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'Wilderley' Famous Five Questions. Paola De Paola

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Famous Five Questions

At Wilderley, we listen to other people's perspective, whether they are guests on the farm, paying a flying visit to the airfield, or volunteer with us. We believe that their contribution and particular life philosophy are what helps to shape and grow our ethos. It's a privilege to have hosted so many interesting people; from nurses and artists, to writers and film-makers and we love to share their life perspective with you.

Here's the first of our 'Wilderley 'Famous Five Questions' which we'll be featuring monthly - Our very first feature is a guest interview with London photographer, Paola De Paola:

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, and how you became inspired to become a photographer?

I’m Paola, a wedding photographer based in Wimbledon, London.
I shoot inclusive, relaxed, colourful, modern, non-traditional weddings. Whether the setting is in an urban warehouse, a festival tipi, or an unconventional wedding, it's my cup of tea!
My style is evocative-documentary. I believe in celebrating love in all its forms and shapes.
I love organic imperfection and I chase the beauty of light. Moments, sparkly energy, facial expression, all this and much more. Everything that tells the story of your day, of your love, I will be there to document it all.
I speak five languages. English, Italian, Portuguese Brazilian, Spanish, French, and super happy to travel wherever your wedding will take you. I love travelling and discovering new ways of living.
I started my career as a photographer in the music industry, moved to weddings because I absolutely love people. I am always super excited to hear about their stories.
I deeply believe in equality and inclusion and I’m a pacifist with great respect for all things human and non.
My approach when I photograph weddings is very relaxed but stylish. I don’t stop the flow and capture all those little moments that makes the story of the day a very unique one.
#Lovealways is my motto!

2. During lockdown you did a wonderful series of ‘residents on their doorsteps portraits' for the Wimbledon Guild charity which we all loved. Tell us a bit more about the project?

My reason for starting this project has been to help my local community to embrace positivity during the lockdown period. WIMBLEDON GUILD is a well-established local charity that has been helping people in Merton since 1907. Their aim is to reduced social isolation, loneliness and provide for the most vulnerable with practical and mental support.
After Easter, towards the end of April 2020, I was thinking how the lockdown experience was forcing everyone to
spend more time indoors with their families and in a weird way, it was kind of magical, that all the family members had to adapt, they had to share and help each other. The energy around me was filled with positivity, despite all the difficulties and neighbours were going a long way to help and support each other.
I needed to record this.
I’m obsessed with taking pictures (just ask my family 😂). I also really wanted to help.
This is when I started thinking to contact a local Charity. I wanted the project to fit in with my new life.
Exercise once a day was allowed. So, the project had to be done on my daily cycling around my neighbourhood.

This extraordinary time has taught me to respect and treasure what is most important for me. My family, nature, humanity, respect of others, kindness and community. These amongst many more are the core values that have always been at the heart of my life.”

3. Where did you stay on the farm and what were your general impressions on arrival at Wilderley?

To celebrate our birthdays, my husband Robert and I decided to book ‘the magical tree house', not knowing that this was going to be the most memorable experience ever. To welcome us on our arrival was Celeste with a big smile. The Treehouse is set in the middle of an enchanting woodland with a variety of animals enjoying the outdoors. The place is quirky and creatively hand-crafted, without a doubt the best getaway from a busy London life. Not only is the treehouse pretty, like in a fairy-tale, but it has a flushing toilet, too! Celeste’s hospitality was impeccable, on our arrival we found 4 fresh eggs from her free-range hens. Rob thoroughly enjoyed the flying experience with Sergey, with the most gorgeous sunset ever. There is so much to say about this extraordinary experience, the Alpaca walk is absolutely a must! A big thank you to Lucie who took us for a walk with two gorgeous alpacas. We are taking away from this experience so much more than just a beautiful treehouse!!! Their dedication to rescue the animals is admirable. I have absolutely fallen in love with Lottie the goat and Comet the kissing alpaca. We couldn’t recommend this whole experience highly enough. We are already planning to return with our children in the summer. Thank you all at Church Farm for making the experience a unique one.

4. You took some absolutely stunning photographs during your stay. Any tips on how to get the best out of a portrait?

I think the most important skill when taking pictures is to have the ability to visually capture something that will tell a story. Of course, mastering the fundamentals of photography will help. Skills like adjusting light and learning about camera settings, are important.
However, I personally feel that when I take pictures I don’t worry about the technicality; I let my energy flow and it's like writing a thought, a poem, the magic will happen.
I love different perspectives. I play with reflections, use different lenses, look for symmetry, focus on the subject and I love embracing negative space.
Photography for me is like painting, you will have to find your voice, your way of expressing your unique style.

5. Who was your favourite animal to photograph and why?

I fall under the category of HSP, Highly Sensitive Person, therefore I deeply value connections. Lottie the goat and Comet, the kissing alpaca, will stay in my memory for a long, long time. They made me smile and warmed up my soul. I felt completely connected.

To see more of Paola's work, visit:

Instagram: paoladepaolaphotos
Facebook: PaolaDePaolaPhotography
Twitter: Paola_De_Paola
Pinterest: paoladepaola