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4 Merits, 3 Finalists, 2 Awards and a Masters!


This past week at the Societies of Photographers Convention in London was just about perfect in every way. As always I look forward to this event with mixed emotions. As a judge and speaker anxiety levels can be high. And I always know that through both working and socialising it can be an exhausting experience that is often hard to get through. However the high I finish on is simply incredible and worth all the sleepless nights and hard work, in large part due to the incredible people with whom I get to spend this week.

(Photo Credit: Mike McNamee - Sitting on a panel)

(Photo Credit: Mike McNamee - The entire judging team including print handlers)

Being amongst the judging team just gets better and better each year. It is very intimidating sitting on that panel and being resposible for assigning a score and then often providing a critique to substantiate it however the rewarding feeling when doing it well is immense. I know I am still a relatively new judge but hope I can improve each year to become one of the industry greats.

(Image title: Transitioning)

A highlight for me was watching the above image be judged. I hadn't shared this image on social media so I knew the judges were seeing it for the first time and I eagerly awaited their reactions. I honestly had no idea how it would be received. Of course it could go either way but never expected the glowing response that followed. Initially it scored 88, putting it in the excellent category which alone had me a little in shock. But then to get challenged and talked up to 91 putting it in the outstanding category was a moment I won't forget any time soon. They loved it. It stirred emotions in them which is something I've always wanted to be able to do. Being able to create something that isn't just beautiful but also makes people think and feel is exactly where I want to be. In the end this image won the open category and was announced during an absolutely electrifying awards night. To read the blog I wrote about Leo and see more of his images follow this link.


During the judging I was able to see 2 of my images be judged, the other one (shown above), initially received a lower score also (I can't remember what it was) but was also challenged by one judge and talked up to an 87 putting it in the excellent category range. This process of a judge challenging is a regular part of the judging process. With a team of 5 people, all bringing something different to the table, its inevitable that differences in opinion will occur. I've also found that we as judges tend to be conservative in our scoring until we are able to speak about it. So its wonderful when a judge or two feel passionate enough about an image to want to raise its score. Judges then get the chance to share their opinions (both good and bad) and then the image is re-scored. In the end this portrait took third place in the Portrait Classical category.

(Image title: Prom)

I missed the judging of the other two images as I was out of the room at the time. But the one above scored 83 and ended up being the winner of the Portrait Classical category. The one below scored 80. I would have liked to have seen if any judges made comment on the image below. No comment was made on the image above but I didn't hear from anyone regarding the image below so don't know what happened there. They don't have to comment on all the images as sometimes all judges are just in agreement on a score. But I was hoping the one below might have had brought about some discussion.

(Image title: Inner Strength)

The week progressed with classes and the trade show. I participated in an incredibly lively Judges Round Table discussion which again made me proud and excited to be involved. I was joined by 4 other fantastic judges and the head of the competition, Terrie Jones, making it another highlight of the week. I was simply buzzing through the experience and it carried me through the rest of the day and my final class of the day at 6:30 (not the ideal time to be at one's best but I managed to get through it).

(Photo credit: Mike McNamee - The Judges Round Table discussion)

Then the main highlight of the week was of course the awards ceremony. I spent this evening with the most wonderful people making it truly a night to remember. A table full of close friends all eagerly awaiting the results. With 4 people on our table having images in the finals (and me knowing my husband was to be presented with an award) we knew we were in for some exciting moments. In the end we finished with 10 awards between us along with a Masters and an Associateship. I think that made us the most winning-est table in the room and I believe the loudest as well. It would not have meant as much without these fantastic friends.

(The best table of the night)

As I said earlier, my husband also won an award. You may be wondering how he, not a photographer, could win an award here. Well it's because he's one of the best helpers. Although Andy now loves attending this event, initially he attended only in support of me. As the years went by and we built up a large friend group this event came to mean as much to him as it did me. And since I started working there he figured he might as well too. Now he's one of the longest standing helpers who truly cares about doing a great job. For that reason the organisers decided to present Andy with the first ever Services Award. The roar of the crowd, as so many people have come to know him, made me so proud.

 (I will forever be annoyed that I stood up and got in the way of my friend, Panikos, taking this photo. That is my arm on the right which I had to crop out.)


(The Awards night - I love the collection of these group photos I'm building up - must think of something new for next year, since we will be at a different hotel)

But it wasn't over there. Still a day to go and I had a Masterclass to teach the next morning. I have to say not ideal circumstances when it would have been nice to let my hair down and really celebrate my wins. However the next day when everyone else was feeling rough from the night before I, on the other hand. was not. I was awake and full of energy since I didn't partake in the excessive alcohol or late night (although I was up until 1:30 but not nearly as late as many of the others). I also had the great pleasure of having my daughter model for me (and spend lots of my money over the weekend).

(Photo Credit: Alan High - This was taken by an attendee during the class. I love getting to see what the audience sees. 

The nerves were high that morning as they usually are before lighting demonstrations. For me these are the most stressful classes to run. But it was just brilliant. It flowed well, the class was full and interactive. I don't think it could have gone better for me. So I ended the week on a high. I've also returned home still feeling that buzz which will hopefully carry me forward into a successful year ahead. I'm certainly looking forward to a few changes.

Thank you to all the wonderful friends I spent time with this week. You know who you are and there are too many people to list here. Until next year 💗💗😘

Now I just want the warm weather and brighter nights begin. Spring is my favourite time of year and its just around the corner. So much to look forward to.

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