I'm sure I'm no different to many people setting out in photography. A couple of years ago I decided to concentrate on equine fine art photography and began the long and extremely satisfying process of starting to build a body of work.
Friends and tutors were encouraging and print sales started to come in. I visited Iceland, Portugal, the French Camargue and the Netherlands, all the time creating images that I liked ... but always with the feeling 'are they any good?'.
Well, what better way to find out than to be judged by those whose opinions you respect and who are either leading photographers or experts in the field.
So I did some research - looking at a whole raft of awards and most importantly previous winners to gauge standards, the type of work considered and to assess where I felt my work would fit best.
After much deliberation I decided to put my favourite image (if I'm allowed to have favourites...) - Fjord Crossing (a black a white image taken in Iceland and that illustrates this blog page) - in for the 2016 EPSON International Pano Awards.
But just because I liked it, did that make it a strong enough image? Once I'd entered all I could do was sit back and wait and luckily, on this occasion, my patience was rewarded. The image was awarded Silver.
As I get older fewer and fewer things are truly memorable - but this was certainly one special moment!
So why is winning an award so special? I guess there are several reasons, not least of which is that others have judged my work and endorsed it as good. The whole process made me look at my images with fresh eyes - and to be more questioning and critical of some of my work, always asking 'is this the best it can be?' and 'can I do better?'. I challenged myself. And it felt good to do.
I've found that the experience of entering awards can help improve the quality of my work and makes me be more selective about what I chose to share with the world. I'm sure many of us look back at images we created early in our careers and with the benefit of hindsight realise 'could do better' might have been a teacher's view.
With the endorsement that I'm on the right track, here's to creating more equine fine art images and to the future.