Dermot Murphy's baby portrait bowls over judges for top photographic award
A Newtownabbey photographer has been named Northern Ireland Photographer of the year but modest Dermot Murphy says really, it's all thanks to his wife.
Dermot's image of two-week-old Chloe Cunningham curled up asleep in a bowl scooped the top award at the recent Professional Photographers Association of Northern Ireland.
Dermot says it was a gift from his teenage sweetheart Catherine, who would later become his wife, that really ignited his passion for photography and set him on the road to success. "Catherine, who I've been going with since she was 16 and I was 17, bought me my first camera after we'd been going out with each other for about a year," he said.
Inspired by the present, Dermot honed his skills as a member of a local camera club but put his hobby on the back burner as he pursued a "stable" career in the civil service to support his growing family.
The birth of the couple's youngest daughter Sarah seven years ago, led Dermot to question his choice of career and he made the decision to pursue photography professionally.
"When Sarah arrived I knew that life was about doing things that you love and enjoy. It's a decision that I am so glad I made," he said.
"Photography is something that I really enjoy doing and I have a passion for. The financial side of it doesn't motivate me, because if that was the case I'd be better in my previous job, but it's the pleasure it brings and the satisfaction and that I enjoy doing it – it's just something I have to do."
Specialising in newborn photography, Dermot has undergone specific training to hone the skills necessary to get good results with such young subjects.
"It's a completely different skill to taking portraits of families or children. You can't rush a session; you work so closely with the parents to get a gorgeous photo that captures the first days of their child's life. It's amazing for me to be part of that," he explained.
Being a father of four himself, Dermot is well equipped to deal with his tiny subjects: "I think having children yourself gives you the patience necessary to work with babies. A shoot can take up to three hours as we work around feeds, naps and nappy changes."
In addition to winning overall Photographer of the Year, Dermot also won Under 5's Photographer of the Year, Overall Portrait Photographer of the Year and Licentiate Photographer of the Year – an award for the best newcomer who has recently qualified as a PPANI photographer. He was Second Runner Up Open Portrait Photographer of the Year.
Speaking about the accolades, Dermot said: "I'm completely ecstatic and over the moon."