Professional photographer Craig Clewlow has scooped a major award, just three years after a major career change.

Craig, a former tattoo artist, has been named as West Midlands Photographer of the Year at the annual English Wedding Awards.  Now Craig, aged 40, from Ash Bank, Stoke-on-Trent, has been chosen to represent lens makers Samyang at a major showcase and his passion for photography has led to him passing on his knowledge to up and coming photographers.

Craig specialises in wedding and new-born baby photography through his company New Road Photography. He was nominated by his clients for photographer of the year in the English Wedding Awards and beat a strong group of finalists in the judges’ vote to be named West Midlands’ Wedding Photographer of the Year.

“It’s a fantastic awards programme to get involved with as nominations come directly from the brides and grooms we photograph and their satisfaction is the best kind of recognition,” said Craig. “A panel of expert judges then view the finalists’ portfolios and choose a winner for each English region.”

Craig was keen on photography as a youngster, but didn’t pursue it as a career, instead working in several jobs and taking on a role running a tattoo parlour in Hanley. When his first child was born, he was encouraged to pick up a camera again.

“I really enjoyed taking pictures of my son and people told me I had a talent for it,” added Craig. “I was able to visualise a good photo and capture it. I started taking photographs semi-professionally around seven years ago and my career has developed from there. I’ve grown my clients through recommendations and photography is now a full time career, with 2019 being my best year yet. Along with being recognised in the English Wedding Awards, I have been chosen to showcase Samyang lenses and will be representing them at photography shows in 2020. I also have a passion for supporting up and coming photographers and have grown a community through a group on Facebook, called the Fellow Photographers’ Community. This has led to me leading workshops for people starting out in the business and forging partnerships with up and coming photographers.  When shooting a wedding, it is becoming more common to have a second photographer, following the bride and groom throughout the day and the Fellow Photographers’ group is a great way of building trusted relationships. Since 2018, I have run bridal portrait shoots for other photographers to tag along on and, in September 2019, I ran my first full wedding workshop in partnership with Samyang Lenses UK.”