Portlaoise woman with eye for a shot

A PORTLAOISE woman has scooped the top prize in a national photography competition with a romantic picture taken at the Rock of Dunamaise.

A PORTLAOISE woman has scooped the top prize in a national photography competition with a romantic picture taken at the Rock of Dunamaise.

Ciara Drennan of the New Road won first prize in the adult category for her picture ‘The Rock’s Young Love’ in the Love where you Live competition. The competition, which is sponsored by An Taisce and Alupro Ireland, was open to amateur photographers from all over Ireland.

Ciara, who is a member of the Portlaoise Camera Club, was delighted with her award which was presented in Dublin this week. Photography has been a lifetime’s hobby, but it only recently became a passion.

“I’ve always loved taking photos of family events, occasions and I never went to a gig without a camera. Up until last August I only ever had compact cameras. Last August I decided to buy a better camera and bought a Finepix s1600 bridge camera. From the moment I opened the box I was in love with it and just started taking photos everywhere I went. The more I went out with the camera, the more I wanted to learn so in January this year I took a night class in Portlaoise College with Jim Yorke, which gave me a great understanding of the basics of photography,” she said.

She soon became involved with the new camera club being formed in Portlaoise.

“Being part of a club has really helped me to grow as a photographer as well as making great friendships with like minded people. I am constantly learning and look forward to learning a lot more with the support of the more experienced photographers in the club,” she says.

Ciara, who says she is inspired by the great landscape photographer Charlie Waite, is a busy women so taking a landscape shot is not easy.

“I try and get out as often as I can but with two small children and a full time job it can be a juggling act. I mostly shoot around County Laois but will always have the camera with me, just in case that perfect moment arrives. I am also a lover of music and in particular live music and was lucky enough to shoot some fantastic bands at this years’ Electric Picnic,” she said.

The photo that won for the An Taisce ‘Love Where You Live’ photography competition was taken on an informal evening shoot in April with some of the girls from Portlaoise Camera Club. The shot happened almost by chance.

“We were due to go to another location but when we saw the colour and light in the sky as it was setting we headed out to the Rock of Dunamaise. As we were making our way to the top Aine and I spotted this young couple relaxing at the very edge of the hill top looking out towards Portlaoise.

“It was such a peaceful scene and I remember thinking ‘this is a moment in time to be captured’. I titled the shot The Rock’s Young Love’. A few weeks later I was told about the An Taisce competition which called for people to submit photos, showing that they loved where they lived,” said Ciara.

The competition posed a number of questions to entrants and the local theme was a strong part of the judges criteria.

“I felt that The Rock’s Young Love answered that call perfectly. This is the caption that I enclosed with the entry ‘When people think of Portlaoise they seldom think of romantic scenes. I think this photo captures romance and love in its purest form, and shows the beauty of my adopted home county-Laois’,” said Ciara.

Ciara received her award with husband John at The Greenhouse on St. Andrew Street in Dublin this week. The exhibition will run for a month there and they are then hoping to bring it to other parts of Ireland.

“I feel truly honoured that my shot is representing Laois in this national competition. I do not know the couple in the shot but I would love to be in a position to present them with a print of it as a thank you,” she said.

The copule can conact Ciara through the camera club portlaoisecameraclub@gmail.com