NZIPP Iris Awards 2012

This past week has been a crazy one for me...in fact it's been more than a week.  It kicked off last Wednesday when I flew to Christchurch to help set up for the annual NZIPP Epson Iris Awards judging and Infocus conference.  One of the perks of being on the board is being in on the behind the scenes action...watching two ordinary hotel rooms being transformed into judging rooms (which kind of look the same wherever the awards are held) is a bit magic.  You can check out the time lapse at the beginning of this clip...

http://vimeo.com/50249623

Then we were straight into judging on Thursday...well the judges were, I much prefer the role of Panel Chair...I described it to the kids as sort of being like the mother to the panel, making sure they talk nicely to each other and take turns talking but most importantly making sure the discussion is positive and useful to the author of each print that is judged. I LOVE listening to the discussion...after 6 years of watching the judging I never get sick of it.  I'm always humbled to be in the presence of such photographic greatness, the panels usually contain at least one amazing photographer that I would otherwise be too nervous to talk to!

One of the first categories judged was Photojournalism, I only had one print in this one but was really pleased to get a Bronze award for it...

Friday was the big day for the Portrait categories; both Classic (single capture images) and Creative (composite images).  I had two images in Classic Portrait...the first one scored a silver distinction (which was the last thing I needed to get my Masters...more on this in a minute) and the second one, a portrait of my beloved Nanny got a bronze.

When Nanny saw this one she said she thought it wasn't very good because she wasn't smiling...but I kind of like it because she's not smiling.  I think you can see a lot of her story in her face...and I like that she looks like she knows something I don't know (it's true, she does!).

My goal going into the awards this year was to get a silver, that was all I needed to get my Masters.  The NZIPP awards system starts with Associate...this requires 10 points earned in four years.  A bronze is worth 1 point, so gaining my Associateship represented 10 bronzes in four years and I achieved this in 2010.  Masters requires a further 10 points in four years but this time the 10 points have to include 2 silvers (a silver is worth 2 points).  I had plenty of points but needed one more silver to add to the one I got last year.  And Mr Giraffe was the silver I needed, it was doubly exciting because it was a high silver (otherwise known as a silver distinction) and because I actually got to hear the judges debate.  So now I get to call myself a Master of Photography...which sounds very grand but really just means that now I know what I don't know!  And the next goal is Fellow, and because I still have plenty of bronze points all I need for that is another silver and a gold.  Something to aim for next year!

So I was feeling pretty relaxed going in to Saturday, I had 7 prints to be judged in two categories (Creative an Classic Wedding) but I had the Masters in the bag so I wasn't as nervous as usual.  I was busy Panel Chairing Creative so I got the results from Classic Wedding via text...another silver and another bronze (and two high professional standards).  

I was really proud of my Creative entries as they were all iPhone shots from my 365 project and they had all received minimal work in Photoshop.  People often look at the awards galleries and criticise the award winning work for having been too heavily photoshopped but I think the pendulum is swinging back towards the purity of in-camera capture.  And of course I LOVE that it is clearly not about the camera when my iPhone shots can go 3 for 3 in a professional photography competition!

So that was Saturday...and that was when it suddenly caught up with me and I remembered that I was one of the invited speakers at the Infocus conference starting on Sunday.  It's not that I hadn't prepared or anything, just that I'd had the luxury of not thinking about it for three days and so hadn't got nervous.  But the nervous hit on Saturday night with a vengeance!  Fortunately Karyn Flett took me in hand, supplied me with alcohol and distracted me by dragging me across Hagley Park in the dark to see Jane Ussher's images from Antarctica projected in a very cool 3D projection installation thing...I am a HUGE Jane Ussher fan and it was a stunning way to see her images.  That was followed by the entertainment of watching drunken photographers trying to iceskate (yes, I was smart enough not to attempt that!).

I woke Sunday morning with hardly any voice (legendary timing!) but managed to deliver my talk with husky breathiness (in my mind I sound exactly the way Marilyn Monroe would sound if she was talking about data safety and backup procedures) and then I get to sit back and listen to the other amazing speakers.  For me the standout was Marcus Bell...he is an incredible wedding photographer with an amazing eye for emotion and connection.  He started his talk with a slideshow of his images set to AC/DC's Thunderstruck and by the end of it I was INSPIRED!  Honestly, even if he hadn't said a word I would've learned enough from that slideshow to get my money's worth.  And when he had finished talking I wanted to book him for Caro's wedding (and she's only 13!).

And then before you know it it's time for the Awards dinner and the Associate, Masters, Fellow and Grand Master medals get handed out and the category finalists and then category winners are announced. I was just about to burst because I'd known since Friday that Karyn Flett was a finalist in Classic Portrait and I had been super secret squirrel and not let on.  I was so super proud of her! The final winner was Richard Wood...who is an utter legend (he was last years Photographer of the Year) so she was in pretty good company!  The evening finished with a great boogie thanks to Christchurch band 'Puree'!

On Tuesday I was lucky to be able to hear more from Marcus Bell in his Masterclass...and then it was over.

So with a head full of ideas, a notebook full of notes and scribbles I headed for the airport and flew home. For me, that's what the awards and Infocus conference are all about...getting things in focus for the coming season.  Spending a whole week talking about the business of photography, looking at great images and hanging out with incredible people I'm lucky enough to call colleagues...well it's a bit of a treat.

And there's a whole lot of cool stuff coming up for me...some small ideas are getting bigger and becoming projects and some big dreams are getting a bit more work before they get out in the real world. And I'm happy to have you along for the ride :-)

 

 

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