A South Yorkshire photographer has become the first man in the country to win a coveted title for his photographs of babies.
Rob Mank has been named as newborn and baby photographer of the year 2014 by The Guild of Photographers.
The 27-year-old was one of 10 professional newborn portrait photographers from across the UK and Europe in contention for the title, which was announced at an annual awards ceremony earlier this month.
Rob, owner of Rob Mank Photography, which he runs from a studio at his home in Thurnscoe, was overwhelmed to be secure the title after only being a member of the guild for less than a year.
The award saw Rob submitting photographic portraits to The Guild for judging each month, since he joined the national body in March 2014 for his own development.
Throughout the year he was given three gold awards, 11 silver and 20 bronze awards. The accumulative score he achieved as a result put him in contention and ultimately led to him winning the newborn category.
Rob said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been given this award, especially in light of the extremely high standard of competition my photography was up against.
“Having only joined the Guild last year, I am so overwhelmed and thankful to have won in several categories within my first year as a member, and to have gained such acclaim at this relatively early point in my career.
“I have a passion for conceptual and fine art. Creating fine pieces of art to hang on my clients’ walls is something that fills me pride.
“Having the vision of an idea and seeing it unfold into the final product is so exciting.”
At the event Rob won three further awards. He was both winner and runner-up for image of the year in the newborn category, as well as winner of the image of the year in the children’s category.
Rob also obtained his accreditation as Craftsman in the Guild of Newborn and Baby Photographers – the first man to achieve craftsmanship in this sector.
He said: “To be the first and only male craftsman in newborn photography and the first man to win newborn photographer of the year is a huge honour. I am so proud.
“I am also delighted to be able to prove you don’t have to be female to competently handle, settle and take beautiful images of newborn babies, and I hope I can be an inspiration to other men working in this industry.”
Rob said preparation and making parents feel relaxed and at ease is key to getting beautiful photographs during his sessions.
He said: “Preparation is key to a good session – helping mum and dad prepare mentally for what is going to likely be their first big trip out of the house and making the parents feel at ease. My sessions are very relaxed.
“Mornings work really well for newborns, as afternoons can be much more unpredictable in babies sleeping patterns.
“A lot of people assume I take newborns outside in autumn and winter, but these are actually composite images and baby never leaves the studio.
“I always try my best to stress baby never leaves my studio and is kept safe at all times.”
Lesley Thirsk, director of the Guild, said: “I am both proud and delighted Rob has achieved this recognition after submitting the highest quality images throughout the year.
“The Guild has demanding standards when judging photographic competitions.
The judging is undertaken by a panel of internationally recognised experts from a variety of photographic backgrounds, so Rob quite rightly should be delighted with their extraordinary achievement.”
n For more details on Rob’s work visit www.robmankphotography.co.uk