Meet Lisa Visser! She is a Fine Art Child Photographer from UK that took B&W Child 2018 Photo Competition by the storm! In this interview, Lisa talk about her experience on B&W Child Photo Competiton, her art, workflow
Q: Dear Lisa. We want to congratulate you one more time on becoming The Grand Winner of the B&W Child 2018 Photo Competition! Please share with us, how does it feel to be The Grand Winner?
A: I literally couldn’t believe it when I received the email! I kept re-reading it in case I’d made a mistake! I was of course absolutely thrilled and filled with happiness to have won. It is such an honour, the B&W Child Photo Competition is so prestigious with so many talented photographers entering beautiful work. Receiving this accolade was such a wonderful achievement for me.
Q: We had a chance to see your work in previous contests that we organized and you were always well recognized by our judging panel, but this time you truly dominated the contest. From your point of view, can you tell that this is the result of your maturation as an artist or maybe better selection of photographs you decided to submit to the contest?
A: I do hope that I am still maturing as an artist. I think maybe it was a mixture. In previous years I didn’t realise that the overall grand winner was based on an accumulation of entries, so this year I made sure I entered both half’s of the competition. Gaining the two 3rd places in the first half definitely spurred me on to make sure I had entries good enough to enter into the 2nd half. I already had some ideas for images I wanted to capture so this competition spurred me on to set aside time to do some personal work in order to have images I felt were good enough to enter.
Story Behind Winning Photograph
Q: You know we cannot wait to hear more about your winning photograph in The Portrait Category in the 2nd Half! Can you tell us more about the shoot and the model?
A: Yes, the winning image was of a lovely 10-year-old girl called Scarlett who had booked in with me to have some headshots taken for her agency. I did a large selection of headshots but her mum had also expressed her love of my fine art work so I decided to take a few for her in this style during the session too. As soon as I started photographing Scarlett I knew I could get something special, as she was so in tune with me and relaxed in front of the camera. There was no styling involved, just her natural hair, and I used one of the outfits she had brought for her headshots. The images were all about the girl; her eye contact and body language with the positioning of the hands. She has such wonderful eyes and I just took a simple image with strong eye contact, contrasted with a delicate expression and hand position.
30 Years Of Photographic Career
Q: Can you introduce us to Lisa Visser? How old are you? What’s your background? How and when did you start doing photography?
A: I celebrated 30 years as a portrait photographer last November so I am feeling pretty old! I am 47 now so I was just 17 years old when I was first employed as a trainee children’s photographer at a busy photographic company and I have always specialised in children’s photography ever since. I have seen so many changes in the social photographic market but even though I have photographed thousands of children over the years, I have never stopped learning because they are all so different. My biggest learning growth came when I ran a busy high street studio with my partner for twelve years, and then by running my own business from home for the last seven years. Over the last fifteen years I have been really trying to focus on developing my style and putting a lot more of myself into my images.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I try to make my images look timeless with a haunting quality to them. Simple in style but if you look a little bit deeper you will see there is an element of storytelling to them: classic images but showing emotion, whether that be vulnerability, strength, or compassion, etc.
Q: What is in your camera bag?
A: I am currently using the Canon 5 D Mk 111 with the 24-105 lens, but I have just invested in the Sigma art 50mm 1.4
Q: Can you tell us more about your lightning?
A: I use Elinchrom lighting. I use the BX500/250 Ri and the D-lite RX one. I use these with various sized softboxes, which give a lovely soft light to my work. I will typically use one light and a reflector in the majority of my shots, varying the position of the light depending on the lighting style I want to achieve.
Q: Who are the photographers that you admire?
A: There are many photographers I admire for many different reasons. Some are not well known but they inspire me through their determination or the rawness of what they capture. Vee Speers is probably one of my favourite photographers. I love the colour palettes she uses and the dark undertones that her images portray.
Q: Can you share with us what was your most unusual/scary/awkward or the most exciting moment since you are a photographer?
A: I think I could write a book on the many memorable moments I have had while being a portrait photographer over the years – good and bad! If I focus on the positives though, my most exciting moment was being awarded a Fellowship in child portraiture back in 2009 with a panel of 20 black and white images of children. I think my greatest sense of achievement has always been through gaining recognition for my work, whether through qualifications or awards. Winning this award with you is certainly been a highlight of my career so far and has made me feel very emotional and proud. I really didn’t think this was achievable for me with all the amazing images that are submitted every year by such talented photographers.
Professional Work VS Private Work
Q: Can you tell us more about your workflow? How much of your time goes towards working with clients and how much time you devote to your personal art projects and why they matter to you?
A: I would say about 95% of my time is devoted to my clients and running my business. The majority of my work is doing headshots for young performers. I don’t often get the chance to set aside dedicated time to do personal work. I would absolutely love to have more time to devote to projects and shoots just for me. It is so important to have time just to play around and follow your heart without the pressure of fulfilling a client’s needs or expectations. Creating images just for me has always been really important and often when I’m unable to book out time in the diary for personal work, I try to incorporate it in to my headshot sessions once I have taken the images my clients need for their agency use. My best work has always come through planning personal projects, whether it is just for me or done specifically for awards or qualifications.
A Good Photograph
Q: From your point of view, what makes a good picture?
A: For me a good image draws you in. It’s believable; it’s authentic; it makes you look and then look again; it transports you to the photographer’s and the subject’s world and makes you feel something inside.
Q: What, in your opinion, is most important to consider while shooting portraits?
Firstly I am thinking about who my subject is – their age, their capabilities, how comfortable they seem to be, and how we engage with each other. I am constantly watching them and thinking about how I can coax from them the results that I want. I will have already considered the important things such as lighting, background, and clothing choice; and then I will be working on pose, expression, and eye contact. This is where it becomes all about my engagement with the subject to obtain the results I need to create a portrait with impact.
Q: Can you share with us which photographs from The 2nd Half of The Contest left a huge impression on you?
A: Yes, there were just so many fantastic images. These are the ones I was really drawn to: ‘In Loving Hands Solace’ by Magdelena Kolakowska, ‘Rainy’ by Irana Sirotova, ‘Sleep’ by Yilan Song, ‘Dog Days’ by Nichole Quinn, ‘Be Still’ by Mina Mimbu, ‘Many Faces’ by Uliana Kharinova, and ‘Meditation’ by Qiu Liang Ping
A Warm Advice
Q: Any advice for other photographers who are entering our contest? Any tips on how to win considering your experience?
A: I think I would say put aside images into a desktop folder throughout the year that excite you and that you feel proud of. Do this before you make your final selection on entries. You will then have a pool of images to look back at when it is time to enter. Look at your images for impact, composition, lighting, expression, the story, the moment, or the feeling they portray. Choose the images that excel the most in these areas. Once you have chosen your selections, make your final adjustments to the images, looking at highlights, shadows, mid-tones, and make sure the file is adjusted to bring out the very best in your image.