A few months ago I decided to enter the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photographers) Victorian Epson State Awards for the very first time. I had volunteered at the 2017 awards behind the scenes and loved the experience – it was SO inspiring to see all of the entries. The standard is jaw dropping, (especially in the wedding category!) and I came home knowing that one day I wanted to enter.
Over the past 12 months I’ve kept a folder on my desktop of photos that l thought might be awards-worthy. When it came down to the crunch though, out of approximately 10 photos I only had three that I considered good enough – a few of the others the posing or lighting wasn’t as good as it could be, and one wedding image that I particularly loved needed too much editing and l didn’t have to time to work on it properly and submit it in time.
So I submitted my three – it cost me over $500 once l had factored in printing on custom fine art paper, professional matting and entry fees. It’s not something to be taken lightly, but l went in with the attitude that l had to start somewhere, and that it was going to be a fantastic learning experience. I spent hours at night re-editing them both to perfection so that not a hair was out of place, and when l posted them off in their print case l knew l had done my very best, but did not dare to expect any sort of award. (Note for next year: start much earlier and organise my own printing and matting!)
On the day of the judging my daughter and I went in to Swinburne University to volunteer as print handlers, and also to hopefully watch my prints being judged. The atmosphere was electric, so much excitement, and l spotted lots of photographers who inspire me, which is always a bit of a buzz! After flipping through the box of entries for the Family category l was shocked to realise that one of my entries was the very first to be judged – cue complete panic LOL!
Georgia and I sat behind the judges. Rocco Ancora, Nick Ghionis, Mauro Cantelmi & Yervant (big name Australian & international wedding photographers) were all in the room, as well as the Victorian AIPP President Vanessa Macauley. l had just about chewed my fingernails off at this point LOL. We watched one entrant win a Gold award for her landscape image, and it was incredible to see her expression and the joy on her face. And then the judging for the family category started, and I heard Rocco announce ‘first print please’.
The viewing board swung around, and there was my image:
One by one the judges numbers came up on the screen, and I was awarded a SILVER with an average score of 80 out of 100!
Georgia was wiping tears from her eyes she was so proud, and I was grinning from ear to ear and could not wipe the smile off my face. Unbelieveable! 
Vanessa was asked to comment, and she said that she loved the ‘Australianesque’ feel of the image, and that she would love to know what they had been talking about. Improvements suggested were to maybe crop it a bit tighter so as to see their expressions better.
About an hour later, the newborn judging began, and Charlie & Harry appeared on the viewing board. I honestly didn’t expect much for this print, because although Charlie (the dog) actually really WAS sitting there next to Harry, it looks like it is too good to be true, and just a photoshop creation. (I had photoshopped Harry the baby as he wasn’t smiling in this version, but all the elements are true to size and position.)
However, l was amazed to receive an average of 83 for this print, and another silver award!
The judges commented that Charlie the dog looks a bit too big, but that it was ‘adorable’. I’ll take that LOL.
My last print scored 77, so no award, but l wasn’t complaining and went home with silver coloured stars in my eyes.
 And the first thing l did when l got home? Start up my folder for the 2019 awards! Watch this space ;-)