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Fixation/AOP Junior Assistant Competition Winner, Virginie Petorin

We find out more about Virginie Petorin, another winner of our AOP Junior Assistant competition

A budding entrepreneur and seriously talented photographer, Virginie Petorin has set up her own dog photography portrait business in East London, and business has never been better.

She’s one of the thoroughly deserving winners of the first ever Fixation-sponsored Junior Assistant competition with AOP, and won herself a goody bag full of all the kit and accessories a photographic assistant needs. The judges loved her gorgeous portrait, which exemplified her style.

“The beautiful thing about dog portraiture is that you give dog owners the chance to capture heartwarming moments they can cherish for a lifetime.”

We had a chat with Virginie to learn a little more…

Fixation: Congratulations on a beautiful prize-winning image! Could you tell us a little about your shot?

Virginie Petorin: First I wanted to take a moment to extend my most sincere thanks for choosing my photography for the Junior Assistant Competition 2017 with AOP UK and Fixation UK. You have no idea how happy I was when I received the notification that I was selected for the prize – it was such a surprise!

This photo shows Mabel, a rescued British bulldog, at was taken was at my pop-up dog photography studio in May 2016 in East London. I used an Elinchrom Kit D-Lite Rx4, and a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Mabel was on a grooming table, and with just a little simple patience (like working with kids) she proved to be a perfect model!

© Virginie Petorin

F: Tell us about your photography – you seem to work in a lot of genres! How have you developed your varied skillset?

VP: Photography has always been my passion. I’ve long been inspired by old photos and used to compare the past and the present of places. While living in Paris I used to visit all exhibitions showing black and white portraits or historic photography of the city.

When I moved to London I met amazing, passionate people via Instagram meet-ups. That was the beginning of how I started to improve my skills as a professional and starting to improve the long exposure technique, from landscape to cityscape.

Afterward I went to New York and the Lake District to practice my photography further. I went to several AOP Holborn studio conferences and met amazing professional photographers. The more I practiced, the more I was in love.

© Virginie Petorin

F: What are the tricks of the trade in dog portraiture – what valuable lessons have you learned?

VP: Portraiture was always top of my list, as I love capturing facial expressions. Having my home studio and mastering shadows and lights, I was just like a kid in a toy shop!

When I got my dog Coco, an amazing English Cocker Spaniel, in December 2015, I was living in East London. I started to learn with him, and that became the beginning of E5 Dog Photography. The beautiful thing about dog portraiture is that you give dog owners the chance to capture heartwarming moments they can cherish for a lifetime.

© Virginie Petorin

F: Who are some photographers you admire? Have they influenced your style?

VP: I will say Helmut Newton, Joel Santos, Gill Greenberg, Amit and Naroop, Sophie Gamand and Jérôme Pitorin are some of them:

Helmut Newton for his provocatively, erotically black and white imagery. I discovered Gill Greenberg when I went to Stockholm for an exhibition in Fotografiska museum. Her portraits are just stunning.

Sophie Gamand – I love her project “Flower Power” featuring pit bulls ( They are not bad dogs, just sometimes have bad owners. Pit bulls are like any other breed of dogs; they need proper care training and socialisation. Their false reputation of being dangerous has meant that America euthanises upward of one million pit bulls every year. It’s a terrible massacre. With her beautiful work, Sophie has proved that minds can change.

Amit and Naroop I met at an AOP conference and I love their projects “gOLDen” ( and “The Sikh Project” ( They have a quote: “Don’t be vanilla!” That means that while everyone loves vanilla, you should make yourself more original. Become a cook. Learn from other professionals, invest your brain and become unique.

And Jérôme Pitorin. I fell in love with his travel documentary “Échappées Belles”. You can feel all his emotions through his photography reportage.

© Virginie Petorin

F: What are you plans for your future career? 

VP: The quote goes “Choose the job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I really chose the job I love, and I know that there will always be work to do or things to learn. To be recognised as an artist takes time – throughout my life I have met some stunning photographers and they always have the same thing to say: “It’s not easy but never give up!”

Life is a marathon not a sprint, and it takes time (and I know the meaning of this, as I have completed four marathons).

I can feel inside myself that photography is my job forever, I will be unstoppable, and that is how I know that I will succeed.

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