This last week has seen the annual The Societies Photographer Convention and Trade Show held this year at the London Hilton Metropole Hotel. As a member of The Societies I not only attend this even annually, but I also volunteer to help out with the convention. It’s an amazing time where both professional and amateur photographers can get together and attend classes on everything from business, technical skills, and through to editing. The sheer amount of knowledgeable professionals on hand willing to share is amazing and one could easily spend every minute of every day attending valuable and informative masterclasses and superclasses. As a volunteer, one of my jobs at the convention is attending these workshops (ensuring attendees have paid, assisting the speakers, and making the event as easy and enjoyable for attendees as possible. This year I was very pleased to assist on some classes with photographers whose work I love and admire.. David Simms (the opposite me..English photographer who now lives in Chicago) and John Baike. Both of these classes were amazing to attend and assist on, and anyone that attended either of these really were treated to a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. David Simms I was especially excited to attend as David was one of the judges on both my L and A panels and his feedback and constructive criticism has always driven and challenged me.
The convention is also a great time to catch up with friends made through the forums that Society members get to participate in. I am a huge fan of the forums and actively encourage people to join the Societies for the forums alone. Everyone on the forums is friendly and more than willing to share, critique, and help whenever you need it. The convention provides the one time of year where members from across the world can be in the same place and meet, socialise, and bounce ideas off each other. It’s even more beneficial when these people are some of the best photographers in the world and it’s also nice to say that these photographers are my good friends. This alone would make the convention a fabulous week!
For me, the real highlights of the convention though are the 20×16 print competition and the panel judging. This year saw something unique happen in the panel judging though! A panel was submitted for an A in portraiture (Associateship, a distinction held by less than 10% of qualified members) and it was upgraded to an F (Fellowship, a distinction held by less than 1% of ALL members)!!!!! The panel of images were simply amazing and watching the judging on this was really a treat! One of the great benefits of being a member of the Societies is you can attend the judging process which is truly an insightful and amazing learning experience. You also have the 20×16 print competition, this year I entered two images one of which was merited and the other missed out on being merited one point! Again, hearing what the judges have to say about your images is truly an extraordinarily enlightening experience.
As well as the 20×16 print competition, you have the main event of the convention…the awards dinner! The one image that I had merited in the 20×16 print competition was also the one image that I was nominated for Portrait Avant Garde Photographer of the Year 2012! Now, I have always attended the awards dinner but I definitely went into this years event with a LOT of nerves due to my nomination! The last year has really been a whirlwind for my photographic career, I received my A with the SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers), received more Gold and Judges Choice awards than ever before and to top it off was nominated for an annual award! To be honest I really didn’t expect to win, just being nominated was HUGE deal and a massive honour. This puts my work up there with the absolute best of the best and really was a humbling experience. I won’t do the movie cliff-hanger thing with this…I will say that I did not win! 😀 The award for portrait avant garde photographer of the year 2012 went to the amazing Viktorija Vaisvilaite Skirutiene. Viktorija won a total of 8 awards on the night, so I did lose to the very best! With that being said, prior to my category being announce Viktorija has already won 4 awards…so here is a video I took on my phone of my nominated category being announced.
The feedback that I received from people at the convention about this image was amazing and amusing! Being introduced to people often followed with “oh, you’re the tea pot photo guy!”. This made me laugh, but was also a bit surreal! 😀 I was asked a LOT this year if I was speaking or holding any classes as well. I was not this year, but I have been asked enough that plans are already in place for me to be holding classes at next year’s convention. It will definitely be a solo class on putting together composite images…and talks are taking places about joint classes with some absolutely amazing photographers as well, so keep your eyes and ears open for that coming up!
Already looking forward to next year! 😀