So friday afternoon saw me heading to Crewe with my friend Andrew Appleton and his lovely wife Helen. We were going the fabulous Crewe Hall for The Guild of Photographers annual awards dinner and this beautiful Jacobean mansion was the perfect setting for the black tie event. I joined the Guild about eighteen months ago, and when I saw the fun and excitement had by all of the Guilders who attended last year’s dinner, I made the decision that I definitely wanted to be part of that this year. I had no expectation of receiving anything but I simply wanted to share the celebrations of my peers’ achievements, and in addition the evening provides a brilliant opportunity to put faces to names, as it brings together photographers from all over the UK and beyond. I am so pleased that I joined the Guild and it has given me so much. Head honchos Steve and Lesley Thirsk, the panel of judges and the members are brilliant, providing so much support and wise advice, along with plenty of good humour. It really is like a family and it was lovely to finally meet some of the people who have become a part of my daily life, but who previously I have only known online.
Internal competitions are held every month, giving members the opportunity to enter images into People, Wedding or Open categories. Some 10,000 images are entered over the course of the year and all are marked by the expert panel of judges. The aim is to try to achieve the coveted Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Bars (to my knowledge the Platinum bar is yet to be won and out of 10,000 images in 2013 only 22 attained Gold) and tension builds leading up to the results day each month when the outcome is revealed. The standard is high and so being awarded bars is a great achievement. I have found that entering the competition has encouraged me to try to view my work more objectively, and knowing that your work will be judged and critiqued by experts is certainly an incentive to try to raise your game. At the end of each year the bars are converted to points and are tallied up to resolve the top photographers in each category. The results are top secret, but friday saw the night when all would be revealed. After a delicious dinner it was on to the excitement of the awards ceremony. It was brilliant to see some thoroughly deserving members having their amazing work being rewarded. The final category was a new one: The Photographer’s Bar. This is ‘a unique distinction awarded to very few photographers who have successfully had images assessed over the course of a year, and attained a score equating to an award for each entry made, thereby evidencing an exceptional level of professional skill and consistency’. I was unaware that this prestigious prize was going to be handed out this year, but I had the great honour and delight of being one of the few photographers who received this award! I am so proud to have achieved this and it feels like another step on the journey.
Naturally it seemed only appropriate to continue the celebration in the bar!