Covid-Secure Shooting – November 2020 & beyond

I’ve been shooting safely since mid June 2020 & will continue to do so throughout November.

From my last ‘Corona-safe’ pre-Lockdown shoot

The current lockdown (from Thursday 5th Nov) allows productions like TV, film and photoshoots to proceed, as long as there are strong Covid-secure procedures in place.

Of course, we want to be safe and we also want to help safeguard ourselves and our friends/relatives. And there are some practical ways to do that.

At the same time, a session is about you looking and feeling good, and about the energy of our connection – it’s just as important we keep all that good stuff.

Unchanged Quality & Qualities

I’ve been shooting safely in my light and airy studio since June so I know shoots work practically, feel great and we still get awesome shots.

My Covid-Secure Approach


  • The 10am shoot time means you will miss the circa 8am high traffic period on tube/buses/rail that TFL encourages people to avoid. Though if you can walk or cycle, why not? If you are travelling from elsewhere in the country, it may be possible to start a little later. Drop me a line.
  • Elbow bumps not handshakes when we meet. There’s nothing normal about that, but it’ll have to do…
  • There’s a bathroom to wash your hands upon arrival, and there will be hand sanitiser in the studio for use in-shoot.
  • My studio is a good size, so the makeup/changing area will be just for you, and I’ll ask you to sit 2m from my workstation when we review images.
  • When we are shooting in the studio, I will wear a mask. Obviously, you don’t need to!
  • The way I shoot means we will be 2m apart when shooting, inside or out.
  • The studio is well ventilated anyway, but the windows will be open & we’ll also have a fan running.
  • I normally shoot 1 person a day, so there will not be overlap between any client.
  • Friends and family members will not be able to sit in on a shoot (except for actors under 16, when it is a requirement).
  • The client area and high-transit areas will be properly cleaned between each client – think makeup table, clothes rail, hangers, door handles etc…
  • It’s really important not to come to the session if you have any symptoms of Coronavirus, or have been exposed to someone who has. I know after all this time off you’re probably raring to go, and I am too, but it’s better for us both to err on the side of caution.
  • For that reason, I will be more flexible about rearrangements within 48 hrs. This a two-way street – because I only shoot one person a day, if you cancel on the day or the day before, I probably can’t replace you with someone on the waiting list and lose my day’s wages, so please use this flexibility responsibly.


  • You might want to think about travelling slightly lighter. 10 tops, not 100, for example!
  • Get to the session on foot or bike if you can.
  • Try not to arrive too much before the shoot time.
  • If you’ll need wipes and tissues please bring your own.

Any questions just drop me a line at and look forward to working with you!

You can book here

Casting takes Centre Stage: MW in The Photographer magazine

Feature on my work and route into photography, in the new edition of The Photographer, magazine of the British Institute of Professional Photograph (BIPP).

905721_10153127983043522_7795762315069063951_oA few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be the subject of a full-length feature in the British Institute of Professional Photograph (BIPP)‘s quarterly magazine ‘ The Photographer.

Editor Jonathan Briggs came to visit me at the studio in January, the day after I got back from a month in New Zealand, and somehow managed to piece together a coherent 13 page article from the stream of mumbling I gave him in response to his insightful questioning.

As well as 10 beautifully-printed images, covering the span of my practice – from headshots to theatre and film posters, to personal projects – the article also covered my route into photography and the way my business has developed in the last five years.

bipp-cover-michael-wharleyIt was a honour to be featured in the mag, which I’ve read throughout my career as a photographer, often enviously viewing the beautiful work of other photographers.

And if, as a portraitist who spends a lot of time quietly assessing clients to put them at their ease and get the best shots, it was an unusual experience to have the tables turned, it was still fascinating to see how the business looks to an outside eye, and definitely made me take a step back to plan my next five years.

10/04/2015 MW

Winning at the British Institute of Professional Photography Awards 2015.

Seeing some truly brilliant work & winning at the British Institute of Professional Photography National Awards 2015.

BIPP National Photography Awards Winners 2015 (I'm top right!)

BIPP National Photography Awards Winners 2015 (I’m top right!)

A few weeks ago, I had the honour of attending the British Institute of  Professional Photograph (BIPP)‘s annual Professional Photography Awards 2015.

These awards – this year held at the rather grand Hartwell House - celebrate the strength, breadth and quality of the work produced by BIPP members, across fields as diverse as portrait, fine art, science & technology, visual arts and wedding photography , not to mention categories for yet-to-qualify members, and an Open Award.

And they were also the occasion for handing out  Awards to the top Licentiate, Associate and Fellow qualifiers from 2014.

First and foremost, it was pretty special being in a room full of fellow photographers, many of whom have spent decades working in the profession, but of course, the chance to see their work, and observe the way they have found time to be creative, while earning a living, was a real inspiration. The meal wasn’t bad either!

The Winners

Personally, I was particularly struck by Hasselblad Master Bryn Griffiths extraordinary Best Fellowship-winning project, shot in the radiation exclusion zone at Chernobyl, and by David Bull FBIPP’s 2014 Fox Talbot Award-winning images of Rolls-Royce jet engines.  But there was so much to admire.

But don’t just take it from me…

All the winners can be viewed online here, and you can check out the the qualification awards gallery here.

Some personal recognition

Last and least, personally, I was delighted to win a Bronze in the Portraiture category, as well as getting a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Peter Grugeon Award for Best Associateship 2014.

Awards aren’t why we shoot the photos or projects we do, but in a pressured commercial environment, they offer a timely step back to appreciate the skill and creativity of each other’s work, and getting these small nods is a real incentive to produce bigger and better work in the future.

Michael Wharley ABIPP - Highly Commended Peter Grugeon Associateship (1)Michael Wharley ABIPP - Bronze in Portraiture


24/02/2015 MW


Headshots are all about eyes in 2015, so get blinking creative to win a session with me & Casting Call Pro worth £600- Tweet or Email your winning #eyeselfie.

In Febraury, Casting Call Pro and I ran a competition to win headshots, by getting an #eyeselfie that caught a connection between eyes, thought and camera to make a striking image.

JackPikeWe’re excited to announce the very lucky winner of our headshot competition is Jack Pike for his Leo DiCaprio ‘the Beach, young lost physically & spiritually’ eyeselfie. Jack wins headshots with me, worth £600!

There were so many brilliant and inspired #eyeselfiesJust look at the pinboard here

It was tough picking 1 winner, so we decided to award 4 runner up prizes to Hannah Bury and Darryl Hughes and David Sandercock and Siobahnan McKiernan. Well done guys, you get free Premium time eye-five!

Jac has won a total overhaul of his professional portfolio.

  • Headshot healthcheck to assess current portfolio and casting, worth £25.
  • The American headshot portfolio, worth £350: a new package from Michael Wharley Photography, covering all your promotional needs: standard actors’ headshots in a range of studio & naturally-lit setups for the UK castings market, US-style headshots for Transatlantic castings, and model-style promo shots tailored to your needs.
  • Full makeup and hair by Terri Urwin, worth £150.
  • 100 hardcopy, full-colour, prints supplied by Top Print-Lab, worth £80+

BIPP South East Photographer of the Year

Seeing some fantastic work and winning at the British Institute of  Professional Photography South East Awards 2014.


Michael Wharley winning at the BIPP SE Awards 2014

Michael Wharley winning at the BIPP SE Awards 2014

I had pleasure of tripping along to the annual British Institute of  Professional Photograph (BIPP) South East region awards last week.

This is an an annual event celebrating the quality and diversity of work within the BIPP’s membership in London and beyond.

There are with categories covering everything from commercial to fashion, to fine art, to wildlife, to wedding, to portrait photography and beyond.  

Quite apart from a pretty fine meal, and some excellent conversation in the company of other photographers, it was really fantastic to see the breadth and sophistication of fellow BIPP members’ work.

A welcome chance to appreciate other peoples’ eye for a shot, or technical skills.

Winning Gold and Photographer of the Year…


Echo ©Michael Wharley 2014

Having scored a bronze a few years back for a beauty image, I was hopeful of perhaps going one better with a silver this year;.

So I was over the moon to be awarded a Gold (one of only two on the day) in Fine Art, for the image ‘Echo’, above, not least because of some beautiful photos from others in the same category.

It was an image I shot for a personal project, so I’m especially proud of having conceived, shot and post produced it myself.

You can browse through the full list of awards and photos at the link here, which reveals the other bit of flabbergasting news from the day, that I was also named the BIPP South East Photographer of the Year 2014-15.

That was beyond my expectations; it’s a true privilege to have one’s work recognised by your peers in this way, and I can only say thank you to the BIPP, for ignoring the claims of other equally (if not more) talented members.

Of course, the next day I was straight back to shooting, and on my hands and knees painting backdrops – but with a smug glow to sustain me through my next bit of personal work…

11/11/2014 MW

Read about my Associateship Qualification with the BIPP

Gaining an Associateship in Advertising Photography with the BIPP

Taking a look at how (and why) I went through the demanding process of earning my Associateship in Advertising Photography, with the British Institute of Professional Photography.


Michael Wharley with BIPP CEO Chris Harper and judge Kevin Wilson

Me looking smug/delighted with BIPP CEO Chris Harper and judge Kevin Wilson

Last week, I took another small step along the road of improving as a photographer, by qualifying as an Associate in Advertising Photography with the British Institute of Professional Photography, otherwise known as BIPP.

I’ve been a member since I turned professional in May 2010, and BIPP does an ace job of broadly recognising, supporting and protecting the work and interests of UK photographers, running awards and lobbying for the sector, but also provides these qualifications.

Recognised as sort of kitemark of quality for clients, going for qualification means following strict criteria and providing a substantial portfolio of commissioned work, together with supporting information about yourself as a professional.   I reached Licentiate status back in February 2011, and have definitely benefited from wearing the LBIPP badge.

Developing as a Pro

Beyond being pro-badges, the tiered qualification structure also means that – in what’s a fairly solitary, self-employed profession – you can also engage in structured professional development.

So, as my skills and work have developed over the last few years, and my business has evolved, I wanted to push myself to the Associate Qualification in the field of Advertising, both to assess where my portfolio was lacking, to get guidance on where to improve, and – hopefully - to have those improvements recognised. 

Prepping the evidence

Prints & supporting evidence ready to go on assessment day

Prints & supporting evidence ready to go on assessment day

I had to prepare a hardcopy portfolio, but also a book of supporting information, displaying how and where my advertising photography work is used, and how it fulfils clients’ briefs.

Check out the magnum opus in e-format  below:

Assessment day…

The formal assessment at BIPP headquarters near Aylesbury, involved a nerve-jangling wait while assessors Kevin Wilson  and Bryn Griffiths, together with Chris Harper, considered and discussed the work, before calling me in to learn my fate.

Thankfully, they put me out of my misery straight away – it was the pass.

The takeaways

I left with a new ABIPP certificate and lovely, weighty, perspex ABIPP block for my client area, plus a metaphorical badge to reassure clients that my work meets high professional standards.

But, just as importantly, despite being time, money and effort-intensive, the process was hugely important, taking me out of the day to day grind of business, and helping me focus on what’s good about my work, and how I’ve developed since the LBIPP, but also what I want to focus on in the future and how to improve.

Fingers crossed, the jump to FBIPP won’t be too long coming…

MW 24/06/2014

Spotlight on… a prize-winning headshot session in video

Taking a close-up look inside a prize-winning headshots session with me and Casting Call Pro, in a new headshot video.


Taking a close-up look at the organic process of shooting a headshot portfolio: video below

If you’ve ever wondered what one of my – or indeed, any headshot photographer’s – sessions are like then wonder no more, because in this video, shot by the ace Sam Swainsbury of Cut To: Productions, we take you behind the scenes on a headshot shoot.

Actress Katherine Rodden was the winner of a £600+ headshot portfolio makeover, including full hair & makeup artist, and more, in a competition run by myself and Casting Call Pro late in 2013. Incidentally, the most popular comp CCP has ever run, with over 600 entrants.

In the video, there’s a look inside my detailed, organic process of creating a headshot portfolio, as we work with makeup & hair artist Terri Pace, shooting inside and out, and achieving as much range as possible.

Elements of the way I work are unique to me of course, but it’s also probably a good insight into the way any portraitist will work with you to achieve the shots you need, whether you’re an actor, business person, model, or comedian.

It really does take two – or in this case, three – to tango, and the energy, personality and relaxation you bring to a shoot, helps create great photos, as you can hopefully see with Katherine.

But I’m sure the video says a lot more than the written word in this case, so check it out…

28/04 2014 MW

Katherine Rodden:

Hair & MU by Terri Pace:

Prize offered in combination with Casting Call Pro and 10x8prints &

Filmed & edited by Sam Swainsbury, at the awesome Cut To: Productions: &

Music by Fire at Will (with thanks to Will Owen):

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Spotlight on…Sense & Sensibility poster location shoot.

Getting close to nature and slightly too close to sunset for comfort on a poster image location shoot for Sense & Sensibility, opening soon at the Watermill Theatre.

Sense & Sensibility poster image © Michael Wharley Photography 2014

Sense & Sensibility poster image © Michael Wharley Photography 2014

Ah Nature! There really is nothing quite like getting out of the studio and into the great outdoors; all the virtues of the greatest light source man knows – the sun – at your ready disposal.

Not that things necessarily work out quite so idyllically in a South London park in October. But then that’s when a little location lighting comes to the rescue…

Theatre Briefs

I was shooting with writer and director Jessica Swale for the Watermill Theatre, creating promo shots to make up the poster and marketing for her adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Sense & Sensibility‘ which opens in early April 2014.

As Jan Ferrer, marketing & sales director at the Watermill,  observes, from a theatre’s point of the view, a poster image needs to cover a lots of bases:

[important] ”Trying to find something that captures the attention can be challenging, and combined with this is the need to create an evocative image that meets both the aspirations of the director and the marketing requirements of the theatre: in this case, capturing the period and appealing to our audience, Jane Austen lovers and both men and women.” [/important]

Currently in rehearsals, directed by Jessica, back in October there was not a role cast and the adaptation was its first draft, so our job was to create a striking image, capturing at least a flavour of the key narrative relationship between sisters Eleanor (the  ’Sense’ of the title) and Marianne (‘Sensibility’), not to mention foregrounding a classical period drama vibe.

Making Perfect Sense…

Idyllic soft sunlight on the test shoot © Michael Wharley Photography 2014

Idyllic soft sunlight on the test shoot © Michael Wharley Photography 2014

Agreeing a moodboard of images and zeroing in on the idea of a slightly wild and filmic version of rural life, we sourced costumes and found some willing models (ace actresses Helen Sorren and Michelle Fahrenheim), who could pass as sisters, while Jessica’s longstanding period-drama directing expertise meant she became de facto hair and makeup bod.

The sun making life easy on the test shoot © Michael Wharley Photography 2014

The sun making life easy on the test shoot © Michael Wharley Photography 2014

On a scouting shoot in Brockwell Park, SE24, the day before the shoot proper and  at the golden hour of late afternoon autumnal sun, things had looked truly perfect.


 …Insensible with cold.

The next day, as we dashed into the park to shoot at a similar time, with similar weather forecast, leaden skies, flat grey light, and a chill wind presented a rather more sombre shoot in prospect.

Alas, a brochure deadline meant no option but to shoot that day.

Thankfully, blankets for our good humoured models kept them from frostbite.

And a pair of frankly amazing and life-saving Elinchrom Quadra Rangers provided the illusion of soft sunlight that had appeared so naturally less than 24 hours earlier.

 From Dusk ’til Lawn

Regency reportage, flash standing in for low sunlight ©Michael Wharley 2014

Regency reportage, flash standing in for low sunlight ©Michael Wharley 2014

My personal favourite , no flash in use. ©Michael Wharley 2014

My personal favourite, no flash in use, though natural light a little flat ©Michael Wharley 2014

Shooting quickly to keep the models playing off one another (and not too cold), we got a range of set ups, to offer the theatre as much choice as possible.

But it was practically dusk, with light failing rapidly, when we took the shot that ended up being the poster image.

That’s the image that stands at the head of this post, and without those battery-powered Elinchrom location lights, providing low-angle highlights on the models and grass, there’s no way it would have been possible.



Posters, flyers, brochures, book covers…

Sense & Sensibility flyers

Sense & Sensibility flyers

We chose this particular image because the model looking into the camera, and therefore, out of the picture at you, is immediately engaging.” Jan Ferrer, Watermill Theatre.

The choice of shots seemed to go down well with the theatre, with the ‘winner’  being a shot that I hope captures a classical vibe, something of the sisters’ relationship, and the atmosphere of the novel and adaptation, while catching the eye too

If it does, that’s as much down to the sterling efforts of Helen Sorren and Michelle Fahrenheim as models, the artistic direction thoughts of Jessica Swale, and the light-wielding antics of assistant James Butterworth, as my work.

Certainly, the image was used not just as the poster/flyer for the production, but also as the cover for the Watermills’ Spring / Summer Season Brochure.

Plus – fingers crossed – there’s some prospect of it featuring on the cover of Samuel French‘s forthcoming edition of Jessica’s script.

So it was well worth scrabbling round in the gathering dusk; and, though I’d far rather have used the light than fought it, I do enjoy knowing that despite feeling like a bit of late-summer’s-eve desolate Devon (and thanks to those trusty Elinchroms), really it’s SE24 in the gloom!

21/03/2014 MW


Adapted and directed by Jessica Swale

Book here

THU 03 APR 2014 – SAT 10 MAY 2014

Performance Times
Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinées at 2.30pm
(no matinée performance on Thursday 3 April)
Saturday 10 May performances at 1.30pm and 6.30pm

Monday evening, Thursday and Saturday matinées £15 and £14.50.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings £24, £22, £15.
Friday and Saturday evenings £26, £24, £16.50.

First Week Special
On the first Thursday and Friday seats are £15 and £14.50. (no other discounts apply)


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Michael Wharley Actors Headshots @ Surviving Actors 2014


“Top Theatre Photographer…leading voice on headshot & digital trends in the industry” (The Stage)

Thinking about getting new actors headshots, or wondering how to make the most of your existing portfolio?

I’m back supporting Surviving Actors for the third year running, and I think it’s one of the very best events for actors going, with an excellent programme of seminars and classes, not to mention an array of service providers – from publishers to photographers to showreel people – to cater to your every acting need.

Do drop by my stand to have a chat, pick up discount vouchers, or get impartial advice on your headshot portfolio with a free Headshot Healthcheck.

What’s on offer:

  • Prize draw to win a free head shot session worth nearly £200
  • Money-off vouchers
  • Headshot Healthcheck: free, impartial assessment of your current headshots & advice on how to make the most of your next session, whoever it is with.

I’ll look forward to meeting you!

22/01/2014 MW


Spotlight on… a ghostly location shoot in London

Getting the feeling we’re not alone on a location photography shoot in London’s Brick Lane…


I was shooting for a client recently at the wonderful period property 4 Princelet Street, just off Brick Lane in London, and got the feeling I wasn’t alone..

I wasn’t, in fact. Because it is so versatile, this early Georgian gem is forever popping up on TV and film – last spotted yesterday on an episode of ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ – and I had such a great team with me that it seemed a waste not to shoot a personal project too.

I’d been playing round with the idea of a haunted house, and was envisaging creating something to suggest past events by combining two shots of a room, but when I saw the mirror, the vague ideas coalesced rather nicely.

Top improvisation marks must go to the model & actress Alexa Brown, who brought my vague direction to life beautifully, and the supreme makeup skills of Chris Dennis, and hair skills of Petar Dragicevic, of  Glass Hair Salon, who created mystery and magic from a few Wharley mumblings.

Thanks also to the invaluable assistant Vincent Whiteman, who wielded lights and always has a creative thought to share when I run dry, and to Tom Lovatt, who worked the wind machine to perfection!

Check out the gallery below for some of the other shots from the day…

For any  technically-minded reader, the room’s shot with the ambient light, and the model with a a beauty dish key light, heavy on the wind machine, and a snooted effects light for hair.


20/01/2014 MW


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