Here's proof that a mid-life career change can work out for the better.
Winnipegger Alexandra Morrison has been named Photographic Artist of the Year by a national photography organization.
The Professional Photographers of Canada awarded her one their three top prizes in their National Image Competitions at their annual convention in Regina earlier this week.
She won based on four photos she submitted, most notably a picture of a flower titled Out of This World, which took first place in the fine-art class.
Morrison, 50, started her photography career just six years ago after working in corporate marketing and communications.
"I'm just overwhelmed," she said of her prize, which comes with a $1,000 cheque and a trophy. "These are people who have been career photographers for decades. They're among the most highly respected professionals in the country."
Kingston, Ont., photographer Brian Lee, the PPOC's national exhibition chairman, says the competition received 884 submissions in 20 classes.
Besides Morrison as art photographer, it names a top portrait photographer and a top commercial photographer. This is the second year the PPOC has named a top art photographer.
Morrison says she shot her winning image in her mother's backyard in B.C. Then she spent three or four hours manipulating it with the computer program Photoshop.
"At some point you have to stop," she said. "The trick to good photography is knowing when to stop."
Founded in 1962, the PPOC represents 900 commercial photographers across the country, many of them specializing in wedding and portraits.
A smaller national organization, Canadian Association of Professional Photographers and Illustrators in Communication (CAPIC), represents mostly industrial and business photographers.
Morrison runs a three-person multimedia company, xLab Interactive, in the Exchange District.
In her own business photography she concentrates on taking photos for websites.
"I like working with entrepreneurs, consultants, and other people in private practice," she says. "They get it."
Morrison says her experimental techniques are diverse. They range from using infrared light to capture images to combining extreme image distortions and manipulations for dramatic effect.
A favourite of judges at the National Image Competitions, she won first place in the fine art class in 2007 and first place in the freestyle class in 2006.