Meet Lily Bertrand-Webb
Written by: Lydia Varney
Meet Lily Bertrand-Webb, the first in our new series of Women Who Inspire Us. At a young age, Lily overcame the loss of her hearing, learning to rely on lipreading and a cochlear implant. Never one to be held back, Lily is now a successful photographer who has worked with several high profile clients and has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery. We met Lily at her home to discuss everything from the highlights of her career to her go-to shoe choice and her favourite Spring 22 pieces.
First of all, your photography is amazing! You have such a natural eye and beautiful way of capturing your subjects. What is it that first drew you to photography?
Thank you! It was my godfather who first introduced me to the magical world of the camera at a young age. I was immediately captivated by the desire to capture and freeze time through the shutter of my analogue cameras - nothing quite beats the feeling of shooting on film. I intuitively chase natural light and settings in order to depict the most honest version of my sitters.
It is through photography that I am able to visually accentuate my other senses – from the way I observe my surroundings, to my affection for colour. I always strive for my work to be a visual representation of my experience of the world as a half deaf and half hearing person. As an artist, I am constantly searching for the imitation of sounds in my daily life, through both silence and the electronic sounds that my cochlear implant gives me.
You’ve worked on a real variety of projects - which recent shoot has been your favourite and why?
I recently took a portrait of the incredible Alina Peretti, who is a Auschwitz survivor. Her son had just written a book about her experiences and The Telegraph was writing a piece on it. A week before Christmas, I went to her house and had coffee with her husband and her son. What was meant to be a 1 hour shoot ended up as an entire afternoon together. She is a wonderful woman and I feel very lucky to have taken her portrait and listened to her stories.
You’ve overcome a lot to get to where you are, it’s very inspirational. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey from losing your hearing at a young age to pursuing your dreams in a very tough and competitive industry?
After losing my hearing from a young age I now wear a cochlear implant which replaces acoustic hearing with electric, allowing me to hear sounds I’d never heard before. I also have a special superpower… lipreading!
It has and will always be challenging for me in the industry, but I believe it has shaped me and my photography style today. From the beginning I have always shot on film, and it is a constant battle to persuade the client to allow me to do this. I like to think that my passion and commitment makes me stand out.
And of course, a little bit about fashion! How would you describe your sense of style?
Vintage and glam with a surf twang.
Prints or colour-blocking?
Heels or flats or sneakers?
Finally, which is more important: style or practicality?