On winning awards and recognition

Last Tuesday, the  current wife and I got an invitation to a food photography awards ceremony in London. We weren’t invited because of my pretty face but one of my photographs made it to the final on one of their categories.

Now, for a bit of background, these awards claim to be the most prestigious awards for food photographers and videographers. They’ve been running since 2012 and its popularity and prestige has been growing exponentially year by year.

Thousands of entries get submitted from all over the world and the competition gets massive exposure in food and drinks oriented media. New categories grow by the year as well as sponsors and there is an entry which also grows by the year.

I don’t know if we as food photographers are privileged to have such competition, but one thing is certain, in the photography industry, nobody really gives a flying f*ck about us, food photographers! So I guess is a good thing to have our own competition.

My problem is:

My only and biggest disappointment with these awards is that year by year, the competition is distancing from the essence of food photography. The winners of each category in the last few years are of photographs that have food as a secondary subject. They are too political, too commercial or too lifestyle-oriented and the food is barely noticeable.

I know it sounds like I’m a bad loser, but trust me, I couldn’t care any more or less if I get back home empty-handed or with a shard of glass with my name on it. What I really want is food to be celebrated and represented in these awards.

This year, plenty of photographs shortlisted for the final are about the people and the lifestyle around food, not about the food inside that lifestyle or with those people. At the end of the day, it’s a food photography competition, isn’t it?

I don’t want to discredit any of the finalists, the photos were incredible by the way but this is just my opinion. Looking at all of the shortlisted photographs, there are plenty of incredible shots of food which didn’t make it to the final stage, way… WAY BETTER than what I have submitted.

But no;  wedding, portrait and documentary photographers ended up as winners which will grab the attention of leading companies, agencies and sponsors and again, us food photographers will be ignored.

For example, there was a picture that caught my attention because it’s one of those photos that in my eye, ticks all the boxes for a winning shot. It’s fun, it’s appetizing, it’s visually striking, it’s memorable… This shot by Emma Boyns is all we aim for as food photographers:

sl_guava-10-Feb-19

Guava, used with permission of Emma Boyns, all rights reserved

And it didn’t even make it to the final.

I do hope it’s just a trend issue more than the awards becoming a people and lifestyle awards to please sponsors and editorials.

You can have a look at all of the shortlisted photos here

On the bright side…

Being shortlisted from 9000 entries is a real honour! Have a look at the finalist photographs here

My picture came third. I’m pleased with that since I just enter for fun. I went there for the snacks, the Champagne and the chit-chat. The current wife had much more fun than I did and probably was way prouder than I was.

My photo looks epic printed by the way.

sl_web__xdb4-05-Feb-19

Overall it was nice catching up with a few of my food photography heroes and meeting new fellow photographers. I had a great time!  The organisers did well in getting rid of Jay Renner who wouldn’t even make an effort to pronounce international names and replaced him with a rocker who makes cheese… what a gentleman!

Final thoughts…

It’s great to have my work recognized, I’ve won a few awards in my short but intense career and I’m incredibly grateful for those but sometimes I question if the jury has been rigged or if I really deserve them. It’s my nature, I’ve been transparent way before it became trendy to be so. To me, there’s no better recognition than happy clients and steady regular business.  For the next couple of weeks, I’m fully booked and will be working until the very last minute before going on holiday, I can’t be any happier with this.

Have you won an award on your field or industry? How did you feel about it? Are you competitive at all? Let me know in the comments.

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