London Based International People Photographer
My name is Gill Shaw, I’m a freelance people photographer based in London and an Associate of the Master Photographers Association. In my 20+ years in this industry I have taken natural, fun photographs all over the world from tribesman in Africa to HRH Prince William. I’ve developed a speed and ease for photography that allows me to cover an event without imposing.
Whether its capturing that perfect day to treasure for generations or taking natural and informal fun portraits in a variety of settings I’m happy to say that a lot of my clients keep coming back to work with me again and again.
As a photographer I feel I am in such a privileged position to give back to those around me. In 1999 I had an exhibition of 200 celebrity photographs, many of them signed, which toured the UK in conjunction with my first book, ‘Slightly Offstage’, both of which raised money for Society of Stars helping children and adults with cerebral palsy. Since then I have had various other exhibitions around the globe but one that is very close to my heart is my book and subsequent exhibition ‘The Hero Inside’ which was launched to raise funds for Help for Heroes, a charity dedicated to supporting wounded soldiers. It was a thought-provoking and emotional record of experiences and traumas on the battlefield and at home, because Gill Shaw, Photographer, is also Gill Shaw, the soldier’s mum.
Over my career I have won various international photography awards but I’m incredibly proud of the ones I’ve been awarded for my charity work. I received Photographer of the Year, for my involvement in opening a clinic in Africa for ‘Support for Africa’, and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Inspirational Photographs, acknowledging the contribution of ‘The Hero Inside’ to raising vital funds for Help for Heroes.
I am currently working on my next project to raise funds for Wellfound, where I am a trustee, who help communities install wells and latrines in Africa because as far as I am concerned “Everyone in the world deserves fresh, running water”. It will be a trip to a remote Island off the coast of Africa to capture the lives of local villagers.
To Buy My Most Recent Book
Questions my clients often ask me.
How did you become a photographer?
I was working in a bank in London, and my Manager needed photographs of people buying shares at TSB Branch in Oxford Street, as the bank was going public and they needed the photographs for their in-house magazine. He asked if anyone had a camera. I did (although I had never actually used it), a good friend had unfortunately passed away during his assignment as a war correspondent abroad and had left one of his cameras with me. I went to my nearest camera shop, and asked the assistant for help putting the film into the camera as I had no idea what I was doing. He asked me what speed I would like and I remember answering “As quick as you can please”, not realising that he meant the speed of film! I felt that when I was photographing people that it was incredibly natural, the camera felt like it was a natural extension of my arm. I loved it and knew that I wanted to do this as a career. I don’t do much different today as I did then, I simply talk to people and put them at ease.
What is your favourite thing about being a photographer?
Very few people enjoy having their photograph taken, so the challenge for any photographer is to make them feel comfortable enough that their personality is able to shine through. I love photographing people, and being able to put them at ease and to capture that moment in time is incredibly fulfilling. It means that people not only get beautiful everlasting photos but also memories.
What inspires you?
I am always looking for that perfect picture which I have not taken yet so every subject is a new opportunity.
What is your style?
To me it’s important to put my subjects at ease in front of the camera, whether it’s a teenager in my studio or a Bride on her special day. I believe that the best photos are often the most relaxed and un-posed but I do recognise that formal family photos are also incredibly important. Sometimes it’s necessary to offer direction and suggestions but for the most part I enjoy letting things happen, there is no set formula for an event. I like to think I get the best out of people whether it’s a candid moment or posed photograph.
How do you work and put subjects at ease?
I don’t know how it happens, I’m just myself and it seems to work. I think I talk to them until they forget that there is a camera. I try and get to know the real person behind the smile.
Are there any goals left to achieve?
Every day is a new challenge, a new picture and a new personality. I live for tomorrow.
What is your best picture?
I’ve taken many photographs that I’m proud of. Some of my favourites are in my charity books to raise funds for the help for heroes and children with cerebral palsy, and I love the photos from weddings as it’s hard to find that level of joy and happiness anywhere else. I always like to say that my best picture is “The next one!”
“On behalf of MI & Associates, we wish to thank you for the great photos and fantastic album of our party, It is a great work, done to very very high standard indeed.”
“Thank you! everyone loved the photos and you made the process so hassle free”
Catriona Roe (DHL UK)