Award Winning Photography West Sussex | BIPP Regional Awards & The Societies Print Competition
I’m sometimes asked why I regularly enter some of the upper tier professional imaging competitions, given that I’ve already earned a number of industry credentials (including Fellowships of the BIPP and The Societies). You could be forgiven for thinking that it’s time to rest on my laurels. Whilst taking a break now and again can be a good thing, I really do believe that regularly pushing yourself can also be a good thing. If you make a conscious decision to enter one or two key competitions 2 or 3 times a year, then you have a goal. And if you work towards that goal, then you’ll naturally enter a process of creative thought and critical assessment.
Improvement is, or should be, a never-ending process and an important one for any serious business person. Put simply, keeping your name in the headlines is good for business. I often hear the argument from some of the photographers I meet that clients don’t care about credentials or competition wins. Hmmm …… I think it depends on who your clients are. If you offer a bespoke service and fall into the higher pricing brackets then I think it’s reasonable that your clients will appreciate a bit of kudos here and there. I try to come away from every client assignment with a couple of images which are strong enough for competition entry. This helps me to perform as creatively as possible for the client, as well as keeping my competition portfolio fresh and up-to-date. And my clients love it when a photo from their session is acclaimed. So for me at least, there are plenty of good reasons to keep pushing myself.
Anyway, yesterday saw the annual BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photography) Regional Awards. A few weeks ago I was delighted to find out that one of my wildlife photographs had been shortlisted, and I was really looking forward to the gathering in central London. Not least because the winning images are also being exhibited at The Camera Cafe on Museum Street (round the corner from the British Museum) until the 17th of this month. But thanks to a backlog caused by an IT problem over the weekend and some pressing personal responsibilities, I couldn’t get my train to London in time to join my friends at the awards ceremony. A bit upsetting, but these things happen when you run a business. Still, I was delighted when I received a phone call from the BIPP this morning informing me that my fine art study of an owl had won the Bronze Medal:
The icing on the cake then came at lunchtime when I discovered that the four images I’d entered into October’s round of The Societies print competition had all been awarded. I was bowled over to learn that I’d won a Gold Medal in the Monochrome category, another Gold Medal in the Fine At and Pictorial category, and Highly Commended (this is a little higher than the previous designation of Silver) in both the Travel and Pet Portraiture categories (I won’t be showing the pet image for a few weeks as the client hasn’t yet received his order):
No matter how long we’ve been in business, competition wins will always give us a boost. And it’s no biggie if we don’t win – we just need to try harder next time and we also need to make sure that we choose our images wisely according to the categories we’re entering. This is a really important point and one I would urge you all to think about. We can have the most fabulous photograph on earth, but if it doesn’t sit well in your chosen category then there’s every chance it will be passed over by the judges. This can be quite difficult when entering images which fall broadly within Fine Art and Portraiture, or Fine Art and Landscape for example. Or we might need to decide whether a Macro photograph would be a better fit in Nature and Wildlife. There’s much to consider, and the journey is always interesting.
It’s also worth adding that entering competitions can be an excellent primer to a Panel submission, if you’re thinking of heading towards your Licentiate, Associateship, or even aspiring to a Fellowship if you’ve already gained the previous two. The key difference between competitions and distinctions is fairly clear – a competition requires one stand-alone photograph. But a distinction requires a Panel (exhibition or collection) of anything from 15 to 40 photographs, all of which need to sit together as a coherent body of work. If you’re pondering on any of this, we offer portfolio reviews which are particularly beneficial to newer photographers or those considering the first rung of the accreditation ladder. For more information hit the Workshops button on the top menu bar, or simply give us a call. We also offer tailored training to new and advanced amateur photographers as well as external workshops and lectures.