Skip to main content

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
Pat Orefice said…
Christina I am "extremely" proud of you and keep up the good (hard) work. It has definitley paid off.

Love Mom

Pat Orefice

Popular posts from this blog

Never Work With Children or Animals

Or so the saying goes. But I have to say that working with dogs has been so lovely. They have been almost entirely a dream to work with. I say almost entirely because we have had a few moments where a dog has needed to settle. And one moment where the dog had settled but one of my cats decided to have a look through the glass door which, as you can imagine, rather quickly unsettled the dog. Still, that didn't stop us from creating incredible work.

In fact it was during that shoot with the cat instance when I created two of my favourite pieces, shown below.


(It was while sitting on the couch here when he noticed the cat peering through the curtain)
I don't know if I've just been lucky or all dogs are just easy to work with. I photographed a french bull dog puppy and I thought that would be tough as he hadn't had time to be properly trained yet. But he did everything we wanted in no time at all. And this included the props we used here (below), which to me seemed somewha…

Family Portraits with Fine Art Flair

I have a love and hate relationship with family portraits. I love the finished piece and creating something that is truly special to the family. I love that in years to come something I made is going to be a cherished and valueable memento for this family. What I struggle with, is getting all members of the group to look their best at exactly the same moment in time. You would be surprised at how difficult this actually is, particularly when it comes to 6 children. But I always get there in the end, whether it is the luck of a moment or with the aid of Photoshop. I ensure that everyone in the portrait is looking their best, even the dog.


Seeing as this family is actually made up now of two families we also did portraits in their respective groups which I chose to do in different style to their main group. I love adding a bit of style for the overall main group and what you see above is something that is proving popular with my clients. I love adding props and giving a sort of Vanity F…

A Most Wonderful Portrait Session with 3 Lovely Ladies

This was a dream session for me. Not only did I have 3 beautiful young ladies, but they also brought with them a fantastic wardrobe and their very own hair stylist too (mum owns her own salon). So all the elements for beautiful portraits were there. And I was thrilled to get this opportunity.


Its easy to think of having portraits when you have a new baby or when you get married or have a special family occasion where you get the entire family portrait done. But its less often that people think of having their growing children photographed. After all I suppose, they are photographed at school. I even do some of those school photographs. However, those portraits are made in less than a minute per child and they are assembly line style portraits while they are wearing their school uniform. They are never going to be as special as what can be created with unlimited time and outfit changes in the comfort of a private studio.


Its in this environment that I can take the time to talk to the …

Its a Dog's Life

When life gets tough I always look at dogs or my cats and think how lucky they are. I know not all are treated well but those lucky enough to be in a good home, like the ones who come into my studio, have a really great life. They look so happy and its a wonderful thing to see. 

I honestly love photographing dogs. They are a joy to work with and its almost impossible to produce a bad portrait of a dog which does of course make my life a little easier. I am someone who really needs to love the work I create. I can't help but love the portraits I've created of all the dogs I've photographed over the years. And this shoot was certainly no exception.


I found it a real pleasure using a lighter background this time too. I do often gravitate towards darker looks but seeing as this dog had a light coloured coat I thought I'd produce lighter images. This gave me the chance to use a canvas I painted a couple of years ago but never really used and I absolutely love it now. I don…

Do You Have a Little Pirate in Your Family?

If so, why not capture it in a beautiful portrait so you can cherish these memories forever?


I designed and built this set for a client. She came to me with a son and daughter and during the consultation we discussed the interests of the children, as I always do. Our ideas for portraits for her daughter were going to be easy. She loved the idea of modelling pretty dresses so her shoot was sorted. Her son on the other hand was more difficult. Where ever possible I try to incorporate something about the children into each portrait. That can mean books, sports, dance, musical instruments or anything a person has an interest in. In this case he hadn't yet developed any interests, other than pirates.


Now my client didn't want me to go to too much trouble. We agreed it wouldn't be easy to make anything pirate themed look as though it fit my style and level of quality. A shop bought costume wasn't going to cut it. But I just had to try. I love dark wood in my portraits and I …