When I was 8 years old I won a local painting competition set up by a bank, I think. I also think that was the last time I entered a competition like that, but does it make me an award winner?

I’ve been looking into something today. I’ve been looking into winning. Awards in particular.
I’m not bitter about this, by the way, just curious.

It’s very competitive being a photographer, or so I’m told, so any edge that you can give yourself, well – gives you an edge.

Everybody wants to be found on Google. Why? Well that’s where people look for “wedding photographers in [county]” dummy. Contemporary, creative, stylish, fine art, reportage wedding photographers. That’s where we are. Google.

Also there seem to be more and more “award winning wedding photographers” thrashing their wares.

Now, I’m not, so far, “award winning”. At least not in the conventional sense. We’ve talked about that here before. I’m sure that if I ever am I will tell you all about it.
But then I don’t pretend to have won awards either.

I’ve got to wonder just how many awards there are out there. There seem to be an awful lot. And then you’ve got to decide if there’s any real value in “winning” an “award”.

Don’t get me wrong here. I think photographers should be awarded, and recognised for good work. Well adjudicated awards that carry prestige are few and far between, and that’s really the point of them. If your pictures are *better* than other candidates, (and by better I mean extraordinarily awesome) then there are natural ebbs and flows that are designed to shine a light on exceptional talent. Far better photographers than me have achieved this prize because their photographs are very very good indeed, and they’re deserving of the recognition.Wedding-photography-portraiture-taken-at-wotton-house-in-dorking

That’s not to say that my photographs are not deserving or of any less value. To my clients, their favourite pictures from their wedding day aren’t made better thanks to a certificate from a photographic society or whatever. This photograph isn’t taken to win such an award, and the unique intimacy of that moment probably doesn’t make it to the final rounds when placed next to the well lit shot of a Bride on a Horse.
I don’t know – I’ve never thought of entering that picture into a competition to find out.

That’s my point. Sometimes, most of the time, I prefer the images I make at your wedding to be a private agreement between you and me. That’s enough validation for how ‘good’ the photograph is.

Look – I know I’m shooting myself in the foot here, painting myself into a corner. I publish those same private moments on my website and social media all the time, right? Well, sort of. I’m still amazed enough by capturing a moment (or a few) that I want to show off. I’m a photographer and I want lots of people to see my art and tell me I’m great. I’d be lying if I pretended otherwise. I love criticism though. I think it’s really healthy. It’s how I studied and learned photography, suffering and relishing crits when all the students would pin work in progress on the walls and tear each other down, academically speaking. Not one of those times do I remember anyone ‘winning’ at art. It cut through the crap though.

So what do you think? Does a wedding photographer take better pictures because he is award winning? What is this award anyway – what does it mean? I haven’t been able to find the actual award that people have talked about being the winner of, and I’m wondering if I should just describe myself as award winning from now on. Who would know any different?

I’d love to hear your comments on this, and for what it’s worth my thoughts on this are genuine:

I’m not jealous of self proclaimed award winning wedding photographers. Seriously, they can have it. But at the same time I’m calling it. What is the award?? What is it’s value to brides and grooms?


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