Australian and International Photography Awards

Goshhhh, it’s been a huge few months!

Winter was absolutely full to the brim of beautiful Newborn babies, all due in June, July and August! We had a record number of sessions in 2018, by halfway through the year we’d already exceeded the amount of sessions that we’d photographed in any whole previous YEAR! It was mainly due to our Expo back in March, where we basically filled up our calendar for the rest of the year.

Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA)

Aside from our regular Newborn and Family photography sessions, was the Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA) that rolls around each year in August. Personally, these Awards are my creative push as a photographer. Awards give me the motivation and drive to pull out some crazy, quirky stuff, and really push the boundaries of what I know and what I can produce. And knowing that I’m up against other photographers world-wide, I’m always striving to produce something I’ve never done or seen before.

So, while I was busy (very, very busy) photographing my regular clients throughout the year, I was quickly noticing that time was ticking past, deadlines were approaching, and I hadn’t done anything about Award prints…. Soon it was July, and I had less than 3 weeks to pull out something and make it amazing, in time for APPA. I had spent the last year planning, sketching, thinking of different setups and ideas, and had so far, put nothing into practice.

I needed 4 images to enter into APPA, and I was so stressed and starting to think that it just wouldn’t happen this year, I wasn’t organised. However….. the awards are judged in Melbourne, and for the first time, I was going there in person! I’d already booked my flights and accommodation months ago, and I was either going to waste a good trip, or get my act together.

The fact was, I had started about 8 different prints. I’d photographed elements, tried to edit them, and none of them were working. I went back through 2 years of shoots, 2 years of babies, 2 years of anything I’d photographed, and nothing was jumping out at me. I was still spending hours on Pinterest, Instagram, googling random things that give me inspiration…. I kept thinking of new ideas, when I really needed to focus on 4, and get them done. I was very quickly running out of time.

Deadlines…. !

With 2 weeks to go, deadlines flinging past, a couple of weeks of midnight-2am editing stints, I finally found my groove, and settled on my final 4 prints. After a few prints/re-prints/re-re-prints, and then finding out my Matting lab had closed down and I needed to switch to another lab… spending a couple of days driving around Brisbane (with my 2yo!) manically picking up prints, taking them to be matted, picking them up again, I finally got them into the post with a few days to spare – OMG. Never leaving it to the last minute, again!! (Of course I will do this again…. !).

I’ve been entering APPA for the past 4 years, but only 2 years ago received my Associate of Professional Photography – the first step past being Accredited, on the way up the ladder 🙂 My goal in the next year or two was to receive the red ribbon, Master of Photography, which I thought I needed another 6 points to achieve. These points are only achieved at National awards, there are no points given at State awards.

However… just before APPA, I read my current scores again, and realised I only needed FOUR points to achieve my Masters… I’d been reading it wrong, and potentially, there was a chance I could grab that Masters ribbon right now.

The knowledge that this year was a possibility of receiving my Masters was crazy! I knew I could do it – but it would be a long shot, receiving 4 images ALL awarded a Silver at least, would give me 4 points… could I do it? Yes…. I’ve done it in the past, so I knew I could do it again, but it all came down to the judges, and what they saw in my photographs. I also knew there was a huge chance that I wouldn’t get it. Lots of amazing photographers are not awarded. Lots receive a 78 or 79 (those stupid 1 or 2 points below Silver). The Australian-wide awards are tough. So bloody tough. They award the best of the best, and there was a huge mental battle before judging, just hoping it would get through, but knowing it wasn’t an easy competition. Plus, I’d left it til the very last minute. I wasn’t organised, I shot my pieces 2 weeks prior, and I’d ran out of time.

Judging

Judging the APPA awards takes 3 full days, with 5 rooms of prints simultaneously being judged the whole time. I am so thankful that the Newborn category was being judged first up, on the first day – otherwise I don’t know how I would have waited another day!!

The judges are asked to reward the print based on lighting, camera technique, initial “wow” factor, composition, printing, paper choice… and in Newborn category, skin tone, posing, handling, just to name a few. There are 5 judges on the panel, and they all give scores between 0-100, and the average is the score we receive. I’ve done the Judges training in preparation for potentially judging in the future, and bloody hell, it’s tough. It’s subjective. It’s 5 different opinions, mixed together. It’s 5 people who dont know you, dont know the print, dont know the story, and dont know how many hours it took you to shoot it. And it’s irrelevant, anyway. It’s about what they see and feel, on the day.

On “judge-ment day” I was home, in front of 2 computers, running 2 different rooms with the live feed from Melbourne. (My flight left the next day, so I was home when my category was judged).  I had my phone which kept dinging with messages from friends all in the same predicament as me, waiting for our prints to be judged…. Facebook messages kept popping up, other photographers frantically messaging each other when the live feed paused for a second, and the pressure was on.

 

Image #1

My first print rolled around and OMG, those vomit-inducing 20 seconds when you’re sitting there waiting for the judges to assess the print, give their score, and appear on the live feed, feel like forever! This print was one I’d previously entered in the Qld state awards earlier this year and received a Silver, but I’d completely re-worked it for APPA. How would it score? Would they prefer this one, or the previous one? Ahhh, nail-biting times. And then…. the relief flowed when the scores pop up and I realise I’ve earnt my first award, a Silver Distinction at 85 points, for my print titled “Post Natal Depression”.

Post Natal Depression : Silver Distinction

This image portrays my feelings on Post-Natal Depression. I have 3 children of my own, and fortunately never had post natal depression after their births. Yes, the day-5 baby blues hit me, but it was absolutely nothing compared to what I’ve seen some of my friends and clients go through. For this reason I had a deep interest to explore more about post natal depression and what it feels like, and I wanted to portray it in a photo. *Please note, this client is not associated with this particular PND story, she allowed me to use this setup during her Newborn session*. As always, this story came together as I was working on it in post production. I knew I wanted to start with a dark cloud over the mother’s head (see behind the scenes below) and it went from there. I combined elements of different images together to achieve this. I also toyed with having “words” written into the cloud, and I ditched that when I saw it in print, it didn’t need it. To me, post natal depression looks like darkness. A void. A black hole. Oppression. Emptiness. A ray of hope, yes, but no way to get out of this life. Holding your baby, but out of necessity, not because you want to. I hope I have created something to honour a mothers journey with post natal depression, with full respect, admiration and love.

Some behind the scenes photos of “Post Natal Depression”, creating the dark paper mâché cloud which was my basis of the concept. (I’m a very messy creator!) 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image #2

After seeing my first image score a Silver Distinction, I was pumped and nervous and shaking and jittery with excitement and nerves, off to a great start! Before long, my next photo, “Africa”, was on the screen in front of me!

This one I had secretly hoped was a Gold. Yeh – I’m putting it out here. I really did think it was gold-worthy. I only create and show work that I’ve never seen before. The judges want fresh, innovative Newborn portraits – well here you go! Here’s one I created earlier 🙂 It had a great story, capture, lighting, and yeh, I was thinking surely it would be a 90 at least. Well, the images pops up, and the scores do too – 85, 86, 83, 92, 84 – I think OMG – theres a 92 in there, and the Judge starts to challenge it in order to have the other judges’s scores raised. Unfortunately, the argument wasn’t strong enough to carry it to gold. Some judges thought it belonged in a different category, perhaps Family, and I think they’re probably right. Still being 4 points off, it received an 86 – a Silver Distinction.

Africa : Silver Distinction

I really love this photo, it’s something I’ve never photographed before, and I love the concept. I photographed gorgeous T at her pregnancy session, and then again at her baby boy’s newborn session. After her maternity session I looked through the images on my computer and an idea formed, and I started researching African culture.. this family had moved from Zimbabwe and had no family here, and it just pulled at my heartstrings.  I wanted to show a strong mother, pregnant, and with her newborn. She’s holding Africa, her homeland, on her head and shoulders, and she has a bag of clothes and a teddy at her feet. She’s left her homeland. Her baby looks around at the world, as his mummy remains standing firm. It’s part African culture and history, and part modern influence. A changing world, a changing family.

 

Image #3

This print I’ve titled “Owl Babies”…  this is the print that I made up at the last minute, the details of which are below.

I’m very relieved that the judges saw this print as a solid silver, which is really what it is, nothing more, nothing less. It scored an 84 – 1 point off Silver Distinction. Judges scores were 84, 83, 82, 88, 83. If I remember there was a challenge, however the judges seemed happy with their scores and it didn’t change much. Some commented on the white colour merging into the babies at the bottom…. that was my attempt to show snow, which I’ll have to work on again! An 84, solid Silver.

Owl Babies : Silver

I’d already photographed baby K at his newborn session and I had a few different poses from him in the same outfit. I was trying different ways of making a new image, and nothing was working. Then one day I was in my backyard at home, hanging out the washing. On my rock wall, my husband was collecting old sticks and branches for firewood, and there was a branch sitting there that I’d seen for weeks and weeks. This time I picked it up, turned it over, and saw it on its side, and knew I could use it for something. I sprayed it with fake snow, photographed it and removed branches in post production that I didn’t want, and added babies. My thoughts was a tree with snow, and little snow babies. The owl came when I was talking with a photographer friend of mine and saying I wanted to photograph a bird on the branch, but what…. ? Her mum to the rescue!! Thankyou Mrs C, for loaning me your owl – the beautiful finishing piece to this print. The little green leaf is an added extra…. the last little element to give the judges something else to think about, and add interest.

Photographing elements behind the scenes…

 

Image #4

At the same time as the Owl Babies photo was being judged, my fourth and final print was also being judged in the other room! I had no idea, I was focussed on watching the last one, when I saw this one on the other screen be replaced with a new print. Omg, I missed it! I quickly had ding-ding-ding messages from friends who’d seen it, and I paused the judging and went back through the other room to view it again.

This print was a Silver at Qld state awards earlier this year, and I really didn’t do much at all to change it for APPA, apart from some skin details. I suppose in hindsight I should/could have done more, added more, changed something, but I ran out of time, and this one was ready to go.

The judging came up – 77, 82, 77, 78, 81…… now, this adds up to 79… but IF one of those judges was in the “80” category, and another had a really low score and it also scored 79, it would actually have scored 80 – because the majority of judges were in the 80’s….. hypothetically speaking, because that didn’t happen. It scored 79, 1 tiny little point off Silver. My last chance at my last point for Masters.

I had 1 extra chance, though, and it was very, very slim. Each point on the cusp of awards goes “for review” after the category is judged – it’s a very quick “yes or no” from the judges – should it go up to 80 (Silver), or should it stay at 79 (no award). So for another hour or so, I sat there waiting and waiting and waiting for my category to finish, then the judges had a 1 hour lunch break (OMG!!!), before resuming to judge reviews.

And so it happened, that it popped up for review on my screen, and it was a no. Print stays at 79. As quick as that. “Next print please”.

New Life : 79

No matter what score this print receives, I will always be so proud of it. This was probably the first time I’d gone WAY out of my creative comfort zone, combining a handmade twig dress (yes, I made that!), before drastically changing it at the last minute to something different. I created a wire dress template, then hunted around our local bike track a few times, filling my car with vines, stripping leaves all over my verandah, and curling them onto the dress with wire into place, before they dried and went hard. Originally I had also glued about 300 beautiful leaves all over it, and at the last minute I removed them hastily and added more branches… why? I’m not sure, but if I’m ever unsure about something, I usually remove it, it was probably never meant to be there. This image shows a strong woman, my beautiful client C, and her gorgeous baby. Her “dress” is part-consuming… dead branches, coming up from the earth, but her baby is new life. Fresh, green, new hope. She’s holding a fresh green leaf in her other hand. I’ll leave that up to you and the judges, it’s another element that could be anyone’s opinion why it’s there, I just felt it needed it. This image to me is New Life.

Behind the scenes… dress creation.

 

The After-affect

All in all, the APPA weekend was amazing. Incredible. Firstly, as a Mum with 3 young kids – staying in Melbourne, alone, for 4 days = heaven!!! Omg Mums, do it!!! 4 days of room service, doing whatever the heck I wanted to do, going to bed after midnight, and waking up late… YASSS. And also the amazing after-parties, gala dinner, etc…. so much fun.

I haven’t even mentioned anything about being there with great, amazing, wonderful friends!!! Other photographers who boost each other up, my tribe, the reason we all get through this season is because of each other. And we’re all sitting there, waiting to see each other’s photos pop up for judging. We’re all keeping an eye out, texting each other silently, running from room to room when their prints appear, sending messages, gripping hands, giving silent “eeeeek!” hugs through the judging…. Without my tribe, it wouldn’t be the same.

Yes, part of it was disappointing, and that was all on ME. That one little point. ONE POINT!!! It’s just frustrating to be so close, and yet so far. But what can I do, except show up again next year with amazing photos! I WILL grab that red Masters ribbon in 2019!!

Melbourne wasn’t all about my awards – I also volunteered for the first time, print-handling behind the scenes! Let me tell you, it wasn’t what I thought it would be…. in a good way, I suppose. I thought I’d be perhaps turning prints, or packing prints, or sticking them on the wall – but it was like this, TENFOLD. The most amazing bit was seeing so many crazy-awesome awarded prints, up close! Handling golds and gold distinctions! Hanging these beautiful pieces of artwork on the wall. Mind.Blown. The photography was another level, and it was SO good to see winning prints up close – not just the photo, but the printing – the paper choice – the details you can’t see on the online live stream. WOW.

The print-handling was another thing. Put it like this. My hotel was a nice 2km walk from the city, down to the Melbourne function centre. That sounds nice, and I walked that about 6 times over the days I was there, no big deal. But the 1 day that I volunteered, was also the LAST day of judging, which was also the PACKUP day….. Basically, the torture day.

So I was told to wear flat shoes – no worries, I got flat boots! Melbourne is cold, so boots were worn. BIG mistake. Big. Huge.

My job was running prints, and when I get a job to do, I try to do it to the best of my ability. I don’t slack off. I’m a “get-it-done” kinda girl. So I did. I “walked efficiently” between all 5 rooms, picking up prints for the wall, sticking tiny little sticky dots on the back, and popping them on the wall. This also sounds nice and flowery. But 24,853 steps later (that’s nearly 17kms walking in one day), (I should have lost about 5kgs but anyway)…. my feet were very unhappy. I sucked it up and moved my ass for 8 hours, print-handling, packing up, sorting cases, refused to let my feet out of my shoes until I was in the hotel. But seriously. Print-handling and behind the scenes was indescribable. Meeting new people, seeing photographers I haven’t seen in years, wow! Even through the foot-pain, what a tremendously great experience. I will be there again next year! (With joggers).

Fast-foward 3 weeks since APPA. I had to remove part of my nail polish from my toes, they felt like hell and I knew they were bruised, and wasn’t sure whether I needed to punch a whole through to remove the pressure. Yep. That. My big toes are reeeeally dark bruised now, and the massive blister on my ankle is finally shrinking. #postappaproblems

 

The wrap-up

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Would I print-handle again? Definitely! Will I enter competitions again? YES!

I know now I’m only ONE stinkin’ point away from that elusive red ribbon – I’m coming’ atcha, Masters! I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure I grab that 1 Silver award next year, and really properly earn my red Master of Photography ribbon. I kinda am glad I didn’t get it this year. I didn’t plan or execute my prints with enough timing. I was too busy. So in 2019 I’ll make sure I schedule enough time throughout the year to plan, shoot, and print, so I really do deserve the win next year.

 

The Rise International Awards 2018

With no pressure to perform, the Rise Awards popped up this year for their inaugural year, luckily, after APPA!

The very first year Rise awards have been around, and another competition to receive feedback, and put my images forward. The best thing this year, was that I could use photos I’d already stressed over from APPA – so with little to no preparation, I sent them off to the digital-only competition, and promptly forgot all about it.

The judging was last week, and today we received our scores. I’m happy with these, and although all 5 of my prints were awarded (yay!), I realised straight away that I really do need to work on my prints for different competitions – especially for digital comps! There’s so much that I made in my prints to be seen on paper, that may not show up on screens… Ahhh, next year.

I’m very honoured to receive 5 Awards from the 5 prints I entered. 4 Silver Awards and 1 Bronze. Thankyou, Rise team.

 

So, another year done and dusted for print competitions.

A huge T H A N K Y O U to each and every one of my clients. Whether I photograph you for awards or not, you’re always part of my planning process, I’m always learning and growing and trying something new, and I grow with every session I photograph. For others, thankyou for just going with me! Thankyou for putting up with my fiddling and mucking around. Thankyou for letting me dress you in weird outfits/branches/material etc. Thankyou for letting me run with my crazy, creative brain. And the hugest thankyou to my husband and family. When I’m photographing clients, my youngest 2 year old daughter is being minded by someone. My kids are either at school, or with hubby. There’s always someone behind the scenes, keeping the family running, when I’m with my clients.

It takes a village. Thankyou.

Bring on 2019! x

Australian Professional Photography Awards.. in review

This past weekend the Pullman Hotel in Melbourne hosted the annual Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA). These awards are huge as a photographer, for those choosing to participate, grow their skills, enter their work, and be critiqued by the best.

Two awards take place over the year – the first, being the state awards (Qld for me), and the second, being the nationals.

2016 was my third year entering state awards (QPPA), and my second year entering nationals (APPA), and after completely missing out on anything a few years back, I felt it was time to really “ramp it up” if I ever wanted to achieve some sort of significance, and crack into the big, scary, professional photography world. So I spent weeks, months, yes – a year at least, dreaming up ideas and concepts, specifically for these awards. Because the awards to me, is the outlet for my creative-ness, and hopefully the beginning of my journey towards my Masters.

Just entering APPA is a big thing in itself, because you first have to qualify. Oh yes – you need to enter Qld state awards first, and get at least 2 Silver awards, before you qualify, and then start your journey. It’s taken 2 years of entering to obtain enough awards and points to qualify for my Associate (woohoo!), which I’ve now done this year. Two years of dreaming, shooting, re-shooting. Two years of printing, re-printing, matting, and critiquing our images. Yes, it may seem overkill. It’s not necessary. It doesn’t earn me money. It’s entirely separate to my client work. But for me, this is the next level. This improves me, pushes me, and helps deliver more for my clients. I give my absolute best, and nothing less.

The success of my scores in the Qld Professional Photography Awards meant I had enough points to possibly qualify as a Portrait Category winner – the top 3 highest aggregate scores battle it out as the winner, along with 2 finalists. I nearly peed my pants when I heard I was a finalist. Yes, one of the top 3 Portrait photographers in the Qld state awards. Crazy.

APPA 2016 earnt me the 5 points I needed to get the Associate under my belt, with my eyes set on my Masters – that is, I need to obtain another 10 points in 5 years – so either 10 Silvers, or perhaps (hopefully) 2-3 Golds and 4 Silvers…. you get the idea 🙂 It’s a few years away at least, but I will get there. I’m fairly stubborn 🙂

 

So, may I present my photographs I entered in 2016…..

 

 

This pregnancy portrait concept has been on my mind for over a year. I love sketching, drawing, art, and I really wanted a different way to show a pregnancy portrait, but was it even possible? How on earth could I turn a photograph into a sketch? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could ever produce art like this, but I sketched it, I dreamt it, I breathed it. I spent waking moments (and asleep!) thinking about it. I knew what I want, and I made it happen. This is pregnancy, a pure miracle.

This photo earnt GOLD at Qld state awards earlier this year. My very first Gold. My turning point. My first step up into “playing with the big boys”.

I will never forget this photograph. I desperately wanted to be at the judging, watching it live, but I was 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant with my third child, and due to be induced the following morning. There was no way I could go and watch the judging, incase this baby of mine wanted to arrive in the middle of it! So instead, I watched the live-stream on the computer with google eyes, and jumped up and screamed as the scores went 93, 84, 90, 90, 90. My very first GOLD. (And yes, I had an epic weekend, with the safe arrival of a little girl, the next day) 🙂

APPA : Silver

QPPA : Gold

appa pregnancy sketch concept

This pregnancy concept portrait was loved by the judges for it’s tones and colour palette, softness, and creativity. My second ever Gold award, oh my gosh. Huge. I was NEVER expecting that, after taking this image to Qld state awards earlier in the year and earning a Silver Distinction. Still, I never thought it was Gold. I am still shaking.

I laid eyes on these beautiful flowers one day in a florist. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I took them to the studio, carefully pulled them apart, stared at them, photographed them, shaped them, and then.. they blossomed.

APPA : Gold

QPPA : Silver Distinction

appa gold flower pregnancy

 

 

This beautiful baby arrived after the heartache and triumph through the process that is IVF. I heard his parent’s story, and really wanted to come up with a beautiful way to honour his journey into the world. I have 3 children, and to think of those who are struggling to conceive a baby, I just cannot imagine. I hope this photograph embodies the miracle of life that is IVF. Here he is, little Archie.

APPA : SILVER

appa silver ivf concept newborn

 

 

This beautiful little girl was such a doll for her session. Gorgeous cheeks, lips, eyelashes. As soon as I had her in this pose, I knew I wanted to turn it into something beautiful.

The judges scored this photograph High Professional Practice (ie. just missed out on a Silver award), and that is ok with me. I am so excited to have achieved this image. Little Aluna is so sweet. I am so honoured to have photographed her.

baby newborn girl feather studio

 

 

And there we have it. A year of dreams and aspirations, wrapped up.

Thankyou, my beautiful clients, babies, models, friends and family.

2017 here we come….. let’s start dreaming xoxo

Australian Institute of Professional Photography Awards, 2015 (APPA)

So there’s this competition that happens once a year, where professional Photographers from Australia-wide gather together at APPA (Australian Professional Photography Awards). To be a member of the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography), you firstly have to be working as a Photographer for 2 years, then submit something like 20 images to the board panel, and then ONLY if they like them – you firstly become an Accredited Photographer in the AIPP. Phew.

Within the AIPP, they have 2 competitions each year, the State awards (Qld being the ones I enter), and APPA (National awards).

(Of course this is all optional… there’s no pressure to enter awards, it’s totally up to us, and I find it more tailored to our creative side, something to personally strive for and really create something amazing, aside from our usual client work).

So with fresh-faced confidence I entered my first APPA in 2012 and crazily earned my first Silver – amazing! 🙂

I skipped 2013 when I was on maternity leave with my youngest, and unfortunately 2014 I bombed out completely… as in, entered 4 images, and none of them scored. Ahhh, the disappointment. Back to the drawing board.

So this year I was excited to start afresh and enter APPA, and then the rules changed! Firstly to make it harder/more exclusive to enter APPA (Nationals), we firstly had to enter QPPA (Queensland State awards), and qualify there with at least 2 images scoring. Oh.My.Gosh. If we don’t enter the State awards, or don’t score – we cannot enter APPA……. So I put my big-girl panties on, entered 4 images, and walked away with a Silver and a Silver Distinction. AND, I qualified for APPA. Hooray!

Heading into APPA after the State awards, I knew what I wanted to enter. I knew what I wanted to shoot, how I wanted it to look like. I sketched over and over again, filling my sketch book with ideas and inspiration, I knew what I wanted. And THEN…… I realised, with the deadline looming, I realised I had totally forgotten to choose what category I wanted to enter. You can enter only 4 images into APPA, and if you want to go into the running to take out the category (ie. WIN the category), you need to enter 4 images in that category. That’s always my goal (and one day I will reach it!!!), and I realised that I HAD to enter the Family category (images that I’d photographed from paying clients), instead of the Portrait category that I had hoped for (non-commissioned images), because I didn’t have enough images for Portrait category.

So a few days before cut-off, I entered the Awards with 4 images into Family category. I’m still amazed I even fulfilled the requirements and got my images ready on time, as I also battled Influenza B virus that week, and was flat on the couch in total exhaustion. Somewhere in there, I managed to drive to and from 3 printers and labs, picking up prints and matts, packaging up everything, and getting to Australia Post on time. A crazy week.

This past weekend, I flew to Melbourne with the hope of scoring at least 2 awards. I don’t tend to get nervous in awards, because it’s very subjective – it’s all what those judges at the time, think. The same images can score differently in another competition, so you’re never quite sure what will happen. You just hope to hell that one of those 5 judges on the panel see what you hoped they’d see, and reward you for your effort.

I sat through about 8 hours of judging, on and off, in 4 separate rooms. You don’t know when your images will be judged, within hundreds of other images. Inside the judging room, there’s a panel of 5 judges and 2 commentators. There’s also a TV, showing images that are currently being judged in the other rooms, and their scores. So basically, you sit there waiting for hours, darting glances between the judges and the TV every minute, watching to see if your print is being judged in another room – and if it is, and you see it in time, you can hightail it out of your chair, into the other room, and see it being judged live, because sometimes the judges chat about the image, critique it, and rally for a higher score. But mostly, it’s silent judging. They look at the print, they type in their score – you hold your breath.

While I was waiting, this image of mine popped up first. This is beautiful little Gracie, whose image also won Silver at QPPA (State Awards) this year, and Grand Champion at the Pine Rivers Show 2015, and is part of the reason I qualified for National awards. So glad I was able to enter it one last time.

Beautiful Gracie. Silver Award = 81 points.

Grace-newborn-award

This next image was something I planned out months ago, one of my crazy sketches. I wanted to photograph a baby in the womb…… but how on earth do you do that?! I wasn’t even sure how to photograph it, so it started out as a model call, where I photographed mum Adrienne in different poses, trying to find the one that would work for the final image. Then I was so lucky to be asked to photograph their beautiful baby Hannah when she was born, and again we curled her up to represent a baby in the womb, and was able to construct the rest digitally.

Thankyou Adrienne & little Hannah! Silver Award = 83 points.

Adrienne-pregnancy-newborn-award

When I photographed this gorgeous little client, and her equally cute puppy, I just knew that I could turn it into something special. Beautiful little Elsa was a gem through her session, and big furr-brother Ichigo was happy to sit for at least 3 seconds before jumping out of the basket. (This image is a composite of about 4 images, and the baby and dog were not sitting together originally. Safety first!)

Elsa & Ichigo. Silver Award = 82 points

Elsa-newborn-photographer-award

 

So there they are! Three beautiful images of my amazing clients (thankyou, thankyou, thankyou) – and 3 Silver Awards.

Next year I’ll be bringing ALL I have to APPA, as I’m now only half a point away from earning my Associate (the first title on the way to becoming Grand Master…. maybe when I’m 50, hahahha).

Thankyou to every single person I’ve photographed, clients, models, family, friends. You’ve all helped me strive to be a better Photographer, and I am so privileged to work with you all.

 

Claire xoxo

Award winning Brisbane Newborn Photographer

The Making of an Award winning Newborn Portrait …

As a Newborn Photographer, I get many beautiful little babies to cuddle and photograph, and present beautiful images to parents. However, there are times when you need to push your creative vision, strive for something crazy, and put yourself out there to be judged by the best in the business. The Queensland state Professional Photography Awards are for Photographers to put our daily images aside, go further/harder/stronger and really put ourselves out on a limb.

This idea came to me months ago while planning for my Award images. Sometimes during a regular Newborn session I see an image which has Award-winning potential, but there are other times when I start from scratch and build up from there. A few months ago I sketched out a concept but it seemed so far-fetched – crazy different, but not impossible, I knew I could get it, I just had no idea how.

I wanted a “model” of a Mother & Baby portrait. An accentuated mother figure – big wide hips, strong, encircling arms, never-ending, staring down at baby, holding her tight. Something that embodies every Mother. We are all different, but so similar. I wanted to show emotion, love, wholeness, support, trust.

I researched mother figures – Willow dolls, felt dolls, portraits of mothers, Pinterest boards, baby animals, you name it…! I’d never seen a photograph of this before, so when it all came together, I was pretty proud of my original concept 🙂

I wanted something pure, soft, cream/white, with total focus on the baby – and so this was born 🙂 It took me a couple of tries at getting the “mother figure” made, a beautiful little needle felted figurine. I knew what I wanted, so I kept going until I got it right, and in the end, the final design only took about 45 minutes to make.

Photographing the baby was the easy part – although gorgeous little Holly was so wide awake and chirpy that we only got 3 frames of this image – but enough to get it right!

With a little Photoshop magic, it all came together <3

Mother & Baby <3

Awarded a Silver Distinction (86 points), only 4 points off Gold – my next goal!!

award-winning-newborn-photographer-brisbane

Thankyou to Holly’s parents for trusting me to run with my ideas, to Stacey my fabulous Assistant, and thank you baby Holly for sleeping for at least 5 seconds while we snapped this shot 🙂

So looking forward to the National Awards later this year – ready to run with some new ideas! x