Never too old to win a graduate award

Kaylah Joelle Baker

Samantha Poling is proof that age is just a number, and “it’s never too late” to change trajectory and learn a new skill.

In her early 50s, Samantha found herself out of work within the museums and heritage sector, and she was unsure where to go next.

Then one day she had a “lightbulb moment” and decided to use the time away from work to get creative.

“My husband had bought a camera for his business, and I happened to start using it and did a basic course on how to take photos on automatic, and that’s what got me inspired,” she said.

“I always loved interiors and thought maybe I could change careers and go into interior photography.”

This decision to take a risk and dive straight in led Samantha to Photography Studies College (PSC), where now, four years on from that lightbulb moment, she has completed her final year of the Advanced Diploma.

While going in with an interest in interior photography, Samantha soon discovered art photography and fell in love.

“I found myself slowly gravitating towards art photography,” she said.

“I always thought of photography in more commercial terms, through what you see in a magazine or products on a website, not realising that there is actually a whole art side to photography, where the camera is just a tool.”

“I am quite happy to be doing things in my own little studio, setting up objects and decorative homeware, and photographing them. I really like the quietness of it.”

While basking in the peacefulness of her own studio, Samantha created her most notable work yet, Home Beautiful, which went on to win PSC’s GradFoto 2022 award.

“I was most surprised to win, and I only entered to help build my confidence, as I really struggle with putting myself out there,” she said.


I joke that I am 55 and won a grad award, but it is never too late and there is always something more to learn and it’s a good thing to be curious.


“What I got out of photography, apart from the fact that it has given me a new career direction, is this sense of it also being a mindful exercise.”

Now in her first year out of PSC, Samantha is continuing to focus on refining her renowned series and using photography as a means to relax and focus on things outside of herself.

She said she will also continue to advance her skillset in some of the more unique avenues of photography, such as photogravure which is an in-depth process used to produce high-quality reproductions of digital photographs in ink. •

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