Wollongong photographer Nerida Brain knew instantly the image was special.
She had no idea the family portrait above would propel her to be considered one of the world's best photographers.
But that's exactly what has happened after it was judged the winner for the Newborns and Baby International Photographer of the Year in the prestigious International Photography Awards held in New York recently.
Ms Brain had nine honourable mentions for her images but it was winning a gold in the global competition which caught her off guard.
"When I saw my name as the winner for the Newborns and Baby International Photographer of the Year I had to read it again. I was in shock," she said.
"It's one of the biggest photography awards in the world and I'm just like a girl from the Gong."
Ms Brain credits TAFE NSW with teaching her the skills she built on to become one of the world's best photographers.
She admits she knew very little about photography before enrolling at TAFE Wollongong West with a goal to become a landscape photographer.
Ms Brain had only purchased her first digital SLR camera five months before enrolling in Certificate IV in Photography.
Two years, and a Diploma of Photography and Photo Imaging later, she graduated with honors as an accomplished portrait photographer.
Its one of the biggest photography awards in the world and Im just like a girl from the Gong.Nerida Brain
For the past five years she has run award-winning Illawarra business Nerida Louise Photography. Last month's win in New York has been her "career highlight".
"The moment I took that image I knew that it was going to be special," she said.
"The photos I enter are not shot for an award and I think that makes it even more special.
"I didn't expect this award. I entered hoping to receive some useful feedback and learn how to move forward."
Moving forward for Ms Brain could mean a return to TAFE but this time as a teacher.
"I'm working on my teaching qualifications and hope one day I can teach others and offer them the same inspiration and support I received."