I’m not “Award Winning” – and I’m blooming proud of it.
You’ve probably all seen lots of other photographers saying how they’re award winning. You’ve probably also wondered if this actually makes a difference in the real world.
I’m going to say loudly and proudly I’m not an award winner. That’s because I don’t enter them. Here is why!
The awards game is a very strange one, and also one which based on conversations I’ve had with other photographers leads me to the belief that they are actually potentially bad news for couples getting married and seeking a photographer.
Firstly the costs. What you don’t see is that to enter these awards, you have to pay every time. It’s not small numbers either. Some of the awards have an entry fee of over £200 per photo! Obviously there are cheaper ones as well. But who pays for the cost of entry to these awards? Initially of course the photographer, but that’s a cost of doing business.
As a result, if the cost of doing business is higher, then that will be passed on to the client in higher package and coverage costs. Also, that’s a lot of money to be flowing around: I wonder where it goes? Feels almost like a money making industry to me.
In addition to that, it certainly appears the case that the higher the entry fee, the more awards given out. Does that sound like “pay for gain”? It does to me. My aim is to make wedding photography affordable for all, not just the few who have loads of £ in the bank. If I start entering awards, that means everyone has to pay a little more. No thanks!!! Not for me and my couples!
Secondly, do you know the difference between a PJA, WIPP, Fearless or PWPA award? Should you? Do you even care? In my eyes, if you love a photo you’ve seen, the emotions and story it portrays, does it even matter if it’s won an award or not? Obviously it is your call to make, but I’m more focused with images that tell your story than ticking boxes to win bits of paper.
And actually, the only awards I want are those from my couples, their families and their friends. Truthfully, the opinion of a judge from many miles away is irrelevant compared with the smiles and happiness I see when my couples watch their photofilms, and the comments I get from their families and friends in the days after their wedding.
Look at the photos on this page for me: do the emotions and thoughts they bring to your mind make you smile? If so, would an award linked to them make any difference?
This also links into the question of “who are you shooting for?” A fellow photographer once asked me who I was shooting my images for and why. I explained that I was shooting solely “for my couples, and because I want their story told.” Apparently that is the wrong answer! I should be shooting purely for myself, focusing on the image not for the couple but for getting future bookings.
He does have a point that referrals are important, I definitely won’t deny that But, my instant reaction was one of concern. For me, my clients who are also my friends come first, not second. I’m shooting your day, not mine. I wouldn’t take so much time getting to know my clients and their family as my friends if that wasn’t the case. So why should I suddenly disregard this whole ethos on the most important day of your life? I’m not going to do so, and I’ll stand my ground on that.
There is also a drive, and almost determination within the awards industry to create shock with the images awarded. I’m totally up for a bit of awesomeness, and a little bit of experimentation to go with. You’ll hopefully have gathered from the images on this site that I like to try new techniques and methods. In particular, I LOVE night photos. I can totally get my geek on with these. You can check how geeky I actually am here!
But for me, going purely for shock brings up that question of risk. You’ve looked at my work (and hopefully loved it) because of what stories the photos tell, the consistency within them and the overall emotion and feeling they give you. If all a photographer is trying to do is shock by taking risks, who is the winner? If it goes wrong, do they lose out, or does the couple?
Finally, and arguably for me the most important by far is this. “You are who you are!” You are marrying the love of your life, an amazing day in your journey and you deserve pictures that tell that story. Your fiance is NOT marrying someone else, not marrying a fake vision of who you are but YOU as you are, the real you.
Another photographer once said to me that I should remove certain pictures from my website and my facebook pages because the people in them were “too fat, judges don’t want to see people like that”. Also, apparently “you’re attracting only fat people, not normal people.’
I don’t speak with them anymore. That’s not my attitude and opinion of what wedding photography is about, not in any way at all. Everybody in this world is an individual and deserves to be able to be themselves. There is no such thing as normal either: if we were all the same then how boring would life be? I don’t care who you are, if you are kind enough to want me to be part of your day I’ll be there with bells and whistles on. I’m certainly not going to be refusing to shoot a wedding day because of what someone else might think!
I have no doubt that I’ll probably get some kickback from this article down the line for breaching “industry secrets.” But actually, that doesn’t matter to me.
What does matter is that you understand why you won’t see “Award Winning Phil Endicott” plastered on this site, nor will you see posts saying about the latest honour bestowed on me.
I’m staying out of that game because I don’t want to compromise who I am, nor what I do for my couples.
Truthfully and brutally, if you only want to book an award winner, please don’t book me. If however you want someone who wants to be your friend as well as your photographer, someone who will go the extra mile and wants to tell your story, please consider letting me be your geek for your wedding day.
It's NOT "Award Winning Phil Endicott"
I know this is a weird one: we’re all looking in our lives for validation from others to know we’re good at we do. But for me, awards from random external bodies mean NOTHING compared to the love I feel from my couples, their families and friends.