Award-winning portrait photography - is it all in the genes? - part 3 of 1 2 3 4

by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2009


And with a total studio staff complement of 26 Bill continues to lead the marketing thrust with ongoing roadshow events, direct mailshots, exhibitions, and radio and newspaper promotions.

He tells ImageMaker: "No studio will do any good sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring.- especially in a severely recessed market such as we have in 2009. You have to go and get it."

And as Eileen assumes a more overarching 'creative director' role in the studio's day to day operations, so the next generation has moved into play at Number 120.

..."Competitions always inspire me to try and do better."...

Enter Laura Johnson (nee Mason).

Eileen and Bill's daughter Laura is now 30 and was literally born into the business. The current makeover area at Number 120 used to be her bedroom.

Laura recalls: "The real truth is that although I have been surrounded by photography all my life I never set out to do this as a career. I just stumbled into it. I was actually quite happy and doing well working at a local travel agency but when three members of the photo-studio team all left at the same time I agreed to give up the travel agency business and help out for a while at Lichfield Road."


She adds: "I can hardly believe that was ten years ago. I started off just answering the phones and monitoring the studio workflow. Then, inspired by my mother's work, I decided I'd like to have a go at capture. And when I first picked up a camera it really excited me." So Laura slipped gently into the business proper.

But you can never deny the power of genetics - and the very first squeeze of the shutter in a professional capacity led to her picking up the accolade: BIPP Midlands Regional Photographer of the Year.

Confesses Laura: "I couldn't really believe it. To win an award like that with your first image is mind-boggling. But then of course I made the big mistake of thinking it was all too easy - and failed to notch up any other award wins until my picture of a curly-haired Redditch toddler won the SWPP UK Portrait Photographer of the Year Award 2008 for traditional portraiture."

The mesmeric shot of fifteen month old, ginger-haired Charlie Reynolds has further boosted the studio profile.

"I am delighted about the win" says Laura, but adds in typical modest style: "There was nothing that special or different about the way I shot the picture. You just have to catch the moment, don't you?

Adds Eileen: "Some find it easier than others to be able to tune in on the vital moment. You can teach technique all day long but it's still down to the photographer to look carefully and make the call about how he or she will handle various features, such as a large nose, big ears or perhaps an overweight customer. You have to know almost instinctively what is going to be the most flattering aspect. Some just have a natural flair for it and some don't - and it's those photographers with the elusive vision to spot a good picture who walk away with all the awards."

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1st Published 01/08/2009
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