It was Thursday evening and I was getting so amped. Three days with Mr Photography himself (Mike Hill) talking about pretty much nothing else but photography. On top of all this there was going to be the opportunity to meet some of the other cool photographers in the industry, I was pumped. BUT then there was the judging. Entering your images into awards is for me an intense process, I love photography so much and when you’re so passionate about something it’s not easy to lay your artwork out to be critiqued and in some cases what feels like having your heart stomped and spat on.
So I was getting nervous about the judging, so I made a resolve. I am not going worry about what I scored but to go to the print judging with two goals. 1. I wanted to learn, I wanted to come away from the print judging knowing that next year I could improve on my skill and craft. 2. I wanted to meet some other like minded people, other photographers passionate about photography and passionate about growing their skills.
The alarm went at 2.20am after 1 hour sleep, but I didn’t care. I picked up Mike at about 3am and we were off, it felt like forever but we finally turned up to the Chateau in Christchurch. Watching the print judging was so intense and exciting at the same time. On the first day I didn’t have any prints being judged so I didn’t have the intense nerves, but watching Mike made me nervous for the next day.
Saturday came along and it was a big day. I had 8 images being judged and I didn’t know what to expect. We watched the classic wedding run through and my first print was being judged at about number 38. It was an image that I really liked, the bride in the bathtub and it scored well at AAIP so my hopes were really high. So after many nerves and wrestling in my seat my first image comes up and BAM a Bronze… honestly I was disappointed, it faired so much better in AAIP and I couldn’t understand why it only received a bronze. I found myself getting down and starting to stress. Then I thought ‘bugger it’ I had two goals while I was here 1. to learn and 2. to meet some like minded people. Both of them didn’t involve caring about what my prints scored. So I let it be and went back to focusing on my two goals. After I did this I felt like a whole weight was lifted off my shoulders and I went back to having a great time.
Fast forward to pretty much the last 10 minutes until the judging would be complete. My time so far had been epic, all my goals met and then some. I met so many cool photographers and learnt sooo much. Then comes my last print, it was 3rd last to be judged of the whole event and when it scored a silver distinction I was stoked. But something else happened, something completely unexpected and something that I hadn’t thought about. The thought popped into my head ‘I think I could be a finalist to take the category’. I realised that all my prints scored well and that I might have a chance. Immediately after the judging finished I began my frantic mission to find out if I was a finalist. After about 1-2 hours of trying and racing around asking people who might know I was getting no where so I gave up. I didn’t want to think about it and let it spoil my night. It wasn’t what I came for so it didn’t matter.
Fast forward to about 3 o’clock the next day. I open the door and hug my kids and wife, super amped to be back after what was an epic trip. It was family time now and I was keen to just relax.
Then it happened. About 1 and a half hours after I was home I get a phone call… “Jake we are just ringing to see if you are coming to the gala dinner, you are a finalist in the creative wedding category”. WHOLY MOLY I couldn’t believe it.
I hung up the phone and raced to the office and started organizing to get myself and the family back to Christchurch. Getting back to Christchurch was a mission and we nearly missed our flights but that’s a whole other story. My wife and I rock up to the Gala dinner and my mind was blown. NZIPP really put on a show and it was done soo well and so professionally but I found it hard to enjoy – I was so nervous. Finally it came. The finalists of the creative wedding category; Jason Naylor, Johannes Van Khan and me. My name was called. It was done. What do you say… I wish I said way more but I was happy that I managed to thank my wife.
Winning something like this is so epic and feels so good, but for me it’s not something I did on my own. I feel humbled that I get to receive the award but so many others made it happen. My wife who I can’t thank enough. Mike Hill and Nick Pitt and the many other photographers (the list would go on).
Where to from here? When I found out I was a finalist I felt sick with nerves, when I won all those nerves left and I felt relieved. However, as I’ve never won anything like this I was soon filled with nerves again, asking myself whats expected of me? Do I have to back up everything I do with awesomeness, are people watching and critiquing everything I do now? I found myself starting to worry again. But my wife gave me some pearls of wisdom. She said remember why you do it – not to impress people or win awards and respect, but because it’s what I love doing. I love taking photos, I love creating art, I love learning about photography, I love creating photographs that make people happy and if I stay true to that then that’s all that matters.
Below are some photos from the trip and my entries and awards in NZIPP.