dinosaur and toadstool by photography course student Bernadette McCarthy
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Photographer profile – Bernadette McCarthy

12 Nov 2018

Photographer profile – Bernadette McCarthy on the ‘Get Started’ Photography Portfolio course at Pensthorpe with Julia Rafferty

Bernadette is attending the ‘Next Steps’ photography course that I run at Pensthorpe and, one week in class, she shared this group of photos with the photography course students. It was great to see that she had changed how we look at the fungi that we have discovered at Pensthorpe, taking photos that would appeal to a younger generation; all those children who visit this wonderful location and see the world differently to the rest of us. Bernadette has called the collection of images her, ‘Toys and Fungi’ collection and she took then during the October half term.

She said, “I had originally intended to photograph the fungi alone but decided to add some fun characters as well. I thoroughly enjoyed taking them and it was a delight to see little children spotting the fairy with a red toadstool”.

Yoda and fungi by photography course student Bernadette McCarthy

Yoda and fungi by photography course student Bernadette McCarthy

I asked Bernadette the following questions and here are her replies:

When did you first realise that you loved photography?

I first realised that I loved photography as an 11-year-old using a Kodak Instamatic camera.

Do you remember the first photo that you took that you liked?

My first photo that I liked was, again, when I was aged 11 and taken at my grandparent’s farm in West Ireland. It was a silhouette of a flying heron taken against a summer sky and resembled a Pterodactyl, quite frightening at the time.

What gave you the idea for this wonderful set of images?

My idea of using the toys was quite spontaneous really. I kept hearing references by adults to ‘fairies and toadstools’ so I found a fairy in a shop window and subsequently, by chance, the other characters. I wanted my photography to especially appeal to children.

fairy toadstool by photography course student Bernadette McCarthy

Fairy and toadstool photo taken by photography course student Bernadette McCarthy


Could you describe your favourite style of photography?

My favourite style of photography would be an atmospheric landscape that creates a mood.

Have you seen a photo by another photographer that you find inspiring?

There are two areas that have inspired my photography. As a youngster looking at the superb travel photos in the ‘National Geographical Magazine’. Later in the 1970’s I came across Heather Angel and her nature photography book which showed outstanding macro work.

What would your perfect day of photography look like and where would you go?

My perfect day would be taking a photo for the first time of a rare animal or bird in its natural habitat.

What item from your photography kit could you not live without?

I have two items that I rely heavily upon in my camera bag. I generally use a 70-300mm lens plus ensuring my 100mm macro is also in the bag, if I am entailing a nature trip.

What kit would you like to own?

The kit I would like to have more of would be various filters to enhance some creative photography.