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WLM’s Top 20 Portrait Photographers: Sandi Ford

WLM’s Top 20 Portrait Photographers: Sandi Ford

Sandi Ford is passionate about portraits.  To her there is nothing more rewarding than capturing a family being happy, enjoying themselves, relaxed and looking their best. These memories last a lifetime, but also it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that she is contributing something to that family – not just a picture for today, but in 50 years time it may be your photo that gets pulled out of the archives to show the grandchildren!

I started ‘Sandi Ford Photography’  about 2 years ago. Initially I was very wedding focused; I did a number of weddings, which while stressful were enjoyable, but I wanted something more regular to plug the gaps between weddings; so I started to look at family portrait and lifestyle photography.

After doing a few family portraits for friends, I realised that this was the direction I wanted to head – I love it, and no longer advertise myself for weddings. I now specialise in studio and lifestyle family photography, particularly lifestyle which to me just produces the most natural stunning images.

How long have you been a photographer?
Hobbyist? Years! Since I was about 9. More seriously – since about 2002.
I started selling stock images commercially in about 2005; these were mainly travel photos, or editorial images used in books, magazines, newspapers – even supermarket packaging! I also ran an online store selling landscape wall art of photos I had taken while travelling. I did my first wedding in 2006 and started portraiture in 2009.
Last year I won a couple of small awards for B&W portrait images which are being displayed during March 2011 at an exhibition in Battersea. This year my exciting news is being asked to be the portrait photographer for the BBC Comic Relief Black Tie Ball, for which I feel very honoured and excited to attend!

What got you into photography?
I studied photography while I was at college (35mm film cameras) with the good old fashioned darkrooms etc, which I really enjoyed but lost interest in after leaving college.

In 2003 I was preparing to take 2 years out travelling, and decided to take a decent digital camera with me. I bought a Panasonic Lumix bridge camera which at the time I felt was small, light, and handy with a great zoom. After a few weeks of travelling and taking a few thousand photos, my passion was rejuvenated! I was bored and frustrated by the cameras lack of flexibility and speed and whilst in Chile set about getting myself a proper SLR. Canon had just launched a new model – the 20D – I hunted down the only one in Chile with the help of the lovely Canon employee Carlos, bought a load of lenses second hand and never looked back!

I know own a Nikon D700 and some fabulous top of the ranges lenses which are, in my opinion, the perfect setup, I love my camera and it’s rarely out of reach!

Which photographer do you look up to and why?
There’s so many. Mike Garrard is a wedding and portrait photographer in Buckinghamshire – I aspire to be like him, not just because his pictures are amazing but he has such a wonderful manner and puts people at ease so quickly, really getting the best out of them.
But otherwise? Spend 10 minutes on Flickr, there are just so many wonderful talented people out there that I draw inspiration from.

What do you prefer – film or digital?
Digital. I think it has come so far nowadays that there is very little separating the two quality-wise; and for my job I have to spend quite a lot of time finishing the photos, I could never do that in the same timescales if I was using film.

What should your customers expect during a session?
If they have asked for studio, I will go to their house (or I will hire somewhere) with my equipment, lights, backdrops etc and we will spend around 2 hours capturing pictures of the family. We do a variety of shots – formal, fun, group and individual. Outfit changes are welcome, plus I bring a few props with me that we can use.  If they have asked for lifestyle, we will arrange a location (usually a park but anywhere is fine!) where we will spend a couple of hours taking pictures in the great outdoors!

These are my favourite style – they are so natural, and such a fabulous variety of shots are possible. The sun is the best studio light of all and it does for eyes and skin tones what a studio can never do.

Do you have any tips for capturing the perfect picture?
Go outside, don’t let the weather put you off!  Avoid harsh lights and dappled shade.  Get to know your camera.
Be creative, be snap happy, in this age of digital you can afford a few wasted frames, and HAVE FUN!

For more information about Sandi or to look at her portfolio, please visit:

www.sandifordphotography.com | 07789 265795

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