The Birds and the Bees

Creating a visual story is one of the most rewarding things I could wish to achieve as a photographer, but deciding on how best to deliver it into existence can be a small challenge.

For many years illustration has been a very private activity for me, but one that has always been my 'safe place' through my life's journey. It's not something I typically share publicly, and if I do, it is with great intrepidation. But many people have asked how this was created so I thought I'd share an insight into my thoughts and art processes.

I have been inspired by many illustrators over the years, but my soft spot has always been for MC Escher, a Dutch artist most respected for his visual challenge of physics, impossible shapes and endless patterns. One of my most favourite of Escher's artworks is 'Drawing Hands' 1948; this piece first magnetised me to his work when I was about 10 years old.

The notion that the simple line drawings could morph themselves into 3-dimensional hands totally fascinated me, not to mention the clever pun in the title! ;)


My Award-winning image of a newborn snuggled atop a sleeping cheetah was inspired by Escher's 'Drawing Hands'. It is titled 'The Birds and the Bees', hence the sweet pair of birds sharing a moment of affectionate conversation and the bees gently buzzing about. This little man is the youngest of four, two of his older siblings are twins. During the shoot his big sister whispered to me her baby brother was like their little cub, hence the cheetah.

I wanted to create a final piece where the photograph blends into the illustration; where the lines are blurred from where the photo starts and the illustration ends. I wanted it to carry a feeling much like a whimsical storybook. I wanted it to reveal a subtle quirk with the sweetness of a newborn baby.


The little birds are Sun Conures, big thanks to Lyndon and Karen from Beaks & Feathers Aviaries in Windsor for allowing me to visit them to capture these gorgeous little birds. The birds were photographed together in one single image; they really were 'talking' to each other during the shoot!

Every bee is an individual photo...I spent considerable time observing and photographing what I have also learned to be fascinating insects!

I illustrated the cheetah from a photograph I took at Dubbo Zoo and separately illustrated the grasses and flowers and flying trails of the bees. Once the illustrations were complete, I photographed the finished drawings to then start assembling the composite for the final image.

In total, all the illustration components took around 9-10 hours. The illustrations are all done in pencil on paper.

One big challenge I had was to match the illustration to the depth of field in my newborn photograph. This was a critique made at NSW State Awards so I re-illustrated some of my original cheetah drawing for Nationals (APPA).


It ultimately scored 85, (Silver with Distinction).

2019 AIPP Australian Family Photographer of the Year

Naomi Reiter announced 2019 AIPP Australian Family Photographer of the Year

AIPP Australian Family Photographer of the Year

Wow, where to start!


This journey has been none other than incredible. I woke the following morning to a welcome reality that last night wasn't just a dream. I'm writing this still in disbelief with shaking hands and quite a few happy tears dripping on my keyboard.

This could be a long post, but as this title win was a complete surprise, I felt my short ad-hoc speech had some holes to fill.

This year has been laced with some scary health and business challenges and I've spent much of it in a place best avoided. Beside me though I have had a truly wonderful support crew who are deserving of more words than I can articulate and endless love and hugs.

To my husband, George, I know you are always there, always supporting me (matched with a little frustration when Awards time comes around)...I promise I'll fold the washing tomorrow...or maybe the day after... 🤭😘 Massive hugs and a huge thank you to my Mum who over the last week has babysat, done last minute school-pick-ups plus tidying, washing, dinner and looked after our 3 boys, often with little warning...sorry Mum 😘 Huge thanks to two wonderful friends for delivering our boys to school on the early mornings and helping with pickups.

Matthew Vasilescu and Marina Zivkovic, you two are the most beautiful humans and divine friends. Together we three have cheered and cried for/with each other throughout this whole photographic journey for several years now and I know this is just the beginning for all of us. Thank you both so much, I may have bailed long ago without you along on the ride.

To our NSW Council team; I am so proud to be a part of our little state machine, you are all fantastic and unbelievably talented! Massive congratulations to Jodie Andrews who won the Newborn category, Marina Zivkovic who was a finalist in the Book category and Matthew Vasilescu who won Highest Scoring print in Commercial, not to mention a collection of Gold and Silver Distinctions for Melanie Birt and Peter Sharp...not too shabby!

A massive thank you to the Olympus team for your support of the AIPP and to me over the last 12 months, lending me some amazing Olympus AU & NZ gear and the opportunity to shoot outside my usual client base. I couldn't be prouder to be able to say my 1st ever APPA Gold was not only shot on an Olympus EM-1X, but in the Olympus studio!

Photomart have been absolutely wonderful yet again helping me with printing and matting and delivering exceptionally beautiful prints as always. Thank you guys, you are seriously wonderful!

Kayell Australia have been in fine form as an AIPP sponsor, I've hired lighting from them and utilised their genius printing knowledge to get a couple of these entries sorted, including reprinting at the 11th hour for me after a little damage occurred whilst I was matting the prints, printed on Canson paper of course. 😄

EVERY single member of the tireless Events and Awards teams and especially our incredible vollies. You are all truly wonderful. Out the back amidst our hive of activity, we have worked, laughed, cried, hugged and celebrated well earned victories like there is no tomorrow! You guys all ROCK and I can't wait to be out there with you all over again next year.

A couple of 'firsts' for me this year...First APPA Gold and first time scribing at APPA, thank you Robyn Campbell for that fantastic opportunity...I'm there again next year (if you'll have me)!!

Huge congratulations to all the category winners and Matt Palmer for taking out the top gong of 2019 AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year. Sharing that stage with you all was totally humbling.

The firm friendships I have formed within our AIPP Community are truly wonderful, I am so humbled to have got to know so many of you. Every one of you who has been a part of this with me and I am a better person for knowing and sharing this with each of you. You are what makes our photographic industry so damn awesome.

Every judge who gave their valuable feedback to my prints, thank you so much. Sometimes critique is hard to hear, but that brings growth and if it didn't hurt just a little it wouldn't light the fire in my belly to improve. 😉

Also a massive thank you to all my clients, as without them I wouldn't be able to visualise their stories and create these images.

Thank you everyone! #bestappaever

Strength and Fragility

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This photo is an illustration of the strength of the heart and the fragility of the mind.

This delicate subject faces away from the viewer. She has a serene expression of peace and calmness, appearing that she is in control, however just a single tear rolls down her cheek, the tiniest reveal; a glimpse into her fragility and pain.

Her character is peaceful and kind. She is generous of spirit, caring and thoughtful. She has a laugh that brings sunshine to a night-filled darkness. But she is fragile, too young to be challenging demons of the mind.

Kids have been cruel. She has been tormented and bullied. She has pleaded to be left alone, but still they mock, laughing when her spirit falls. She longs for safety in her moment of darkness. But, she is not alone. There is a strength in her life. She has a loving family and beautiful animals who give her the acknowledgement that she is enough. She IS enough, she just needs the strength to believe it.

One of this family's animals is this beautiful horse, he is a handsome Thoroughbred and ex-racehorse; powerful and tall, strong yet gentle. He stands behind supporting her remaining resolute and calm. His warm breath on her brings reassures her he has her back. He acknowledges looking to the viewer that he is her strength and she will get through this tough time.

The juxtaposition of the horse's dark strength facing forward to his human sister's pale fragile profile deepens this illustration of strength and fragility.

It is a powerful story.

Captured in single capture in the horse's paddock shelter using Canon 5DIII with a 24-70mm f2.8 lens and lit with two off-camera speed-light flashes.

Stories in Family Photography

©2017 Naomi Reiter Photography   |   2017 AIPP NSW Family Photographer of the Year

©2017 Naomi Reiter Photography | 2017 AIPP NSW Family Photographer of the Year

... WHERE IT STARTED

When this couple approached me for their maternity shoot they were at the tail end of their first full term pregnancy. Preceding this had been years of heartache following miscarriage after miscarriage and many unsuccessful IVF attempts. Their hopes of one day having a family of their own were becoming more and more desperate as each IVF therapy slipped through their fingers.

But they had each other and they had their beloved fur baby named Bentley who came into their lives when he was a tiny puppy. For a long while they felt perhaps the pitter patter of furry paws might be the closest they would have to a little person. I had a big responsibility here to capture their story and give them a photograph that was truly meaningful.

The morning of their shoot we chatted to confirm details and finalise a location. They wanted something different though and specifically requested NOT to shoot at the beach or anywhere that was popular...I was thrilled! They lived in inner Sydney, surrounded by a funky cafe culture, street art and colourful, rustic narrow lanes and we decided somewhere around there close to them illustrating their local environment would be absolutely perfect.

... THE NARRATIVE IN THE PHOTOGRAPH

Here stands a couple who, through many years of pregnancy loss and heartache, have finally made it to 37 weeks of pregnancy with a healthy baby. They face each other, sharing a moment of quiet reflection of their rollercoaster journey and giving each other their strength, love and support.

Their beautiful loyal dog knows while he is loved, that the arrival of his human baby will push him aside and he looks away from them as they look to their unborn baby knowing his life and his place in the family is about to shift dramatically. He is still there with them but the space between them will be filled with their new baby.

The busy colour on the wall they stand in front of not only represents their local environment where they have built their lives together, it also symbolises the heartache that is now behind them. It creates a beautiful juxtaposition of the chaos on the path behind them against the peaceful moment of solidarity they share together in this image.

...

Photographs tell a story; they tell of family relationships, of imagination, of love, of happiness and laughter. They have the magic to stop time and preserve the precious details of a newborn and bring back memories of those no longer with us. They make us laugh and cry and bring back moments of time gone by.

Life is about experience, everything we touch and see is an experience. Come and dream with me; allow yourself to reflect your inner thoughts; to celebrate life with your family.

My work is built on a conversation and photography is my paintbrush; I love to create; a tale, a character, imagination, a moment; narrated and illustrated in a photographic art piece. Everyone has an anecdote; everyone has a uniqueness. When we pause to reflect on these we enrich our journey in life.

I create each piece bespoke to every client. Sometimes I create these from a single photograph, sometimes they are created from many photographs – every part of them is layered with meaning telling a beautiful, personal story.

...

WHAT WILL YOUR STORY BE? ...

www.naomireiterphotography.com.au

Internationally awarded family photographer. 2017 AIPP NSW Family Photographer of the Year

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Welcome to Naomi Reiter Photography's blog!

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I'm very excited to be officially a part of the blogging fraternity (if there is such a thing)! Here I will post interesting reads that will give insights into the world of being a photographer. I will share secrets and inspiration and stories of what makes me tick and why I do what I do.

Photography has been a special part of most of my life and to be able to create unique pieces of personal art for every family and couple I photograph is an honour!

So, I hope you will enjoy sharing the journey with me and in turn find inspiration to include creative photography in your life. :)

Naomi x