The two big award nights in the photography world (SWPP and WPPI) happen within weeks of each other, and always in the 'off-season' (if there is such a thing) for us social photographers (wedding and portraits) Although I have yet to experience the delight of WPPI and Las Vegas and all it has to offer, I am very experienced at SWPP as I have been attending since 2010.
It is held in the amazing Hilton Metropole on Edgware Road, London and is Europes largest all-welcome photographic convention and tradeshow. It's where the trade meet to show us all that is to offer in the up and coming year, and the social side of it isn't too bad either! 'Networking' in and around the bar area is common place :)
For me, the highlight of the whole convention is the 20x16 print competition. It's a world-class competition with entries from all over the world, and as far afield at Australia, USA, South Africa, Hong Kong, Brazil and Singapore to name but a few. Prints are judged by five judges and scores are given, with the average taken from all five, and any print scoring an 80 (out of 100) or above is awarded a Merit. I am very lucky to be among one of the 36 judges used at this years competition, so had the privilege to sit and judge some of the best images taken in 2016.
It's a matter of course that (obviously) you are not allowed to sit and judge when one of your prints come up, so the print handlers are aware that a judge's image is about to come out, so will signal to the chairman, and a judge rotation takes place. Even now, knowing one of my prints is about to be judged still gives me butterflies. I had entered images across all disciplines this year, Wedding, Portrait, Landscape and Documentary, and I'm also VERY lucky to have won the Wedding Traditional category back in 2014, and been placed in the finals every year since, so I always put pressure on myself to try and repeat the feat.
I was in the room when I few of my prints were judged and I was just missing out on Merit scores but just a few points when one of my images came up and scored an impressive 85, and was the highest scoring print in the Wedding Classical category! However, this doesn't mean it won, as the top five scoring prints are then re-judged behind closed doors and a first, second and third are awarded. My print came third. I was happy enough to have been in the final again, but to be placed was a real achievement.
It was however in the Documentary category I had the most success in. Back in June 2016, I was awarded my second BIPP Fellowship in Documentary Photography for a set of images I took at the Auschwitz camp in Poland, so I decided to enter my favourite (if I can use that word) from the set, and I was lucky enough to be in the room when it was being judged. I was blown away by the scores as it scored an overall 90 with two of the judges scoring it 98 and 94!
It wasn't until the gala awards night on the Saturday night that I found out that it had won the overall documentary category and came fourth overall out of over 1000 entries, and won me my second crystal globe! Not only that, but in the monthly online image competition, I came third overall in the architecture category... so all in all, a pretty good start to 2017!