Last year, we crowned Margaret Durow our first ever winner of the Portrait category in our annual Photo Comp.
Her moving self-portrait was a non-conventional take on the classic headshot usually associated with the ‘portrait’ style, and we knew immediately we had to find out more about the photographer behind the shot. Born and bred in Wisconsin, 28-year-old Margaret has a knack for capturing the magic in the landscapes she grew up exploring; the tranquil, dreamlike quality of her images providing intimate snapshots into her world. We caught up with Margaret and found out more about her inspirations, her earliest photos, and the story behind her winning entry.
What are your plans for the $5k?
Bills and other life stuff.
What do you like most about your winning photo? Are you able to tell us the story behind it?
I made this self-portrait while recovering from extensive surgeries to straighten my spine. When I was five years old, they found a benign tumour entwined in my spine. When I was about 11, I learned that it was causing my spine to twist and curve. My lumbar scoliosis curve was over 125 degrees when I had surgery at 17 years old. I have metal and rods and screws around my spine, and 14 of my vertebrae (T3-L4) are fused with bone graft from one of my ribs which was removed during surgery, and genetically modified cattle collagen. What I like most about this photo was at the time of taking it and sharing it, it helped me take the pain I was going through and transform it into something that made me feel beautiful and strong.
Has taking a photo ever gotten you in trouble?
What’s the one shot that got away?
Four albino deer in a field at dusk.
Who’s a photographer that inspires you and why?
Lina Scheynius has long been an inspiration for me. Her work is personal yet broad, always beautiful, and feels honest and authentic to me.
You’ve got to escape from a burning building and you can only take one of your photos. What is it?
A photo of my cat Zeb.
What’s your favourite gear to shoot with and why?
Canon Rebel XTi, it lets me play with light.
Your dream location or subject to shoot?
The English countryside on a cold foggy day.
What was the first photo you remember being proud of?
A photo I took of my dog Maple when I was 10. I was happy because I got the lake behind him in the shot, and my dad printed it large and hung it on the wall. The rest of the roll was blurry butterfly photos.
To see more of Margaret’s incredible work, head to her Instagram @margaretdurow or Facebook.