The Local Photographer With An Eye For Character

Recently retired Sudbrooke resident, Carol Visser, is currently completing her photography qualification, and spends her time taking portrait photographs of people in and around Lincoln who she believes have faces full of character.

Carol was born in Cape Town and when she married her husband, they moved to Keetmanshoop in Southern Namibia for 8 and a half years before moving to England, eventually settling in Sudbrooke for the last 21 years.

Despite her breath-taking work, Carol admits she hasn’t always been good at photography, and was even famously the family member who would accidently cut heads or feet out of the frame. “I believed for many many years that I could not take photographs” Carol chuckles, “then I got myself a camera and macro lens and started flirting with the insects in my garden. I was very intrigued, and my interest peaked when I first downloaded a photograph onto my computer and could see things that you can’t see with the naked eye – it was like putting something under a microscope! This ignited it all.”

As someone with a curious and inquisitive nature, Carol started questioning what it would be like to take photographs of people with interesting features. The first person Carol photographed was a semi homeless man in the city centre. Because he knew and trusted her from the relationship they had built up whilst spending time together, she eventually took her camera and captured an image, beginning her journey of portrait photography. “When I downloaded the image, I noticed his eyes first, they were beautiful. What I also realised was I’m not interested in taking photos of faces that are smooth, I want textured and interesting faces – I love real, aged, characterful faces that tell a story.” Carol explains.

Using just her Canon Eos 5D Mark IV and Sigma 105mm lens, Carol takes powerful portraits of individuals across the Lincoln area and has no other equipment or studio. By chance she stumbled upon a spot in the city centre which has a black door and perfect natural lighting; this little hidden nook in the city quickly became the spot she would use time and time again.

Carol has a mentor, South African photographer Martin Dudley, who contacted her and has since supported her through her photography journey. “He said he could see that my journey would be with portraiture because I can see things that others don’t.” Carol continues, “It’s all to do with connection. I can say hand on heart I don’t think my photography is that wonderful, but I think it’s the way I engage with people regardless of if they are rich or poor – it’s how I engage with them and how they look at me.”

Through her work she has met a plethora of characters, many of whom will stick with her, including a woman aged 103. “She will stay with me for the rest of my life” Carol beams, “at the beginning I used to sit on a chair away from her, and it took a few visits before she said to me ‘do you want to come and sit next to me?’ then she would put her hand on mine and talk about the war, her childhood, when they first had electricity and how she lived with her grandparents. Now I visit her once a week, usually with a cake!” The two have developed a special relationship, which is common for Carol and her models due to her love of people. “You have to have a mutual respect when it comes to photography, as well as understanding and trust.”  

Carol does not take on commissions, and simply photographs for the joy it brings her. “I don’t have to rush with it anymore, if I do a photo a day then that is fine. I’ve got the luxury of being able to nurse each photograph.”

If you would like to take a look at Carol’s work, you can find her on Instagram via @vissercarol