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 published his latest work capturing the Barnes Wetlands Centre.

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 is 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.

What’s your favourite type of photography?

It would probably be landscapes and in particular, nature. I believe I got my love of nature from my father, as he was a great fan and it’s such a shame that he never got see any of my publishing exploits, as he died in 2001. He was an inveterate reader and it always astounded me how he could have several books on the go at once. I would love to have shown him around The Wetland Centre, the subject of my latest book, as he would have been astonished at what has been achieved here.

My top tips for a great photograph? Don’t think that just because you only have a smart phone you cannot take a good photograph. Good pictures are all about light, composition, and interesting subjects. All of this can be easily achieved with today’s smart phones.

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 offers up on the common. During the various lockdowns we have had, having access to such wonderful local open spaces was a live saver. There is also Bushy Park, which I have come to love more and more recently (they have better trees beside their lakes) and of course The London Wetland Centre.

Do you have a favourite photo or project?

That’s really hard, as I take so many but three of my favourites over the last 12 months would have to be the fabulous deer that I took in Bushy Park last February, where everything came together beautifully, some fabulous light, some beautiful trees and shadows, a mist and the icing on the cake, some deer to wander into your perfect scene. Then these wonderful owlets that I found on Barnes Common last April and finally, this wonderful Grebe that I found at The Wetland Centre, which became the cover of my new book.

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.