Those in this industry know the weight the annual AOP awards hold when they come around each year - this is one of those awards shows that people really pay attention to, at least in the UK anyway! I'd never thought to even enter a competition until 2016 - when I did, I won and was on TV, Radio, newspaper etc etc... I figured I could do with a bit more of that and just had thought in time to enter into this year's open category (for non members - I need to sort that out!) before the deadline arrived.
So I was absolutely thrilled to receive the email stating that the aGenda project had been accepted into this year's AOP Final. This means inclusion in the exhibition at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, and being featured in the awards book (see below) too. It was nothing short of a huge honour to have this personal project recognised, which had absorbed so much of my time, thoughts, resources and energy over the past 14 months. Then, to see the amazing array of talent hung on the same walls really topped it off. There was some serious work from serious photographers included in the exhibition - really nice to see that the industry seems so strong, it always inspires me to push myself and up my game!
Awards are funny... you have to make a decision to enter a competition yourself - there aren't some magic photography industry elves that knock on your door delivering you a golden invite. You have to make an active decision to say 'I think this is good - I need it recognised'. It's almost a validation for insecurity - but then it's not because entering awards is playing the game of the industry. In today's world you have to do everything you can to make yourself stand out from the crowd in a world full of ever-increasing talent. Then winning an award is another thing altogether! I didn't win my category this time, but I'm totally ok with that - it was enough of an honour to get selected for the final. But then I know of other work by other photographers, which is strong, brilliant work, that didn't make it through. It's all subjective, it's art and decisions are made by people with opinions - no right or wrong - just simple human opinions which are probably based on a myriad of emotions, experiences and general taste. All we can do is try!!