Last weekend I went to Melbourne for a few different reasons, firstly to hang out with Caleb (he had an app conference) and to check out The Digital Show/APPA Judging. Some of you may remember that I entered the ACT AIPP state awards (you can read about my experience here) and that I was a little undecided about whether or not I would enter again. Well I’m still undecided, but after seeing the judging and reading about many of my fellow photographers positive experiences…I thought I would share what I’ve been thinking about the last couple months, it’s taken a while for me to get my thoughts straight.

I’ve worked really hard at making sure I don’t care what others think, I’ve prided myself on running my business my way and not the way I was told to. But I feel by entering the awards this gets thrown out the window! All I seem to worry about is what others think…judges, friends, other photographers…listening to their opinions over my own. For example one of my images bombed at the state awards, I mean really bombed…I think it scored 68 which means that the judges didn’t even think it was at a professional standard. I know when I entered the awards that’s what I signed up for, to have my photographs judged…but I didn’t think it would make me hate my own images. Before I entered the awards I loved the so called ‘not professional’ image and now I can’t bare to look at it, it’s just a reminder of how crap I am. Now you may be thinking ‘oh you just don’t like the awards because you didn’t do well, spoil sport’ and my reply would be that all my other images did pretty well, but I still feel a little robbed, now when I look at the photos I entered all I see is critiques. They are no longer moments that I loved from peoples weddings, they are just a number, a score.

I guess my other real issue is the judging itself, can you really judge art? When so much of it is made of personal preferences? Case in point, how many people scored very differently in the state awards to the national awards…on the same prints? I just don’t like how someones mood can determine your fate…but that’s the nature of judging and that’s why in our house hold figure skating will never be classed as a real sport.

Despite all these negative feelings about the whole process, I still secretly want to enter again. Why? Because I, like everyone else wants to belong…I want to be apart of all the excitement and competition! I want to prove to my peers that I’m as good as them and one day I want to be better than everyone! Honest enough for you? Even though the awards made me feel crap, I’m still willing to subject myself to them again so I can belong. These awards make me feel like a teenager, insecurities I thought were dead are rearing their ugly heads again. So unless I get some better reasons for entering or if I can finally kill my teenage girl demons I will not be entering again…I guess I’m not longer undecided.

The only people who really need to love my photographs are me and my couples. My focus shouldn’t be on what my peers think, but on what my clients think…I want them to fall crazy in love with their photos! I want my motivation to improve and be creative to come from them, rather than from my own need for glory.

Lastly I just want everyone to know that this isn’t suppose to be a bashing of the AIPP or the people who enter the awards. Everyone else who enters seems to get heaps out of them, which is awesome! I just seem to be the odd one out (this isn’t unusual) so if you are thinking of entering I would encourage you, give it a shot! You may be like every other photographer in Australia and love them, or you may be like me and Nick Cave.

Michelle & Piero’s wedding which I’ll be sharing with you next week!