FAPA 2023

I entered a camera club competition recently with an image called ‘Blind Faith’. The judge said he “didn’t really get it”, incorrectly assumed I’d inverted the sky (it’s a horizon shot and exactly how it looked in camera) and awarded me 15 out of 20 points which is quite a low score. To me this image has a strong story and was technically perfect, which are the main criteria on which any photograph should be judged, so it should have scored at least 18. There is, however, a negative bias within the PAGB towards conceptual images and it’s rare they do well.

If this had happened 10 years ago I would have lost heart, binned the image and never used it again, however I have more confidence now and if I’m happy with a picture I keep the faith. It’s easier said than done, though, especially when everyone you know tells you they don’t like it!

This image is the final picture in my Surviving Chronic Illness series, which was awarded an HM in the International Photography Awards 2022. I also entered it into the 9th Fine Art Photography Awards 2023 and found out today that it has been awarded in the Amateur Photomanipulation category 😁.

The entries for these competitions come from thousands of photographers all around the globe and the standard is high. That I’ve been nominated for a FAPA award in every one of the three years I’ve entered is a huge achievement and one for which I am rightly proud, especially as I’m a disabled photographer and have just gone through a very challenging 3 years in my personal life which has meant my photography has suffered.

This series is particularly dear to my heart as it depicts my own feelings about being chronically ill and I’m hugely touched that the judges connected with my story.

Surviving Chronic Illness

My mission statement to accompany the series was:

I contracted meningitis at the age of 26, nearly died and was bedridden for a decade. Following the lockdowns of the Covid pandemic, many people asked me how I’d coped with living alone and being confined to one room for ten years when they could barely manage 3 months and this series shows my response.

You need:
‘Courage’ to charter unknown seas
‘Hope’ that tomorrow’s dawn will be brighter
To come to terms with living in a sea of ‘Loneliness’
‘Tenacity’ to survive during your darkest days
And blind ‘Faith’ that you will one day recover.

These images were a departure from my usual style and I used a technique I’d never tried before. I’m always wary when the images I’m producing start to become main stream and I know then that it’s time to move on and push my boundaries. I don’t want my images to be ‘safe’, I want them to be fresh and challenging and something judges haven’t seen a hundred times before – that, for me, is the ‘creative’ part of creative photography. I don’t think about what anyone else is doing, or what makes for a ‘good’ picture, I just follow my heart. Putting a part of yourself, and your view of the world, into an image is what makes it uniquely your story.

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