Here, Angie, 36, tells the story in her own words.
T￼urning the cards over, the tarot reader smiled at me. I didn’t want to give anything away, so I wasn’t saying anything.
A bit of a sceptic, I wondered how I’d ended up in the session! ‘Your job is very creative,’ she said at last. Thinking about my job as a mental health nurse, I shook my head slightly. ‘No.’ ‘You work with creative people,’ she tried. This wasn’t going well. ‘All your cards are creative,’ she sighed. ‘If you don’t work in something creative, you should be.’ Turning another card, she frowned. ‘Oh, you’re a nurse. You can’t be doing that full time. It’s not good for you.’ And with that, she had me hooked. It was exactly the reason I’d gone to see her.
Unhappy in my work, at 31, I was unsure where my life was going. I’d always wanted to do something creative. Photography had been a long-time dream, but I hadn’t known where to start. ‘You’ve given me the confidence to make it happen,’ I told the tarot reader as I left that day.
Moving home to Melbourne from Darwin, I enrolled in a TAFE photography course. ‘I’m thinking about travel photography as a career,’ I told friends, but life took an unexpected twist!
As part of my course, I had to create a photoshopped picture with several images melded together. I snapped two friends, but instead of their faces, I superimposed their dog’s faces onto their bodies. Editing the picture, I was in fits of giggles. It was hilarious and people loved the finished piece, so I created a collection of photos in the same style.
Entering them into a competition, I couldn’t believe it when I got a call back. ‘I’ve come runner-up in the Australian Professional Photography Awards,’ I told my dad, Pete, excitedly. The tarot reader had said I’d do well and win awards. She was spot on! My work snowballed from there. I focused on pets and developed my own unique photo shoots. ‘Kooshan looks like this in every photo we take,’ his owner told me of her regal and rather unimpressed-looking feline. ‘Leave it with me,’ I smiled and adding a tiara, cloak and castle on a cloud to his shot, Kooshan was suddenly transformed into: The cloud conqueror – a cat that rules the household! It suited him pawfectly.
The ‘Great Catsby’ picture captures a cat whose owner describes her as a ‘singer’. Complete with a bob hairstyle and pearls, she really looks the part. Then a snake called Slither, wrapped around his owner’s feet, is a nod to all the family arguments caused by the worry someone will fall over him when he’s not in his tank. Depicting each animal’s quirky personality became my passion.
I took pictures of cats, dogs and guinea pigs but my muse was Lentil, my very cute rabbit.‘There’s only so many ways you can photograph a rabbit,’ another photographer told me. It’s become my mission to prove him wrong and with hundreds of shots of Lentil, I think I’m getting there!
My favourite is the one of him dressed as a carrot farmer. Entering it into the AIPP awards with three other shots, I was blown away when I won. Amazingly, I became Australia’s pet and animal photographer of the year!
Two years since finishing my course, I’m still working part time as a nurse, but photography is definitely my great love. Like the tarot reader said I would be, I’m settled and happy with this in my life. Of course, she didn’t predict I’d be creating photos of dalmatians on unicycles, or of acrobatic rats, but I won’t hold that against her. I would never in a million years have believed her if she had!
See more of Angie's work at: angieconnellphotography.com.au
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