Caroline Bridges: photographer

Like father like daughter is a phrase you rarely hear but in Caroline Bridge’s case it cannot be denied that she has inherited her dad’s instinctive ability to use a camera.

What makes that more unusual is that Ted Bridges sadly died before she was even born, so she is convinced her skills are most certainly in her genes.

“I never knew him at all, but my mother told me about him over the years and I knew he had a camera and a love for photography because there are hundreds and hundreds of transparencies stored away in boxes.

“He took this beautiful picture of my mother,” she added, fetching a picture of a stunning young lady with a look of Audrey Hepburn about her.

Caroline was given the name of her mother’s second husband as a child but says that a few years ago when she was setting up her own photography business she was determined to call it Caroline Bridges Photography.

“It was the name I wanted and it seemed fitting to use it for my new business. I am really pleased I made the decision and I am sure he would have been proud of me.”

Caroline and her husband Steve Shimwell live in Belper and have three children, the youngest, eight-year-old Chloe, is a budding model and a muse for her mother.

She worked for Boots the Chemists in pharmacy for 28 years but three years ago decided she had had enough and wanted to do something different.

“I loved art at school but decided to go down the sciences route. It wasn’t until five years ago I bought my first camera. I read everything I could find on the subject before choosing one and then carried on reading until I knew how to use it. I am entirely self-taught – as was my father – and I practised by taking pictures of Chloe and my dogs.

Steve loves field trialling with gun dogs and the family have dogs and puppies running all over the house and garden.

“I didn’t really intend to start a photography business at first and simply put the pictures I took on facebook.

“They started to get noticed and others asked Steve if I would come along and take pictures of their dogs in action.”

Since then her business has pretty much snowballed and she has had work published in The Field magazine and is regularly invited on field trails and working tests by gundog societies all over the country.

In 2015 she won a second prize in the Dog Photographer of the Year competition at Crufts.

Her images were used as the backdrop for Channel 4’s TV coverage.

“I couldn’t believe that Claire Balding was sitting in front of my photograph. It was all rather unreal,” said Caroline.

The photographer now also takes fine art pictures specialising in dance and has ventured into the commercial world taking pictures for estate agents and other major companies. When I visited her home her hall was hosting bicycles ready for a Raleigh Bikes shoot.

Caroline’s love of all things country has seen her out taking pictures of the landscape and a series of 11 monochrome images of the enchanting Padley Gorge can be seen at Hall of Frames in Belper.

By something of a bizarre coincidence Caroline has recently discovered that her father actually took black and white pictures in the gorge over 50 years ago.

“My mother was sorting through some of her belongings and she came across an envelope with some carefully cropped prints he had taken. She brought them to show me saying they were like mine and I realised they were almost exactly the same.”

Caroline laid the pictures out in front of me adamant that she had never seen them before she took her own versions.
“It is uncanny, but somehow I feel he must be influencing what I do – how else can you explain it?” she said.

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