Sarah Smith, from Rayleigh Essex, is awarded the top accolade of Master Craftsman in Newborn and Baby Photography.
On 6th September 2021, I travelled to Stoke on Trent to visit the head quarters of The Guild of Photographers to present a panel of 20 professional award winning images to a panel of very well regarded judges within the photographic industry, with the hope of gaining my Craftsman qualification. However, I didn’t just pass my Craftsman, the judges were so impressed that they upgraded my panel to that of a Master Craftsman, the highest accolade in Newborn and Baby Photography.
The Guild of Photographers describe a Master Craftsman qualification as having created something truly remarkable, a real unique masterpiece.
The panel of images had to display the highest level of excellence and skill in newborn photography and not only did each image have to be exceptional in its own right, but they had to all work together to create a panel of images that harmonised each other as a whole. The panel took three years to put together, as every detail was perfected.
Along with the 20 mounted fine art prints that presented the panel via a display wall to the judges, I had to produce an album of the images, present the images digitally by bespoke hand made USB, display one of the images on a professional piece of wall art and accompany it all by a covering statement of why I believe I should receive this qualification.
Setting up my panel on the day and reading my covering statement in front of the judges was one of the most nerve wracking things I had ever done, I completely lost it and finished my statement through tears in my eyes and shaking hands. Although a tad embarrassing, it just went to show, just how much this qualification meant to me.
Here is my panel up close. I would like to thank all of my wonderful clients who allowed me to enter their images into the panel to gain this qualification, without them this simply wouldn’t be possible.
My covering statement was as follows:
I am Sarah Smith, I am a newborn and baby photographer, with a home studio in Rayleigh, Essex.
My love of photography started to grow from the dark room as I embraced GCSE art. When everyone else was playing on the playground, I was developing images in my lunch breaks. I just loved seeing the images come to life. I then spent the next couple of years capturing whatever I could with a point and shoot. It wasn’t until the birth of my first daughter that my husband bought me my first ever DSLR as I had the very best subject to practice on. I then took myself off to Southend Collage to re study the basics and fell in love with portrait photography even more. A year later I helped to deliver my goddaughter, cleaned her up, cut the chord and it really made me want to be a midwife. After realising that midwifery wasn’t going to work around my family commitments, I decided to put my love of photography and newborn babies together and started up as a newborn photographer. However, I didn’t want to be any old newborn photographer, I wanted to be the best photographer I could be and joined onto one of Claire Elliott’s workshops and it was then that I knew I had found my thing.
In October 2016, on Claire Elliott’s recommendation, I joined the Guild. I had reached the point where I needed more guidance and direction to reach my goals. I had gone from an amateur to calling myself a professional photographer over night and that didn’t sit comfortably with me. I needed to prove that I was good enough to work for my clients and provide a service that I could be proud of. The Guild was like the shining light in my career from that moment forward. Entering the IOM competition every month, alongside the informative feedback sessions and invaluable mentoring was exactly what I needed to improve and thrive as a newborn photographer. During the last five years I have developed into the photographer that I always dreamt I would be and I do not believe I would have achieved this without the support of the Guild family. The Guild is the most inspirational welcoming organisation that I have ever come across and I am so proud to be a part of it.
I care so much about what I do. You only get one shot at capturing the most magical shots of a newborn baby, before they start to change, that I ensure every shoot is as perfect as I can make it. I work with my clients before hand to ensure that every part of their session is tailored to their desires. I take my time and attend the the babies every need, this gives the new parents time to put their feet up and let me take over for a while. The trust that a client puts into me and my photography blows me a way and I always ensure that they walk away happy from the most wonderful experience.
My panel of 20 images is a true representation of my heart and soul. It represents me and what my photography stands for. My style is all about the baby, focusing on the baby using simple set ups and harmonising colours. Our babies are the most precious thing in the world and it is such an honour to be chosen as a clients newborn photographer.
To have the opportunity to present to you today is a dream come true and, no matter what the outcome is today, I have learned so much and gained so much from the experience. Thank you for taking the time to judge my panel. I hope that you enjoy the images as much as I have enjoyed creating them.
Thank you, Sarah Smith