AWARD WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER
So it’s been 3 months since the Australian Institute of Professional Photography’s national awards, APPA (Australian Professional Photography Awards) have been held… and to be honest, it’s taken a while to think about this Award winning photographer business, and be ready to share with my friends, family, clients, and the public.
The APPA awards are held once a year, this year in Sydney, over 3 days, plus extra time for partying, wrap-up parties and the Award gala dinner. It’s that once-a-year thing I love to attend, and working for myself – my Photographer friends are my colleagues, my sounding board and my cheer squad.
Backtrack a few months… This year I photographed a very special baby girl’s arrival into the world, never with the intention, ever, of showing her images publicly. Because you see, she wasn’t going to stay.
I will never forget the moments I spent with baby Gracie’s family… before her arrival, documenting multiple pregnancy sessions when she grew safely inside her Mumma’s tummy. During their special family portrait sessions, outdoors on a beautiful serene mountain, just enjoying her calming presence. Her family invited me into their world at this confusing and emotional time to document their journey, and celebrate Gracie’s arrival and departure from this world, which would inevitably occur at some stage.
At Gracie’s birth, I photographed everything. I didn’t want to miss a thing, incase her parents one day, needed to see that moment. So, I documented the looks, the hands on shoulders, the hug from the theatre nurses, the prayers, the waiting, the love and the hope. I had never photographed a birth before, and I reminded the family a few times, but they were adamant I should be there, and for this, I thank them. A calm and quiet feeling fell as I witnessed Gracie enter the room, and I am so honoured to have been there for the 3 hours she stayed with us.
ENTERING THE AWARDS
Gracie’s journey earthside has taken me many weeks and months to comprehend and think through.
When I was thinking of which photographs to enter into the APPA awards this year, Gracie’s were the furtherest from my mind, and naturally not something I would ever imagine entering into Awards. But for some reason, I just kept coming back to them. I was very hesitant to show this fragile side of life that is not mine to own, and worried by how people may react. However with so much love from her family, Gracie’s print was born.
It’s with great honour, sadness, but ultimately love, that Gracie’s print received an overwhelmingly beautiful, heartfelt response during the award judging. The judges don’t know her story, and don’t need to know. They are called to judge the print within strict Documentary rules, based on impact, emotions, print quality, individual photographs, lighting and technical side. The judges offered their thoughts, critiqued and imagined how the print came to be, mused on what they were seeing, and spoke for the print, and for this, I thank them for their ability to see and read into this image.
0.9% of national APPA entrants achieved a Gold with Distinction score, and Gracie’s print was one, with a score of 95 out of 100, also earning the Highest Scoring Print in Documentary Category. The first and only Documentary image I have ever entered. I am so very proud of little baby Gracie and her family, and thankful for their blessing to share part of her journey with you. Gracie’s print is an honour I will never take lightly. I feel so undeserving of this Gold Distinction score, but so proud at the same time.
Gracie, this is for you sweet pea.
Alongside Gracie’s print in the APPA awards, I also had 3 other beautiful babies of whom 2 were awarded. Sahara in the little white leaf image scored a Silver Distinction, and little Austin, in the birdie image, of which I created when I saw his gorgeous little sad pout in this photo, scored a Silver.
Austin had a brief pouty cry during his newborn session, which I captured on camera. It wasn’t until a year later that I imagined that pout as a little newborn baby bird, potentially falling out of a bird nest, his little bird siblings looking on. Looking closely at the print, there’s little fresh baby bird feathers falling, and soft new tufts of feathers around Austin’s face and body, signalling a growing little birdie.
Sahara’s white leaf image was cut, shot and entered with only a couple of hours to go before the Award closing deadline. As usual, I thrive on chaos and last-minute stress (!!), and I left it until the very last couple of hours to finally be in the headspace to create a new image out of Sahara’s photos from her newborn session. I had a few extra leaves from an old Album sitting around which I loved the texture of. So, I sketched a pregnancy outline, cut and scored a few leaves, and shot the image on the floor of my studio, before compositing Sahara’s photo and uploading it just in time. I suppose it goes to show you, not everything needs to be planned and executed. Some things come out of nothing for me, and usually at the 11th hour!
Beautiful Tristan, below in the grey image, was only a couple of points off receiving an Award. I created and shot Tristan’s image to be entered into the supremely difficult “Newborn Single Capture” category, a personal challenge for me. Everything has to be perfect in camera, and very little can be altered in post production. I am so proud of creating this set, spending hours making 3 whole paper cutouts, and changing my mind from white to grey! I created this to show their new baby being their whole new world, and their old world suddenly a precarious balancing act. Their first home, their furr-animals, world travel, marriage, etc… This is entirely fictional, but I feel like it resonates with me, and with many other first-time parents.
AIPP MASTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY
This year’s 2019 APPA awards also gave me my Masters in Photography… a personal goal of mine, since I started entering awards years ago. A long story short, but many points are needed to crawl your way up the Award-ladder.. including many Silvers, Silver Distinctions, and the inevitable Gold (or Gold Distinction!!). Thankyou, AIPP!! Next stop, Masters with one Gold Bar.. 2020 Award Winning Photographer… coming atcha!
As I reminisce about the emotions and craziness of Award season, it’s time to start planning and brainstorming for the 2020 Awards. That’s the beauty of photography I suppose. Awards for me, keep my headspace new and creative, my drive enthusiastic and forward-thinking, and my desk ever so messy!
Thankyou beautiful clients for allowing me to photograph and enter your precious baby’s images.
It really is an honour and a privilege.
If you would love to be involved in our next Award Winning entries, contact me here.
AIPP Master Photographer