The 2016 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year (APOTY) competition is now under way, and over the next few months we'll be catching up with our category winners from the 2015 competition. In this instalment, we talk to the winner of the 2015 Creative category, Alys Davidson, about what she's been working on since her win last year.
D-Photo: What made you decide to enter the 2015 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year competition?
Alys Davidson: I wanted to share my passion for creativity with other creatives, and being published has always been on my achievements bucket list. This was the first competition I have ever entered photographically — it gave me a sense of achievement just by hitting submit, and winning the creative section was an incredible experience.
What was it like to have such a positive outcome in winning the Creative category of the competition?
I remember receiving the email with the header ‘D-Photo — Lara Wyatt’, and opening it and literally bursting into tears (overwhelmed with excitement). That same day I had been invited to a meeting with a group of like-minded artists to be a part of opening a new gallery Fine Arts Whanganui, which we opened in November. Needless to say It was all very surreal that all these amazing things were happening on the same day — it was a great confidence booster and I feel very privileged to have been selected as the winner of the Creative category.
Can you tell us the story behind your winning image?
This image was created for part of my portfolio assignment while studying a diploma in digital photography. I was working on a series of creative black-and-white images. The good-looking bloke is my better half. I wanted the image, from my perspective, to have a ‘I shelter my vision from what is going on in the world’ [feeling] but at the same time I wanted the viewer to be able to make their own take on it.
What gear did you use to capture your image? Are you using the same gear now or have you changed your preferred equipment?
My trusty Nikon D5100 18–55mm kit lens and Photoshop. I have added some primes to my kit and also a Nikon f/100 film DSLR and lenses.
What projects are you currently working on at the moment? Can you provide a bit of an explanation about what inspired you to work on this or these?
I have a pretty wild imagination ... I think that translates a lot in my work. Lately I have been working on nude silhouettes and adding nature into the image. I tend to involve a face or silhouettes of body parts in a lot of my work. I find my inspiration to be somewhat topical —things like social disappearance, the way the world is ... these tend to have a great impact on my work and what I am feeling or going through at the time.
What inspired you to pick up a camera for the first time, and how long have you been shooting?
I remember at a young age finding great pleasure in clicking away with Kodak disposable cameras (must have cost my parents a small fortune). In my young adulthood I spent a bit of time working in a photo lab — I got such enjoyment out of filling people's orders and watching the magical moments come out of the Fuji print machine. For me, photography has been life-changing — it allows me to embrace my inner weirdo and let my imagination run wild! I picked up my Nikon D5100 in 2011 and never looked back.
What would you say to someone considering entering the competition, but who are a little hesitant in clicking the ‘submit’ button?
You have nothing to lose ... so hit submit! You won't regret challenging yourself.