Thu, 23 May 2019
Victoria Tapper’s love of photography was ignited after she stole her sister’s camera as a schoolgirl.
She hasn’t stopped snapping ever since.
“No-one in my family was interested in photography, but I developed a love for it at school,” she remembers.
“My sister had an instamatic camera and I stole it and started photographing my school friends.
“But I soon realised that I didn’t just want a record of events, I wanted the photos to say something, to tell a story.
“I used to lurk behind pillars at school and capture what was happening ”
But although she had a clear love of photography early on, Victoria chose a very different career path initially.
After studying at University of London, she became an investment banker in The City.
“It was as far away from creative as you could get,” she laughs.
Her stint in banking lasted 15 years, but then Victoria fell ill and with a husband and young daughter now in her life, the family relocated to Cornwall.
The move gave Victoria the opportunity to pick up her camera again.
“To be a photographer you need time, a lot of it, and as my daughter grew up, I started to do more and more photography for friends and family,” she adds.
“My camera was with me all the time and I was buzzing with ideas of people I wanted to photograph."
She studied at Truro College and in 2008 set up her own business and made a living out of photography for the first time.
“It was incredibly tough to start with,” she adds.
“Family and wedding photography was where I started and it’s very competitive. I needed to carve out my own, recognisable style.”
It was after photographing a wedding that the first seeds of a new direction were sown.
“The uncle of the bride got in touch,” Victoria explains. “He said: ‘You know the way you photographed the wedding? I want you to photograph my business like that’.
“So I did. I captured happy and fulfilled staff, pride in delivering a great service to satisfied customers, even an intense debate in a meeting.
“The old photos of the factory, boring head shots and unimaginative product photography were all ditched.
“The client and, more importantly, the staff, were thrilled.”
Three years ago the family moved to Marlborough and Victoria (pictured above) realised it was the perfect opportunity to expand the business photography.
“I found a wealth of small and medium-sized companies, talented entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, who wanted what I offered,” she explains.
“I created a business photo package called 10 Great Photos of Your Business, for a fixed, affordable price. And it really took off.”
Now around 25 per cent of what Victoria does is family photography, and 75 per cent business photography.
“More and more business owners recognise the need for compelling photography,” she said.
But she does still meet people who think their profession is not exciting enough to be photographed.
“People come to me and say ‘I’m a lawyer, an accountant or a will writer, it’s impossible to photograph what I do in an engaging way’,” she says.
“Then I get them to tell me about their fabulous team, how they help their clients and the problems they solve for them.
“I visualise these things and together we create the shot list.
“These are the images that people want to see and will connect with.”
But there are times when even the best photographic minds go blank.
So what does Victoria do when that happens?
“Then I ask my husband, Hugh, for ideas,” she admits.
“He is really creative and I couldn’t do my job without him.
“He worked for a great advertising agency and is very visual and a great communicator, so if I get stuck for an idea, he’s my man.”
Victoria, who won the Muddy Stilettoes Photographer of the Year award in 2018, credits a number of other people with helping her during her career too.
These include the late film director Ray Rathborne, who was a neighbour in Cornwall and gave her six huge movie lights to set up in her garage before telling her not to come back to him ‘until she had something decent to show’ and documentary photographer Kevin Mullins, who taught Victoria the most valuable lesson of all in candid photography – ‘watch, wait and listen' before pressing the shutter.
“It’s the key, especially for natural family photography,” she says.
Victoria also works with the charity Butterfly Wishes Network, offering free photography shoots to families with children with life-limiting illnesses.
And just to prove how deep her passion for photography runs, when I ask Victoria what interests she has outside her work, her immediate answer is ‘photography’ – along with her family and springer spaniel Charlie.