengelly FBIPP FMPA who is a brilliant photographer and mentor. I have complete trust in his guidance and have made my biggest leaps since he has been mentoring me. Kevin started mentoring me in 2010 when work started towards my Licentiate with the MPA and becoming an Accredited Master Photographer.

Some more thought based questions:

How do you think you have benefited from these qualifications?
I have benefitted in as much as it is a measure of one's progression. My target market really do notice my qualifications, some photographers say that it is of no consequence to their clients so why bother; it is to mine though.

Do you think you receive a lot of support from the design of the courses?
The courses that I attend are very specific and not intended to be like college courses. The support I receive is from my mentor Kevin Pengelly FBIPP FMPA.

Do you think qualifications are useful in your field?
Yes I do but I come from a background in a previous career where qualifications were important and as I said in a previous question they are noticed by my clients.

Were the qualifications recommended to you?
My decisions were based of my own research; once decided a plan of progression was formed by me.

How did other students on the course find it in terms of beneficial value?
These courses are not traditional college courses; they are specific portions of training. The photographers that choose them are like me looking for specific elements they want to perfect. Sometimes I am revisiting knowledge, which is no bad thing but there is always something new to be learned.

Do you enjoy the process of becoming accredited?
Oooh what a question; yes and no! Every level is challenging and sometimes I wondered what on earth I was doing but the whole process is one huge learning curve. During the judging and assessing I can definitely say it was not enjoyable. Sitting in the waiting room seemed like forever; there is that moment after every exam where you have not passed or failed and when you are lead into the assessment room you wish that moment could go on forever. When I passed the feeling is brilliant, absolutely brilliant and then I can say I enjoyed it! Poor old Kevin and my Husband have to put up with me when working towards the next level. They deserve some sort of sainthood!

Do you regret choosing your particular route into photography?
No I have learned so much and when I compare it to some other routes I wouldn't change a thing.

How long have you been photographing? Looking at your website, you work seems to be of a very high standard. What was the motivation behind gaining a qualification in photography?
What are the main things you have learnt in the duration of achieving these qualifications?

I have been interested in photography since the age of 16 but this was purely a dalliance, nothing serious. In my previous career qualifications were important so this ethos naturally was a part of my progression and business plan. I have learned so much that I would be writing for ages. Each progression up the qualification ladder built on this knowledge, so for anyone thinking of gaining their qualifications should relish in the building of foundations with their Licentiate then layering on more and more skills and knowledge as they progress further. The advice I would give is do not treat the distinctions as a box ticking exercise, the process to gaining the distinction is as important as the pass achieved.
Do you think the qualifications have taught you anything about making a business model out of photography or are they more composition and artistic directions?
The L, A and F are definitely about the art and science of being a photographer, they are not about the business of photography. The DipPP is more about the business of photography but to be honest when you embark on this you will already be in business so should know about profit margins, business plans etc. If you want to know about business then this is a completely different learning process and one that many photographers are not comfortable with. In order to succeed you must have a creative head and a good business head. If you haven't then keep photography as a hobby. Passion is a word that is bandied about so much in this industry; passion alone is not enough I am afraid. Hard work, exceptional skills, commitment and a good business brain is a must.

How do you think the qualifications has affected your work as a photographer?
Quite simply it has made me a better photographer, but it is a process not just the qualification but also having a mentor. The qualification is the end result of all that hard work.

Are your qualifications you think something people look for when hiring a photographer?
My clients do along with my style. Other photographers say that qualifications do not matter to their clients, so it really depends where you sit in the market.
As mentioned, I think your photos are very high standards with a distinct style. Are your preferences during courses nurtured or do the curriculums not allow much room for personal preference?
The courses I attend are very specific to what I want to achieve. Having a mentor also helped me to realise the style that was coming through in my work.

Is it important to take training courses to stay on the cutting edge for your business?
I think it is, but be very careful who you choose to train with. There are many out there that could benefit with a great deal of training themselves.
Anything else you’d like to add. Depending on your answers, I may well send you follow up questions of course, or maybe call you on the phone for clarification if its easier.
Photography as a business is not easy; don't go into it thinking that all you need is passion and a camera. The investment in equipment, training, insurance etc is extensive and it is expensive. Go into it with your eyes wide open, a good business head and don't rely on photoshop; your images must be good 'in camera'. Don't think that you will be a expert straight away, there is a lot to learn and you will never stop learning. Search out the crème de la crème of our industry and aspire to be like them. Then search out the crème de la crème of business; learn from them and learn who you are as a business and how you wish to operate.

Photography published in magazines

ood Afternoon Folks,

Just a short blog today; the catwalk image I took of Emma's dress on the London catwalk is proving very popular with the magazines. This month we see this little beauty featured in Your Sussex Magazine and a couple of weeks ago it was featured in Bridal Buyer. Quite chuffed to be honest :) If you want to see more Eleanor the pop over to Emma's website and you can see more images of this truly stunning dress. Oh and forgot to mention it was designed by Designer of the Year and the You and Your Wedding Designer Retailer finalist of whom I am the official photographer; I shall never tire of saying that...not bad eh!!

Claire :)


Images published in national magazines




Good Morning Folks,

I have been over the moon that a number of my product photography images have appeared in national magazines this year, so I thought it was high time I showed a few :)

It was a pleasure to photograph the wedding cakes of the magnificent Janeymac Cakes who we are lucky enough to have in East Grinstead. Elaine creates the most amazing bespoke cakes that look as mouth watering as they taste. I have made it my mission to taste a fair bit of cake over the years and hand on heart Elaine from Janeymac is one of the best I have ever tasted. Her designs are exquisite and whenever I walk into a reception room the quality of a Janeymac cake just screams at me!

Elaine and I have been lucky enough to feature in both the summer and autumn editions of Wedding Cakes a Design Source; happy days indeed.

Keep looking out as there will be other posts showing some of my other published work.

So now back to editing and album design today, editing is full of joy watching images spring to life and album design is reliving a wonderful wedding day all over again, so a day of lovely contrasts.

Claire :)

Your Kent Wedding Magazine Editorial: Kent Wedding Photography

Good Morning,

I hope you all had a great weekend and have your sweets ready. Mine have stayed firmly hidden away otherwise there would be none left for the children this evening!

I was asked by Your Kent Wedding to supply an image for their photographers feature in the current issue of the magazine. The editorial they decided to use although short does sum up, for me, what the first dance is all about.

Have a great week and enjoy yourselves this evening.


April News and Editorial in Your Sussex Wedding Magazine

Good morning,

I hope you all had a lovely weekend; the weather was balmy yet again. In February I was asked to contribute to an article in the April/May edition of Your Sussex Wedding and I have scanned a copy of my article for you to see. I really enjoy writing and it is a real pleasure to see an article in print with my imagery.

April started off with a lovely shoot over the weekend and trying something completely new. I really enjoyed the session. It is always good for me to stretch myself in my photography, and with the permission of my client I am hoping to be able to post an image here soon; I do want her express permission due to the technique used.

I am on location later in April to photograph some of Emma Tindley's dresses for an event that we have coming up in May, and I will be posting more details about that nearer the time.

Wedding Season is about to start in earnest and I am really looking forward to my pre-wedding shoots in some truly beautiful locations. The High Rocks, Tunbridge Wells, The Bluebell Railway and The Ravenswood to name a few, so lots to look forward to.

Have a great week everyone and I hope you enjoy the article!


Sussex Photographers and Surrey Venues March - Lingfield Park Marriott Hotel and Country Club

It is really lovely to see my wedding imagery being used for the advertising and marketing of Lingfield Park Marriott Hotel and Country Club. This is a beautiful racecourse set in the middle of the Surrey countryside in Lingfield, Surrey.

It is a testament to one's work when a venue such as this wants to market itself with my imagery, so I am very proud. Here are the images of mine that were used in their brochure

August - New Article

I have published a new article in my Facebook Fanpage called questions to ask a potential photographer.

If you click on the facebook link to the right of this page it can be found in the notes.

I hope you find it informative and have a great week everyone and for me it will involve lots of post production so watch this space for more imagery!

July - Facebook Fanpage

Hello Everyone,

I have a Facebook Fanpage that I have, to date used mainly to post images and DVD slideshows. I thought it would be a more interesting place to visit if I posted more articles, tips and advice so it will resemble an on-line publication related to my business and the photography that I specialise in; and at the same time be of use to my followers.

On my blog you will see a link to the fanpage Woodland Hill Photography, so please feel free to visit; if you become a fan I would love it and if you want to just have a look now and again I would also love it. The benefit of becoming a fan is the posts will pop up on your facebook page automatically, so you will be able to keep up to date with new items as soon as they are posted by me.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and find the information useful. My first article 'A Day in the Life of a Wedding Photographer' has already been published.

Many thanks and I look forward to seeing more of you there.