Master Photographer Status raised to Associateship – my 2 year journey of creativity and colour

2 years ago to the day I very proudly accepted my Licentiate qualification as a Master Photographer! It was at the photography show in Birmingham and afterwards I was astounded when photographers came over to congratulate me on a gorgeous newborn panel! I got home and straight away started planning for my Associateship! I can admit now, I was naive – a few months work, I thought! No problem….!

A few weeks later I smugly sent over a nice selection of images to my mentor, expecting her to say “yes, you are ready, go for it!”. Ermmm…..not the response I got! 🙁 My panel was full of lovely images but nothing cohesive – a complete mix of light and bright with dark and moody and unfortunately for me, a cohesive body of work, identifiable with the photographer and his or her style, this is what is expected from an Associate level photographer. I went back to the drawing board with the royal hump!

After a few weeks I pulled myself back out of the proverbial ditch and went back through my work. My Master Photographer mentor was right – lovely cream and pink images mixed with dark wood floors and deep colours. It just didn’t work! A commonality to my work was a seasonal approach as I like to represent the season in which the baby was born within the gallery and so, Sarah (my mentor) suggested, perhaps this could be my theme. I set about trying to incorporate and represent each of the calendar months but boy was that tough….? How is November different from January or February? How do I differentiate April from May? I was going in circles and I was close to throwing in the towel and sticking to just being Licentiate level!

Another few weeks and I realized I didn’t want to force the issue any more so I just went with what I loved! My work includes a lot of florals and whilst these are sometimes seasonal, i realised my panel didn’t have to be, and perhaps I could experiment with colour instead! This was a bit of a risky strategy as most of the Associate Master Photographer panels in newborns are all on the same colour background (for consistency!) but another photographer gave me some invaluable advice about creating a cohesive panel through use of colour and light patterns and this just clicked! I love to use colour in my images and I didn’t want to just choose one, therefore I would create a beautiful panel of colour and play with the direction of light to draw my audience towards the middle! YES – this was it!!!

The majority of my images were created in client sessions. Yes, I had ideas I wanted to create, but thanks to my very lovely clients and their complete and utter trust in me, I was able to be creative whilst capturing their baby at the same time and with the colours they loved. Towards the end I had a few gaps and for some of the more elaborate set ups, I asked around for some baby models and found a few who were willing to oblige! I forced myself to light from both the left and right (I favour the right for propped shots and ironically the left for  portraits) and as the panel is arranged in two lines, I made sure that the four on the outer edge were the same colour, then inwards the next four a different colour, and so on! When I was finally finished, I sent over my work and held my breathe waiting for my mentor to congratulate or rip my panel to bits….! 🙂

Thankfully she loved it, gave me a few corrections and off I went to perfect everything! At this point I got in touch with another amazing portrait photographer Andy Griffin who kindly went through each and every image with a fine tooth comb, and my local printing lab Menor, who spent a great deal of time with me making sure the prints were absolutely perfect!

A week before the show and I got the devastating news that the show was cancelled due to the corona virus threat! I know it was the right decision but I’m not going to lie, I was gutted! 2 years of work, hundreds of pounds spent on printing a beautiful panel of work and the decision was made that they would judge it online!!! 🙁 I was crushed! I have 20 gorgeous fine art prints, 12″ across and what am I going to do with them?? trust me, I will find something productive but my dreams hit the floor as I told my biggest supporters, who were coming to cheer me on, that it was all over and I’d have to submit online!

I had a shoot today which helped to distract me, but I finally got the news that my panel was successful and I am now the proud owner of an Associateship qualification with the Master Photographer Association! It’s a big deal for me! I worked for 2 years on this. I am so proud of it. It has shaped me as a creative newborn photographer, I went against the advice given to use the same background for my panel and developed a beautiful and cohesive panel of work, which identifies me as a unique and skilled photographer! I believe this will make me stand out from others in my field, whilst at the same time offering my clients beautiful works of art including their new baby. Each image is unique, each image I create I pour my heart and soul into, and I just love what I do! There are challenging times ahead but I am celebrating this tiny win in my own home, with my husband Mark who is my biggest supporter and my kids who gave up precious Mummy time to let me pursue this!

Enough of the ramble, here’s the panel! I created a little video but the images are also below. Please sit back, turn the volume on and enjoy! 🙂

Love, Rachel x

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