May 23, 2012#

It’s APPA time in Australia

Tomorrow we all fly to Melbourne to gather to compete for some of the Photographic communities most prestigious titles. Like ‘Australian Portrait Photographer of the year’ APPA is a nerve wracking time for most and also like WPPI a time to party and catch up with some great friends/photographers from all over the country.

We are only allowed to enter 4 images, a small body of work but enough to dominate a category of your choice. My chosen category will again be Portrait. Five Masters judge all images anonymously. Points are accrued towards levels of Associate and then Master and then you are gaining multiple bars towards Fellow & Grand Master.

I will post my entries after next week, when they have been put on the ‘chopping block’ for me, awards photography is a Game. If you want to win, you have to learn how to play the game. There is level of shooting and finished production that APPA prints have. In order to score, an image must show exemplary skill and communication. It must stop judges in their tracks and say ‘talk about me.’ More often than not, they have to be more than the average portrait and more than the images you shoot for your clients. I have been entering the awards for 10 years this year.

I am a Fellow with three Gold Bars in NZ and a Master in Australia. I do not believe winning photography awards gets you clients. My clients couldn’t care less; they are more interested in customer service. However as a photographer who has grown up in this industry, I dreamed of one day standing up and winning a category. The journey from hoping to win Silver to winning Gold Distinction is one of the greatest exercises in personal and professional growth I have ever experienced. It’s about goal setting and creating and conceptualizing images, shooting them and working them in post production, agonizing over them and then watching then torn apart or worse dismissed and of course seeing them win.

I am a competitive person by nature, yes that is true. But the competition I believe is with yourself. To be better than last year, to grow and to push yourself harder. Every year I would visualize something that was beyond my physical skill set and then I would set about trying to achieve it in camera and then Photoshop. Learning as I go, I truly believe it has made me a better photographer and I continue every year to enjoy it and grow a little more. Also a great time to stretch your legs with a few personal art projects if your are entering the Illustrative or Fine Art categories.

So have a look at next year’s awards in New Zealand or APPA or WPPI and give it a go.

I was just going through my awards archive and I found some images from awards past to share.
I created this because at the time a friend was suffering anorexia a cruel debilitating disease. I wanted my nieces to grow up loving their bodies and loving themselves, I never entered it as I felt like I was glorifying it or exposing it some way that I didn’t want to. In the end I illustrated it to the final image below.

A woman in a Man’s world. In hindsight this is a very dark image. I had experienced a suicide in my family and felt the need to express something, at the time I was training for my Black Belt in Karate there were mostly Men in my group and it signified the challenges I was facing fighting Men. I broke 9 bones that year. Not a metaphor, I am a strong Woman but I love the beautiful polarity we have as Men and Women. I was just expressing a feeling angst and pressure. You do not have to portray personal feelings in Images, they can just be conceptual of course. The more feelings I put into the images the better they score. It seems the feeling translates somehow.

Industry. Growing up in Clean Green NZ. I jumped a fence illegally to take the shot on the right. I felt like an activist ha ha so funny.

HOPE. Mother Earth, lots of people dislike this image. I would rather you feel confronted by art than feel Apathy. It won Gold in NZ and Australia. It’s called hope because everything is this image is dying except the little sprout coming from her toe. Hope springs eternal. No matter what we do to this planet you get the sense that she will outlive all of it. I guess back through these years I was trying to express myself artistically through my photography. I photograph Women every day in a pretty perfect way, I like the juxtaposition of making darker gustier images that told stories.


  1. Good Luck Sue. Looking forward to seeing what you entered this year. xxx

  2. I love them! You inspire me every day!

  3. Wow Sue, can’t wait to see what you have entered this year. Last year’s was stunning. Good Luck

  4. Wow. Just wow.

  5. These are amazing Sue. Each image is so moving. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Sue! You inspire me on every level. I WILL train with you one day! Come to Vancouver Canada please!

  7. Sue again you are amazing, I so enjoy what you have created, really gets me inspired to step out of the box. Thank you!

  8. all your photos are a work of art – amazing :-) What a gift.

  9. all of these images are thought provoking. I am drawn to all of them for very different reasons, but the subtlety of of the bathtub image is extraordinary. Every time I look at that image I see more.

  10. Amazing! You truly are an artist. Wonderful, inspirational work!

  11. It’s fun to see some of your ‘other’ work. Good stuff.

  12. Bloody awesome Sue!!!! :)

  13. Awesome work, congratulations on the latest achievement!

  14. Congrats Sue! Can’t wait to see what you submitted.

  15. Thank you for sharing these. It’s interesting to see a different perspective from you. What I love about these images is the ability to make me stop and think about the story behind it. They are all powerful and I looked at each one for some time. Inspirational actually.

  16. Very thought provoking. Best of luck!

  17. I just have to know if your friend is ok now….

  18. These took my breath away – every single one. So full of the human story, so artistic, so expressive. You have set such an example of persistence and exploration for us to emulate in our own lives!

    The image of the factory and tree needs to be spread further. I loved the fence-jumping story. What a powerful statement in one picture!


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