The Guild of Photographers 2016 Awards

Fine Art Children’s portraiture

I am a member of the Guild of Professional Photographers, and in 2015 I had a very successful year with them. I not only qualified and then went on to achieve Craftsman status, but I also finished in the Top 10 of their photographer of the Year Competition in the open section, received life long admittance to the photographers’ bar and had 3 images in the top 10 for the Image of the year in 2 categories – Creativity and Floral & Insects. 2015 was a hugely busy year, with a lot of stress, but many marked successes along the way, so in comparison 2016 felt very quiet indeed.

In 2016, I entered a few images in the monthly competition, but not consistently enough (I thought) to be eligible for any major awards. I did achieve awards for the months I entered, but I had several months where I didn’t enter at all. Overall it was a relaxed year and I felt my confidence grow with further training and working on my technique with the help of my mentors. I attended some fabulous training courses and found a love for fine art portraiture. When we got to the end of 2016, I looked back over my year, and although I had no concrete achievements to mark the year, I looked at the body of work I had produced and was quite pleased when looking at the portfolio I had collated for the year. I had an email to say that I was within reach of a top 10 place in the people section of the Photographer of the year, but I didn’t think it was very likely, as although I have consistently received silver awards, I hadn’t entered every month, so someone with steady bronzes would score higher that I could when the monthly points were totalled. Photographers with an image in the top 10 in the various sections for Image of the Year also received emails, but this year, it was not to be, and I didn’t receive one of these emails.

Every year in February, the Guild of Photographers hold their annual awards evening at the beautiful Crewe Hall in Cheshire. Photographers from all over the UK and Europe come together for a great weekend of training and socialising, culminating in the black tie event of the year. The support of everyone in the Guild is amazing, and the weekend is a fantastic opportunity to get together, even for those who don’t enter the competition. I was completely relaxed in the knowledge that the top 10 was unlikely and because I had no images in the running for image of the year, so I had a wonderful stress free time leading up to the awards dinner.
On arrival at the table for dinner, I decided to have a flip through the booklet containing all the images of the top 10 in each category. I suddenly stopped and went back a few pages, as I caught sight of one of my portraits. I was a bit confused, as somehow I missed the email telling me I was nominated. I was absolutely thrilled to have an image in the top 10! I spoke to friends saying how nice it was to not have known, as I was completely relaxed about the evening. I knew I couldn’t win, as the image had not scored as highly as some when viewed in the original competition. Although I was told that at the final stage, the images are printed, so the original score does not apply, as some stand out better than others in print, I dismissed the idea and enjoyed a lovely relaxed meal.
The awards started, and I was cheering on the winners and runners-up as they were announced and when we got the contemporary portraiture category, my heart didn’t even skip a beat in anticipation, as I didn’t expect for a second that I stood a chance. I was looking at the runner-up image on the screen when suddenly my image appeared, and suddenly time slowed down, as I did a double take, and then registered that I had just been announced as the winner. I’m getting emotional just recalling the memory of it! I was completely taken aback and shocked that out of all those amazing images, mine had been selected as the winner! It seemed to take forever to make my way from my seat to Lesley, who gave me a big hug and presented me with my award. I managed to hold back the tears for the photograph and frantically blinked them away as I walked back to my table clutching my beautiful trophy. After a steady year of improvement, but with no specific highlight, I had just achieved my dream and suddenly 2016 became my year to shine. The final cherry on the top was to be announced in the top 10 for the people category in the Photographer of the Year, even with only 6 months worth of entering.

I now have a beautiful copy of the image that was printed and presented to me on the night, and my beautiful glass trophy to remind me of the best night ever in my career so far!

Thanks to my beautiful model, Amy, and everyone who encouraged and believed in me, before I was ready to believe in myself.

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