photographer, cindy cavanagh

interview with photographer cindy cavanagh

I love moments: the in-between moments and the ordinary moments. The moments you want to pause and keep forever. I love details, colour and light. 

I’ve been working as a photographer for about five years. It’s been a step-by-step process as we’ve moved countries and cities during that time. When we moved to Brazil in 2008 I arrived with a point-and-shoot camera. After a while I began to feel frustrated with it’s limitations and asked for a DSLR for my 40th birthday. I fell in love with photography, attended workshops, studied online and read all the books I could find.

Photography has changed my perception of the world. As I learned more about my camera and photography, it was the details of our everyday that filled my heart. One day I saw my daughter standing next to the window. It was raining outside, and she was looking out. Her little curls sat on her shoulder and I stopped what I was doing to watch her. It was just a moment. I saw the beauty in that ordinary moment and I ran to find my camera. Now my camera is always out.

interview with photographer cindy cavanaghMy work has evolved and my friends and family have helped me build up a portfolio. These same friends asked me to capture their family and tell their story.

Light, colour, details and emotion all inspire my work. There are times when I focus my attention on one, chasing the light, for example. I’ll shoot lots of images with sun flare and backlighting. Then my attention will shift to the bright red of the autumn leaves and I’ll want to shoot colour.interview with photographer cindy cavanaghMy style is documentary and lifestyle photography. I tend to lean more towards natural portraits rather than directing my clients. I make suggestions along the way, but I love to capture families in their favourite places to play, that way the location is about them and where they feel most relaxed. I tag along and hide in the bushes. My daughter tells me I look like a stalker.

I also love a timeless portrait that is more directed and posed. I love to capture my daughters in nature, wearing a pretty dress. The idea isn’t original, but I love to do this because they love to dress up. I’ll have an idea about what I want to create and I build it up with my daughters’ suggestions. It’s a collaborative effort and we create something that’s unique to us.

I dedicate way too much time to my work! Each portrait session takes around 3-5 hours, even though the actual portrait session is around 90 minutes. It’s work that I love, and the number of hours in front of the TV has reduced dramatically. That’s a good thing.

A typical working day starts after school drop off when I have around six hours before I need to go back to school for pick-up. This time’s for shooting, editing, blogging and reading emails. I love the flexibility of working from home. It allows me a freedom that I wouldn’t have from a studio. The only problem is limiting my working day. After the kids go to bed, I’ll work on anything that didn’t get crossed from the to-do list that day. Sometimes the late night editing rolls on to the next day.

The most challenging part of my job is trying to slow down. I tend to be trigger happy and press the shutter button too often. When I slow down and breathe, then I can focus on the details and emotion. It doesn’t come naturally to me as I worry about missing the shot. However I’ve learnt that the shot I get when I do slow down and wait is always better than the 10 that I thought I’d miss.

The many photographers and creatives who I have met along the way of my photography journey inspire me to create and be the artist that I want to be. There are many who criticise social media and the online world. However, I have friends all over the world who inspire me every day with their work and their love of photography. They encourage me to keep going on the days that I feel unhappy with my work. interview with photographer cindy cavanagh

What I love most about being a photographer is being allowed to tell a person or family’s story as it is now. Our life is constantly changing and the story that I capture today will be different to the story that I capture in five years. Our children move from one interest to the next. They grow, and that Batman costume they wore everyday is outgrown and forgotten in the back of the wardrobe.
interview with photographer cindy cavanagh

Last year, I started a ‘beauty of motherhood’ project. I’m a mother to five gorgeous children, and I love being a mum. The beauty of motherhood can be forgotten with the dreariness of our day to day. The jobs of being a mother can sometimes feel like a thick blanket on a warm day…smothering. We can forget that there is beauty in our roles as mums, as we focus on the washing, cleaning, fighting, messiness of life with children. But there’s beauty in motherhood. I wanted to remind myself of this, so I decided to join my two passions: photography and motherhood. I created a project to document the natural and the candid beauty of motherhood. Our smiles are the biggest when our arms are wrapped around our children. There is real joy when we watch them. That smile is what I want to capture. The look of love that is indescribable with words. I set myself a goal to capture 20 mums by Mother’s Day this year. I reached that goal, and have decided to continue this project.

I want to continue to grow as an artist and create images as I establish myself in Sydney and my dream is to continue the Beauty of Motherhood project and capture mothers all over the world. There are elements of motherhood that are universal and I’d love to travel and tell their motherhood stories.

interview with photographer cindy cavanaghThis is my favourite photo, it captures four of my five children. We went to Bondi for the day and walked along the coastal walk to Bronte. We stopped along the way and sat on the rocks. The image captures the connection of my children, and a little bit of their personality. My daughter posing at the front, my eldest son laughing at her, my youngest daughter trying to get their attention, and my youngest son looking out at the ocean. In a way it was just a moment, nothing special, but it gave me goosebumps. It’s these kind of moments that I love to capture for myself and my clients.

My number one photography advice is to get in the picture. We often want images of our children to document their life. We want to cherish their story. We forget to get in the picture and be part of the story. I know from my Beauty of Motherhood project that we don’t always feel comfortable in front of the camera. We only see our flaws, but our children see our beauty. We are beautiful and need to be in the picture.

45-year-old Cindy Cavanagh is mum to Lachlan, 17, Mikayla, 15,  Julian, 12, Sophie, 11, and Grace, 7. They live in NSW. Visit Cindy at image 421 photography and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Google+

Interview: Bron Bates / Photography: Cindy Cavanagh