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I won runner up for newborn photographer of the year in UK & Europe!!

Wow what a few days it has been. I’m still on a high from Tuesdays awards evening at The Newborn & Portrait Show. I posted a few bits & bobs of my trip on Facebook, but here it is in detail.

Every year in mid May Rhianna (admin assistant at Inspirique) & I attend the show at Heart of England Conference and Events Centre. There’s three days jam packed of training, talks, workshops and two large exhibition rooms full of props.

On the first day, there's a whole day of live judging for the print competition (which I entered and won, I'll get to that), you can actually go and sit and watch the judges give live feedback to everyone's images. Unfortunately I couldn't make it to the judging this year as it was my daughters Christening on the same day, but the lovely Emma from Little Love Photography (who did my newborn images) live streamed it so I could watch it, which was amazing! This is such a valuable experience, and the feedback alone is worth entering.

This is the image I entered, you can read the story behind the image here.

This year I entered one image, which was live judged by industry famous names Terrie Jones, Kelly Brown, Gary Hughes, David Stanbury, Christina Lauder & Clare-Louise. The feedback is invaluable in itself, but to score 85 was a shock (score 85 - excellent use of imagination, skill and technique in most areas), it was one of the highest scores out of the whole competition. 5 images are chosen from the highest scores to be in the final which I was keeping my fingers crossed for but didn’t have high expectations.

Here is the live judging and feedback on my image..

When I arrived on Monday I saw my image displayed at the entrance of the show and I was amazed to be in the final, I was 1/5 from the newborn category. Of course I wanted to win, but I was happy enough just to be in the final as this in itself is a huge achievement, and you still get to go up on stage.

So I was on a high from the moment I walked into the venue, which means with every purchase I made I said I was celebrating.. I'll always find a way to justify, I would have said I was drowning my sorrows and needed retail therapy if I didn't get in! Every year I say I'm not going to buy anything, and every year I just can't help myself. Just look, how can I walk past all of these beautiful stalls and not fall in love with something? This is just a small selection of vendors.

Here are my purchases.. Flokatis, mint backdrop & bear from Babyphotoprops. Ears headband & purple backdrop, wrap & headband set from Love Rosalie. Ears bonnet from Minnie & Morgan Newborn Photo Props.

On the Monday afternoon, I booked onto a workshop called 'Introduction to judging', I booked this before I knew I'd got into the final as I wanted more of an insight of what the judges look for, so I can prepare for next year. It was such an insightful course led by Terrie Jones who is ‘Head of Judging’ at The Societies, I came out with so much knowledge about how images are judged and how to perfect each image.

On Monday evening, Rhianna & I went back to the hotel and decided to have a takeaway in our pyjamas and an early night, to make the most of eating hot food and sleeping without the little ones present. We slept for 9 hours straight, and it was the best night sleep I'd had in about a year, I was like a new woman the next day!

The next day, on the Tuesday I took Kelly Brown's business class, which was amazing. If you've followed me for a while you'll know I'm just a teeny bit obsessed with Kelly (not in a weird way). She is one of the best newborn photographers in the world, owning Little Pieces Photography from Australia. This amazing lady is the reason I got into newborn photography myself, I admired her for many years and she inspired me to start my business. I was lucky enough to meet her last year and I was star stuck then, and this time round I was no less star struck. I couldn't just walk past her at the show and not ask her for a photo! She gets asked this 100 times a day, I see her being stopped by everyone and she can't walk through the halls without someone grabbing her, so she's pretty awesome to be so kind and friendly to everyone who asks. I absolutely hate this photo of me, but I love it because of what it is.

Shortly after this was taken, we started her seminar, and it was so insightful. She inspired me all over again and I left the class feeling so motivated. I didn't have much time to think about business though, as I had only an hour and a half before I had to be back in that very building for the awards dinner.

After trying on about 10 dresses in the hotel, (feeling fat in them all since gaining pregnancy weight) and settling on one, we finally made it back just on time. On the last evening of the 3 day event, there’s an awards gala dinner, which is all very fancy as the dress code is black tie, it’s a three course sit down meal, and the awards are in between each course.

When I walked in and saw my image on the big screen, it was such an amazing feeling,

At the dinner I had to go on stage to collect my finalist award, which I was so nervous about, but I'd prepared myself for it and was praying not to trip over on stage in front of everyone! I had a few glasses of wine for dutch courage, although it didn't touch me because of the nerves! When my name was called my heart raced but I managed to do it without falling over. I was presented my award by Sarah Wilkes from Sarah Wilkes Photography, who is one of the organisers of the whole show. As soon as I sat back down I though phew, it's over, I can now relax and enjoy my night.

Here is the clip of the moment I was called on stage as a finalist..

The winners were then announced, there’s third, second and third place. I wasn’t being modest, I really wasn’t expecting to be given one of these places because the competition I was up against was just incredible. I was live streaming the results in our photography group for those who couldn’t attend so I wasn’t prepared for my name being called at all. It took me a few seconds for it to sink in and Rhianna had to take the phone out of my hands and tell me to go. It was such an incredible feeling. And to be presented the award by none other than Sandra Hill Photography - Newborn and Baby Portraiture. was an honour in itself.

Many congratulations to Aimee-Jo Ahmed from Dinky Days Photography LTD for coming third and Natasha Ince from Photography By Natasha Ince for coming first. Both absolutely amazing photographers, and so well deserved.

Here is the clip of the moment I was called on stage as a finalist (disclaimer: be cautious if watching with children, this video has (muffled) swearing in. Someone in the background says “I love that f*cking image” as I’m walking on stage)...

Here I am, feeling happy and proud holding my awards.

Big thank you to Tracy Willis & Sarah Wilkes for organising such a brilliant event each year. I’ve loved seeing friends, making new ones and networking. I’m already looking forward to next year.

And finally a very special thank you to Gemma and James. Without your input I couldn’t have done this. From the initial chat about my idea, to lending me your IVF needles to make the design and allowing me to photograph your precious little girl and share your personal journey. You’ve been so supportive from the start and you guys are awesome!

I'm already excited for next year. I need to get my thinking cap on for next years competition!


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