Where are they now: catching up with 2015 APOTY winner Hilary Lakeman

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. First, we talked to the Monochrome category winner, and the overall 2015 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year competition winner, Hilary Lakeman, about what she's been working on since winning the top honour last year.

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D-Photo: What made you decide to enter the 2015 D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year competition?

Hilary Lakeman: I enjoy the challenge of finding and using images to fit the category of the competitions, and of eventually seeing the winning entries, and of course receiving the occasional award.  I had entered in previous years and was a finalist once before in the People category.

What was it like to have such a positive outcome in winning the Monochrome category and receiving the overall winning image award in the competition?

It was very exciting to win the Monochrome competition, but most unexpected and a great honour to be named Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year.  Thanks must go to the sponsors for their amazing and generous prizes, and to D-Photo — and I even won a chocolate fish at my camera club. It is good to know that age does not matter as I would no longer describe myself as young.

Can you tell us the story behind your winning image?

The winning image was taken in New Regent Street, Christchurch, one of the less-damaged gems in the city, on one of our frequent walks around town.  The local artist Jeremy Sauzier was at work on his shadow-catcher project, Frieze: Stand in the Sun. I asked my partner and fellow photographer Eric Pollock to pose for me, and he spontaneously turned and spoke to the shadow on the wall. I just captured the moment, as is the aim of any street photographer I guess. 

What gear did you use to capture your image? Are you using the same gear now or have you changed your preferred equipment?

The camera was my trusty old Sony DSC R1, which I bought in 2007, but late last year I purchased a Sony RX10 M2 with many more features.  The one thing I miss is the flexibility of the pivoting screen, which was so useful for street photography.  For post-production I have Adobe Creative Cloud and mostly use just Photoshop.

What projects are you currently working on at the moment?

This is the hard question.  The learning process is an ever-present project, [such as] the new camera, the limitless editing possibilities, and all the tutorials I have accumulated  to go through at sometime in the future.

Actual photography projects are:

  • An ongoing one that grew from an interest I had in street photography before the earthquakes, in the older and rejuvenating areas of Christchurch,  [like] the Arts Centre and High Street, Poplar Lane, and Strange's Lane.  I was happy to be able to contribute later to the High Street Stories website and app, as these places have mostly been demolished. Since the quakes I have made regular trips in from Rangiora, recording the continuing changes, partly from a personal point of view as my family was badly affected, but also the damage, the demolitions, the rebuild, the graffiti, and art works popping up in unexpected places. I am trying to capture particularly the strangeness  and spirit of ‘the new normal’ in relation to the people in the streets. I do not know what I will do with all the thousands of images, but perhaps they will just become part of my family history.
  • Working on monochrome, which I particularly enjoy. I like the way it strips the image down to its essentials, the composition, the lighting, and the emotion it conveys without the distraction of colour.
  • Portraits. I have some very obliging grandchildren as subjects, and I do mostly informal portraits in natural outdoor lighting.  And, of course, street photography can provide some interesting images.

What inspired you to pick up a camera for the first time, and how long have you been shooting?

I have been taking photographs since I was a child, and I have always recorded holidays and family events, but my real interest started about 10 years ago with the advent of the digital age when I bought the Sony and joined a camera club. I have always had an interest in the arts and was a potter for many years. However photography is a much more accessible craft.

What would you say to someone considering entering the competition, but who are a little hesitant in clicking the ‘submit’ button?

Go for it! Push that button. You have nothing to lose. There will be no discouraging comments and always the possibility of doing well. Judges can be very surprising and anyone could win.

To enter this year's competition, which is open now, click here