29 June 2012

Pregnancy triggers arthritis

Photography by Abigail Harman

Jane Auguston was overjoyed, she was pregnant with her first child and was about to give birth, such a beautiful time in her life.  What Jane didn’t realise however was this life changing and joyous occasion would soon be overshadowed by the onset of a painful and life changing disease.  Jane was only 21. 
After the birth of Jane’s first child, Kirsty, she started to notice things weren’t quite right. “I put on 11 kilograms during my first pregnancy. Once Kirsty was born I lost 11 kilograms in hospital and then in a week of leaving hospital, I lost another 7 kgs but my fingers were still fat…She was a happy baby and so I was eating fine, but I couldn’t understand all the weight loss, and swollen joints… it took a couple months before I could put my rings back on. I thought it was just because she was my first baby that my fingers retained fluid…”
Then at 23, Jane had baby number two, Aaron. “A few months after I had him, overnight my knees just blew up like balloons. I had track pants on and the pants were bulging at the seams. My ankles also blew up.” She recalled.  With a 2 year old toddler, an infant, and a husband to take care of, the struggle and pain of walking wasn’t an option. The young mother eagerly searched for treatment and a diagnosis for this sudden inflammation in her joints. Jane saw numerous GPs to try and rid her of the pain however, frustratingly she was continuously receiving ineffective medication while having fluid from her joints incorrectly drained.  “My mother, being a nurse, told me to see a specialist she knew. I said that I would see one final GP first. When I saw the GP, he said “you have arthritis, take Asprin.”
Fed up with the lack of results Jane decided to see the specialist.
Jane packed 3 month old Aaron into the car and drove from Albany to Perth to see Dr Graeme Carrol, Rheumatologist. “He drained so much fluid from my knees, and then told me ‘No walking, don’t walk at all, only to go to the toilet, if you need to eat, someone will have to bring you your food.’” Jane needed hospital care straight away, however the young mother had to wait several days until a room became available for both her and her baby.
A few days later, Jane and Aaron were emitted to Shenton Park Hospital. “The staffs were great all I had to do was feed him, because I couldn’t do anything else. They took such good care of us. I received all my essential medications then soon after, for some reason, my arthritis symptoms went away… no swelling, no pain… nothing. ” 
Jane was pain free, the arthritis seemed to have vanished, and she was once again able to freely run around after her children. However she didn’t realise the disease was actually lying dormant. When Jane fell pregnant 18 months later the arthritis came back with vengeance.
At 25 Jane’s arthritis not only came back by viciously attacking all her joints in her body, but she also gave birth to a beautiful son, Dylan, who unfortunately was born with Ataxia Cerebral Palsy. When asking Jane how she managed to look after her condition and her son, Dylan, she welled up with tears, it was clear to me she has always put her son before herself.
Jane now a wife and mother to 3 beautiful children aged 4, 2 and a newborn, began searching for medication so she could tackle this disease and be able to look after her family. “I wanted a drug which enabled me to run around with the kids while they were young, I wasn’t too worried about the long term side effects… there is a high chance I could get stomach ulcers, but I am hoping by that time I get them someone has invented a treatment to cure them.”
After Dylan was born Jane saw a dramatic change in the useability of her hands, she struggled opening things such as jars while cooking, “with Dylan nappy pins were too hard to change. So I had to say too bad for the environment, I have to go to disposable diapers.” She recalled. Unlike many young people now currently living with arthritis (because of advances in medicine) Jane carries the visible signs of arthritis. In her early thirties Jane’s toes began to deform, followed by her hands a couple years later. “It started with the toes curling over…I have had a few operations on them now, where they have attempted to straighten them all with pins.” 
Now in their mid-forties Jane and her husband only have one child at home, though their life still seems busy. Having a wheelchair-bound child with Cerebral Palsy, Jane and her husband’s days require assisting Aaron with everyday tasks, such as showering and being home mornings and afternoons to get Aaron on and off the car which takes him to work. 
Though Jane still finds time to try and manage her condition by keeping active.  She has a personal trainer, with a medical background, who she praises and sees once a week, whilst also attempting to go to spin class every week. “It can be frustrating with personal training when you want to do something, because you can’t grip it or hold on it.” She explains, while showing me how the joints in her wrists are fused together, restricting all movement of the wrist. Jane realises however that her body is better off by her keeping active, and she sees the benefits of keeping strong for the future, not only for herself but for her family as well.

25 June 2012

Great Great Grandparents

This beautiful couple are in their 90s and have been married for longer than most of us have been alive. This image clearly shows their continued affection towards each other.The human connections and emotions we photographers can show are priceless.

22 June 2012

Kids being Kids

Do you remember the 'good old days' when Grandpa or Great Aunty Sybil would stand you with your brothers and sisters up against the picket fence. Grandpa made you stand straight as a soldier and you barely survived Great Aunt Sybil's spitty fingers as she flattened your hair.

Armed with their trusty Kodak Box brownie you were commanded to Stand still and say 'Cheese'. Way before the days of the Great Yellow Emperor thing were worse. Subjects were requested to stand against the wall as if waiting the firing squad. Heads were sometime put in head braces because exposure times were excruciatingly long - as long as two or three minutes. Just imagine smiling with your head clamped tight in brace.

Kids rarely stand dead still. let them run, jump and play. Be prepared to lose a lot of shots. capturing excitement, fun and the essence and innocence of childhood is what counts. Kids and water make a good mix. Its funny kids rarely feel cold in water, even on a winter's day. You know that the definition of a jumper: 'Something you wear when your granny feels cold'.

Win AU$5000 with your favorite portrait in the Fremantle Portrait Prize. Entries close 1 August 2012.

21 June 2012


This is not an official M.I.L.K image. M.I.L.K was held in 1999 and was the world's richest photographic competition with prize money of US$100,000. 17,000 photographers from 164 countries submitted 40,000 images. The acronym M.I.L.K stands for Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship. 
Sometimes (particularly men), get too bound down with the technicalities of photography and overlook the human emotional aspects. One such aspect is the way that two people relate to each other - how their bodies touch and link, their facial expressions, their body language. 
When photographing a couple, look for the natural connection between them, rather than the artificially posed one. Observation, patience and an genuine desire to befriend your subjects will help.
My image was taken on Elephantine Island in Egypt in January 2007. I was using a  Fuji S3 Pro with a 12-18mm Nikon lens. 1/125 sec @ f5.6, 400 ISO, 19mm FL. Aperture Priority. 

Enter the Fremantle Portrait Prize here and win AU$5000 cash. Entries close 1 August 2012.

16 June 2012

Let the hands do the talking

The subject's face is by dar the most important feature of your portrait. In particular, the eyes are a critical component, often referred to as the 'windows of the soul'.

However, the subject's hands and arms are probably the next most important feature. In many portraits the face and hands are the two lightest parts of the image. As a portrait photographer keep a close and subtle eye on the subject's hands. Sometimes, tension and stress will be visible in the hands. If you see that, try techniques for relaxing them, by giving them something to do with their hands rather than just say 'Relax!'
    Borneo: Fuji S2 Pro 800ISO 1/60 f5.6 70-400mm Nikon set on 400mm

An astute portrait photographer will observe the natural body language of the subject and try to utilise that feature to add more of a  story to the image. Hands and arms can also be used to frame the face and act as leading lines.

Visit the Fremantle Portrait Prize and enter before 1 August 2012 for your chance to win AU$5000 cash.

13 June 2012

Fifty Stunning Portraits

The art of portraying people with your camera is not simple, a good portrait has to balance several things: originality, good composition, quality of picture,facial and body projections.For me it’s one that evokes an emotional response out of its viewer and successfully communicates something more about the subject than what is immediately apparent.
From Milana in Shutter Skills


12 June 2012

Motion and Emotion

Most digital cameras these days are capable of capturing images that are technically sound - they are sharp, correctly exposed with accurate colour. What then are the characteristics that will make one image stand out from the crowd; the image that will capture the viewers attention; the image that makes an impact and tells a story.

One such characteristic is motion. While its relatively easy to pose a static subject and even click a pin-sharp image with your camera bolted firmly on a tripod. But capturing motion in a portrait requires extra planning and lots of practice using slower shutter speeds. The subject can be blurred, the background blurred or even both. One technique is to use shutter speed priority and a shutter speed of about 1/8, 1/15 or 1/30 second and pan with the subject. It takes a lot of trial and error - lots of error! If you get one shot out of 50 or 100 goes give yourself a pat on the back.

If you want to progress one step higher in degrees of difficulty try putting an E before Motion. A successful portrait photographer is part psychologist, part counsellor and is interested in eliciting true human emotion - sadness, happiness, joy, trust, love anger, frustration and so on. Technically accurate images of boring, bland humans with zero emotion may only succeed in getting bat caves excited.

Enter the Fremantle Portrait Prize and win $5000 cash.  Closes ! August 2012 

06 June 2012

Landscape or Portrait Format

    Paul Sampi near Lombadina 2006 Nikon 24mm lens

In Landscape format there is generally more space on each side of the subject, or f the subject is located on one side there is a lot of 'story telling' space on one side. It follows that Landscape format is more likely to produce an environmental portrait. In other words the space on each side is part of the narrative.

If you choose a Portrait format it tends to be more of a character study. Space above and below the subject doesn't normally carry as much storytelling information.

When pursuing an environmental portrait wide-angle lenses are often preferred, especially when inside rooms and confined spaces. A wide-angle lens lets the photographer make better use of leading lines and artefacts to build the story.

Enter the Fremantle Portrait Prize. Entries close 1 August 2012

03 June 2012

Add a Dog (or Two)

Dogs may be 'Man's Best Friend' and they can also be a photographer's best friend (or worst nightmare). One of the challenges confronting the portraitist is successfully capturing genuine emotion. Often, due to culture and upbringing, adults and even children will pose stiffly and uncomfortably, adopting a safe, protective mask. The result may be a technically correct but uninspiring image.

As soon as you add a dog or cat to the portrait, your subject  reacts to their furry friend. Even people reluctant to pose at all may relent and let you photograph their pet (and then you can bring them into the shot).
The Fremantle Portrait Prize  closes on 1 August 2012 http://www.fremantleportraitprize.org.au/

01 June 2012

'Two Year' entry limit

The principal reason for the time limit is simply to keep the award open to as many photographers as possible. If there was no time limit the award would possibly be dominated by a small number of iconic images from  highly successful photographers. This could unintentionally place the majority of entries in a position of being  uncompetitive. It would also mean that when images were exhibited, most viewers would recognize the well-known iconic images, having seen them in a number of publications dating back over the decades. This may  provide a disincentive to many photographers entering in future years.

Most competitions have a time limit of one to two years on the entry. Also, many competitions restrict entry with further provisions. However, the Fremantle Portrait Prize has few other exclusions. Unlike other competitions you do not have to belong to a specific organization, you don’t need to subscribe to a magazine or become a member and there’s no restriction on the entrant’s age. Neither does the FPP distinguish between Amateur and Professional photographers. We embrace photographers from all walks of life from around the world and welcome their entries.

The aim of the Fremantle Portrait Prize is to grow the award significantly over the next decade striving for the highest standard of contemporary portrait photography. All profits from the Fremantle Portrait Prize are directed to charity (the Arthritis and Osteoporosis Foundation of WA) and we wish to keep the incentives as strong as possible for photographers to enter.

We hope that as many photographers as possible will take  the opportunity to enter the Fremantle Portrait Prize and support a most worthwhile charity.