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Fellowship with the SWPP – That has a nice ring to it!

Last week saw the annual The Societies photography convention take place at the Hilton Metropole hotel in London.  This is a yearly event in which both amateur and professional photographers descend upon London from all over the UK and the world.  Throughout the week there is a photographic trade show, classes and seminars on various photography related subjects as well as the judging of competitions and qualifications.  

 

When I joined The Societies almost 4 years ago, I joined purely to try and gain qualifications.  I was over the moon when I achieved my Licentiate a year after joining, and even more excited when I passed my Associateship a year and a half ago.  It was about 6 months after receiving my Associateship, and the 2013 convention, that I made a rather bold decision.  I would put in for my Fellowship at the 2014 convention.  This was going to be no easy task!  The amount of Fellowship holding photographers within The Societies make up less than 1% of the members.  This was going to be a daunting task, but I had made the commitment and I was going to stick to it!

 

Fast forward 1 year and I suddenly found myself sitting in a room with 20 of my images hanging beautifully on the wall as 20×16 inch prints.  In the room with me were a few good friends and 5 judges.  These 5 judges were all Fellowship holders with The Societies and they were here to judge my images and decide whether or not I was good enough to become one of the “elite” within The Societies.  In situations such as this people often describe time as standing still, or the event taking place for a longer period of time than it actually did.  I wish that was the case!  This was a gruelling, and sweaty, 1 and a half hours where the judges picked over my images.   Scrutinised my images and tried to pick them apart to find a reason for me to not be successful.  This is, after all, the judging for the highest possible qualification within The Societies that you can achieve by submission of images.  They have a reputation and standard to uphold.  Pass something substandard and their reputation, as well as The Societies, is in jeopardy.  I didn’t, and couldn’t fault them for judging so closely and for taking so long.  The judges had their poker faces on and were absolutely not giving anything away.  I could only sit there, constantly wipe the sweat off my brow, and hope that I had what it took.

 

Things only got more stressful when the judges left the room to deliberate for nearly 25 minutes.  The longer they took, the more convinced I was that I hadn’t passed.  It was an extremely anxious moment when they re-entered the room and a glimmer of hope appeared when they went straight back to scrutinising my images.  They had gone away and hadn’t decided I failed!  This was the only time I felt somewhat positive.  But, again, the more they looked at each image and the longer they took the less hopeful I became.

 

Finally the moment arrived.  The judges had all made their decision and it was time for the vote.  The judges all voted by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down decision out of view of everyone except the chair, Damian McGillicudy.  Damian looked over the decision of each judge, looked up at the room and said “Unfortunately”… my heart dropped.   The colour went out of my face and I felt defeated and deflated.  “This is the time when I get to welcome a new Fellow to The Socieites!”  What?  Had I heard that right?  I didn’t even have time to think before I was being hugged and congratulated.  I am not going to lie, I cried a little!  The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming!  Somehow, after less than 4 years, I had joined the ranks of the very people I admired and looked up to.  “How was this possible?” I was asking myself.

 

I have always been the biggest critic of my own work, and I will continue to do so.  You always, always, always can improve and whilst I have just been awarded arguably the biggest achievement I could ask for as a photographer I found myself still in shock!

 

The rest of the week was a real whirlwind.  My images went on display for all to see at the convention.  I was approached and congratulated by countless people throughout the week.  I found myself on stage at the awards dinner have to give a speech.  It was all a bit surreal!  By now you probably want me to stop rambling, so I will.  Below are the 20 images, in the order they were presented, that was judged for my Fellowship.  Hope you enjoy them!!

 

Please leave comments below!

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 1

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 2

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 3

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 4

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 5

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 6

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 7

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 8

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 9

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 10

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 11

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 12

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 13

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 14

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 15

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 16

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 17

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 18

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 19

 

Contemporary Portrait Advertising Band Photographer UK 20

 

So there you have it!  My 20 images that have given me my Fellowship with the SWPP.  Now I need to change all my business cards and other things to George Fairbairn FSWPP!!  Crazy I know!

 

Which image is your favourite?  Mine is the Hello Bear image, the one of the three guys holding the hearts.  Just something about that image I have always loved!  Let me know which one is your below!

 

15 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Dave Flynn
January 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Well deserved George. Your dedication and commitment to your passion shows clearly in the work you do. I can’t imagine sitting in that situation and I’d probably have to wear adult nappies. Congrats bud. I hope to reach your standards one day. My favourite image has to be the woman in the Gym.

George Fairbairn
January 21, 2014 at 9:56 pm
– In reply to: Dave Flynn

Cheers Dave! I do love that image as well and that was one of the first real composite images that I ever created!

Neil Shearer
January 21, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Fantastic achievement, and in such a short space of time as well! For me it is really encouraging to see someone who is so skilled in the art of not only photography but compositing and digital editing as well being recognised by The Societies. I only got to see your panel for a few minutes after the judging had finished, so it’s great to get another look now. So where to go from here?? 🙂

Neil Shearer Photography
January 21, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Fantastic achievement, and in such a short space of time as well! For me it is really encouraging to see someone who is so skilled in the art of not only photography but compositing and digital editing as well being recognised by The Societies. I only got to see your panel for a few minutes after the judging had finished, so it’s great to get another look now. My favourites are the family shots!

Amber Northfield
January 21, 2014 at 10:51 pm

George,

What a privilege it was to meet you at the convention! A fellow displaced (or re-homed American)… a nice little find at my first SWPP Convention! I was attending with so many person questions and a need for direction. With out you knowing, you inspired me to work harder, dig deeper and to not be afraid to try. Not only is your work, your art, inspirational but so are you. You were generous, kind and encouraging with your opinions on questions asked. Such a well deserved honour you have gained, not only for your work but for the soul that created it!

Amber x

JimD
January 22, 2014 at 12:47 am

Dear George Fairbairn FSWPP

What can I say? Right
from the word go when I joined the societies almost 3 years ago you were one of the members who provided inspiration with your work and help, not only to me but to all the members of the Societies.

You are a genuine, honest, passionate, hardworking and dedicated man. You yourself are an inspiration and it’s an honour for a guy like me to know you.

Your work speaks for itself. Not only is it outstanding photographically, but artistically too it ticks every box.

I would love to have a creative mind like yours but instead I’ll just keep watching you grow and will hopefully keep learning from there 🙂

I have too many favourites in your panel lol. Your family shots are especially outstanding, but I have to say my favourite is the one in the field of the four guys – two of them scared sh**less (can I say that?), one cool as a cucumber smoking a cigar and the other sadistically pouring petrol over them lol. The thought process behind this is simply brilliant.

You not only inject the “cool” into your images but the fun and attention to detail that makes your work stand out.

Huge congratulations mate, I was delighted on hearing you achieved this amazing award.

Speak soon and Orabest
JimD

George Fairbairn
January 22, 2014 at 8:00 am
– In reply to: JimD

Thanks Jim!! That really means a lot!! I too love the petrol one, and it is a hard pick for me between that one and the hearts one. I do love the story and expressions on the petrol one, but those guys are always amazing to work with and really put everything into it, which makes my job easier! 😀

George Fairbairn
January 22, 2014 at 8:00 am
– In reply to: Amber Northfield

Thanks Amber! Was great to meet you too!

George Fairbairn
January 22, 2014 at 8:02 am
– In reply to: Neil Shearer Photography

Thanks Neil!! And congratulation to you too! 😀

owen lucas
January 22, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Definitely the fire hazard image – hilarious! (Well done sir!)

Randell
January 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

Just read on the SWPP Forum that you’d gained your Fellowship George.
I had to come and have a look at your panel. I’m blown away, what a great set of images.
Congratulations, hope things go ballistic for you.

George Fairbairn
January 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm
– In reply to: Randell

Thank you!!! 😀

George Fairbairn
January 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm
– In reply to: owen lucas

Lots of people loving that image! I do as well, but there are things I could have done better with it. 😀

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