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My Fellowship in Child Portraiture, Baby Photographer of the Year and All Things Convention Related

Its been a very busy year for me.  Hence the reason I've not been keeping this blog up to date. That's about to change though.  I anticipate this coming year to be even busier but I plan on getting a lot more organised and keeping on top of things like this.  For now though I'd like to tell you all about last week.

I keep trying to think of some words to describe this past week and I keep coming back to 'I had the time of my life' and breaking into song in my head.  Apart from when my daughter was born I haven't had a better time in my life. This week was spent at the Societies Convention where in excess of 14 thousand photographers from around the world meet to take part in print competitions, submit qualification panels and join in on various classes and events.


The week began as one of the most stressful of my life.  I've never felt nerves like it.  I'd just spent the best part of a year planning and preparing my 20 image panel to present to 5 highly qualified judges who would decide whether or not I was good enough to be given the distinction of Fellowship, an accolade given to only the best of the best.  Less than 1% of all photographers achieve this level and it is the highest level one can achieve through producing a body of work.  At 9:45 on Wednesday morning I began to hang my panel.  By 10:15 the decision was made.  It was thumbs up and so the good news and good times began.  But the nerves didn't end there. (To see my panel please click here)


I've been a speaker at this event for 6 years now but 2 years ago I decided I needed a break from speaking at the convention.  I wanted a year off. I felt I didn't have anything left to give and I needed a chance to build myself back up again.  And that's exactly what I did.  I concentrated on improving my work and improving I did.  Last year's convention (the year I chose not to speak) brought me 3 awards and this year I gained my Fellowship and won an award for Baby Photographer of the Year.  I finally reached the level I've always wanted.  And I was ready to speak at the convention once again.

(Here is my winning baby image)

I first spoke on a baby panel with Sandy Puc on Thursday which was interesting and thankfully relatively low stress.  Then I ran a masterclass on Saturday to a room of about 40 on adding textures to portraits which was a nice way to ease myself into speaking again.

(This is the masterclass I held on applying textures)

And this was followed by the Awards dinner where I knew I had to say a speech upon receiving my fellowship.  This is something I had been preparing along with my panel since early last year.  And although I felt prepared there were still times during that dinner when I kept thinking 'can I really do this?' 'What if I freeze on stage?' I wondered to myself if I was going to have to bow out.  Sitting in a room of over 500 people can do that to a person.

(The Awards room shortly before it all began)

But I did it and it was the scariest but most rewarding experience of my professional career.  I'm tempted to include the full speech in a blog post because I can't quite remember whether I said all that I meant to say, it all passed so quickly.  I just remember it feeling fantastic to have everyone listening to me all at once and the feeling afterwards as many congratulated me on the night was something I will never forget.  I'm so thankful I chose not to have a drink so my memory is only clouded by my nerves.  And even more thankful for the incredible friends I was able to share that night with. 

(Me giving my speech)

I said in my speech that I have 2 favourite sayings, 'The harder I work, the luckier I get' and 'that which doesn't kill me makes me stronger'.  I'm not sure where they came from but those are great words to live by.  I worked very hard this year and I now feel very lucky and a whole lot stronger.  And I'm going to spend the foreseeable future preparing for success instead of preparing myself for failure.  Most of us find it easier to assume we are going to fail at something because we don't want to have to face the disappointment if we fail when we expected success.  Hope for the best, expect the worst, its been said.  I'm starting to believe its better to expect the best and hope the worst won't happen.  I planned for success this year not only by producing my panel but also by both writing my speech and imagining it taking place while lying awake for countless nights this year.  Its now strange to me that its all over and it all happened as I imagined.  I'm not sure all this positive thinking worked but its certainly working better for me than the way I used to think so I'm going to go on thinking this way.

(Me with the lovely Ben Jones with my Award)

(This year's Fellows)
                                                 
I set out to achieve my Fellowship this year and that is exactly what I did.  And each time I carried out a session for the panel I was successful at creating what I envisioned there too.  And that taught me I can do what I set my mind to.  So even though I know I will feel nervous on many occasions to come, I also know I will get through it. And what scares me today isn't half as scary when I'm fully prepared.  

So let me encourage any of you reading this now.  You too can accomplish what you want to if you really put in the effort.  If you never try you haven't got a chance.  But if you do you just might get lucky.  And if it doesn't kill you it will definitely make you stronger. 

And just like last year I have a few very necessary thank yous as you can imagine. 

To Faye and Trevor Yerbury for your inspiration 9 years ago, much advice since then and the great encouragement and mentoring this past year. 

To Dennis Orchard for your friendship, advice, your teachings at the National Galleries and the suggestion for my panel subject.  I'm so glad we are friends. 

To Tracy Willis for the many Facebook messages encouraging me to stick with it when I was ready to give up for another year.  And for my wonderful hip flask which I've been wanting for 2 years now. I'm so impressed you found one.

To all my wonderful friends within the SWPP who've provided me with inspiration, support and friendship these past 9 years, John Baikie, Richie Walton, George Fairbairn, Jon Jenkins, Barrie Downie, Bev Downie, Julie Fraser, Island Dave, Catherine Jolley, And Louise Sumner. 

To the Jones's for running the convention each year and maintaining a photography group that offers so many wonderful opportunities. 

You all make the convention feel a lot like a family reunion. 

And finally, to my husband for standing by my side all these years and allowing me to create a business doing exactly what I love.  I don't think you realise just how much your understanding and encouragement means to me, especially during the hard times.  Thank you xxx

(The bar area after the awards, probably my favourite part of the week)

And the stress still wasn't over here.  I had a Superclass on child portraiture at 9am which is a 4 hour class for up to 15 people (I had 13).  So after all that I couldn't even celebrate with a drink (well I had one drink).  But it was early to bed (at 1:30am which is actually really early for this event).  Much to my surprise though, the class was brilliant.  As soon as it began the nerves left and time just flew.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope I will get the opportunity to do that same talk or something similar again next year.  Click here if you'd like to see my blog post on this class.

Now to anyone who managed to make it this far (I realise how long this is but at least I added pictures to break it up) I hope this gives you the encouragement to at least try to make one of your dreams come true.   Good luck in 2015!

Sincerely,
Christina Lauder FSWPP

Comments

Congratulations Christina, your portraiture is stunning. well deserved. It was lovely to meet you on Convention. Magi
I did read it all - and got a bit emotional - good to see I am mentioned again. Just to also say - aim high and don't be afraid.
Oops obviously the last comment was from me and not Christina - wrong account - Andy (the husband)
A wonderful panel by a beautiful lady and a very deserving award xx
Unknown said…
Christina I am "extremely" proud of you and keep up the good (hard) work. It has definitley paid off.

Love Mom

Pat Orefice

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