Charmaine Toews loves taking photos. She caught the photography bug as a student at Steinbach Regional Secondary School and she's been at it ever since.

The 35 year old mother of three was recently named Photographer of the Year for Manitoba. It's an award that is given out by the Professional Photographers of Canada.

Toews says you have to be an accredited member of the Professional Photographers of Canada in order to submit your images and be considered for any of the competitions.

Charmaine Toews

"Family is Everything" by Charmaine Toews (Charmaine Toews Photography)

She entered four of her photos and was amazed to hear that she had won. "My heart was racing and I was very excited. It was unexpected....It's such a great association to be a part of because we can all learn from each other. I was just thrilled."

Toews does a wide variety of photography. Her newborn and wedding shots really stand out.

In fact, her wedding photo Imperial Invasion was a special request by a Star Wars loving couple. "I told them to have the look of fear in their eyes and act like something was chasing them," she recalls.

"Then I took a picture of a Star Wars toy and worked it into the picture, trying to make it look as realistic as possible. So it became a fun, wedding party group shot." 

The criteria the judges use to make their decision are based on whether the photo has impact, and tells a story. "There are so many technical things they look for," she explained. "I was able to watch the judging so I could see how they were evaluating the images. They just want to make sure that the pictures are of excellent quality, above the typical standards that you'd expect."

Charmaine Toews

"Pretty in Pink" by Charmaine Toews (Charmaine Toews Photography)

Toews thinks most people enjoy photography but she has always loved taking pictures. "I have pictures of my children all over my house," she said.

"I've told my husband many times 'If ever the house were to burn, grab the pictures!'  because it's just the best way to capture moments in time and to remember things that we would have forgotten otherwise."

Toews feels she has a great job. "I love my clients...I get to meet and spend time with so many wonderful people."