From cats to cakes: The photo that made me

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The Association of Photographers asked its members to go through their archives during the lockdown and find a single photograph that changed their career.

Here is a selection of career-making photography.

Kristina Varaksina

Image source, Kristina Varaksina

"The work was born when I met Yana, a very special young woman, who has embraced her uniqueness and is proud of who she is.

"I thought of a cat that would amplify Yana's special beauty, sourced it and photographed them together.

"Today's visual culture can be quite superficial and people sometimes are overly demanding towards themselves and others.

"So I wanted to show that any physical appearance should be accepted and a person should be appreciated for who they are.

"As a visual artist, I see my responsibility in showing what is really important, truthful and valuable.

"And I feel like this work has achieved that."

Helen Roscoe-Rutter

Image source, Helen Roscoe-Rutter

"Dave (my husband) and I moved to Manchester in 2014 and we'd been trying to establish ourselves as photographers with local businesses and organisations.

"We had over an hour with Bill Turnbull after his last show, to photograph him against a backdrop and then behind the scenes around the BBC Breakfast set.

"I love the combination of happiness and thoughtfulness, perhaps showing the range of emotions he was experiencing that day.

"It was a real joy to be part of this commission.

"And to see it later in print in the Radio Times was amazing.

"In terms of helping our small photographic business to be a little more visible to commissioners, this was one of those shoots which I feel really helped us on our way."

Arnhel De Serra

Image source, Arnhel De Serra

"This photograph of the cake judge was shot at the Hampshire and New Forest County Show, in 2004.

"She was a lovely lady who had been drafted in last minute to judge all the entries in the cake competitions.

"Clearly, she had thrown herself in to the role.

"And this is a lovely example of the kind of gentle humour I was beginning to develop in my practice, which is influenced by my love of Jacques Tati.

"Humour is the cornerstone upon which I have built my practice."

Sam Ivin

Image source, Sam Ivin

"This image is from my Lingering Ghosts series.

"The work began at a refugee drop-in centre in Cardiff, in 2013, and later expanded across the UK.

"After a month of volunteering and speaking with people at the drop-in, I found many applying for refugee status were deeply affected by an inefficient immigration system.

"The portraits in the series are scratched to show the loss of identity and frustration people feel, whilst keeping them anonymous for their own safety.

"This portrait has received significant awards and features.

"But the breakthrough moment was The Green Lady on the cover of British Journal of Photography's migration issue in 2016."

Josh Adam Jones

Image source, Josh Adam Jones

"In 2018, I began working on XO, a project about expatriates living in Oman and their relationship to local Omanis.

"Driven by the desire to challenge my own perspective, which had been influenced by Western media, I wanted to create a 'positive news story' counterpoint to some Western misconceptions of the Middle East.

"This particular image from the series was made at the British embassy in Oman, with some of the expatriate maintenance workers.

"It was a huge privilege to be invited there, considering I was still a student at the time.

"And I remember reflecting that it felt like everything was coming together."

Michael Wharley

Image source, Michael Wharley

"When I took this image, I'd been a photographer for six years, mainly shooting actor headshots, the portraits that help them get auditions.

"I was beginning to explore my creative side by shooting personal work and seeking out advertising work for theatre and film companies.

"But to be honest, I saw myself as mainly a solid technician.

"I didn't have a lot of artistic confidence.

"Then, one day, a commission came in from English Touring Theatre to shoot a poster image for their revival of Conor McPherson's haunting play, The Weir.

"Come the shoot day I was nervous, but confident because of our preparation.

"And everything went better than I could have hoped.

"I loved the shoot.

"The client was delighted with the finished images.

"And I got to see the poster up all around the country when the show went out on tour.

"Even better, nine months later, I put the full set of images into the British Institute of Professional Photography's annual awards and won not just a gold in the portrait category but also the Photographer of the Year 2018 award as well."

Simon Thorpe

Image source, Simon Thorpe

"I had the privilege of being trusted enough to form a historically unique collaboration between an artist and a military commander, in accomplishing a conceptual body of work investigating one of the world's longest unresolved disputes - a career-defining moment not for a commercial or financial milestone but the moment when trust and authenticity circumvented everything else in the process of making images that jointly challenged political entrenchment, documentary 'norms' of conflict photography as well as the perception of a photograph's acceptance as authentic and true.

"The project that resulted from this collaboration was Toy Soldiers, The War Games of Non-Resolution in Western Sahara."

Brendan Duffy

Image source, Brendan Duffy

"This was taken in 1999 for Irish rock band Aslan and features singer Christy Dignam's hands and feet.

"I was just starting out in my career as a photographer, when I was approached by Aslan's management to photograph a series of images of the band members that would be used as on stage artwork for a live concert the band were recording in Dublin.

"The subsequent concert was released as a live album, Made in Dublin.

"And this image was chosen for the cover.

"Having grown up in Ireland listening to Aslan during the 1980s, to be chosen to photograph the band and have one of my images selected for one of their album covers, it really felt like a big milestone early in my career and that I had established myself.

"I'm immensely proud to have my image gracing the cover and be a part of Irish rock history."

All photographs courtesy the Association of Photographers.