Celeste Humphrey (2006)
Director - Novasoma Photography

1. What path did you take after completing your education at St Hilda's School?

Immediately after my Year 12 Graduation from St Hilda’s in 2006 I went on a nostalgic family vacation to visit my birthplace in California. When I returned I started a double degree in Arts & Business at Griffith University and then switched over to do a degree in Business Management at Bond University.

In 2010, I graduated from Bond University with Distinction and I was fortunate to secure a Microsoft Internship in Brisbane. There I learned about the fast paced world of the corporate IT environment and successfully delivered a Spotlight project to the Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh AC and the Queensland Government.

After my time at Microsoft, I took a break with my best friend from St Hilda’s, Alexandra Rey and we travelled around Europe for four months. It was one of the happiest times of my life and this is where my love of photography began because I wanted to document everything.

My twenties saw me explore the city and corporate life in Sydney and Melbourne. I cycled through several different roles in IT and digital marketing before I took on a role at Optus headquarters as a Business Analyst.

In 2018, I returned back to the Gold Coast to be closer to my family and turned my love of photography into a full time business!

2. Were there any unexpected or unplanned outcomes throughout your journey?

The most unexpected outcome of my journey was the gradual the conversion of a weekend “hobby” into my own full time photography business. The corporate working environment was invaluable and gave me skills in organisation, negotiation, client interaction, and digital marketing that I’ve translated into many areas that are needed in my new chosen career

3. Can you share a fond memory from your time in School and explain how your journey at St Hilda's has influenced the person you have become?

My fondest memories of my times at St Hilda’s stem from my time as boarder in the boarding house. Going into an all-Girls Anglican boarding school at Year 10 was such a massive change for me from living as an only child at home with my family and going to International American co-ed schools.

The teachers and the boarding house staff at St Hilda’s are a particularly special group of people. Their kindness and thoughtfulness made such an long lasting impact on me. The boarding staff really helped me with my homesickness and they also taught me Australian culture. I still laugh from memories of weekends with the girls in the boarding house – especially how we used to scare ourselves with ghost stories. The friendships I made with the other boarders and day girls are still going very strong twenty years later and I’ll be forever thankful for our shared experiences together.

Speaking of staff – I just recently I ran into the current Head Chef David while photographing a House Dinner for Banksia (I love photographing for St Hilda’s now!). Not only did he remember my cohort, but he also dug out our 2006 graduation photo to show me. I was so charmed!

4. What do you love about being a photographer?

There are so many things to love about being a photographer!

It is such a stimulating and exciting occupation – no two days are the same and I am constantly meeting people from different backgrounds and working environments / industries. From celebrity photos for the Magic Millions, to social images for Property Development launches, to marketing content for the City of Gold Coast events team -- each week is varied and unique (and fun!)

And on a personal and simple note, I am just very passionate about capturing moments in time. I am a nostalgic person and I consider myself a visual historian. I receive such pleasure when people share delight in my work. It really warms my heart and soul when I can capture special memories (family / sport / work environment / social events) for others. After all, photos meant to be shared! Not for Ourselves Alone. Photography is a tool to capture different elements of human lives which can be kept and enjoyed by present and future generations. I know St Hilda’s provided the building blocks for those current experiences.

5. What awards have you won through your work?

No formal photography awards won just yet, however I was lucky to have my photo of Zara Tindall MBE OLY featured on the front page of the Gold Coast Bulletin on 10th January 2023.

6. What has been the highlight of your career?

There have been many highlights since this beautiful photography journey began, but so far the one that stands out the most was a moment shared with my fellow boarding classmate from St Hilda’s, Katie Stewart.

Katie was living America in 2020 and the Australian tech company she was working for went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Because of COVID restrictions at the time, they were unable to attend the event in person. Instead they were asked to submit photos of each of the staff members so they could be published on the massive NASDAQ screen in the middle of Times Square New York City. To my absolute delight, she selected a portrait I had captured of her in Sydney a few years prior! A fun way to say I’ve had my work displayed in Times Square haha!

Other significant highlights include -- photographing movie star Chris Hemsworth and his gorgeous wife at the Magic Millions Polo (photos were used by NewsCorp and published internationally), snapping home games and community events for the Gold Coast Suns for the last 6 years, and recently my work with the City of Gold Coast events team. I’m so proud that some of my work provides a visual story of our local community life.

7. What are you currently pursuing and how has this changed your life as it is today?

Part of running a photography business means continued self-development in photography equipment, skills and trends. At the moment I am especially interested in learning how AI will help my business. I am already integrating it into my workflow to deliver work faster to my clients.

By always striving to capture the best images I possibly can, I am wake up every day with a passion and a purpose which is incredibly fulfilling and meaningful to me. I want to document and show off the Gold Coast in its best possible light. I want its community to have moments for the enjoyment and recording of our city for present and future generations. Part of my mission means I have the opportunity to work with City of Gold Coast to document engagement activities for the upcoming Brisbane 2032 Olympics. Can’t wait!

Emily Bennett