AOP Launches 2016 Photo Awards

Last week, the AOP launched their 33rd Awards. Stuart Fawcett went along for ePz to find out more.

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Last week, the AOP launched their 33rd Awards and Stuart Fawcett went along to see the photos on display and to chat with the latest winners. 

There are categories for both members and non-members, including personal projects and work for recently paid shoots. There is also an amazingly large award ceremony to attend in London but better than that, if you want to earn money in photography then the AOP is there to help you.

The AOP is the photographic industry body whose remit is to promote and protect the worth and standing of its members. They vigorously defend, educate and lobby for the interests and rights of all photographers, especially in the commercial photographic industry. Something that sounds pretty good if you think photographs have a value and photographers are important. 

Professional fashion photographer Sam Robinson was one of the winners last year and joined the AOP straight from University when his passion for photography needed a professional apprenticeship framework to help him become a professional photographer. He loves to photograph people and for his last entry, photographed two twins in an outdoor fashion shoot in natural light. Given the chance, he'd like to shoot from the moon so who knows what he will enter this year!


Sam Robinson who won the Non-Commissioned Fashion & Beauty Series

Sam Robinson who won the Non-Commissioned Fashion & Beauty Series


Another winner last year was Tristan Fennell with a study of actors series entry in the Assistant photographer category. Tristian is an assistant photographer working his way up in the business. As an assistant, he gets to help shoot a wide variety of subjects from fashion to food. The AOP, for him, is the calling point for many people seeking photographers and those related to photography - even down to dog handlers for shoots. In his words, 'there is not much else out there for freelance professionals'. The AOP awards allow him to prove himself amongst his peers and in the industry plus, they are also a super friendly group with a great forum. Asked what he'd like to shoot more than anything else, it would be portraits from the French revolution with classical natural lighting showing democracy breaking out.


Tristian Fennell with his Assistant award series

Tristian Fennell with his Assistant award series


The Project category allows for a greater series of photographs and last year was won by Jake Thomas who had been in Barbados for 6 years before returning to London and was documenting everyday life through a series of street portraits. The big issues he noticed on returning to London was the lack of colour, the longer shadows and a morning / evening golden 'hour' that was much longer than Barbados's few minutes.


Jake Thomas - AOP Project Category

Jake Thomas - AOP Project Category


Clair Park was also exhibiting her 'Non-commissioned life series' which was a dramatic set of four self-portraits helping her express the loss of her mother in photos depicting the pain and memories with sentimental objects within the frame that were personal to her and ending up with a symbol of re-birth of the photographic cycle. No photo in the exhibition had titles or explanations which Clair thought was a shame as viewers could not see all the depth of the images without reading about them. She has lots of very interesting things to say about her feeling, photos and their meaning and even has a short story to fully explain the sentiments.

Conversely, Joseph Ford was also exhibiting his non-commissioned portrait showing a Mafia Boss in a Japanese bath setting. His work had no title or description specifically as he wanted to engage in dialog directly with the viewer to explain how you were only allowed access to the baths when naked so that warring mafia bosses could not conceal weapons, but as he could not shoot those mafia bosses, he then later shot a marketing friend with tattoos and photo-shopped him into the baths picture. Joseph was passionate about explaining the whole story.

Harry Borden won the 2015 Open award with his study of single dads. Harry is a famous photographer who found resonance with this subject area and the pride Dads have of their children. Harry is a wonderfully open guy that loves his photography and seems to have empathy for many situations.


Harry Borden - The Open Award Series  (Copyright Harry Borden)Harry Borden - The Open Award Series © Harry Borden


If you fancy entering the competition or even want to join this passionate lively professional group to support yourself and the commercial elements of photography, check out the AOP website. If you enter the competition early you get a discount on the entry fee.

Thanks to Holborn studios for hosting this opening exhibition and the AOP's Seamus McGibbon for opening the competition.

Those interested in the AOP awards can also find more information in Stuart's write-up from last year's awards. 

Words and Photographer pictures by Stuart Fawcett

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