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Master Craftsman

I hate to blow my own trumpet and sing my own praises but this is something I am so super proud of I decided to share :) It is a a little bit long but I wanted to explain why this qualification means so much to me!

Master Creaftsman Newborn Photographer Magda Bright, Surrey
Guild of Newborn and Baby Photographers, Master Craftsman

Having been a member of The Guild of Photographers for almost 8 years I have been entering their Image of the Month competition almost from the start (you can see other blogs of mine about the Photographer of the year competition), I've had mentoring, attended webinars and tried to become the best photographer I can be.

I qualified with the Guild in 2017 you can read the blog and see my qualification panel HERE.

It was at this point that my mentor suggested I start working on my Craftsman Panel. A Craftsman Panel consists of 20 images, printed and mounted, presented to the judges along with a statement (pretty nerve wreaking part, standing in front of the judges and talking about yourself, your work and your panel) and a product and an album.

I didn't feel ready. I felt I needed to refine my posing, my technique, my editing. Plus I was scared of the amount of work involved as the panel needs to tie in together, there are many things to consider when putting a panel together and I was so busy with work and my children.

I didn't feel ready in 2017. I didn't feel ready in 2018, or 2019. Then Covid hit and I didn't even think about the Craftsman Panel. Finally in 2022 I started to come up with ideas and almost put a panel together. But my enthusiasm fizzled out and again, I found the whole idea overwhelming.

Finally at the end of 2022 I started working on an idea that formed in my mind. I wanted to create an art gallery feel with images of babies I took as every sinlge baby is gorgeous, individual and a work of art. A tiny masterpiece. I got inspired by art galleries but also by a wall my nan had (and probably every nan in the world has, with photos of their grandchildren :) ).

I went about sourcing frames that would work, I started to draw ideas of what I could create. I had a few model calls and created beautiful images. I took photos of the frames, I played with different backgrounds and had to learn how to edit, cut out the frames and insert the photos to look realistic. It was quite a steep learning curve but my passion and drive to create a stunning panel definitely helped.

After putting a few of the frames and images together I was not loving the result. I always thought that The Guild judges preferred a certain look based on the awarded images I have seen in the past. This was a dark, painterly look but it just wasn't me and my style. I was trying to fit myself into a box that was not in my shape.

Craftsman Panel Mock Up
First mock up in dark colours

Whilst working on my panel I kept entering the Image of the Month Competition with my light coloured images. Images I felt passionate and inspired about creating. Images I felt were "me". And these images did really well in the competition. They have won me Silver awards and even a Gold award. This gave me the boost to reconsider my approach and create a light coloured panel. To the delight of my husband who was roped in to help spray all the frames white ;)

I was scared at first, unsure if I have made the right decision but as soon as I put some of the images together in the light frames I knew this was exactly the panel I wanted to create.

The layout of the panel took me a really long time to work out. There are 4 different frames, they needed to work across the panel, the various poses of babies inside them needed to work as a whole and the colours of the background needed to compliment these and not be repetitive. I needed to crate a pattern that was pleasing. I spent many hours drawing the panel on paper with various layouts. There were times when I wanted to give up. Times where it felt WAY TOO complicated and I cursed myself for setting myself such a difficult task. I was working with my mentor who was very supportive and helpful and my photography friends who helped me to bounce ideas around and gave me feedback on various layouts.

Craftsman Panel Layout
Playing with Layouts

Craftsman Panel Layout
Another variation of a layout

It was a long and painstaking process. Once the panel was finalised I needed to get it printed, I agonised over various papers and mount options. I needed to provide a product and an album, I spent ages choosing colours, layouts, mounts and frames. I am pretty sure my husband and children were sick of me talking about this over and over again.

Finally the weekend of 10th September arrived and after my initial wobble and tears on Saturday morning (refusing to go because I was so scared at this point) we got on the road to Oxford where the judging was taking place on Sunday morning.

The morning came and I set up my panel with shaking hands (wearing gloves :) ) in the judging room along with a frame and an album to showcase my available products. I then presented my statement in front of the judges, I don't really remember much from the presentation :) my nerves took over at this point I think. I then left the room and the judges got to see my panel for the first time and deliberated whether I have done enough to pass my Craftsman Qualification.

Craftsman Panel Presentation
Presentation of the panel

I didn't have to wait for long, I was called back in within what felt like 5 minutes. Lesley (one of the Guild Directors) got emotional while she told me that not only have I passed my Craftsman Qualification, I have been upgraded to a Master Craftsman. This is the highest qualification you can achieve with The Guild. The fact that Lesley was so emotional telling me just shows that The Guild is one big family and Lesley and Steve are so super proud of all of our successes!

Master Craftsman Panel
Final Panel. Craftsman Submission, upgraded to Master Craftsman

Master Craftsman Newborn Photographer Magda Bright, Cheam, Surrey
Master Craftsman Newborn Photographer Magda Bright, Cheam, Surrey

A little bit from The Guild's page about their qualifications:

"People working in crafts have organised themselves into ‘Guilds’ as far back as the Saxon times, and by the medieval period, ‘Guilds’ had a fundamental role to ‘protect the quality and reputation of a trade’. Most ‘Guilds’ would consist of those seen as being able to produce a good standard of work (those ‘Qualified’ to work in the trade), those who were very skillful and experienced (the ‘Craftsman’), and those who could go beyond even that and create a Masterpiece (the ‘Master Craftsman’)."

I could not believe that my panel got upgraded to Master Craftsman, it was such an achievement and I had many wonderful comments from the judges, photography colleagues and other Guild members that made me well up and feel immensly proud of the work I have created. My panel got since published in two of The Guild's magazines, The Creative Light which is an online magazine and The Cameracraft magazine.

I am so glad I have taken the leap to apply for my Craftsman Panel, it has been a learning curve but it has been worth it. I am also immensely grateful to all my customers who trust me with creating wonderful images for them.

And if you have managed to read all the way to here, I am grateful to you for taking the time to share in my success :)

Love, Magda

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