It´s been a huge year for Melbourne Polytechnic Diploma of Photoimaging student, Kobe Pallis.
In April she won Student Portrait Photographer of the Year at the Victorian division of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) Awards including Winner of the Highest Scoring Student Portrait Print.
She then followed up with two Gold and one Silver awards for her prints at the Canon AIPP (Australian Institute of Photography) Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA) – a brilliant achievement given that approximately 3000 prints were judged and only 29 Gold awards were awarded.
To top it all off Kobe was also named 2010 Canon APPA Tertiary Student of the Year at the same awards. The Cannon AIPP APPA is an annual national awards event organised by the Photo Imaging Council of Australia (PICA) and attracts hundreds of professional and student entrants from Australia and New Zealand.
Kobe’s is now well on her way to realising her dream of becoming a professional photographer but her journey has taken time, testing her resilience but ultimately affirming her passion for photography and illustrates how a TAFE qualification can provide access to a life-changing career pathway.
“I have always felt inspired by three things in my life: my friends and family (who amaze me in many ways), the aesthetics of my surroundings and lastly, capturing life’s events and beauty through the lens of my camera to visually document life and create,” says Kobe whose love of photography firstly had to compete with some significant personal issues as a teenager.
“As a 15 year-old I had a troubled adolescence, was bulimic, and had run away from home to live interstate. My life went off the rails. I did not have a direction.”
But eventually Kobe’s desire to create intriguing images and thirst for photographic knowledge started to win out over her demons.
“I began work at Kmart as a “check out chick” which paid for my indulgence in photography and typical teen activities. Eventually I worked my way up to the position that was highly sought after, the mini-lab assistant.”
Kobe then sought out employment that would provide her with more income and knowledge to pursue photography.
“I began to become interested in optics and acquired a full-time position at an optometrist. I felt it could only benefit the understanding of the mechanics behind photography.”
But then Kobe’s life took another turn with “the news that my now husband and I were to become parents at the young age of 20”.
“These years proved to be extraordinarily challenging,” recalls Kobe. “Dealing with being a young parent was difficult enough without discovering the added demands of caring for a child with a double diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum, combined with ADHD.
“Denver grew to be an inspiration to me to take on challenges no matter how difficult they seem and due to early intervention on our behalf, and by his teachers, he began to slowly settle into school life. This paved the way to my decision to return to study.”
Kobe returned to part-time work as an optometrist’s receptionist and enrolled in photography related short courses at night. “Darkroom Photography Studies allowed me to express myself and maintain some sanity in my hectic and chaotic life. The magic of watching a print emerge mesmerised me.”
In addition to undertaking short courses, Kobe sought out experience and contacts through volunteer work with the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP). It was here that she was able to cement relationships with industry leaders such as former Victorian AIPP President, Ian Howell, who became her professional mentor.
“In late 2008 tragedy struck a close friend of mine when she lost her sister to breast cancer at the tender age of 32. This wake-up call rang in my ears. I was older and (I like to think wiser) and began to appreciate that life is too short to not be doing what you love.
“I held my nose and took the plunge to apply for full-time study for the Diploma of Photoimaging – applying as a mature age student was both stressful and exciting all at once.
“’Thrilled’ doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when amongst a field of applicants over 200 deep I was accepted as one of the 25 students to be lucky enough to start full-time study in 2009.
“I relished the opportunity to hone my skills and continue to learn more about ever-changing photographic developments in process, equipment and the editing software. I had never used anything like Photoshop and was overwhelmed at the possibilities to have my many thoughts and conceptual ideas come to fruition.
“Drawn by the many facets to be explored I began researching everything from commercial and fine art photography to reading the stories behind Pulitzer prize winning photographs and their significance in our history. Inspired by the stories of those who dared to follow their dreams, regardless of risk, I began to feel the thrill that my work could one day lead to editorial work that brings forth opportunities to both travel, meet inspiring people and maybe even make some difference in my own way.
“I have begun to see the world in a different light as I begin to look closer at what and who surrounds you. With each day that passes I feel my mind constantly expanding and a sense of personal artistic satisfaction unknown to me before. With enthusiasm, dedication and focus I continue to keep an open mind and challenge myself whenever possible.”
Kobe is due to complete her Diploma of Photoimaging at Melbourne Polytechnic next year. She also works as a photographer/studio manager for John Travers Photography and is in the process of establishing her own freelance business.
“Without training I could not assume my current position due to the technical and design education required to effectively shoot and post process images to a professional standard. Working and training in the field has numerous benefits including the importance of working within time constraints, to client requirements and being efficient at all times. The ability to network with industry leaders regularly, through the associations I have established with work and school connections, is an integral way to inspire me to keep aiming higher.”
Diploma of Photoimaging