On winning awards and recognition

Last Tuesday, the wife and I got an invitation to the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year awards ceremony in London. We weren’t invited because of my pretty face but because I had a photograph in the final and up for an award on the Pink Lady One Apple a Day category.

Now, for a bit of background, these awards are the most prestigious awards for food photographers and videographers. They’ve been running since 2012 and its popularity and prestige has been growing exponentially year by year. Entries come from all over the world and the competition gets massive exposure. Categories grow by the year as well as sponsors.

I think we are very privileged to have such competition, the organisers and sponsors are doing a very good thing, let’s be honest, in the photography industry, nobody really gives a shit about us, food photographers.

The bad thing is…

My only complaint about this year’s awards is that year by year I see the competition distancing from the essence of food photography. I’ve been following and studying closely these awards since their very first year. Not to try to win an award but to see what the trends are and what’s happening in the world in terms of photography.

This year, plenty of photographs shortlisted for the final are about the people and the lifestyle around food, not about the food in the lifestyle or with the people. At the end of the day, it’s a food photography competition, isn’t it?

I don’t want to discredit any of the finalists, this is just my opinion and my complaint to the judging panel. Looking at all of the shortlisted photographs, there are plenty of epic shots of food which didn’t make it to the final stage, therefore wedding, portrait and documentary photographers ended up winning awards which will grab the attention of those leading photography companies and again, us food photographers will be ignored.

In particular, there was a picture that caught my attention because it’s one of those photos that in my eye, ticks all the boxes for a winning shot. It’s fun, it’s appetizing, it’s visually striking, it’s memorable… This shot by Emma Boyns is all we aim for as food photographers:

sl_guava-10-Feb-19
Guava, used with permission of Emma Boyns, all rights reserved

And it didn’t make it to the final.

I do hope it’s just a trend issue more than the awards becoming a people and lifestyle awards to please sponsors and editorials.

You can have a look at all of the shortlisted photos here

On the bright side…

Being shortlisted from 9000 entries is a real honour! Have a look at the finalist photographs here

My picture came third. I’m very pleased with that. deep in my heart, I knew I wasn’t winning anything, not because I don’t believe in my work but because I’m not a competitive person, at all! I was just there for the snacks, the Champagne and the chit-chat. The wife had much more fun that I did and she wouldn’t stop taking pictures of me in front of the picture. The photo looks epic printed by the way.

sl_web__xdb4-05-Feb-19

I caught up with a couple of my food photography heroes and said hello to other fellow photographers. I had a great time!  A highlight for me has to be this year’s master of ceremonies, Alex James. He made an effort to pronounce everyone’s name right. Jay Rayner who used to present before was terrible at that, he would just mumble the names of international participants.

Final thoughts…

It’s great to have my work recognized, I’ve won a few awards in my short but intense career and I’m incredibly grateful for those but sometimes I question if the jury has been rigged or if I really deserve them. It’s my nature, I’ve been transparent way before it became trendy to be so. To me, there’s no better recognition than being constantly busy and running a steady business.  For the next couple of weeks, I’m fully booked and will be working until the very last minute before going on holiday, I can’t be any happier with this.

Have you won an award on your field or industry? How did you feel about it? Are you competitive at all? Let me know in the comments below.

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