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Interview with Rachel Stewart – The Winner of CPC Portrait Awards, January 2019

11 mins read

Q: Dear Rachel, We want to congratulate one more time on winning our monthly contest CPC Portrait Awards, January 2019! How did you feel that you won it again after only 2 months?

A: Nothing short of ecstatic – and also very shocked, I had to read the email twice before it sunk in!

Q: If we might notice, your skills and artistic expression increased greatly in only 2 months! Posing of the models, skin editing and storytelling became even more powerful than before. Can you share with us what contributed to your maturing as an artist?

A: I think perhaps a number of factors. I think the confidence I gained from last year has helped me really put ideas into play. I have some great photographer friends who have come into my life and encourage me, support is invaluable as it can be a solitary industry! Sometimes fresh eyes make the difference and from this it makes me look for every factor when I am now shooting and editing. I always want to learn and never stop, I love to push myself.

Rachel Stewart Interview
1st Place in The CPC Portrait Awards, january 2019

Q: You know we cannot wait to hear more about your winning photograph! How on Earth did you actually pose this girl and rats?

A: Haha this was another mad idea whilst I was driving. It actually came to me around the same time as I thought about the raven image that won Novembers competition. The girl in the image is my darling daughter, Marcy. She is a big animal lover and I knew she’d be happy to handle the rats. The rats are much loved pets called Tulip and Skittles. Strangely this chance meeting has recently led to my latest snake image of the owner of the pet rats (and snakes), Celia!

Interview with Rachel Stewart

On the day I arranged the shoot, I went around the charity shops near me, found the dress, then bought that huge block of cheese. When I work with animals I always do a plan, but often they do something even better for me! It was taken over a number of frames, to prevent them from falling, especially off her head! When Tulip was on her head then stood and kind of looked at me, I knew I had struck gold and it was going to be a great fun image!

Q: How did you get an idea for this shot? How long it took you to prepare everything?

A: It took me a day to prep. It’s really funny as when I get an idea, it just comes to me and rolls very quickly. Once I have it I keep thinking about it and add in bits. My head is forever ticking over.

Q: Can you share with us what was your most unusual/scary/awkward or the most exciting moment since you are a photographer?

A: I’ve been very lucky this past year with excitement. There have been lots of highs which then, in turn, give you that bug to push more and more. Unusual – I would say was the apprehension of working with beautiful Pongo the skunk, his lovely owner had said he’s never sprayed but I guess it’s at the back of your head when you’ve not met them. It was also quite unusual when I had Vinnie the raven flying around the studio. They have quite sharp beaks!! He had to be bribed with a marshmallow to perch on the chair!

 

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Q: In our previous interview, you told us that you are a qualified social worker, but you ended up following your heart and became a photographer. Can you tell us who introduced you to photography? If not a particular person, can you tell us how it actually happened that you picked up the camera and realized you will be a photographer?

A: On a random day after New Year (around 2011) I bumbled into a shop with my best friend Louise. We randomly decided to buy a camera! I was very ‘point and shoot’ at first but I got a real buzz from it. I would take pics of my daughter and friends would compliment them and ask me to take some of their children. So really I feel that the answer to why I am a photographer is my darling girl, Marcy. One day I bit the bullet and set up my page. I wholeheartedly believe that the world takes you on a journey, puts people in your life for a reason, this combination has led me here. I have watched and worked with some amazing UK trainers and made some amazing friends who I very much look up to.  I love to see other’s art, I read, and for once perhaps being an over-thinker and headstrong (as my lovely dad says) works in my favor here!

 

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Q: Can you tell us more about your workflow? How much of your time goes towards working with clients and how much time you devote to your personal art projects and why they matter to you?

A: Through the week I dedicate myself to my clients. I am lucky enough to work with lots of beautiful babies! Recently I have seen a huge rise in bookings for child portraits too which I am so pleased about. I will however shoot for myself at least once or twice a month, where I can maybe do something bonkers. I just love it all so much!

 

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Q: From your point of view, what makes a good picture?

A: Something eye-catching, that hits you and stops you in your tracks. I love it when you can feel the emotion from an image. Photography is so subjective and varied, and I just love that people can fully express themselves through it.

 

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Q: Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other hobby photographer?

A: Gosh, quite a lot. I am forever snapping on my phone and using apps as we all do, but these just don’t compare. Photography is an art, it takes hard work, perseverance, experience, thought and emotion. It’s a roller coaster! From the subject to the lighting, to the editing, the creating, storytelling, the quality, the finished image, you simply just can’t get this from things such as phones. There are some amazing hobby photographers out there too! And many of us start this way. But I think that the above factors are what makes the difference in who clients will hire. Time plays a part in this too. Professional photography is one of the best timeless investments. When you hire the right experienced photographer for you.

 

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Q: What, in your opinion, is most important to consider while shooting portraits?

A: That’s a tricky one, but I think to just take your time, don’t rush! When you rush it then affects your lighting posing etc. It’s taken me a while to learn to take my time.

 

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Q: Any advice for other photographers who are entering our contest? Any tip on how to win considering your experience?

A: I would encourage all photographers to enter and enter again. It’s a privilege to be amongst such a variety of talent that Child Photo Competition display. The galleries are always so diverse and inspirational which is why I love it so much. Follow your heart when it comes to ideas and go for them. Try not to compare, just do what you do and keep going.

 

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Thank you!

You can follow Rachel on Instagram and Facebook.

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