It was a brave choice to submit a black and white panel of wildlife images for a Fellowship qualification, but Lesley Wood stuck to her choice and her beautiful images of African animals in the wild charged through the judging process. Lesley is one of the Societies' most recent Fellows having achieved success at this year's Convention in January.
"I thought it could go one of two ways," Lesley told me when we caught up the week after the Convention. "With all the images being monochrome, it was always going to be a love it or hate it choice for the judges." It turns out that the judges - and everyone else in the room - loved the series of prints showing such majestic animals looking so natural.
Originally Lesley's photography business was focused on shooting family lifestyle sessions and weddings. After deciding to turn professional, Lesley completed a flurry of further education in 2006 including Aspire's Bespoke Programme enabling her to kick off her lifestyle business. However, it was a chance encounter with 11 Cavalier King Charles puppies in 2008 that led to a momentous moment in Lesley's career. Winning Pet Photographer of the Year in January 2009 fueled Lesley's desire to photograph animals. "My whole business changed overnight" says
Lesley when I asked how winning an award for pet photography affected her photography. "The picture that won the award was actually the very first picture that I shot of dogs, I'd never done any pet photography before that!"
It's quite a remarkable story, to win such a prestigious award at your first go out of the gate, but it has encouraged Lesley really to really find her niche in photography and to shoot what she really enjoys. "I love being outside with the dogs and their families, coming back muddy after a shoot. It seemed logical after that to photograph horses too since I had one as a teenager." Moving on to photographing bigger animals in the wild was a natural progression for Lesley. "Photographing lions is like photographing domestic cats, in a way. They behave very similarly - although you do have to remember that they are a cat that can eat you!" Botswana, Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands, the Amazon rainforest, Kenya, Camague ...the list just goes on. Highlights of Lesley's wildlife photography also include handwritten letters from David Attenborough supporting her work; not many wildlife photographers can claim that kind of encouragement!
There are 43 days to get ready for The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
which starts on Wednesday 15th March 2023