Persistence Pays Off – Gold Award Winning Pet Photography at the 2019 Australian Photography Awards

Persistence Pays Off – Gold Award Winning Pet Photography at the 2019 Australian Photography Awards

I’ve got a lot of great news to share. This years 2019 AIPP Professional Photography Awards involves ticking some pretty major career goals off my list.

First up in June we had the AIPP Victorian state Professional Photography Awards. I received 2 silver distinctions and 2 silver awards. My results also lead me to be a finalist in the Pet/Animal category once again. This is my fourth year running to be a finalist in the category is a huge achievement.

Fast forward to mid August and the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards where my results we’re even better. I entered the same 4 images, (one with some changes), but re-printed them all on a different paper making minor enhancement tweaks.

Creating for awards

This year, rather than just having all dogs as I’ve had in previous years, I decided I wanted to show more range and diversity in my overall folio of images by photographing some different animals. I also shot specifically for the awards to create some more conceptual images that I wanted to create for myself. Although this is very different to the work I generally create in my everyday shooting for clients. But what’s great about this is it’s pushing me creatively to go outside of my comfort zone and try something different furthering my photography, editing and post production skills. In turn I’m also able to offer these image creations as exclusive sessions for my clients as well. The awards obviously reward images which are of a high professional standard technically but it also rewards images which are unique, something new which the judges haven’t seen done before whether this is a technique or an idea, and especially images which tell a story and evoke emotion.⁣

Over my 5 years of entering the awards I am now getting fairly consistent results where generally my images are all being awarded. I feel I can gauge now whether what I am entering is award worthy. My long-standing next goal that I have been working toward is to be awarded a gold award. This year, I FINALLY managed to snap up not 1 but 2 gold awards! (I was starting to think these were an urban legend) as well as a Silver Distinction and a Silver for my other 2 images. Plus my photo book was also awarded a Silver. This meant my results also put me in the running as a Finalist for the Australian Pet/Animal Photographer of the year! This is such a HUGE achievement for me, that I am very proud of. I always have high expectations for the Victorian State awards, but never in a million years did I expect to be considered for the nationals from entrants covering all of Australia!

Having won a number of awards over the years I have now also achieved my Master Photographer status with the AIPP.

Rescue Dogs

This is the image I created for the cover of my second Melbourne Rescue Dogs photobook – Longing for Love.

To get a Gold award for this image was actually totally unexpected! This image scored a Silver at the Victorian State awards in June and only just as well scoring 81, so I definitely wasn’t expecting this to do so well, even though I love it.

In the hope to get a better result at the Nationals, I reprinted it on a beautiful new metallic paper (the same as my green tree frog image) and I think this also helped to elevate it to the next level by giving it quite a different effect and feel. Although this was risky and I was actually very unsure about whether I liked it, it definitely paid off!

AIPP Epson Victorian Professional Photography Awards – Silver – 81
AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards – Gold – 90

Green Tree Frog

This image did really well at the Victorian awards in June with some great discussion, scoring a high Silver Distinction after being talked up. Then it did even better again at the Australian awards!

Photographed through glass this is an image which sometimes takes more than one look to fully understand the story (as was missed by a lot of the judges). The fly is photographed on the opposite side of the glass to the frog, so the irony of the story is that the frog cannot actually catch the fly, despite all his effort.

To hear the judges talk about everything I was trying to achieve in this photo and that they actually got the story really makes me feel so emotional and proud of what I can create and achieve.

I took a risk this time and chose a beautiful new metallic paper to print on and printed with the amazing Rocco Ancora and Tanya Wilson at Capture to Print who helped to make this image literally pop off the paper! I’m so glad the judges picked up on this and it was talked about a lot. As these are print awards the printing and final presentation of the image is just as important as the image itself and can actually make all the difference in the scoring. My risk definitely paid off!

Although being talked up toward a gold award it just missed out scoring 89, however it then went up at the final review and scored 90 – GOLD AWARD. WHAAAAAHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
AIPP Epson Victorian Professional Photography Awards – Silver Distinction – 87
AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards – Gold – 90

Peanut – My Angel

This is the first time I’ve really gone out of my way to create a conceptual image from scratch. Normally this is way out of my comfort zone and not my typical style, but this is the great thing about entering the awards, as it’s really pushed me creatively.

This is an image that I wanted to create purely for myself, and it will give me such joy to have this on my wall, but knowing I could also enter this meant it gave me the confidence to actually create it.⁣

With this image I was striving for gold and I really feel it has all those elements. I am very disappointed it didn’t quite get there, it was so close, only 1 point off scoring a Silver Distinction – 89 at State and then an 85 at Nationals. It did however get a great response from two judges (both here and in NZ) who tried to take it to gold and I appreciate their passion to try and get the other judges to see it for what it is. It’s rewarding in itself to hear someone speak so positively about your work when they get the same feeling from it as you had intended. It’s an honour just to be in conversations for a gold.

This is an especially emotional image for me and I am very attached to it. Not only for the amount of time that went into creating this, but for what it expresses and means to me. My girl as the Angel we see her as, we always call her, our baby angel, and feel we are genuinely spoilt to have her. It’s a play on the angel/devil on our shoulders trying to influence us one way or the other. Plus we all know cats are all Devils right.

AIPP Epson Victorian Professional Photography Awards – Silver Distinction – 89
AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards – Silver Distinction – 85

Devil Cat

This image was actually initially created to be the opposite of the Angel image, however it didn’t quite come to fruition in time. Out of all my entries, I thought this was my weakest. However it scored a solid silver at 84 at the Victorian state awards. One of the comments made was that it needed more to the story (which I knew considering it was essentially an unfinished piece).

I actually ended up taking this image in a different direction and playing on the power of the evil character of this devil cat. I added a beautiful little yellow canary and feathers. This image now tells the story of a sadistic devil cat who kills beautiful birds simply to strip them of their colourful feathers to use for his own vanity.

Even though this image talks to death and the concept is quite dark, it was still intended to be lighthearted rather than sombre, so I’m glad one of the judges picked up on it and spoke to this.

award winning pet photography Australian Professional Photography Awards

AIPP Epson Victorian Professional Photography Awards – Silver – 84

AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards – Silver – 80

Longing for Love – Photobook

From Lost to Loved Melbourne Rescue Dogs Australian Professional Photography Awards

Of course I had to enter my latest book into the Photographic Book category as well. Last year I entered my first book – From Lost to Loved, which unfortunately just missed out on an award scoring 79 and the judges scores were very varied. However it did get some interesting feedback about the layout and design which I tried to take into account with my second book.

This year I entered my second book – Longing for Love and I am very happy that it was awarded with a Silver award with all judges being pretty unanimous across the board.

It received some great comments from the judges which I think really empahasis the books meaning. Here you can listen to the judging video and the comments the judges made about it.

I’ve quoted some of the comments here which I think are very meaningful and are such great compliments to receive.

  • “Obviously the photographer has a great affinity with their subjects and this shows in the book”
  • “All the dog owners would absolutely love it”
  • “The book has a strong message to think about the plight of dogs….they make a great contribution to our lives and the book is a great advertisement and acknowledgement of what they do for us.”
  • “Dogs make a better contribution to society than a lot of humans do”
  • “It’s nice to see a book that is designed for purpose, the design and layout is well thought out and implemented”

My photobooks make a great gift for any dog or book lover and can be purchased HERE with 10% of sales donated to the selected pet rescue groups.

2017 Australian Professional Photography Awards

2017 Australian Professional Photography Awards

Another year of AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards done and dusted. It all started with the Victorian State Awards in February, where 3 out of 4 of my images were awarded and I was a finalist for the Victorian Pet/Animal Photographer of the year (again) but sadly didn’t take out the title.

So in August, I went into the Australian Professional Photography Awards (the Nationals) with the hope to better last years result and my result at State, hopeful to get all 4 out of 4 entries awarded. Well guess what???… I DID IT! I got all 4 awarded Silvers and I’m stoked! For once my results were on par with my expectations and I didn’t come away disappointed. I entered the same 4 images only 2 images I re-worked according to judges feedback at the State awards for re-entry into the Nationals and luckily this got them over the line. Below are the images I entered along with before and after edits and a video of one of my images being talked up during judging.

With the awards I’ve won having entered for the past 3 years, I’m very proud that this year I also achieved my Associate status within the AIPP. The next level is to become a Master Photographer (wow how awesome does that sound!) which I’m on my way to achieving with 7 more points needed to obtain over the next 5 years. This is done through winning more awards. Easy right….haha

The variation in the scoring is very interesting and I find often hard to accept especially seeing as photography is so subjective. While the judging criteria is the same for both the State and National awards, because you actually have to qualify to enter the Nationals the standard of photography overall is so much higher and hence the judging seems much harder.

Australian Professional Photography Awards scoring
Australian Professional Photography Awards scores
bulldog award winning pet photographybulldog pet photography

This girl was once a puppy farm dog, but now she is lucky to be treated like royalty.

In this before and after video of my “Bulldog Queen” image creation you can see she was photographed in this setting with this beautiful side light. However the original background was too distracting, so I re-created it from numerous other shots, taking pieces from each shot to build this little scene. I also added the crown (which I had photographed on her head in other shots) to further add to the story of making her a Queen standing majestically in front of her castle.

Dog in Wave Australian Professional Photography Awards

This is the original image out of the camera with basic colour and exposure adjustments.

Labrador in water Australian Professional Photography Awards

This was my final edited image as entered into the Victorian State Awards. I’ve cropped it closer, softened the colour palette, and brightened it up. Unfortunately it scored 78 just missing out on an award. One of the judges comments was that they wanted to see more expression from the dog. I took this feedback and edited the image for re-entry into the National Awards.

water dog Australian Professional Photography Awards

This is the final version having changed the dog’s face to something more suitable showing more expression and happiness. This change meant the image scored higher being awarded a Silver award with a final score of 82 at the National Awards.

Royal chihuahuas award winning pet photographyRoyal chihuahuas award winning pet photography

This image “Royal Chihuahuas” was a composite, created from a number of different shots. I was actually surprised that it scored an 82 – Silver at the State awards and I knew it wasn’t going to cut it going into the Nationals. Feedback from the judges at a print critique was that the dogs didn’t stand out enough and the archway was actually the main focus in this image. In the after version, I’ve stripped back all of the strong colouring inside the archway and some colour being cast onto the dogs. I’ve also re-created the top of the archway to complete the framing and darkened the image overall. I added a necklace for some more bling for Peanut, adding to her royal status. The re-edited version just scraped through at the Nationals scoring an 80 – Silver award. The changes paid off…Phew!

This image was actually my highest scoring print at the State awards and was talked up during the judging to score 85 – Silver Distinction. I re-entered this image without any changes into the Nationals and it only scored a 79! As you can imagine, I was gutted. But luckily it also got challenged and further discussed being talked up again.
Once re-scored it received an 81 – Silver.

award winning pet photography Australian Professional Photography Awards

3 out of my 4 images this year were created from client shoots and not just client shoots, but rescue dog shoots shot specifically for my rescue dog book project. I also entered my rescue dog photobook into the awards, in the photobook category, but sadly it just missed out on an award by one point, scoring 79. However it did receive some really positive comments from the judges and it was stated that the photography was of a very high professional standard. I was amazed that one judge scored it a 92!!! which is one of my highest scores ever and in the Gold range, however another scored it a 72, which ultimately and sadly brought the overall score down.

From Lost to Loved Melbourne Rescue Dogs Australian Professional Photography Awards

Some of the judges comments mentioned were:…

“I enjoyed the journey”
“Each animal is treated with the same respect”
“The photographs are great and the stories are well illustrated”
“A commercially viable book. A great piece of commercial advertising for the photographer”

My book ‘From Lost to Loved’ is available for purchase here: with 10% of sales donated to the selected pet rescue groups.

You can also view all the other awarded images in the winners gallery on the APPA website here: APPA Winners Gallery

Professional Photography Awards Cont.

Professional Photography Awards Cont.

To continue on from my first post, which talks in more detail about the APPA’s, (read it here) this is my second image which was awarded a Silver with Distinction at the 2016 Professional Photography Awards.  This was my second time entering this image, as I also first entered it into the Victorian State awards where it was awarded a Silver and scored 81.  We often hear that the National judging is much harder than the State (although they are trying to make them more in line together) so the fact that this was awarded much higher and pushed me through to the next level, makes me very happy.

My Entry

before and after professional pet photography awards

Image 1.

As you can see this dog was not originally photographed on the brick background in the final image.

I really liked the dog in this image, but the background is too busy and distracting attention away from him.

However the lighting on him is really lovely and he has a very cute expression so I thought the dog had a lot of potential if in the right setting.

Image 2.

After shooting a lot of different backgrounds all around the city,  I knew I wanted something a bit urban.

This brick wall was the one I ended up selecting to use with the dog.


Image 3.

While I loved this background, it needed some work.

I worked on removing the piece of wood across the wall, by taking various different parts of the brick and merging it in.

I thought it might be fun to add a little humour into it and so came the graffiti writing over the no parking sign (this dawg is bad ass).


Image 4.

Here I’ve incorporated the dog in the foreground.

I’ve also brought across the ledge he was sitting on, but straightened this out to match the scene.

Played around with some lighting effects on the background.

With the final image I’ve cropped out the other distracting elements on both the left and right sides of the image again to bring more focus to the dog.

award winning French Bulldog professional photography awards

pet photography print scoring

Now I just need to find a way to improve yet again on Silver Distinction next year #chasinggold



















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