Where were you Simon?
Simon Casson has been taking excellent photographs for more than 10 years. When I first got to know Simon, we were both at the SA AIPP State print awards and he was winning with another in the series of his gent in bowler hat. At the time, I was blown away with this mix of iconic Australian scenery punctuated with an bowler-hatted chap, to me it said loads about colonialism, and contrast, and more importantly it was the first time I saw how great printing made great images soar.
So Simon swept the awards away for three or so years (got his double master!), and then knuckled down to the working life of a successful pro photographer. Simon and I kept in close contact as we printed his work, and I saw many photographic gems come through the lab, but none were destined for the awards. Until this year when Simon, for whatever reason, felt he wanted to get back in the awards game again, entered a bunch of prints, and won the editorial category! (To win a category, you must have an amazing series of images).
I want to be clear about my feelings on awards. The awards themselves are a trivial result of an extremely valuable process. I believe that if you are to survive in an industry, particularly in trying times, then you are more likely to flourish when you are in a sharing environment. There is so much to be gained form having your peers review your work. There is so much to be gained from simply talking to your peers.
To participate properly in the awards process you must know what styles of imagery are "in" at present. You must pour over your work, picking out the best, you must put your work under a microscope looking for flaws, you may even choose to re-take a shot to perfect it, you may even find your self consulting a colleague, or heaven forbid.....learn something new. So what is wrong with all of this?
Life as a professional photographer can be quite lonely and certainly challenging. Being a participant in an association will give you professional fuel to grow and survive, whether it be through the awards process or seminars, or just attending the meetings. Humans are social animals. Feed your needs.
Congratulations Simon, you deserve every success. Cheers, Paul Atkins