When significant events happen in our lives we often look for deeper meaning in our existence. The Covid pandemic, and the last year taking care of my very sick Mum, has made me think deeply about why I’m here, the imprint I will leave behind and the values which are important to me.
As my photography has matured and I’ve produced more message-inspired pictures they have done less well in camera club competitions, which often focus more on pictorial aesthetics. Because of that, in December 2020 I decided to branch out and try my luck in competitions outside of the camera club environment, producing a small Series of images on the theme of ‘Solitary Confinement’ which I entered into the Fine Art Photography Awards.
FAPA is one of the largest fine art competitions in the world and it’s aim is “to explore the depth of 21st century artists’ ability to push the limits of the imagination and produce other-worldly photography, beyond the current trend and accepted standards”. They have two competitions: Professional, where entrants make at least half of their income from photography, and Amateur which is the competition I entered. The standard is high and I held out absolutely no hope that I would get anywhere as I’d never produced a Series before and hadn’t a clue what I was doing, so it took about a week for my jaw to scrape back off the floor when I was nominated in the Photomanipulation category which I wrote about in this post 😮
I’ve had very little time or energy to take photographs this past year due to my caring duties, however I was determined in the Autumn to make a start on a new small Series for entry into the 2021/22 FAPA competition which was on the theme of ‘Blood Sports’. Alongside the images, the photographer has to write an Artist’s statement which carries as much weight as the pictures, but to be honest I didn’t hold out much hope for success. It’s a very controversial subject and I didn’t think FAPA would be brave enough to recognize work on such an emotive topic.
In fact, I was so convinced I wouldn’t get anywhere that I didn’t even make a note of the day the winners would be announced, so I was both shocked and utterly delighted when I received an email to say that I had been nominated for a second time 😊.
“Living in the countryside, I often sit in the quiet of the evening listening to the pop of guns as landowners have “fun” shooting the local wildlife. It wounds my soul to think about beautiful, defenceless creatures going about their lives and suddenly finding themselves mortally wounded, often leaving young behind to starve to death. How would we humans feel if the tables were turned?“
When a picture which has meaning to you is given recognition, it makes you feel heard. This doesn’t mean the viewer has to necessarily agree with the meaning in a picture, but can still appreciate the reason the photographer took the shot. Connecting on an emotional level with your audience is, after all, what art is all about.