Today we are introducing you Cindy Cavanagh from Australia. Cindy is a highly talented Australian photographer who won the 1st place in the Lifestyle Category in The Second Half of B&W Child Photo Contest.
Q: Hi, Cindy! First of all, congratulations on winning the 1st Place in The Lifestyle Category on B&W Child Photo Competition! Cindy, can you tell us what was the feeling when you find out you won the 1st place in the lifestyle category? You were competing with currently some of the best child photographers in the world. Your winning photograph “Twirl” won maximum 100 points! You must be feeling really proud?
A: Thank you. Due to the time difference it was night time when the winners were announced. I was just shutting my computer down to go to bed when a photographer friend tagged me, and said that I had won. I let out an EEK! And went to investigate. Then I was happy dancing rather than going to bed. I was very excited.
Q: Can you tell us the story behind the photograph “Twirl”? Where did you photograph? Who was your model? How did you get inspiration for it?
A: This image was taken on Christmas day. My daughter received this dress for Christmas, and instantly love it. It is a great dress to twirl in. During the afternoon, we played in the backyard and she was twirling. I asked her to stand closer to the tree fern, and she continued to twirl. I just love the texture of the leaves, and the dress. Instantly, I loved this image.
Q: Can you tell us more about you? Where were you born and raised?
I am Australian, and grew up south of Sydney. My family and I lived in small house near a big reserve. We spent many hours of our childhood climbing rocks, dams, and walking through the bush. The beach was also close by and during my teenage years I spent many hours sunbathing and swimming.
Q: Are you a dreamer?
A: Yes, I am but I am realist as well. I know that no dreams can come true without hard work. You have to put in the hours to make any dream happen, but I love thinking about the “what if”.
Q: Do you have an official education in photography?
A: No, I am self taught. I studied a Bachelor of Arts at University, which has nothing to do with photography.
Q: When and how did your love affair with photography begin?
A: I have always loved photos. I remember as a child sitting with my Auntie looking at images of my grandparents, and great grandparents. I have always had a camera, and taken many snapshots. It wasn’t until we moved to Brazil in 2008 that my passion was ignited. I arrived with a point and shoot camera, and was busy capturing the postcard moments. I quickly became frustrated with the quality of images that I was getting from the camera, and I decided to get a DLSR. I fell in love, and have embraced my passion whole heartedly.
Q: Your style could be described mostly as a lifestyle photography. How did you find your style?
A: Photography has changed my perception of the world. When I first got my DLSR, I wanted to capture the postcard moments. The big events of visiting the tourist sights, and events in our life like birthdays. As I learnt more about my camera, and photography, it was the details of our everyday that filled my heart. I saw the beauty in the ordinary moments, the moments we never want to forget. I started to focus on the details, the light, and colour in my world. The first question that I ask clients is “Where do you like to play as a family together?”. The answer is our location for our portrait session together . I want real connection, and emotions in my images. I also love a timeless portraits. Portraits that you love instantly and will continue to love in 5 or 10 years because they reflect the real person.
Q: The little girl we have seen so often in your work is your daughter we assume?
A: Yes, she is but I have five children. My two youngest daughters are my most photographed, and have a mountain of patience. As long as they are busy, they are happy for me to capture them. I also have a two sons, and another daughter. They are teenagers, and prefer not to be in front of the camera. I respect this, but jump at the chance to capture them when I hear “ you never take pictures of me”. They only need to ask once, and I am ready.
Q: Are there any photographers you admire?
A: Sarah of My Four Hens Photography is a photographer who I admire greatly. She is a photographer who I would love to capture my family and I together. I love the light, and the details she captures. She creates a connection with her subjects, and this shines through in her images. Sarah is an asset to the photography community, and helps photographers to grow with kindness and a true heart.
Q: What cameras and lenses can be found in your gear bag?
A: I am a simple girl. I don’t have a bag filled with lenses. I have a Nikon D800, a 50mm and a 105mm. I would love a 35mm lens, and it is at the top of my wish list.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received about photography over the years?
A: I just love this video by Ira Glass. He talks about the creative process, and how we need to do a lot of work for our skills to meet our ambitions. When we first start we know that our work is good but it is not great. We need to keep working, and eventually our ambitions and our skills will meet. Whenever I feel underwhelmed with my creations, I will watch this video.
Q: Can you tell us how and where do you learn?
A: The best way to learn is to shoot every day. I am self taught, and I have read, studied, and attended workshops. But by shooting every day, in all forms of light, and situations I have grown the most.
Q: What is your biggest challenge when photographing?
A: To listen to my instincts and slow down. I tend to be trigger happy, and press the shutter button too often. When I slow down and breathe, then I can focus on the details and emotion. It doesn’t come natural to me as I worry about missing the shot. However, I have learnt that the shot I get when I do slow and wait is always better than the 10 I thought I would miss.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment as a photographer?
A: Last year, I started a “beauty of motherhood” project. As I said, I am a mother to 5 gorgeous children, and I love being a Mum. However, the beauty of motherhood is sometimes forgotten with the dreary of our day to day. The jobs of being a mother can sometimes feel like a thick blanket on a warm day…smothering. We can forget that there is beauty in our roles as Mums, as we focus on the washing, cleaning, fighting, messiness of life with children. But there is beauty in motherhood. I wanted to remind myself of this, so I decided to join my two passions: photography and motherhood. I created a project to document the natural, and the candid beauty of motherhood. Our smiles are the biggest when our arms are wrapped around our children. There is real joy when we watch our children be little. That smile is what I want to capture. The look of love that is indescribable with words. I set myself a goal to capture 20 Mums by May 2015. I am half way through, and loving it.
Q: How important for every photographer is to participate in quality photography contests?
A: This is a hard question to answer. I think contests are a great way to share your work, and be inspired by other photographers. However, if I find myself comparing to other photographer’s achievements, and I feel let down by not winning, well that is not fun. Contests are for fun, and I remind myself of this often.
Q: What is your message to other photographers?
A: Be bold. Be inspired. Listen to your instincts. Have patience. Have fun. Be kind. Create beautiful art. Quiet your inner critic.
These are messages that I tell myself daily. I think I need to make postcards with these messages on them so that I listen and follow my own advice.