2013 QLD TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR!

I was so proud last year when Matt was named the 2012 AIPP Queensland Travel Photographer of the Year. You can read about that HERE.

To my surprise, this year it was my turn!

Yep, that’s right. I’m super excited to let you know that I’m the 2013 AIPP Queensland Travel Photographer of the Year! Matt was a finalist this year too!

If you’ve been following us over the years you know that we travel a lot.

Last year, Matt was overseas for nearly 4 months and I was away for almost 5 months. I like to rub it in that I was away for longer than Matt! Our time overseas is usually spent shooting weddings, teaching workshops and volunteering with charities.

Travel is such a huge part of our lives. Recently I calculated that in the last 10 months, the longest I’ve been at home is 11 days in a row. That’s a lot of travel!

We love seeing different parts of the world, capturing images and making memories as we go. Traveling together as a couple makes it even more special.

THE AWARDS DINNER

When the top three finalists were announced at the awards dinner, everyone laughed as both our names were called. Matt and I stood next to each other, but not too close. We were competing against each other after all. Someone at a nearby table said “Well, that’s going to be an awkward drive home”.

Nervously we waited for the winner of the category to be announced.

“And the winner is … Katie Ebenezer!”

What? Me? That can’t be right!?

The first words out of my mouth were “Sorry Matty! I really wanted you to win again!” He laughed and gave me a massive hug.

I knew Matt was going to be a top three finalist, but I was not expecting to be one at all. I really didn’t think I had a chance.

I can’t remember what I said in my thank-you speech, but as soon as I left the stage I started thinking “Oh man… I should have said this or that” and “You idiot! You even forgot to thank Matt!”

So … this is my chance to say thank you properly. Thank you of course to Matt. He encouraged me to enter even though I didn’t think my images were good enough. Every girl deserves a super supportive guy like Matt.

And thank-you to the AIPP. The winners seem to get all the attention, but it’s really the organisers, volunteers and sponsors that deserve the biggest cheer.

THANK YOU TO THE AIPP

10 years ago I can remember attending AIPP events as an awestruck student photographer. It’s mind-blowing to now have received an AIPP award for my photography! The support we’ve received from AIPP over the years really means the world to us.

It’s so special to be part of such a wonderful photography community like the AIPP. This year the AIPP is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary. 50 years of bringing photographers together. To share their passion, to connect, grow and learn from one another.

To win the 2013 AIPP Queensland Travel Photographer of the Year is such an honour. It also means I now have a trophy to balance out all of Matt’s! 😉

Each year, these awards – and the AIPP community – encourage me to become the best photographer that I can. And to give back so much of the knowledge and support that I’ve been so blessed to receive over the last 10 years.

WHAT THIS AWARD MEANS TO ME

As many of you know, I’ve been working with an organisation in Nepal that rescues young girls from sex trafficking, and prevents them from being taken or sold in the first place.

Three of my winning images were taken in Nepal and one was from Cambodia.

I’d like to share one image with you – at the end of this post. It perfectly sums up what this award means to me.

I love this image so much that I really hesitated to enter it in the awards. I feel so attached to it. I knew if it didn’t score well, I would probably cry.

This image was taken while I was in the Kailali district, visiting some of the poorest villages in Nepal. The people in these villages live in huts that are made from sticks, mud and cow manure.

Their lives are hard. Really hard. As a westerner I can’t relate or even comprehend it.

When I’m in Nepal, I spend most of my time with the Badi people, usually the women. Being born a Badi means that you forever belong to a poor ‘untouchable’ Hindu caste, and there is no way you can break free of the poverty and hard battles that life has in store for you.

Badi people spend their days doing hard labour, cracking big boulders down into gravel by hand. They earn just over a dollar per day. Many of the women are forced into a life of prositution to provide for their families.

TIME IS SHORT

The day I took this photo, the group I was with in Nepal was on a strict time schedule. Everyone else was already on the the bus, ready to take off to their next location.

I was getting yelled at to hurry up, when I saw this elderly Nepali women standing there looking at me. As a very white, tall redhead, I tend to stand out.

This lady’s eyes spoke of the hard life she had lived, her face weathered through years of hard labour.

There was a language barrier, so I asked for someone to translate for me and ask if I could take her photo. She nodded.

With people yelling for me to hurry up, I only had such a brief moment – less than a minute – to capture this beautiful lady’s portrait.

I wish I had more time. I wanted to know more about her, to ask her about her life, to learn the story behind her eyes. Unfortunately there was no time.

I thanked her for allowing me to capture her portrait. I asked our translator to tell her that on my next trip I’d return to visit again, and to give her a print of the photo.

She held my hands in hers for a brief moment, and she smiled at me.

A STORY UNTOLD

In April, I returned Nepal.

Soon after my arrival I was informed that this beautiful old lady had passed away.

My heart ached.

I regret that we will never know this lady’s story, or what she saw with those sad eyes during her time on this earth.  

I know it’s such a small gesture, and it won’t change anything, but I want to dedicate my award to her and and to the Badi women.

This photo is a constant reminder to me of three things:

1. That I am so blessed and I should never take my life for granted.

2. That time is short and I must use my time well.

3. There are so many stories in this world that desperately need to be told. It’s my responsibility as a photographer to tell as many of them, to as many people as I possibly can.

That’s what this photo – and this award – mean to me.

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22 Comments
  1. Jakub said:
    What an amazing portrait! Reminds of of some of the work done by Steve McCurry.
  2. Nick said:
    Congrats Katie :)
  3. jade said:
    congrats guys... awesome work... looking forward to the workshop :)
  4. Katrice O'Sullivan said:
    This is the most amazing Photograph I have ever seen!! Congratulations you deserve such an award fro your amazing images!!
  5. Well done, Katie! We're so proud of you and what you're about. Keep up the good work. ;) - phillip and eileen
  6. wow those eye would have see so much.
  7. look see. said:
    Congrats Katie - so very well earned! :)
  8. Ken said:
    Amazing picture, amazing story, amazing photographer. A well deserved win. Congrats to the 2nd place getter as well. Keep up your amazing work. God Bless.
  9. Oh my goodness, Katie - this is my new favorite photo. It is stunning. Breathtaking, and i'm thankful that you took it --and that you returned as promised to visit her. And Liz Jury is right -- it reminds me of that gorgeous Afghan Girl's photo as well... Congratulations! well done.
  10. Linda Stokes said:
    Congratulations Katie (and Matt)! This portrait captures a story all of its own. Life for us is oh so easy!
  11. This is awesome - well done Katie!!! These recent adventures of yours have totally changed the way I see photography and purpose for being on earth. Thankyou :)
  12. Dan said:
    woo hoo! so happy for you Katie, you are totally deserving xo
  13. Nancy said:
    Oh Katie! You made me cry! Thank you for sharing this story and for all you do to make this world a better place. xoxo
  14. Melinda said:
    Oh Katie, what a beautiful story! Thank you for remaining so beautifully humble when you are clearly oozing talent out of your every pore!
  15. Kirsty said:
    Wonderful, just wonderful - the work you do, and this image - congratulations
  16. Such a beautiful story to match an amazing photograph. You are an inspiration, Katie!
  17. Truly beautiful Katie and congratulations sweet girl for touching the lives of so many with your wonderful gifts xo
  18. alyda said:
    thank you for sharing this katie and for doing the work you do. you're an awesome human-being and an inspiration.
  19. Emily Dimozantos said:
    Katie, I just cannot describe my feelings about this photo. So very very beautiful. Amazing work and an award that is well deserved.
  20. Emma Sanders said:
    Your photo and story made me teary. You should be so proud Katie! Sensational!
  21. Liz Jury said:
    This image is so compelling... very much reminds me of the Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry... A totally deserved award... xx
  22. Bat said:
    Beautiful post, beautiful image and congratulations again on being so much more than an award winning photographer