International Portrait Photographer of the Year … Wow !

Chuffed … !  The results are just in for the inaugural ‘The International Portrait Photographer of the Year’ awards … and two of my images are represented.

‘Bonn Marie – Asking the Question’ (below) has been selected as the winner of Third Place – The Character Study … and, very nicely includes the award of some cash and … rare this days … a trophy to whack in the ‘office’. It will also be showcased TWICE in the accompanying book ‘The Top 101 International Portrait Photographs of the Year’ … firstly in the ‘winners’ section  and then in the ‘Top 101’ portraits section.

Also selected in the ‘Top 101’ section of the book is my portrait of Kate Yeoman … ‘Kate – Waiting For Her New Breasts II’ (also below) … a slightly different version of the original newspaper published image. This version has Kate with her eyes closed and I now feel it evokes more emotion than the earlier pic.

‘The Top 101 International Portrait Photographs of the Year’ book will be available in hard cover and as an ebook in the very near future. Will post a link …

Both portraits (or very similar in Kate’s case) have featured in other earlier International and Australian award selections. Check ’em out on my ‘awards’ page here …

Here’s just a few of the other International sites that are featuring this award and my portrait of Bonn Marie …

Images © Brian Cassey

International Portrait Photographer of the Year - 3rd Place - "Bon Marie - Asking The Question" - The Character Study - by Brian Cassey

International Portrait Photographer of the Year - "Kate - Waiting For Her New Breasts" - The Top 101 Portrait Photographs of the Year 2021 - by Brian Cassey

‘Kate’ … The Good News Continues …

The best news is … Kate … who has been waiting over eight years for breast reconstruction following a double mastectomy …  is now well on the way to having her ‘assets’ back.

Following the publication of my pic (below) on page 1 of the Sunday Mail with a story about insane Queensland hospital waiting lists, Kate Yeoman and dozens of other Queensland women had their long awaited surgeries ‘expedited’ at the direction of State Premier Annastacia Pałaszczuk and Health Minister Dr Steven Miles. Covid-19 caused a little hiccup and further delays … but Kate has now had several of her set of reconstructive breast surgeries.

Recently I had the pleasure of making some more images of a fit and fabulous Kate which will feature with an update to her story in this weekends The Sunday Mail (weekend of 7th-8th November).

(Stop Press -1 ! Below is a grab of the double page Sunday Mail spread featuring Kate’s story and my images published the weekend of the 7th-8th November.)

The other piece of ‘Kate’ news is that my image “Kate – Waiting For Her New Breasts” has been awarded a further accolade to add to a growing list. The pic has just been awarded an ‘Honorable Mention’ in the ‘Editorial – Contemporary Issues’ category of the 2020 ‘International Photography Awards’ (IPA). Thanks IPA ! (Image below)

Previously the work has also been recognised in … the 2020 ‘Moscow International Foto Awards’ (MIFA – Honorable Mention – Portrait)the 2020 ‘Clarion Awards’ (Finalist – Best News Photograph) … and the 2020 ‘Percival Photographic Portrait Prize’ (Finalist).

(Stop Press -2 ! Just learnt the news the the image “Kate – Waiting For Her New Breasts” has managed another ‘gong’. It has been selected as an ‘Honorable Mention’ in the 2020 International “Black & White Spider Awards” in the ‘Portrait’ category.)

Image © Brian Cassey

International Photography Awards (IPA) - Honorable Mention - Editorial Contemporary Issues - 'Kate - Waiting For Her New Breasts' - image by Brian Cassey

Sunday Mail - Kate Yeoman - Breast Reconstruction Story - images by Brian Cassey

Kate … “I Deserve to Feel Like a Whole Woman” …

We’d like to think otherwise but In all honesty it’s pretty rare that our work in the media actually makes a substantial ‘difference’.

Every now and then something comes along to restore your faith in the role of the media … and reminds us why we work in this ‘game’.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to take images of ‘Kate’ … studio shots showing her character and the scars that have been part of her life since a double mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis years ago. The Sunday Mail have been going hard on a campaign to reduce hospital waiting times for surgery in Queensland hospitals … and Kate Yeoman is a prime example.

Kate is one of dozens who have been on hospital waiting lists for breast reconstruction surgery for many years. She was diagnosed with rare Tubular Carcinoma cancer eight years ago and endured a double mastectomy. She was advised that breast reconstruction would be implemented at the same time. It wasn’t and she is still waiting …

I made this image (below) in a friends little (private) studio … it featured across page 1 of the Sunday Mail with the head ‘Forgotten Women’ and Kate’s tale by journalists Jackie Sinnerton and Natasha Bita. Kate’s story spread to two more inside pages where it expanded to include narrative from three other women in a similar situation. The story and images have since spread around Australia.

The reaction by readers and the Queensland Government was immediate. The Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said he was “personally moved” by the Sunday Mail image and story on Kate’s plight and the other women’s stories. “My heart breaks reading the very personal stories of women affected by breast cancer,” Mr Miles said. “I’ve asked for Cairns Hospital to meet with these patients to ensure they receive their surgery as soon as clinically possible.”

Miles has now arranged for twenty four Cairns women with long standing issues to receive their required surgery in Brisbane … whilst Kate will have surgery in Cairns on 2nd of April to reconstruct the breasts she has been without for a too long eight years.

It gets better … in news just to hand (Saturday 29th Feb) the Queensland Government has announced that it will open operating theatres on weekends to ease patient wait lists and will pump in $20 million to do so and to implement other strategies.

Kate … who deserves a bloody medal for her magnificent courage and fortitude … is over the moon.

Kate today said “I am sitting in Kmart crying tears of joy. This is life changing for so many. Thank you to everyone who has recognised the importance of this, Sunday Mail, both sides of government and the public who have reached out after my very personal exposure.  My mum was right, I shouldn’t have to go such extraordinary lengths to get this issue some attention, but I am so proud of what has been achieved. The impact of long waits can be devastating and this much needed funding injection will change and perhaps even save lives.  Let’s hope this also creates a change in policy and that reconstruction is recognised as an important part of the treatment plan for breast cancer patients in Queensland.”

It gives you goosebumps … and I’m so pleased to be a tiny part of a triumph for Kate and many other Cairns women.

Images © Brian Cassey and Sunday Mail (slightly differing images of Kate) (below)

Kate yeoman awaits breast reconstruction surgery following breast cancer diagnoses - image by Brian Cassey

Kate Yeoman awaits breast reconstruction surgery following breast cancer diagnoses - image by Brian Cassey - page 1 Sunday Mail