It is one of the most rewarding and life changing experiences to create a piece of photographic art and place it in front of a panel of photography judges for them to score your image based on their individual knowledge and experience. I often get asked, why do I do it? Why do I put myself out there to be critiqued at such a high level? Why do I care what others think? Truthfully, there are so many reasons why, and some of them are quite difficult to put into words, but I’m going to give it a go. Growth – the number one reason I enter awards. Every time I create an image and work towards an awards entry I grow, noticeably faster than doing anything else. I learn new photography skills, I learn more about my lighting, I learn more about my editing and my printing of my work and I learn more about myself as an artist. Recognition – of course, it is a why. Why wouldn’t you want your name on a shiny bit of glass, but the other part is, that recognition, shows your clients you are serious about your work, and you are serious about making their images better than you could have done for them before. It is also a great excuse to get some PR about your business. Get the recognition, you’ve put the hard work in, you deserve it. Peer Critique – to have your image critiqued by your peers (yes, I said peers, they are your peers) is the most incredible thing. OK, so you are going get some bad scores sometimes, but wow, doesn’t that give you a fire in your belly to improve and prove to yourself and those critiquing you that you are a force to be reckoned with, and watch me do better next time. Camaraderie – when you become a member of a community of photographers who enter awards, you create a network of friends across the globe who are excited and invested in your success. Joining together, you celebrate each others wins, and comisserate together when you have some learning to do. You inspire each other, seeing what everyone has come up with and what they have achieved is all part of the process.. If these aren’t enough whys, just do it to create and to come up with concepts that you have not seen before. The creative process I go through from the time something enters my head, through to collating my inspiration from galleries, artworks, sculptures, street art, to creating my vision in front of my camera, it is just so rewarding. Whether its making 100s of paper plane or suspending knives from the top of my studio ceiling it all makes me create in ways I never even though possible. I also get so much inspiration from my family, and if you look at my award images, many of those subjects are my family. I now have a huge selection of images I will cherish forever – there is my most important why of all. I challenge you to challenge yourself. Create something you are proud of and put it out there to be judged. Yes, it’s scary, of course it is, that is why the rewards are so worth it.