Everywhere you look in Notting Hill there seems to be another amazing talent. This time, it’s local photographer Karolina Webb, whose portraits are so full of energy and happiness that they almost seem impossible. Webb grew up in Poland, but soon understood that living there under communist rule meant that her wings would stay clipped, she would not be able to follow her heart, travel and explore the world, so when she left university she came to London. “As soon as I moved here I found it visually stunning, as Poland was then a communist country,” says Webb. “Also, I couldn’t communicate very well so images were easier.” Happily for us, she met met her husband at the Walmer Castle and stayed in Notting Hill.
For the last 10 years Webb has been working as a professional photographer, having started off with courses at the Westminster Adult Education centre off the Harrow Road, though she feels she is more self-trained. Her advice to others who would like to become professional photographers is practise. “I had the feeling that I just couldn’t put the camera down. There no way you can be good if you don’t practice and digital photography gives you the opportunity to see your photos straight away and learn.” Webb also had her mother-in-law, who worked at Christies and loves art, on hand to help. She would say to Webb ‘No darling, this doesn’t work’, or, ‘I wish the child didn’t have this part of the face covered’, of which Webb says: “That was great to hear and you quickly learn what works.”
Portraiture really took off when the photographer’s daughter was born. “I took lots of pictures of her, then people started asking me to take pictures of their children and buy them,” says Webb and she worked with Cherry Tree Nursery on a series of pictures of 1 – 2 year olds. “I set myself the challenge of sitting the children down and they would laugh or chat and then I put the facial expressions together. Now Notting Hill is a real community for me, as I recognise the children and see how they change.”
Webb’s photograph sessions are customised for each client, they can last 45 minutes or for a family with lots of little children may last three hours while she hovers in the background waiting for the best shot. She sometimes travels to peoples country houses, where they are more relaxed. The way people enjoy photos has changed, digital files are popular but on a computer they are hidden away and people now ask to have a beautiful print and frame it so they can see it every day. Also, Webb says: “If they want to document their family, I will make a decadent silk-bound album with luxury fine-art paper” Just enough time to get those Christmas cards made … karolinawebb