Athlete Profile – Sumita Rani

Photographically Bangladesh is an absolute wonderland!  Naturally I was always going to focus on sport of some description.  Initially it was difficult to get past the Bangladeshi’s love of cricket, which is literally EVERYWHERE!!!

Some good fortune led me to the Bangladesh Olympic Commission (BOC) who introduced me to two very special people that I feel very honoured to be working with; Bangladesh National Hurdler Sumita Rani and her coach Mahabuba Iqbal Belly (Belly).

Being an athlete in Bangladesh is hard.  It is even more of a challenge being a female athlete and female coach.  I have been told the stories of some amazing female athletes who have trailblazed in Bangladesh, however sport in all forms in the country is still very much overwhelmed with males.

Sumita is the current Bangladesh record holder for the 100m Hurdles.  The youngest daughter from a family of 7, Sumita is a true inspiration.  With so many people living in one small country, there are limited funds available to elite athletes and the training facilities for these elite athletes are extremely basic compared to those I have experienced in Australia and the USA.  Despite these limitations Coach Belly adapts what equipment they have to ensure Sumita trains hard – something I have personally been witnessing.  She is extremely focussed and I don’t know that I have met someone who is more determined to make their mark.

Both Belly and Sumita have dreams and goals to train together somewhere like Australia where they have access to the best training facilities and where Sumita’s abilities can be developed and taken that one step further.  From what I have seen in the past week, I don’t doubt that their hopes will come true!

Sumita Rani, Bangladesh National Hurdler heading to training at Bangabandhu Stadium, Bangladesh.

Sumita Rani, Bangladesh National Hurdler preparing for training drills at the Bangabandhu Stadium, Bangladesh.

Sumita Rani, Bangladesh National Hurdler participating in training drills at the Bangabandhu Stadium, Bangladesh.

Sumita Rani, Bangladesh National Hurdler participating in training drills at the Bangabandhu Stadium, Bangladesh.

Sumita Rani, Bangladesh National Hurdler relaxing in her room at the National Sports Council Building.

Sumita Rani, Bangladesh National Hurdler taking time out with her Coach Mahabuba Iqbal Belly

A little help from friends……

I’m still learning. I’m sure I will be for the rest of my photographic career!! For this reason it is so, so important to surround yourself with people who are like-minded, who have experience in your chosen stream and most of all that you trust. Its hard not to get caught up in the romanticism of being in a place like Bangladesh. The people here are so open to letting you into their lives and homes and the opportunities for stories seem to be everywhere.

I had to use my support network this week to be objective for me. This is not something that comes easily to me and I had to think very carefully about everything that both these people said to me to come to the decision I did. A fantastic opportunity came about to photographically report on a group of Bangladeshi people who are cycling around Bangladesh. The crux of it was that I was going to join them and cycle with them as well, documenting their story along the way.

Aside from some technical difficulties with this method, they happened to be travelling through the one area of Bangladesh where it is strongly recommended for tourists not to go due to tribes warring. There have been cases of tourist kidnappings in the area as well…Mum and Dad keep reading before freaking out.

I was so excited and thrilled to have this opportunity that in my excitement I stopped listening to people around me and became more determined to just do it.

Enter my friends, photography colleagues and adopted guidance counsellors (for that moment in time anyway!!) Delly Carr and Russell Ord. Both of these amazing and experienced sports photographers were able to objectively give me reasons as to why it was not in my best interest to follow the story on this occasion. My decision was made – I am staying in Dhaka to cover a different story.

Essentially, this blog is to thank both of them for their support and objectivity and to point out the importance of having people to bounce ideas off. It doesn’t matter what stage you are at with your career you can always use help.


Wow!!!!  That is the only word that I can think of to describe Bangladesh.  It is a mish-mash of so many different Asian countries – the busyness, the traffic, the noise, dust and of course the random, weird smells – but there is something about it that cannot be described.   It is a country with a long way to still to come and one that seems to be stuck between the current and the past.

The people are amazing.  Apart from being stared at everywhere you go, there is a kindness and genuine interest in where you are from and what you are about.  Caucasian skin is certainly rare here!!

Photographically, I don’t think I have turned a corner yet where there hasn’t been a photo opportunity.  Whether it is of the people, food or construction.  Whilst I have been carrying a lot of my equipment with me, I have taken on the “Chase Jarvis” challenge of using what I have available and for the first day or so that was my iPhone.

The challenge of using the iPhone has actually made me think a little more about the composition and the type of lighting I have access to.  The light here is very flat so the use of colour has become important and like all good iPhonographers I have been experimenting with the plethora of apps that are available……so…..enjoy!



Family Heirlooms – the importance of a photo

In case you couldn’t guess, I have a bit of Greek in me from my Dad’s side.  Dad’s parents came out to Australia from Greece and settled in Melbourne in around the late 40’s to early 50’s,  not long before Dad was born.

As kids, we used to travel to Melbourne from country Victoria to visit them and some of my fondest memories from those times are of my Yaya, my Greek Grandma as I explain to people who aren’t familiar with the term.  She was a cuddly woman who delighted in having us girls around.  My sisters may not agree with this but I reckon I was her favourite!  We had a special little game we used to play using the very limited Greek language I had.  I used to have to beat her to ask her how she was in Greek over the phone.  It was a really simple thing that wouldn’t mean a lot to most people but one that always had us laughing and I always used to beat her – I’m sure she used to let me but that is beside the point!!

As all grandmothers tend to do, she always spoilt us with lollies and toys and Greek treats like baklava and other really yummy stuff.  As most Greeks would attest, there was never a shortage of food in the house!  We used to get sent home with massive bags of food “for the trip” as she would say.  “The trip” never took more than 2.5hours, but we may have starved during that time!!  Years later I would laugh with my Dad at all the food scenes and how much it reminded me of being with Yaya while watching “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  Not to mention things like the plastic on the couches – yep that did and probably still does happen!!!

Over the past few years, as happens when people get old, my grandparents on Dad’s side have both passed on.  I haven’t really got many photos or trinkets from them so when Dad rang today to email me through a photo I was pretty happy.

The photo is of my Yaya, my Great Grandmother and my Great Uncles in front of the Acropolis in Greece.  Yaya is apparently about 20 years old, maybe a little less or more.  Although the photo is really low resolution, you can still clearly see my Yaya sitting on the rock in the white dress.  I think she is just beautiful!  Not to mention I now have something of her younger years.  Of course, even with the low resolution, I couldn’t resist doing some quick touching up to show Dad and my Aunt Dianne and my Great Uncle what the photo could be if I could get my hands on a higher resolution copy.  You can see the results below.

I guess my point is that you can never place a price on what a photo is going to be worth.  I wasn’t even born, let alone thought of, when that photo was taken but it immediately has a sentimental value to me.  Thats my Yaya!  She was young and beautiful and well, that is part of where I was “made” up from.

It has been said before, but I am going to say it again; as photographers we can never underestimate what our work is worth.  What might just be a “family” photo now may one day be priceless.  Those are the memories that we create for our customers and clients.  We should be really proud that we can do that and have that kind of impact on people’s lives.

My goal now is to track down a higher resolution version of this photo for my album.  Not just for my album though, to show my future clients what one single photo can be worth – even years and years later.

Merry Christmas 2011 and Bring in 2012!

To all my clients, models, suppliers and everyone else, thank you so very much for all your support over the past year.

Its been a massive 12months for me and my business partner – hubby Daniel.  I am definitely looking forward to 2012 and the opportunities that it will bring, starting with my Photojournalism placement at Pathshala in Bangladesh.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and an amazing new year ahead!

Emily xx


Landscape with a difference…..

Was looking back through some of my photos this evening, something that I do once in a while, when I came across these two that I took on my last trip to Port Macquarie. Not your standard landscape and certainly not how you would normally see Tacking Point Lighthouse but I kinda like the moodiness to the shots.  When you are used to seeing certain scenery so “perfect” sometimes the “less-than-perfect” can be a winner!

Chris and Irina

This afternoon I was fortunate enough to not only witness but photograph the wedding of an old friend to the most amazing, beautiful girl.  I have known Chris for a number of years now so to be present at his wedding to Irina was truly an honour.  The wedding was small, but beautiful and despite some weather interruptions (including a rainbow which can only mean good luck!!) I think everyone had a fabulous time.

I wish you both all the happiness in the world and that all your days are blessed with as much love as I witnessed today.


2011 International Loupe Awards

It was with great trepidation that I actually entered the 2011 International Loupe Awards this year.  I say with trepidation for a couple of reasons;  1) I have never entered an international competition before; 2) Not only have I never entered an international competition before, it is my first time entering as a Professional; 3) There is always a fear that the photos will come back with negative feedback.

I’ll skip over points 1) and 2) for now.  Point 3) however, is a sticking point for a lot of photographers, no matter what level.  I remember attending a seminar with the amazing Tony Hewitt where he gave his version of the same story.  He relayed that in his earlier days he had similar fears but he stressed that we had to seek this kind of feedback to grow as an artist.  I agree with this wholeheartedly.  We have to be open to the fact that something we create and that we absolutely love may be met with indifference by our peers.  As difficult as it may be, we need to confront these fears and put ourselves, well our work at least, out there to be judged.  That was my challenge to me by entering the awards.

Back to points 1 and 2 – So how did I do?  Out of the four photos I submitted I received two Silver – one in Sport, the other in Photojournalism and one Bronze in Landscape of all things!  I feel good about the results and certainly didn’t expect to do that well – so very excited!!

Side Note: Photographer Keith Ladzinski was with me when I took two of these shots so just maybe he was my lucky charm :-)

World’s Smallest Digital Cameras!

To tie in with my recent trip to Japan I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the ridiculously cute and at the same time ridiculously silly camera products coming out of Japan.  There are many to choose from but of course it was the cameras by company Thanko the piqued my interest!

The first claims to be the smallest digital camera in the world.  Weighing in at only 11grams is the Mame-Cam Micro camera.  Even at this size it is a completely functional camera that can carry a 32gb microSD card.  It even records video!



The second one weighs only 3grams more, photographs at 8mp, records HD video and again has the ability to carry a 32gb microSD card.

First Book Cover Published!

It is with huge excitement that I announce that the book cover for “The Enigma Diaries: Hidden History” was approved/released on Friday just past.

I would like to thank author Lynda A. Calder for approaching me and having faith in my abilities to produce a cover that would reflect her “baby”.  Thank you also to my beautiful model Jessica and her mum Jodie (shadow in the background).  I look forward to the official release of the book and hopefully being involved in the follow-up books covers.