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Nigel Cooper


Nigel Cooper is a professional photographer based in Cambridgeshire, UK. He studied photography in London and has over 20 years experience in the field of photography. He has a fastidious eye for detail, which has led to him being commissioned by many leading global companies.


He specialises in fashion, beauty and product photography, though having started out as a press photographer he shoots across a diverse range of genres including: portraiture, editorial, corporate, boudoir, weddings and events. Nigel’s ethos is that ‘variety is the spice of life’ so he is always on the lookout for interesting and unorthodox photographic assignments.


Nigel is also an enthusiastic wedding photographer who loves documenting wedding days with a combination of romantic portraits of the bride and groom, traditional family group shots and a mix of photojournalism style photography.

Nigel first got into photography when he was 10 years old. Back then he was a budding ornithologist and spent many hours photographing birds. He was 16 when he bought his first 35mm SLR camera, a Fujica STX-1n, which he soon grew out of when he discovered the optical limitations of its screw-in lenses. After much research (magazines and asking Fleet Street press photographers what cameras they used - there was no internet back then) he bought a Nikon FM2, and later an F3, so he could benefit from the superb optical quality of Nikon's lenses. His Nikon F3 coupled with a Nikkor 300mm F2.8 lens was a combo he loved working with, especially while sitting along the touchlines at Highbury and White Heart Lane with the other press photographers while shooting football matches for two north London newspapers.


For studio and commercial work he favoured Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 and Hasselblad 500cm medium format cameras. Although he preferred the 6x7 format of his Mamiya RZ67, he felt that the Carl Zeiss lenses on the Hassleblad yielded slightly sharper images. The fact that Victor Hasselblad was born on the same day (8th March) as Nigel - be it 60 years earlier – was another reason for his love affair with Hasselblad cameras.


He devoured many books on photography and lighting and later studied photography at college in London. He has a natural eye for a good picture, especially with regard to composition, angle and lighting. He’s always said that there are three vital ingredients required to make up a good photograph: subject matter, lighting and composition. All three of these elements have to be firmly in place before any individual creativity can be applied. He is a fastidious photographer and he understands that photography is both a science and an art, especially when it comes to studio flash/strobe lighting, thus the importance of understand the physics of studio strobe/flash lighting, such as the inverse square law for example.


In his late teens and early twenties Nigel covered several news stories for local newspapers where he wrote up the articles and shot the accompanying photographs. After spending a year working for two photographic retail companies and a year in the hire department at The Flash Centre (Elinchrom UK Distributor) in London he eventually set up his own photographic studio in north London – that he ran with a Flash Centre customer/photographer that he met while working there – specialising in commercial product photography, editorial, fashion and portraiture.

As the years rolled along so did technology and over the course of a few short years film was all but dead in the water as digital took over. Today Nigel shoots with a Sony full-frame mirrorless camera. For medium format work his preference is Hasselblad cameras and lenses.


Nigel’s areas of photographic expertise are: fashion, beauty, product, commercial, portraiture, editorial, corporate, events, boudoir and weddings. 

Nigel works out of Cambridgeshire, UK.


Note about the photographs on the Portfolio page: 

Nigel was a photographer before the word ‘digital’ was ever associated with photography hence he likes to get the image as perfect as possible, in-camera, at the shooting stage: subject matter, composition, lighting and exposure for example. If he requires a beautiful warm yellow hue in a photograph he will wait until the ‘magic hour’ (about an hour or two before the sun goes down) before shooting any given outdoor shot, rather than change the colour temperature or drag the ‘tint’ slider around during post-processing. He will also compose any given shot to perfection (using a tripod when required) rather than crop it in post-processing as he understands the science of photography and that cropping deteriorates the image quality and resolution of a shot. He will also take the time to remove a stray discarded crisp packet from the foreground of a shot rather than airbrushing it out later as this too can deteriorate an image.


By working this way the RAW images require less post-processing work (just like the old days with chemical developing and printing). This workflow maintains maximum image quality, authenticity and, in certain cases, ethics. Nigel thinks like some of his favourite photographers of yesteryear: Bob Carlos Clarke, Patrick Lichfield, Terence Donovan, David Bailey, Beverley Goodway and Ansel Adams, by striving to achieve a great shot – in-camera – to start with, rather than covering up cracks in post.


Some of Nigel’s favourite photographers:

Bob Carlos Clarke, David Bailey, Helmut Newton, Terence Donovan, Patrick Lichfield, Beverley Goodway and Ansel Adams from years gone by and more recently I love the work and style of Karl Taylor and Rosella Vanon.

Favourite quotes from photographers:

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” ~ Ansel Adams


“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” ~ Paul Caponigro


“When people ask me what equipment I use, I tell them my eyes.” ~ Anonymous

“One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.” ~ Annie Leibovitz

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” ~ Yousuf Karsh

In answer to this statement from a local history book writer, who said to Nigel's cousin, a photographer. “You take fantastic pictures, you must have a great camera” to which his cousin replied, “Thanks, and you write great books, you must have a wonderful pen.” ~ Robin Cooper

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