2012 Australian Professional Photography Awards

Being a photographer can be a pretty lonely and isolating existence. After photographing our gorgeous subjects there are hours and hours spent in an office alone working on a computer, and catching up on administration and other tasks. Working in a creative field by oneself there is no one to bounce ideas off or to chat with in the tea room on a break.

So when the ‘Digital Expo’ (PMA) hits town photographers from all over the country board a plane and this year they invaded Melbourne. At the same time the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) holds the Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards (also known as APPAs).

Entering the Awards is not an easy thing. It’s not a case of picking a couple of images and sending them in. The quality of work and the creative process is mind-blowing and can take a whole year’s worth of planning, shooting, creating and printing.  The prints then sit in the judging rooms for three long days as a panel of judges deliberate over more than 3,000 entries from all over the world.  Like all creatives, I have found myself in a “rut”.  Where to move forward?  Am I still producing the work my clients want – and that I want?  Pushing yourself to be better, create something new is a part of the process and something that entering awards and dreaming up personal projects helps with.

About a year ago, a photographer asked who I was. I told him my name. He asked what I did. I proudly responded with “I’m a baby photographer”.  He rolled his eyes.  I quickly added “But I started on film and photographing bands”.  To which I got the response “You should lead with that.”  I was a little dumbfounded.  Really? Why?  I don’t photograph bands much anymore, and whilst it’s still a passion of mine, it’s not the core of my business or my creativity.  I’m proud of what I do.  I have started from very little and now have a fantastic business which is like another baby for me.

Recently clients of mine said to me with teary eyes “Wow, Gemma, you’ve been here for every major moment in our lives, you’re like family now”.  Their wedding day, whilst they were excitedly awaiting the birth of their first child, and that amazing moment when they brought their beautiful new baby to the studio.  It’s those session that go for HOURS simply because I become like a new aunt and want to cradle their baby for ever!  I’m too busy ooo’ing and ‘ahhh’ing!  Isn’t this what it’s all about?

So back to the Awards. A little background about what all this is about.  Each print is judged by 5 judges.  They enter a score out of 100.  Those scores get averaged out and produce a final score.  80-84 is Silver, 85-89 Silver with Distinction, 90-94 Gold and 95-100 Gold with Distinction.  Scores over 78 earn you points which, over time, qualify you for Honours status within the AIPP, Associate, Master of Photography and of course Grand Master of Photography.  The highest scoring photographers within each category at the Awards win the category for example “Australian Portrait Photographer of the Year” and from there comes the prestigious “Australian Photographer of the Year”.

Awards are a bit of a contradiction for me.  We creatives are a little sensitive about our work.  Part of our soul goes into every image we produce, so putting this forward to be judged is a very nerve-wracking process.  What if the judges (who are the best photographers in this country) don’t like it?  What if I’ve got this wrong!?  But sitting in that room, with the award-winning prints displayed around you is a feeling I really can’t put in words.  Inspiring, electrifying, and a sense of inclusion.  Then when your print comes up, the heart races.  Anxiety kicks in.  The judges walk up, look at every aspect of the image.  And they always seem to linger longer when it’s your own print up there!  Then they sit down and we stare at the screen waiting for the scores.  One comes up, then another, until there are five scores.  And FOUR times weekend before last, that process happened, and the smile formed, the sense of “OH WOW!”  I just won SILVER.

And then your print goes on that amazing wall with the others.  Next to your friend’s print, to your photography hero’s print.  THAT emotion I cannot put into words.  After my fourth print was judged I had to walk out of the Exhibition Centre.  I called my best friend and burst into tears.  Not only had I won four Silvers from four entries, I gained my Associate Delegate Status within the AIPP, in my first real year of entering the APPAs (I did enter last year, and won a Silver, however the process was much different …. and I had something else on my mind at the time, I was in Europe!)

Associate Delegate status means I have qualified for the status with points, however I don’t receive it until I have been a Full Accredited Member for two years.  This will click over in February next year.

My life has changed a lot this year, and there’s more changes to come, personally and professionally. Iris Creations is getting a makeover, getting ready for some exciting new adventures..

Without sounding like an acceptance speech I really do wish to thank and acknowledge some people who have helped me grow professionally with their amazing dedication, wisdom and plain awesomeness!

Katie.. you inspire me every day – your advice, guidance and support means the world to me..
Janet.. words cannot describe our friendship, you know 😉  My photography sister x
Kris & Netra.. my dream team 😉
Ev.. without that early morning trip to the beach I would never appreciate patience, the beauty of simplicity, or just landscape photography in general 😉
Mandy.. You are an amazing person…
Chrissy.. your wisdom blows me away!
Bianca.. for reminding me that patience and consistency are a beautiful thing,
Dan & Samm .. Thankyou for re-igniting my passion to create, to dream up bigger and better things, moreso the confidence to be true to myself.
My best friend Monique.. Without you, there would be no Iris.
And Amanda.. My journey past, present and the future would not be the same without you.

Finally to every soul I have ever photographed, thankyou for allowing me into your lives at such precious moments.

And my two amazing little boys. Mummy loves you very very much xx

Silver with Distinction Award |Portrait Category | 2012 Epson Victorian Photographer of the Year Awards
Silver Award |Portrait Category | 2012 Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards

Silver Award |Portrait Category | 2012 Epson Victorian Photographer of the Year Awards
Silver Award |Portrait Category | 2012 Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards

Silver Award |Portrait Category | 2012 Epson Victorian Photographer of the Year Awards
Silver Award |Portrait Category | 2012 Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards

Silver Award |Portrait Category | 2012 Epson Victorian Photographer of the Year Awards
Silver Award |Portrait Category | 2012 Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards

Silver Award |Family Category | 2012 Epson Victorian Photographer of the Year Awards
(Not entered into APPA’s)

Sally Wow! Thank you for sharing these images – they are incredible – you are insanely talented and clearly have a unique ability to push yourself to the next level. Well done Gemma I’m so thrilled for you.

Amanda How am I only just seeing this? I suck as a friend, I’m sorry.
This has made me excited (finally, ha!) to apply for AIPP soon. And you KNOW how I’ve felt about it in the past. I love watching your work grow and evolve. LOVE those photos (especially my fav, that DARLING little baby girl with the flower in her hair) and I am sooo freaking excited for and proud of you on how well you did! Come visit me soon, I need a Gemma-fix! 😉 xox

Sue A tear in my eye …. as ever I’m incredibly proud of your talent and what you’ve achieved. Love you, Mum xoxo

amanda Wow congratulations Gemma!!! Beautiful winning images, love the third, so beautiful.

Nancy wow. that is all, a huge magnificent wow!

Dan O’Day you are beautiful and so is your work… So deserving of every success Gemma xx

Janet Palmer Beautiful Gem, so so proud of you! What an amazing journey so far, and an even more amazing to come x

Monique You are amazing and you deserve every bit of happiness. Love you lots and Well Done!

Lauren Awesome work!! Such gorgeous images, well deserved 🙂

Myekie Great work Gemma. It’s awesome to watch you develop your business and photographic practice. Keep it up!!!

Mandy You rock star. All your accolades are well deserved, and only further good things await you my friend. xoxox

Peta Well done Gem! The little girl sitting on the bed is just the cutest!

Katie K Loved reading this Gem! I’m so proud of you!!! And it was so awesome sharing this year’s award experience with you. xxxxxx

Welcome – to the NEW Iris Creations Photography! » Melbourne Newborn, Baby, Maternity, Wedding Photography | Iris Creations Photography […] Australian Professional Photography Awards.  (For more information about the awards, please visit HERE) It’s always a little nerve-wracking to photograph another photographer, however the beauty […]

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