It has been years since I entered any awards; one of the reasons I stopped entering awards is that my images became too recognisable, it was hard for my images to be anonymous due to the familiarity of my style, judging them became difficult. Then my time became dedicated to creating images for my book projects, it was more important for me to meet deadlines than choose images for award entries, and as each year slipped by, it became harder and harder to take the plunge to re-enter.
Over the years as digital photography came into force, I suppose I just felt that I didn’t have a chance; I have always believed in creating my images true to camera, exactly how I see them, the only editing involved in my images is the addition of a little bit of contrast, lightening and the occasional removal of dirt or softening of staining around the eyes and/or mouth area. Even though I shoot with a Hasselblad Digital camera these days, I still compose and capture each image I create as if I was still shooting with film, the composition is set and then I wait until I have the desired connection with my subject, before I place any pressure on the capture trigger.
For me, the most important aspect of creating an image is the connection I have with my subjects, the emotions I portray and the true characters that I am capturing for my clients to treasure for many years to come. I suppose, over the past 15 years or so, I subconsciously felt that my images didn’t stand up to the incredible imagery that was being showcased amongst professionals entering Awards, with the ability to use photoshop to digitally manipulate images, the standard and the creativity of the imagery being entered was phenomenal.
When I discovered that due to the restrictions Covid had placed on photographers over the last couple of years, the rules had been altered for the next International Portrait Masters Awards, and imagery that was older than 24 months was able to be entered, I thought why not! I had so many of my favourite images that had never been entered into any awards and it would be quite nice to see if those images still stood strong next to the incredible work of many Professional Portrait makers around the World. So, I selected a handful of my favourites, plus a few of my recent portrait commissions and sent a very last-minute entry into the 2021 Portrait Masters Awards. I’m happy to disclose that I didn’t do too badly, no I didn’t get grand champion, nor did I win a category, but when I compare my results with others, my image scores were pretty good, especially for an old timer who really does need to challenge herself and create some fresh inspiring images.
This ‘entering awards’ exercise has proved a very valid point to myself, it is definitely not all about Awards!!! Pixie, an image I created of a Pig wearing a watch, is to this date one of my highest scoring images ever entered into Awards, receiving a GOLD with Distinction, and guess what! Pixie is my WORST ever selling image! Some of my most popular best-selling images only received a Bronze award at the recent Portrait Masters, so do awards really matter? In my case, not really, but they most definitely have a place! They are important when you are first starting out, and as you move through your career; they help you gain recognition in the Professional Photography Industry, amongst your peers and your clients, they get you noticed by Ad Agencies and Designers and are of course wonderful for PR.
I haven’t ever really ridden on the success of Awards, I am fortunate that my images sell themselves, but I enjoyed this last little entry exercise, reminding me of the nervous suspense of waiting to see if your images are worthy, which images will score better than others, and thankfully this time I didn’t really mind that my images didn’t win or that their scores weren’t amazing. YOU alone are your best and worst critique, if you are proud of what you create and shoot from your heart, then you are a success, don’t let others beat you down, everyone has their own opinion, it would be very boring if we all loved the same things!
Whether I will enter awards again I’m not sure, but I will definitely start to challenge myself again with creating some new, fresh and inspiring imagery, but I promise, they will still have my signature emotional content and character filled subjects that will pull on everyone’s heart strings.
So out with my Workbook, let’s get my ideas starting to flow