Rockhampton photo pro sweeps national awards
COLLEEN Harris is used to making other people smile for a living, but the Rockhampton woman is now smiling, having scored four accolades at the Australian Professional Photography Awards.
Colleen won three silver medals and one silver distinction for her unbelievably adorable newborn baby photos, adding to her collection of 12 awards.
"Being awarded at national levels is very exciting and humbling," Colleen said.
"It's such a thrill to compete against the best in the country and come away with results."
The APPAs are held every year and see over 500 of the nation's best battling it out for medals and awards.
A local to the region, Colleen was inspired to pick up a camera by her father, though for him it was only a hobby.
"At the end of Year 12 I said to my parents that I wanted to study photography as a profession," she said.
"My parents said I wouldn't make any money from it and said to pick another career to follow."
Some years and a string of jobs later, she reconnected with her passion and hasn't looked back.
Along with providing years of experience and quality photos to the region, Colleen has pioneered what's called Rainbow Baby Sessions to give back to the community.
"A Rainbow Baby is a baby that's been born after a stillborn or the loss of a previous child," she said.
"Every month I give a (free) session to someone, and try to make some special images for them and share their story."
These Rainbow Sessions aren't only to bring some help to a family in need, but to raise awareness and discussion about stillbirth and the all too often silent suffering of child loss.
"The loss of children is still a fairly taboo subject," she said.
"My mother lost a child between me and my second eldest brother, and it just wasn't something that was spoken about back then."
"Any mother who's lost a child should be able to talk about it whenever they want to," she said.
"And if this helps people to bring up the subject of their child and be able to talk about their child, then I welcome it, because every child should be remembered."
Colleen is just one award away from being considered a Master of Photography, and aims to be one next year.
She encouraged anybody with a dream or a passion to go out and chase it.
"If anybody ever came to me and told me that this was their dream, I'd tell them to grab it with both hands and never let go," she said.
The Australian Institute of Professional Photography is Australia's largest photographic membership body and has run the awards annually for 41 years.