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Award-winning – what does it mean and does it really matter?

Dog Photographer Cheshire

With a new year just starting, new beginnings and all that, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on last year. A super tough year for all, but still so many positives to take from it.

When I started my dog photography I also joined The Guild of Photographers. The Guild is a fantastic national association for the development and support for photographers everywhere. I wanted to be able to surround myself with likeminded photographers for inspiration and  to push myself to get better.
With the Guild you can submit your work for assessment and progress through their membership levels which  is a way to measure and evidence your skill level, as well as show your customers that you are committed to providing them the very best service.
The Guild also run a monthly competion, the IOM. Members submit their images and the entries are then assessed by a number of highly experienced Judges who grade them in accordance with international judging criteria, and the higher scoring images are given Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.

I was a bit lucky and managed to get a Bronze in my first entry so I thought ‘ok, great. This is not as difficult as they say…’ Ha! How wrong I was. The standard is absolutely sky-high!! And the expectations of the work submitted also! It is a really really hard! And time consuming. But for me, it is a fantastic measurement to see if my work is good enough and to push myself to get better and achieve better results.

In my first  9  months of entering  the IOM I  have  achieved 4 Bronzes and 1 High Bronze. But equally important, the other 40 images I submitted ALL scored ‘Classified’ – which means  ‘Images of a standard worthy of acknowledgement relevant to the genre entered but which are not deemed award winning at national competition level. In many cases it is possible that with one or two small tweaks these images could have scored even higher’. A professional standard image! For me that is a brilliant measurement that the images I create are of a professional standard! But saying that, this year I am aiming higher!!!

So in conclusion, the award winning part is maybe not as important to my clients as it is to me personally, I want to have goals to work towards and I want my work judged and know that I am on the right path to improving my images. But saying that, as a client you now that the images produced are of a professional standard and  you can be sure of the fact that I will go above and beyond to achieve the very best work I can for you! There are no half measures of short-cuts, this is what I do and I am putting my heart and soul in to my work!

Challenges

20 January 2021

When I started out in February last year I didn’t expect to have to close again within a month due to Covid. In my head I was all set for studio portraits of dogs, with consistent lighting, background of my choice etc etc. What instead happened was I had one month of shooting what I had planned, then 4 months of staying at home with no work at all. When I could finally start again I had to re-think as I couldn’t open my home studio so instead made a little outdoor studio – that meant I could control the background but not the light.. or the weather.. 😅

But still, we made it work and I had some amazing doggie models and their humans come to help me out. This set-up worked for a couple of months but with the weather turning colder and slightly more unreliable (let’s face it, it’s never really reliable in this country..☔) I had to re-think again.

At this time I was also taking an online course with Hair of the Dog Academy which was all about finding your style by going outside your comfort zone. So I started shooting outside!! That felt, at the time, like a big leap, very much outside my comfort zone and the results were not great to start with… but with perseverance and my trusty, ever-suffering model (read ‘lots of treats involved’) I am getting closer to where I want to be. And I am actually enjoying the whole new world of creating natural portraits and the different editing techniques it requires!

Going into 2021 I will focus equally on studio and natural outdoor dog photography, something I didn’t even consider at the start of last year! It is amazing how adversities make you grow and up your game! I am really looking forward to keep training and practising and getting better this year. And yes, models will be required once restrictions lift… 🙂

Andrea x