Sometimes, the best awards are the ones you least expect and for things you didn’t even know you did.
Having become one of the regular judges at the Master Photographer’s Association (The MPA) Annual International Awards, it’s been a real privilege to look at (and score) stunning image after stunning image after stunning image from across the globe.
From Fashion to Farm Animals, Nudes to New Borns, Fine Architecture to Fine Art, Portraits to Press, whatever the category, it is truly exhilarating to see, study, analyse and assess the work of some of the world’s greatest image makers and I love it.
The judging is completely anonymous – the images are identified by random serial numbers – so, with the odd exception, I am as much in the dark as everyone else about which photographer (as opposed to which image) has won until the names and images are announced on stage: I sit at the awards presentation genuinely excited to see which photographers have done well just as every other person in the room.
For the first award, the outgoing MPA President, Steve Howdle FMPA, began describing the person he wished to present the President’s Award to: someone who is enthusiastic, happy to help other photographers and hard working. I, just like everyone else, looked round the room eager to see who it might be – they sounded like someone I might like.
And it turned out to be me.
I’ll be honest, it took a second to sink in.
As with every other awards judge, you accept the fact that you can’t enter the image competitions, so I was having a particularly wonderful evening without any of the pressure many others must have been feeling.
Which made receiving the award even more of a surprise.
I am fortunate to have won one one or two awards over the years, but this is the one of which I am the most proud. For someone as eminent as Steve to pick me out for recognition – and for just helping out where I can – is possibly the biggest compliment anyone has ever paid me.
I think there is a photograph of me somewhere looking decidedly bemused and thrilled all at the same time.
So to all those photographers who have inspired me (and continue to do so) and the incredible clients who have made it all possible. Thank you. Thank you for everything you have enabled me to do. Thank you for making me smile. Thank you for making this the best job in the world. Just, simply, thank you.
What a wonderful end to a wonderful year: another trophy and one that I could not be more grateful for.