Andrew Wilson and Josie his Springer Spaniel

Andrew Wilson: capturing the beauty of south west London and Surrey

Andrew Wilson: capturing the beauty of south west London and Surrey

The local photographer on his inspiration and latest venture

Putney-based photographer and publisher Andrew Wilson is known for his beautiful coffee-table books, featuring the towns and villages of south west London and Surrey. He has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help produce his next venture, focusing on Walton on the Hill where he was born.

Together with Walton, the book will also cover the towns and villages of Tadworth, Kingswood, Epsom, and Dorking. As well as capturing all these places photographically, in partnership with the local history society, he will complement the images with the fascinating history behind the areas.

Expensive to produce, he is looking for supporters to help get the book published in November with a whole range of perks and gifts for those that back it – including special photographic days out with Andrew.

As well as helping him to realise the book, you will also be helping local charities, Tadworth Court, and Walton Primary School, with much needed funding. Find out more here.

Andrew, tell us – where do you find your inspiration?

My love of nature and everything outdoors; it truly saved my sanity during lockdown. There is nothing more invigorating than a walk in the country or stroll across Putney Heath or Barnes Common. I am an inveterate weather watcher and keeper of the tides along the Thames; walking along the river at low tide are always an interesting place to be especially either at the beginning or end of the day.

Top tips for a great photograph?

Timing, light and the patience to stop and consider your picture before you take it and whether it might be improved (things to include, exclude?). There is also a lot of luck in photography but as with everything, the more you do the luckier you get.

Most common mistakes people make when taking a photo?

Finger over the lens when you use your phone; I do it too! Constructing an image can sometimes be fundamental, as our eyes are programmed to like certain things, shapes etc. Your readers may well have heard about the rule of thirds but this is a very simple concept and just means avoiding placing your subject in the centre of your picture.

How did you set out on this career path?

I have always had an interest in photography but done nothing with it until the financial crash of 2008 forced me to look for other things to do with my time. Inspired by a book on Richmond Park by another photographer, I set about replicating what she’d done. After taking a course at the excellent Putney School of Art and Design, I published my first book, Wild in the City at Christmas 2009.

Where are your favourite places to photograph?

I am Friend of Barnes Common and although wishing it was more like the Lake District for its vistas, I love to project everything that every season throws up on the common. During lockdown, this lead me to take an even more forensic view of what’s there and was amazed what I found. Of course, we have Richmond Park and The London Wetland Centre on our doorstep too, which are just two of the places I love to visit.

Do you have a favourite photo or project?

To pick just one photo would be hard, as I have literally amassed thousands over the last 10 years. A lot of thought goes into my pictures and in some ways, my favourite picture can be the last one I took. My favourite book would probably be my Richmond one.

Why do you love living in the area? How long have you lived here?

I have lived in Putney for over 25 years. My wife and I set up home in North London when we got married but with both our parents living in Surrey, moving south of the river was essential for visits. My wife has a business in Barnes and that was our first choice to live but couldn’t find exactly what we were after and eventually found something in West Putney. As for where we are, aren’t we blessed? The river, the common, the heath, the shopping, the eating, the drinking, what’s not to love about our area of town and I very much look forward to the time we can get back to normality.

Has the pandemic shaped your work at all?

My biggest client is Waterstones, so yes, Covid and the lockdown had an immediate effect on my ability to do business. I was also shut out of many of the places I would normally love to visit. Thankfully, I have held onto some of my clients, which is brilliant but I do feel for those people who have been more badly affected. Can you imagine putting your life and soul into building a business in events, say? Going forward, I will have to look to new ways of raising money for the projects I do but its not going to be easy. Luckily, I already worked from home, so that’s nothing new for me.

What’s next for you?

I’m looking forward to having my new book out in December on Walton on the Hill. I am also working with another photographer on a new book on Tooting.


More photography inspiration. Social documentary photographer Jim Grover.