Photography Mentor

Photography Mentor

Photography Mentor

Mentor /’mento:/ ~ an experienced and trusted adviser

I have been very lucky to have been mentored by Kevin Pengelly and Kevin Wilson in my photography journey. In all professions it is quite usual to have a mentor and most sing from the rooftops about how their mentor guided and shaped their career. Having a photography mentor used to be quite usual but today it seems that a lot of photographers either don’t have a mentor or they aren’t talking about their mentor.

My Mentors

When I started my photography journey, I gained my first qualification using the anonymous mentor me service provided by the SWPP. For me this was a great introduction to the benefits of a mentor and also getting used to being critiqued; being critiqued is really quite tough but strangely satisfying when you get used to it!

Kevin Pengelly

When I joined the MPA and started the journey to becoming a Master Photographer I was lucky enough to be introduced to Kevin Pengelly as my mentor. I cannot begin to tell you the leaps and bounds that I made during the course of gaining this qualification. Through his gentle guidance I began, for the first time, to see my photography style. This was the springboard that shaped me; I will never forget how exciting that was and to see my style start to evolve right in front of my eyes, it was magical. Thank you for being my mentor Kevin and I will never forget the part you played in my journey.

Kevin Wilson

Kevin’s mentor was Kevin Wilson and in 2016 he kindly agreed to be my mentor. It was a pretty low period for me photographically, so our first chats and sessions were more about my self esteem as a photographer in this ever changing industry. Again, through his gentle advice, guidance and observations of my work I felt a new and exciting generation of change and confidence and I have produced work that he gave me the confidence to explore.

The Role of a Mentor

People often get confused as to the role of a mentor; some think that they should be in charge of their progression and walk them through the whole process, others may think that they should be doing the work for them. For me a photography mentor is just as the definition describes, an experienced and trusted adviser. I was in charge of what I needed to learn and both ‘Kevins’ advised me on my choices. For instance, I wanted to refine my use of reflectors. There are many days one can attend with fabulous models and locations. I did not want to be swayed by these, I wanted to really ‘see the light’ and how gently reflectors could mould this light.

I spoke to Kevin Wilson and said I wanted a training day, nothing fancy, no models just reflectors, boring objects and to really learn this new expertise. Kevin was up for it and we had a fabulous day, wow did I learn a lot and reflectors are a major feature in my work now. The key is, it was me that led the way I wanted to learn and Kevin, as my experienced and trusted adviser, my photography mentor, allowed me to explore that with his guidance.

Why aren’t we Proud of our Mentors?

I do find it sad that a photography mentor is not often mentioned now by the photographers who are influencing the next generation. Years ago, a photographer was proud to talk about their photography mentor and the part they played in their journey. What has happened, why are photographers not proud of the part their photographer mentor played in their journey?

Why Now?

Why am I writing this piece today?  Yesterday I had a day where I wasn’t over the moon about my work. For me the industry of late has become very inconsistent and often I am left very confused where my work sits. I messaged Kevin Wilson and to be honest was quite down about it all. Now he didn’t need to do this; he telephoned me and we had a long chat about it all. I feel a lot more confident now but also I don’t feel alone; I am lucky I have a photography mentor my very own experienced and trusted adviser, who actually cares about me and my work. How lucky am I? Very lucky.  Thank you Kevin for being a wonderful mentor.

As they say no man is an island, so let’s give a shout out to our photography mentors and be proud of their part in our journeys.

Thank You

I am proud of Kevin Pengelly’s guidance in becoming the photographer that I am today and I am proud that Kevin Wilson is my photography mentor and is shaping the photographer I am and hopefully yet to be.

Who is your Mentor?

Who is your photography mentor? Write about them, be proud of them and be proud of their contribution to you as the photographer you are, don’t pretend they never existed; you wouldn’t be where you are without them.

Have a fab day folks,

Claire 😊

If you want to find out more about my mentors; here are the links to their websites:-

Kevin Wilson

Kevin Pengelly


Awards and Qualifications - Why are they Important?

Qualifications and Awards

Awards and Qualifications; should you care?  There are so many photographers out there now, it must be baffling for any client to try and decide on the best one to choose for their portrait or wedding.  More often than not nowadays it will come down to cost; but with anything price shouldn’t always be the overriding factor.


Why Choose a Qualified Photographer?

There are many photographers out there claiming to be qualified and having trained with the best; weirdly they don’t seem to want to display their qualifications or who they hold them with on their websites.  Any photographer who has spent years gaining qualifications and awards will be proud to show them on their website.

So why choose a qualified photographer; for the same reason you would choose any other qualified professional because they know what they are doing.  They haven’t just picked up a camera and called themselves a photographer, they have been critiqued by some of the best in the industry and they have passed a rigorous criteria to obtain a level of expertise.  I love aiming towards qualification as the process helps me to finesse my craft, develop new techniques and style and as they say it is about the journey not the destination and this holds true in my industry.


Why do Photographers Enter Competitions and Awards?

For the same reason really, to pit their wits against their finest competitors and to see how their works sits with their peers in the industry.  This process also helps a photographer to develop and improve so both qualification and competitions really do sit side by side.

In other professions they have something called Continual Professional Development (CPD), this is a requirement for them to be able to continue in their chosen field; it’s a way of ensuring their knowledge remains current.  Entering competitions is a form of CPD.


Why do photographers continue with their training?

We come back to CPD once again as this helps to ensure a photographer’s skillset remains current.  Trends change, processes change all the time and continuing training helps to ensure that your images are using the latest processes and trends possible.  Every photographer will have their own style, but it is ensuring this style moves with the times.


One Last Word

When you visit a photographer, it should be for them to create something truly special for you.  Something that you or you pals can’t snap on a smart phone; the images and the experience should go hand in hand as a memory for you so that every time you look at the products you have purchased you remember the reason you visited.

If you can, try to look for a qualified photographer who is happy to display their qualifications and awards on their website.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they are more expensive either but you are getting a qualified professional who you can rely on to capture something that will really stand out from the crowd.

Claire 🙂

Love this image taken in the Bridal getting ready suite at The Ravenswood; what a fabulous place to have at your disposal on your big day.





I hold an Associateship with the BIPP, I am a Craftsman of the Guild, a Licentiate with the MPA and and I have an Associateship  with the SWPP


BIPP Associateship in Photography

Good Morning Folks,

Well excitement reigns again at Woodland Hill Photography; I travelled to Buckinghamshire yesterday as I was being judged for my Licentiate in wedding photography with the British Institute of Professional Photography. Well you could have knocked me down with a feather as my submission was upgraded to an Associateship so in addition to my existing letters I am now entitled to use ABIPP after my name.

The BIPP is going through a process of change with regard to its qualifications, so the submission was completely different to anything I have done before. The ethos they want to build is one of getting to know the photographer, so the body of work they are seeing now is so much greater than before. As photographers we should not be afraid to show a wealth of work to any potential client so why should it be any different when being assessed for qualification.

Prior to the assessment day I sent four DVD slideshows, two full sets of wedding images, examples of all literature used in the business along with a bound document outlining my history and business practice and copies of all insurances. The images and slideshows had to be the same as presented to my client.

On the day of assessment the judges also saw two complete albums that would accompany the two complete sets of images and slideshows; this would enable them to see the whole process from start to finish. I also supplied one additional sample and one design that I had printed onto fine art paper. Being able to see six individual weddings enabled the judges to see my style and consistency.

As part of the submission the candidate is able to bring supporting evidence. I decided to submit a series of 18 prints on fine art paper and two items of wall art. This was across all facets of my business, which is weddings, studio work and environmental portraiture. I wanted the judges to be able to assess me across my whole business. My previous experience of submitting a panel of work as is required with the other professional bodies really helped with this this part of the submission.

During the assessment the judges assessed my professional level of skill and competence in order for me to gain my Licentiate and unbeknown to me they felt the standard of work should also be assessed for a high standard of craftsmanship and creative ability as is required to attain the Associateship. When I entered the room and was given the result that I had been awarded my Licentiate and was very pleased; when they announced I had also been awarded my Associateship I was flabbergasted! I then had loads of time to discuss my work with the judges and this in itself was extremely valuable and has helped me to cement some plans for next year. I now know what I need to chat to Kevin, my mentor about at our next meeting.

Sorry for the long winded blog today, but I thought a full description of what is involved would really help everyone to understand the BIPP photographic qualifications and what is involved. There are no images today apart from my certificate; to post everything I submitted as part of the panel would take days, but it is all here if you ever wish to see it.

I had a lovely weekend off and we visited our friends in the Isle of Wight, so keep a watch out for some images. There was so much going on as Cowes week had just started; the other highlight Minghella's passion fruit and champagne ice cream, crikey that's good!

Looking forward to catching up later in the week folks,

Claire :)

Sussex Photographers - Master Photographers Association

Well it has been a whirlwind couple of days for me as I was judged for my Master Photographers qualification and I am pleased to say it was a unanimous pass by the Judges. I had a lovely comment from the observer, who is also a qualified Judge to say that my panel was beautiful. I am extremely pleased and it is the culmination of lots of hard work including the Diploma in Photographic Practice.

I am now Claire Hill LMPA DipPP, Accredited Master Photographer; wow it feels so good to be able to say that.

The photographic journey continues for me and now is not the time to rest on my laurels; it is a time to continue to develop; continue to love photography and relish in finding new and different ways to photograph people and bring out the beauty that exists in us all.

Claire Hill LMPA DipPP
Accredited Master Photographer

May - Qualifications

have just found out that I have passed my Licentiate with the SWPP, so I am now Claire Hill LSWPP!!

I am very pleased with this and it is good to be able to say I am a qualified photographer of the SWPP.