Hi ho, Silvers!

I'm thrilled to bits to be able to announce that I achieved my goal of getting a Silver at this year's Epson/NZIPP Iris Professional Photography Awards, and in fact got TWO of them, as well as a Bronze! I wasn't at the Rotorua conference (it was Eva's sixth birthday on Saturday and she wanted to stay home so she could have her party - fair enough) so it was a nail-biting experience, waiting for my friend Mandi Lynn to drip-feed me the results via text. A couple of prints that I had high hopes for failed to get anything, so for a while there I was starting to think perhaps I really hadn't managed to get my head around what the judges were after. But then this print of Eva scored a Silver, and I was over the moon. Her competitive brother Alexander was a tad miffed that this photo of him was one point away from getting a Bronze:

Mandi emailed me with the judges' comments. A couple loved it, and one scored it a Silver, saying it showed creative flair and mystery, and was beautifully printed. But unfortunately the comments from other judges included "diseased boy, cancer, uncomfortable, shapes disturb me, darks too dark..." and the average final score sat just below a Bronze. A friend who's an experienced judge said it might have fared better if I'd entered it in the Illustrative category rather than Classic Portrait - then all those negatives would have been seen as positives! So there's a big lesson for me in that. Shame I can't enter it again next year...

I had submitted the photo a few months ago to US photographer Bambi Cantrell, as she critiques images on her blog. She wrote back that it was a truly beautiful, haunting portrait and she wouldn't change a thing about it. Somewhat portentously she also wrote: "Remember, just because a judge or group of judges don't agree, it doesn't mean that the image isn't strong... it just means for that particular group it didn't work." Take heart, anyone out there who's feeling disappointed with their results this year!

My other Silver was in the Illustrative category, with this photo:

I'm so happy, because this photo was a lot of work. In the first shoot my model was too thin and I didn't have enough measuring tapes, so this was my second attempt. The wardrobe contains our wine stash so it was too heavy to move (we drink a lot of wine :)), and instead Alistair and I had to take all the furniture out of our bedroom for each shoot so that there was enough space for my studio lights. I spent a fortune on measuring tapes (anyone need a spare?), and then of course there was the work in Photoshop to combine the two photos. And after all that I found out that a few years back someone won Gold with a photo of an anorexic woman looking in the mirror and seeing herself as fat. A slightly different idea, granted, but a bit too similar for my liking and if I'd been aware if that I probably would never have embarked on this project. But it got me a Silver, so it's just as well I didn't know!

Finally, I got a Bronze in the Wedding category with this fun image, which was from my last wedding of the season:

I thought Amanda's wedding dress might have stunk of rubbery smoke after this but she assures me it aired out nicely. :)

Congratulations to all the photographers who did so well at the Iris Awards, especially three of Wellington's own: Esther Bunning, who was a finalist for NZ Photographer of the Year and got the highest scoring colour print for 2011; Mandi Lynn, who achieved her Masters and was finalist for NZ Commercial Photographer of the Year; and Kate MacPherson, who got a bar to her Masters. For an inspirational trawl through all the award-winning entries click here.

Three sisters

Rough sea, red sky