Early in 2018, aspiring photographer, Meg Godfrey, was one of the recipients of the Margaret Standen Bursary offered annually to BSSC art students to support their purchase of resources and equipment.

“With the bursary money I bought a backdrop, softbox lights and a tank of helium so I could create an image of a girl being carried away by a bunch of balloons,” Meg said.

Meg has capped off a brilliantly creative year by winning the Upper Secondary Category in the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) photography competition.

“This time I plan to buy a camera with the prize money,” she said. “A Nikon D7200.”

Meg’s latest success was announced at an event in Melbourne in mid-November.

“I thought I was going to have a panic attack when my name was announced,” she said. “I had to get up and give an acceptance speech. It was pretty crazy!”

Meg’s success is particularly sweet because her previous school did not recognise her particular approach to art as legitimate.

“It felt as though I always came second best in art,” she said, “so I gave up trying in Year 10 because I felt my work wasn’t valued.

“Then I moved to BSSC where I’ve been given so much encouragement and opportunities I never thought I’d have. I never imagined that I could enjoy school so much.”

Photography has been an important part of Meg’s life since she was around 13 years-old.

“I look back at the pics I took then and laugh,” she said. “Initially I had a really basic camera without much zoom or focus—resulting in pretty low-quality pics. But I persisted and have been really inspired by US photographer Brooke Shaden, who made photography an art form. I did an online class with her and she made me think anything was possible.”

Meg’s images are created in multiple layers and the time she spends developing them in Photoshop can range from around four hours to a whopping 35 hours spent on one particular background.

“It all depends on the style and the effect I am trying to create,” she said. “In the autumn leaf image I had my sister throw leaves up into the air. In the image of me sitting on the books—almost my entire collection of antique and vintage books—I look relaxed but I am desperately trying not to fall off!”

Meg hopes to get into RMIT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts to keep developing her drawing and photography skills. Her ultimate dream? To become an illustrator, particularly of picture books.

“I find something so magical about igniting the imaginations of children—especially in this age where technology is taking over everything,” she said. “Illustration has survived so far and I want to be part of keeping it going.

“I still have a lot to learn and I hope this degree will help me work out where I really want to focus. I’ve also thought about art curation.”

Meg’s inspiration from Brooke Shaden extends further than her utterly stunning images.

“She is also a great humanitarian,” Meg said. “She recently offered courses for Indian girls needing career options. I can’t believe that there is so much wealth in the world and yet so many people live in poverty—Brooke is trying to do her bit to reduce the gap.”

Meg also realised during one of her work experience programs how common it is, even in Australia, for creative people to end up in employment that does not allow artistic expression.

“I once met this really talented guy who was making price tags,” she said. “I never want to end up like that.”

But what if Meg could go back and advise her 12-year-old self, based on the wisdom she has gained since then?

“I’d say, don’t let anyone tell you what you should do with your creativity, and that being unique is not a bad thing. People who take it out on others are probably just annoyed because they haven’t found their passion yet.”

Best of luck Meg!