I was thrilled recently to discover that with my first ever entry to the Guild of Professional Photographers' international 'Image of the Month' competition I was awarded a Bronze Bar and a Silver Bar. In the words of the Guild - a Bronze bar is awarded for "Images of a strong standard at a professional level - something to be proud of" and a Silver Bar for "Images that are very well crafted at a professional level - difficult to achieve"
A member of the family asked me why I bother to enter competitions like this as I'm already set up and have qualified as a professional photographer. The answer is quite simple - with photography, you can never stop learning. I like to continually push myself to see what I can achieve and am always looking to develop my craft through workshops, training or research, whether that be by perfecting a new pose, a new lighting set up or a new Photoshop technique. Photography, like fashion, goes through phases - what might be highly popular now might be 'out of fashion' a year or so down the line, so it is important to keep in touch with what is happening in the industry and adapt as necessary to ensure you can survive in what has become a very competitive market.
Having said that, there are certain things that will never go out of fashion such as correct lighting, a pleasant composition and in portraits, the right expression. No, you can never stop learning and competition entries like this help ensure you are always developing your skills to produce an image not only to impress a panel of judges but more importantly, keep your customers happy.
Enough waffle! Here are my two "Award Winning Images" (ooh that sounds posh!), one of which has been published in the Photographers' Academy Year Book, what an honour to appear alongside so many wonderful photographers!
Thanks for reading!