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Trevor and Faye Yerbury - Speakers' Corner - part 1 of 1

by Trevor Yerbury Published 01/12/2009

We don't believe there's ever been a speaker line-up quite like this before at any photo convention - anywhere. At the pioneering eight-day long 2011 gathering, our broad church of professional and aspirational photographer visitors will have a truly enormous choice of seminars to be delivered by 100 top-rated experts from across the globe. (We just wanted to make quite sure we had covered every subject under the imaging sun!)

Of course it would be impossible to produce personal profiles for every single speaker given obvious Imagemaker pagination restrictions, so we've drawn some of these key names out of the hat to give you an exclusive 'cross-section' profile snapshot. We asked them all similar questions - and here's the result.

Imagemaker: Tell us a little about your background, your first camera and photographic experience and your subsequent emergence as a pro.

TY: The business was established in 1864. I was established a little after that but nevertheless I confess to having been a pro here for more than 40 years now. I've had several one-man exhibitions over the years and we've been fortunate enough to win numerous awards. In addition there have been many TV and radio appearances and I was lucky enough to be presented to The Queen - before I photographed her.

My first camera was a 5x4 Linhof Technica. Bless it.

FY: I lectured in advanced hair and cosmetics for 25 years and worked with Trevor on special projects before I joined the business full-time in 1996.

My first camera was a Nikon F.

Why photography?

TY: Is there anything else? (Nobody told me.)

FY: I am not allowed anything else.

Film or digital? Is there still a place for silver halide?

TY: Day to day I use digital but I still love film and occasionally dust off my 10x8" plate camera and make some beautiful large-format portraits. Digital may have many attributes but compared to a sheet of 10x8" film...!

FY: I think there will always be a place for film - but digital makes life much easier for everyone.

Tell us about your capture and output devices.

We use Nikons, Macs, Hassleblad and Gandolfi.

Bit of detail about your own studio set-up/staffing. Why (as a customer) would I choose you?

We've developed an excellent reputation and our clients just keep coming back. We are also lucky to employ the best PA in the business. Everyone needs a Jilly.

The problem with professional photographers today is...

They don't allow enough time to learn the basics. One year with a camera, attendance at a couple of workshops and they think they've got it all cracked. There is too much reliance on Photoshop and there is a definite lack of business skills for sure.

Many photographers seem to think they are much better than they are in reality. They have a false impression of their abilities, which is often enhanced by their peers on various web forums.

What's the worst commercial error you have made to date?

FY: Getting involved with Cherubs, the baby portrait photography promotion.

Trevor hates photographing babies. I don't mind doing it but we realised we did not want to be involved with promotions which offer free portraits.

How did you rectify the mistake?

We ate them instead.

Are you excited by the evolution of imaging? The future: is the (imaging business) glass half full or half empty?

We are both very excited about all the opportunities that are now offered to us - so this is a 'half full' answer. But we are both forward looking.

Is it getting harder or easier to make a decent living?

This industry has always been difficult. It's all about where you choose to position yourself in the marketplace. For example, a studio start-up would be a nightmare in the current economic climate and not something we would advise unless there is a very stable background to support it.

How do you stay ahead of the game?

Constant self-analysis and self-promotion.


How do organisations such as The Societies help?

These organisations are there to give advice, mentoring opportunities and workshops. The hard work the photographers are prepared to put in gives them the chance to gain qualifications.

For us The Convention is primarily a focus and meeting point for fellow professionals. It's a once-a-year opportunity to meet, make new friendships and renew old ones.

Why is The Societies Convention such a big deal for photographers? Is it primarily about the chance to learn from the experiences of imaging icons?

Yes. Delegates will learn much from the 'icons' but they should also get themselves along to the 20x16 judging where they can listen to experienced photographers discussing the images in front of them. They will learn what makes a good image good and an award-winning image outstanding. But most of all, they will learn.

Your own mentors (living or dead)?

TY: My grandfather. He was a world-class photographer and an excellent businessman - a very rare combination.

FY: Trevor Yerbury - and the broad church of Yerbury archive material that dates back almost 150 years.

Who today is leading the way in creative social photography (other than you) and why?

There are many excellent photographers out there today from whom we can all learn.

However, we both find it disappointing that so many so-called photographers out there have never heard of the leading contemporary social portraitists.

If you could pick just FIVE seminars (other than your own of course!) to attend at The Societies Convention whose workshops would you attend?

TY: Charlie Waite, Eddie Ephraums, Jim Chamberlain, Joe Cornish, Joe Smith.

FY: Dave Newman, Kevin Kubota, Podge Kelly, Bruce Smith, Joe Smith.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the industry?

Regrettably, now that we have new digital cameras launched every few months photographers seem to think they must have the latest bit of kit in order to raise their standards. As a professional photographer you should be able to create a good image with a Box Brownie. And perhaps that's the answer - the return of the Box Brownie!

Would you want your own children to take up the reins of your empire (or have they)?

Only if they are passionate about this profession and are prepared to work hard for success.

Your plans for the next five years?

We do not plan five years ahead but we hope we will remain as enthusiastic about our work then as we are today


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