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

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