Today is the day after the end of the Australian Professional Photography Awards for 2012 (APPA) and I’m sure there are a few sore heads and maybe some broken hearts out there. APPA print judging is a tense three days, where masterful photographic peers scrutinise thousands of entries in categories such as travel, landscape, fine art, portrait (environmental and open), family and wedding among a few others. Last year I entered two prints and was awarded one silver (80-84) and I don’t remember what the other one got, copper, I think? This year I again entered two prints, one that was marginal and one that I poured my heart into and had high hopes for. In retrospect, this was perhaps an unwise level of expectation to set – especially when they utterly bombed.
Thanks to a sleepless night courtesy of my bogan neighbours partying until 7am I just couldn’t back up to the ‘Wrap Up’ party at the Rah Bar after three long days of volunteering. Believe it or not, the whole thing runs on the sweat and tears of volunteers and while I moan about my three days, some of the print handlers were up to day nine or more and the APPA Committee members were already months in. So I’ll shut up about my three days.
Coupled with seeing my prints completely bomb and worrying about my little dog being unwell I just couldn’t put on a happy face and show up to party. I’m not a machine, I have feelings – and wounded pride – like a lot of other entrants (notably Documentary and Portrait Open entrants), I feel your pain. When you are awarded what we call a ‘copper’ (under 78), tin (under 70) or plastic award (anything else, and yes there were some) it hurts. Hurts like someone just stole your playlunch, gave you a Chinese burn or drank the last of your 10 year old malt. There is nothing anyone can say that makes it feel better. You know it won’t kill you but it still doesn’t tickle. It’s hard to avoid talking about having bombed because everyone close to you knows you’ve entered and the third thing out of the mouths of all your photography friends after ‘hello’ and ‘did you enter?’ is ‘how’d you go?’. When you bomb, it’s the question you dread. The elephant in the room. I tend to quickly say, “I got a couple of coppers. How about you?’ and change the topic just as quickly. As fast as I can really.
Make no mistake, award entry work is not your Mama’s snapshots and nor is it work considered every day professional practise. It’s a whole other level of creativity and skill. You do have to be in it to win it, and a level of mastery should be expected and subsequently awarded so I’m not going to stick the boot in to some of the work that looked like it was created by a 12 year old, in power point, and picked up silver because I saw some equally breath-taking images that had done well at the State Awards last month get taken down a peg or two. As a very skilled Master and judge (who also picked up a few coppers this year) said to me, you have 10 seconds to make an impact and tell a story when that print turns around to the judges. And so that’s what I’ll concentrate on for next year.
So now that I’ve had a solid 12hrs of sleep, self-medicated with wine and chocolate I can still confirm that nothing makes your pride hurt any less. Which is why I turned to a cathartic blog post, less calories for a start, and I knew I wouldn’t be the only one crying into my latte this morning! I’m going to the Gala Dinner tonight to see the winners in each category announced and the overall Professional Photographer of the Year get crowned. Which means I have exactly six hours left to put on a happy face. For now, I don’t want to talk about my copper award winning images. At least, not yet.
- Inspired, with jazz hands!
- Motivated, like riding a unicorn!
- Like I need a nap
- Indifferent, like butter vs margarine
- Less words, more pictures/ interpretive dance