Three years ago, a friend twisted my arm to start entering photography Salons. And he had to twist quite hard because you have to pay to enter Salons and I’m permanently skint, plus it’s time consuming and I have a ridiculously busy life. Despite the drawbacks, however, I am thankful for my friend’s persuasion because it’s been one of the best decisions I ever made. In 2017 I registered with FIAP, the largest photography organisation in the world, and in 2019 was awarded my first FIAP photographic distinction having had my images accepted into global exhibitions more than 40 times.
The Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020 changed the world for everyone and is an event we all hope will only happen once in our lifetimes. To mark this historic moment, FIAP decided to hold a free competition with the stipulation that images must be taken at home during lockdown and as one of its 2 million camera club affiliated members I was eligible to enter.
I didn’t, though. I was exhausted, stressed, worried and had a lot on my plate and entering a competition was the last thing on my mind. But as the deadline drew nearer the competition seemed to dominate my thoughts for no good reason and I had a nagging feeling in my gut that I should be taking part. My logical brain tried to talk me out of it, telling me I stood absolutely no chance of getting anywhere as I’d be up against the best amateur photographers in the world and who exactly did I think I was to imagine my photographs were up to their standards? And anyway, didn’t I have enough to do?!
At the last minute, however, the peculiar and overwhelming urge to enter was stronger than the voice in my head and I submitted my images, four in total. I then all but forgot about it, having other things on my mind like being able to find a bag of pasta to buy or some loo roll! Then one day towards the end of June my mobile phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize and I answered it on the last ring, thinking it would be a spammer from China, only to find Riccardo Busi, President of FIAP, on the line telling me not only had one of my images been accepted into the exhibition but that another image had been chosen as one of the ten finalists of the We Stay Home competition. 😮 and double 😮.
Today, the award ceremony took place via Zoom during which 30,000 euros was donated by FIAP to the Jenner Institute at Oxford University for their world-leading work on a vaccine for Covid-19. The over-all winner of the competition was also announced and awarded a gold medal alongside an all expenses paid week-long trip to Oman on the edge of the Arabian sea for FIAP’s 2021 annual meeting next November.
And guess what? That winner was me. ME! Oh-my-godfathers!!!!!
When it got to the final 3 and my image still hadn’t come up I started to sweat, and by the time the silver medal winner was announced my heart was beating so hard I was in danger of having a coronary. It’s hours later and it still hasn’t really sunk in that I’ve won the equivalent of the photography Oscars 😲
There are snapshots in time which you are acutely aware are one of the best moments of your whole life, and today was one such moment for me. I am thrilled that my hard work and dedication have been recognized and humbled that my experience of lockdown resonated with the judges. I also feel blessed to be alive, unlike nearly 1 million people around the globe who have tragically lost their lives to Covid-19. Today, and every day, is a day to be thankful.
Here are my images as part of a large, outdoor exhibition at the Beijing World Art Museum located within the China Millennium Monument: