I went along to the AOP Open awards in Brick Lane London on friday where I had one print in the exhibition. It was a well attended show held in the Loading Bay of the Truman Brewery where I was with Olympus only last month. There were some incredible prints on display by some of the country’s leading professionals, assistants, students and members of the public. There had been over 1600 entries judged of which 61 were chosen to tour the country’s galleries for a year. But it was also a competition and that’s what we were all here for. The music was switched off and everyone gathered at one end of the basement gallery where the AOP Director took to the mic.
Each of the 5 ‘judges individual awards’ were announced and the ecstatic winners emerged from the crowd to collect their prizes and have their pictures taken with the judges. It was finally time for the public choice award to be given. This was, I assumed, my only chance of a win, but not having the 1000′s of social media followers that many people have these days, I was doubtful of even that.. The name called out wasn’t mine and I tried to console myself with the knowledge that just to get into the exhibition amongst such stiff competition was an achievement in itself. Then they started to talk about the final award winner for “Best in Show” saying how the choice had been almost unanimous and that the picture made all the judges wonder about the story behind the image. I was genuinely gob-smacked to then hear my name called out. After having pictures taken with the judges, I was handed a very large box prizes furnished by the show’s sponsors. The box was so big, I had to buy a new case to carry it all home the next day!
In the shell-shocked hour that followed I was congratulated by many fellow entrants and met some really interesting people including previous winners and some photography agents. Not being a full-time photographer, I’m under no illusions that this win will now send my career into a different ‘orbit’ (as it could well do for a full-time photographer) but I do hope that a few new doors will be opened in the coming year. It’s a huge honour to have won this award, which most photographers regard as one of the most prestigious ones going. Thank you AOP!!! And thank you Olympus, especially Mark Thackara who has been incredibly supportive and has given me many exciting photo opportunities over the past few years. The winning shot was taken with an Olympus OMD-EM5 camera.
And of course my thanks to Anna, the girl in the picture, and to her parents for allowing me to use her image. A small package will be heading out to Galway very soon!