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SWPP Baby Photographer of the Year 2014
Written by Vanessa Champion   

Christina Lauder won the Creativity Backgrounds SWPP Baby Photographer for the Year 2014 at the SWPP convention this year. We caught up with her to ask her a little about her background, practice and what drives her.

1. First of all congratulations on winning the SWPP Baby Photographer of the Year 2014. The fellowship panel of images are stunning, How did you select your images?

Image by Christina LauderI've attached 4 images from my panel all using paper as the background. My images for my panel were not selected but instead created. I had an idea in mind, which developed from one of the images that was created in 2013, which won me Portrait Studio Photographer of the year in 2014 (girl on suitcases). It was the inspiration for the rest of the panel which involved months of planning and preparation to create the final set of images.

2. You are originally from Canada, but moved to Hinkley, Leicestershire. Why did you take up photography when you moved here?

Image by Christina Lauder PhotographyI moved to the UK on an ancestry visa to work in software sales. I left that to have a baby but with 2 years out of that industry I was finding it tough to return. Photography was always a part of my life and a friend, after seeing one of my images suggested that I should do it for a living. After my initial thoughts of it being a silly idea I started to take it seriously. I've not looked back since. I don't imagine I would have had a career in photography if I was still living in Canada. I don't think the pieces would have fallen into place as they've done here.

3. Who has been your inspiration as a photographer and why?

Image by Christina Lauder PhotographyI've had a number of people inspire me over the years. I am always keeping an eye out for images that stand out, whether that be in television, film, art galleries, magazines, and any online avenue for imagery. But I suppose the 2 portrait photographers who first caught my attention and who have since been there to guide me on several occasions over the years are Faye and Trevor Yerbury. They have a quality and timeless look that I really find appealing and they have been very kind to me for a long time now with words of advice and mentoring this past year with my Fellowship.

4. What’s the biggest challenge when photographing babies? I find them impossible to keep upright!

Image by Christina Lauder PhotographyThe biggest challenge photographing babies is the exact same challenge photographing children and animals. No two are the same and all require a great deal of patience and calm. I try not to stress during the session because I think all these subjects can sense your anxiety and it affects the way they are. So I now don't worry about what we get and don't get, knowing that at worst we try again another day.

5. You’re not only a baby photographer, you shoot dogs and teenagers too I see! What do you love photographing the most and why?

Image by Christina Lauder PhotographyI love variety more than anything. Any age group would have me wanting more if all I ever did was shoot that age group. I have found that just shooting something new is enough to get me excited about what I do again. They all have great things about them and things that are less so. Worrying about getting a teenager to smile naturally can be troublesome because they are more self-conscious but on a plus side they tend to behave better and can take direction. A toddler on the other hand has beautiful natural expression but keeping them still can be a chore. Then new babies often sleep so well and a sleeping baby always looks wonderful, but they won't always let you get them into the position you want. So like I said, its variety I like.

6. You said you always use paper backdrops, why is that?

I love paper for a number of reasons. First, it is disposable. So as soon as it becomes too dirty I just cut off that piece. This also comes in handy when doing cake smash sessions or sessions where I wanted spilled material, like with the boy and the paint tins. I've used vinyl before but its hard to keep clean. I also like the way the paper hangs. Its a very smooth surface and I can change it using various textures and Photoshop techniques to make it unique. And depending on how you light the scene, you can easily change the shade of that colour or even the colour itself if you use coloured gels. It makes it a very versatile and inexpensive item for the studio.

7. On your website, you say that competitions are a major driving force for you?

Competitions motivate me because I want to win. I am always trying to create pieces I can enter into competitions so it makes me work harder and gets me looking at everything I do for possible flaws that may stop me from scoring well. It also keeps me thinking creatively so I can hopefully produce something new. In doing this my work improves and evolves.

8. What’s next for you?

I'm hoping to grow my business even further and earn more awards. But along with this I will also be looking to get invited to more speaking engagements outside the UK as well as getting asked to judge other competitions.

9. How can people follow your work?

Website: www.christinalauderportraits.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/christinalauderportraits

Instagram: christinalauderportraits

Twitter: @CLauder

Portrait Blog: http://www.christinalauderportraits.blogspot.co.uk/

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