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Photo Archive News on the AOP Awards & Beyond the Lens

20 October 2016

Go See: AOP Finalists exhibition at the Truman Brewery this weekend


© Todd Anthony, finalist 2016

The 21 winners of the 2016 AOP Photography awards will be announced tomorrow (Friday 14) and you can see an exhibition of all the 276 finalist images .The Awards exhibition, at The Truman Brewery, will be open to the public from Friday 14th until Monday 17th October and entry is free.

Alongside the exhibition, there is also the Beyond the Lens festival celebrating all things photography. The packed programme includes talks, workshops, activities, live demonstrations and one to ones. You can find more details of what is on here.

The AOP events are all part of Photoblock, which is a special project by The Old Truman Brewery that curates a distinctive programme of photography events every October.

Ross MacRae from AOP award sponsor BikiniLists told us this morning: “Looking forward to meeting up with our subscribers on the night – good luck everyone from the Bikini team…” The PAN team hope to view the show on Friday.

© Benedict Redgrove, finalist 2016

ePhotozine features 2016 AOP Awards

19 October 2016

The Association Of Photographers Awards 2016

The Association Of Photographers Awards 2016 - The 33rd AOP awards ceremony has taken place and Stuart Fawcett went along for ePz to find out who the latest winners are. 

The annual AOP awards covers 11 different categories covering entries for both series and single static and moving images. Last week Stuart Fawcett (Jackalltog) went along for ePz.


Markku Lahdesmaki, Comm Advertisting, Single - Best in Category

Markku Lahdesmaki, Comm Advertising, Single - Best in Category


The standard of entries in this, the 33rd AOP awards ceremony, was superbly high with fresh ideas complementing tried and tested approaches. To deal with the categorical diversity in each section, a Curator is assigned to each category whose job is to bring together the right entrants into the shortlist for the exhibition to ensure the brief is met and the work is of sufficient quality and substance. Each of the categories and the curators are listed below:

  • Commissioned Advertising: ANDY TAYLOR - Executive Creative Director at Iris Worldwide
  • Commissioned Design: STUART RADFORD - Creative Director at The Partners
  • Commissioned Editorial: PIERS MORGAN - Journalist
  • Non-Commissioned Portrait: TERENCE PEPPER –Photocurator and exhibition organiser
  • Non-Commissioned Object: HENNY MANLEY - Photo Director of Esquire UK
  • Non-Commissioned Life: KIRSTIE JOHNSTONE - Creative Production Partner at AMV BBDO
  • Non-Commissioned Environment: LAURA NOBLE - Director at L A Noble Gallery
  • Non-Commissioned Fashion and Beauty: PERRY CURTIES - Co-Founder of 125 Magazine
  • Project: IT’S NICE THAT – creative arts blog
  • Open Stills: BRUNO BAYLEY - Editor of VICE magazine
  • Open Moving Images: NICK MORAN - Director, Actor & Producer


AOP Awards


Obviously, there were many entries and even the shortlist was hundreds of photographs – you can take your time and drill down into each category here on the AOP Awards gallery website later if you wish. 


AOP Awards


I’d like to mention images of some of the finalists that didn’t win this year but really did catch my eye. These include the dramatic primary colour impact series from James Day in the Noncommissioned fashion and beauty category, to very simple looking images of a decanter from Tai Silverman and a balloon dog from Robert Walker. To contrast this simplicity was the crashed car from Eric Almas in the fashion and beauty category.


AOP Awards


Ok, so onto the winners... With both single and series awards, there were loads of accolades to be awarded.

The last two pictures above are of Markku Lahdesmaki’s son who was rightly very proud of his dad’s achievement. To see the winning images, have a look at them on the AOP exhibition website and remember the Open category is open to all of us next year.


AOP Awards


The exhibition layout, as a whole, was designed and curated by Laura Noble (above left) who cuts out vast sections of paper at home to layout and plan the visual impact of the exhibition for the visitors. This involves looking at how the pallets of the pictures move from one to the next, how treating blocks of related images bring them together and how transitions of negative space help introduce you to a new subject. With more detailed images lower down and more shape-driven ones up high, the viewer's eye should be guided through the exhibition (with photographers knowing so much about composition this really makes a lot of sense). Second left is Flo Lewis-George whose job seemed to involve having to be everywhere at once, otherwise known as Events & Awards Manager. Flo and Marketing Manager Charlotte Giles seemed to be very much in control of the whole event.

Jumping back to the photos (third from left), another set of eyes that were everywhere were those of actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, photographed by Robert Wilson for the Times magazine. It's a super photo and his eyes look at you wherever you stand in the room. Staying with photos, you might think that in a room of perhaps a 1000 people many of whom had smartphones or were photographers, that there would be no need for the photo booth in the fourth image in the set but no, this was a key attraction  which goes to show that print photography is far from dead.

The AOP print all of the shortlisted entrants each year in the AOP Photography Awards book with a small introduction to each section from each curator and Mark Atkinson of the 'By March' design agency produces this. 

You can take a closer look at some of the winning entries in our AOP Photography Awards Round-Up


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Mark Ronson Record Producer 1 copy

The Cost of Nothing, The Value of Everything - by Cambridge Jones

The Cost of Nothing, The Value of Everything 

How can an art form that is by its very nature infinitely reproducible assign any real value to a single photograph?

This is of course not a new problem…since the invention of the affordable mass produced hand-held camera the ‘value’ that the photographer can offer has been under siege.

But in a world where people actually prefer to take their own photographs of themselves and the word ‘selfie’ has actually entered the dictionary it is perhaps time to pause and consider this dilemma.

I’ve now photographed 7 Prime Ministers (including our recently installed one), The Queen and everyone from Al Pacino to P Diddy. I literally value what I do, I take time to get the lighting and my portrait subject just right (an hour or two on average). For the most part my subjects also value what I do, otherwise they wouldn’t give up the time in their otherwise busy lives. They know it will help them to have strong, relaxed and ‘truthful’ images.


Rhys Ifans Notting Hill copy 2

©Cambridge Jones


So far, so good then. We have two people who value the work to a greater or lesser degree. And because they do, they are willing to place some literal value on the work.

But we only have to take one step beyond this exclusive club of two (photographer and subject) to find that almost no-one else places much intrinsic value on the work. The public, magazine editors, journalists, agents, managers – in fact almost everyone else – can at one time or another fall into the state of mind where they subconsciously work to a subtle equation:

The picture has been taken + pictures are inherently reproducible = picture should be (virtually) free


Now historically there have been several ingenious ways of short circuiting the equation; we can move the work into the mysterious world of ‘art’ where limited editions create exclusivity and thus implied value. I have myself been led in this direction by my galleries. But I don’t like it – I find it instinctively dishonest – we are falsely limiting the availability of something that was designed to be reproduced.

Another way of underpinning value in the process is to make sure that the machine applies the strict rules of usage (as so helpfully backed by AOP) so that agents, buyers, ad agencies, magazines are all working from agreed rates for different types of usage based on the going rate for any given photographer.

Time of course plays funny games with the above two strategies…and can mix them up… many a photographer who was paid a daily rate to shoot a magazine spread or a commercial shoot will find that given the straight forward passage of time the image has moved from the commercial to the art sphere and ‘limited edition prints’ are now requested (and delivered) for the gallery wall. This has happened to a great number of British photographers, many of whom I know and love; Terry O Neil, David Bailey, Norman Parkinson, Cecil Beaton to name but a few.

But I digress. What about the regular photographer who has done a great job photographing a person or a landscape or an interior etc. Who then finds  that someone wants to use their work….how is this transaction likely to proceed?

Well…it is likely to involve comments like ‘we don’t really have a budget for photography’ or perhaps ‘we were hoping we might use it for free but we will make sure we credit you fully’ or one of my recent favourites ‘I have NEVER had to pay for any photograph EVER’.

Let’s pause for a moment and ask what this ‘free usage’ is being requested for – and these are all real examples I know of first hand:

To help sell a magazine where the editor, journalist, printer, tea maker and caretaker are all being paid.

To promote the work of a (usually) well paid actor/writer/musician in order that they can sell more books, films, or albums.

Even to promote a charity and – hold on to your hats – even people who work in charities are paid – as are the people who print their posters and magazines – and the people who do their accounts and so on (sometimes at discounted rates I grant you.)

A recent (well known) actor’s agent went so far as to say that her client wanted to use one of my exhibition portraits for his Spotlight photo. This request, if you peel back the layers, is effectively a request to advertise the actors face in a readily accessible bible of working actors, in order to presumably lead to more work. My agent was told in no uncertain terms that because the exhibition portrait was 10 years old and because it already existed and would involve no work on our part we should give it to her for free.

Which in a roundabout way brings me to my concluding thoughts. Despite my agent and myself both liking the actor in question we decided to make a stand. I permitted my agent to forward my deliberately provocative thoughts back which included observations about me being very willing to let them use my work for free ‘if they would just consider covering my mortgage during the process’ and reminding them that when an actor’s 10-year-old show is repeated or sold to another channel or country they get paid. And some of the above comments about the fact that everyone else would be paid from the agent to Spotlight.

We got the reaction we expected – which was a rather irate ‘who does he think he is’.

But in the end I think that if we want the world to value our work then we have to start valuing it ourselves. We can’t give away usage to request after request and then complain when they don’t value photography.

I have a radical and counter intuitive proposal – which would turn the established orthodoxy on its head…

Instead of charging less as more prints or uses of an image are made let’s do the opposite. Let’s argue that with only one request for an image, demand is low, so cost is (relatively) low. But the second use or print will be cost (as demand is clearly going up) and if you want to use it in 5 years’ time or buy the 100th print it will cost considerably more because photography like a fine wine increases in value!


Jack White The White Stripes 1 copy 2

©Cambridge Jones


Cambridge Jones (  is represented by Sarah Daw 

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Hidden Beauty 26 Berlin copy

Your first Photobook: Never underestimate the power of text to appeal to new markets by Laura Noble

The prospect of launching your first photobook can be a daunting one, yet it need not be a painful one. Having worked in the book trade and a specialist photography bookshop I have observed first hand the way in which people are drawn to, view and buy photobooks compared to literature. When browsing a novel the image on the cover – if facing outward - may have some sway in attracting a buyer, however more often than not the author is the first selling point. Following this, reading or skimming over the synopsis on the back gives of the book can give enough information to tempt a consumer for the read ahead. Counter to this, a photobook by an emerging artist has to sell itself visually first and foremost, but also on its design and accompanying text. If you are not a famous photographer and your book is alongside another that is you need to find ways to stand out and compete for attention. I have said to many photographers over the years if your lights go out you don't call a plumber. If writing is not your forte, find someone to whom writing or their ‘specialist subject’ or expertise connects to your imagery. A short text, foreward or essay can really enrich a body of work and give another insight or perspective that a viewer may perhaps not have considered without it.

Laura Noble copy

©Robert Clayton Estate book

Although the main event is the photography, giving your audience more information - if they choose to read it - is another opportunity to broaden your appeal and inform a viewer. If the subject of your work crosses into other areas of interest why not take that opportunity to attract a non-photographic section of the public to your photography. Choosing an expert, authority or famous commentator on a subject can add value as well as sales. Very often a text from a photographic perspective and a foreward or secondary text on the subject of the work can really increase your chances for press coverage and interest. When I initially discussed the prospect of Robert Clayton’s first monograph Estate – a documentary series taken on a council estate in the Midlands in the 1990’s - I asked him if he could have any architectural commentator in the world write a text about it whom would he choose? It took him less than a second to say “Jonathan Meades”. My reply was simple, “go and get him then”. My mother said to me as a young girl “If you don't ask you don't get” and she was absolutely right. You never know where it might lead. Meades was not only delighted to be asked, he loved the work, wrote an essay and even starred in a short film whereby he narrated the essay. As a seasoned commentator on programmes about architecture on the BBC his delivery was impeccable and the film has since been screened at exhibitions and as part of a programme of film events based on the subject of housing. The collaboration of Clayton and Meades has born fruit that far exceeded expectations at the start of the process. Often being asked to write about a subject that a person feels passionate about in a different arena is an enticing challenge. As two worlds collide a third can be created to great effect.


Meades’ popularity in the architectural world also brought another readymade interested audience to Clayton’s work, which resulted in more sales of his book, which is now nearly out of print.


Kreek with Furry dummy copy

©Tom Broadbent Kreek with Furry dummy

The design and physicality of a book is also tremendously important. We all have our favourite books and remember how it feels in our hands, even the way it smells can add to the sensations that are triggered by a book. Think about the paper, its weight, how easy it would be to handle and how memorable your book could be when picked up. Sometimes a subject is so niche that its ‘otherness’ can be its key selling point. In the case of Tom Broadbent, who is embarking upon his first monograph At Home With The Furries it was a no brainer that the book itself has to take on the furry theme to give a more visceral experience to anyone who holds it. The Furries themselves will race to buy the book as fast as the photographic fans of the work. Within the series there are famous individuals on the furry scene that will enrich the documentation of the subculture, thus becoming part of it. In so doing, appealing to that subculture through the language of fur as well as photography Broadbent ensures his credentials in two fields.

 Hidden Beauty 26 Berlin copy

©Sandra Jordan Hidden Beauty #26, Berlin

The place in which a photograph is taken should also never be underestimated, as the locale of an image can go some way to focus a books main area of potential sales. Sandra Jordan’s current series Hidden Beauty is taken in London and Berlin, with a focus on Brutalist and Modernist architecture, that often resemble abstract expressionist painting. In Jordan’s images where art and architecture meet so do ideas and concepts that take the work to other realms of possibility.

Thinking laterally as well as literally a book can enrich the image to surpass oneself into the hands of its audience. In doing so you can expand the experience and the work into new territory beyond your wildest dreams.

©Laura Noble


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The Digital Plumber by Paul Ellis

The Digital Plumber is a live technical support business run by Paul Ellis, that offers creatives and photographers in particular solutions with problems encountered with Apple Macintosh® equipment, networking and storage.  

Here Paul Ellis explains what the Digital Plumber is all about, who he helps, and why.  

Broadly, the issues Paul encounters fall into four categories:

1 Specify and set up a complete photographic workflow system including retouching computers and laptops, storage and backup, network, and software

2 Specify and set up storage and backup

3 Troubleshooting and problem solving

4 Security: “Help, I think I’ve been hacked or have a virus”.

1 Systems

I find most photographers quite rightly are more interested in images than computers. They want computer systems that keep out of their way, and are reliable working tools that enable them to make and store their images. I do my best to set up systems to do exactly that.

The trouble is, our world, the equipment we use, and the Internet in general, are in a constant state of flux. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a great maxim - and certainly you should relegate major maintenance, software and equipment updates and upgrades, etc. to downtime between major jobs - but the world can conspire to break your system without you knowing it. IT in general is founded on ruthless planned and built-in obsolescence. So, no matter how refined and well-tuned your current system of cameras, hardware and software is, you’ll be obliged to change it at some point.

I’ve found that regular but not too frequent updates and upgrades work best. Stay a point version behind in operating system and productivity software until the early adopters have found and solved the problems. Our kit is for working with, not fiddling with. Consider taking a good look at your kit, and carrying out necessary large upgrades, around once a year.

If you’re planning to change your camera, remember you’ll probably have to update your RAW processor and operating system, too. Can your computers take it? Will they still be powerful enough to cope, or will you end up unproductively waiting around for them to think? Do you have enough storage for the inevitable increase in file sizes generated by your new camera? Plan to make the necessary purchases, and set aside time to make the changes, install the new software, and get used to it.

One upgrade always worth doing is to replace your computer’s boot hard disk with a Solid State Drive. For 10% of the cost of a new computer it will run very much faster than it did, and this in itself might enable an older computer to cope with the demands of new software rather than having to be replaced.

If you haven’t upgraded your system for a few years and are several operating system and productivity software versions behind, don’t expect the upgrade process necessarily to run smoothly. Make sure you have a complete, full, bootable or Time Machine backup of your computer’s startup drive before you begin. You might consider getting someone knowledgeable to help you. I specialise in Apple systems and rarely decline a reasonable offer.

2 Storage and Backup

It’s a truism that digital data doesn’t exist unless it’s in at least three places at once. That means on your main storage, your onsite backup, and your offsite backup.

I used to prefer single large hard disks for main storage, because they are simple. We’ve rather outgrown that; few single hard disks are both large and fast enough to keep up with the throughput our big image files demand of them. Nowadays, for performance, reliability and data security, I prefer RAID systems for main storage.

RAID 5 is usually the best price/performance/capacity compromise, and for large capacity I know and can recommend the 6 drive Promise Pegasus R6, the 5 drive Drobo 5D or 5DT or 4-drive Drobo, or the 4-drive OWC Thunderbay 4 enclosure combined with SoftRAID 5. For lesser demands the 2-drive Akitio NT2 set up as RAID 1 is very good. All of these enclosures connect directly to your retouching workstation or network server via Thunderbolt 2 or USB3.

If you want self-contained ethernet-connected Network Attached Storage, Synology products are hard to beat, but transfer speeds are limited by the ethernet connection. Speeds can be doubled by Link Aggregation: two ethernet ports are linked together at the Synology, plugged into a properly configured smart switch such as the Netgear GS108T V2, then linked directly to a 2-port Mac Pro, or any other Mac using a Thunderbolt-ethernet adapter and/or USB3 - ethernet adapter to give it two ethernet ports. PC users simply install an extra network card.

The Promise Pegasus, Drobo and Synology enclosures all do Data Scrubbing: they actively look for ‘bit rot’ - files on the volume which have corrupted, for various reasons - and repair them from backup and parity data. This functionality is worth having. Other storage systems and schemes such as the ZFS file system and the Linux-based TrueNAS system also do data scrubbing, but are probably harder to set up and configure than the Promise Pegasus, Drobo or Synology. As I said, this kit is for working with, not fiddling with.

Watch out for connection types. Over the next year or so the USB-C connector, with Thunderbolt 3, will largely replace Thunderbolt/mini DisplayPort and USB connectors. Apple is due to announce new laptops this October; they’re likely to have USB-C connectors, but no-one knows whether they’ll still have the older sockets. There are some adapter docks available such as the CalDigit USB-C dock, and Drobo have just introduced the Drobo 5C, with a single USB-C connector on it. I’d be inclined to wait for the new Apple laptops to be tested by early adopters before making a purchasing decision.

Most of the value in your business lies in your data. RAID is not backup: delete a file from a RAID system, or have ransomeware encrypt your files, and that’s it: it’s probably gone. You need both an onsite backup, so that you can immediately recover a file you've deleted inadvertently, and an offsite backup - which can be left in the boot of your car, the garden shed, or with a neighbour - that you update weekly and which will protect your data from a burglary or fire at your studio.

Your backup drives don’t have to be fully-fledged RAID systems. Their job is simply to exist, rather than perform. I recommend the cheapest storage per gigabyte you can get, which at the moment is the 8 terabyte Seagate ST8000, either in a single fan-cooled enclosure such as this Startech, or paired as a RAID 0 in the Akitio NT2. They are equally good for onsite or offsite backups. If you’re happy with bare disks for your offsite backup, then almost any kind of bare drive (within reason) stored in a disk container and placed in a drive dock when required will do the job.

Mechanical things break. Hard disks can corrupt, or be infected and rendered useless by ransomeware. For ultimate security, burn your most important files to M-DISC archival Blu-Ray discs, which will apparently last for 1,000 years. They come in 25GB, 50GB  and 100GB capacities. There are various burners available: I have the USB3-equipped LG BE14NU40. Use Roxio Toast Titanium to burn them.

Run automated backup software. Manual backups almost always end up being forgotten, arbitrary, or end up with loads of confusing duplicates. Decent backup software monitors your source volume for changes, and copies those changes to the backup volumes. For Macs I use and like Chronosync for this purpose. Don’t use Time Machine for your image archive volumes, although I like and recommend it for your startup volume.

3 Problem Solving

Computers are complex, and they evolve rapidly. All software has bugs. It’s practically impossible to test for all possible combinations of software, hardware and usage methods, and anyway, life moves on. Solder connections weaken; capacitors age and leak; hard drives become slow, unresponsive, click, then fail; SSDs just stop all of a sudden. Email providers change connection settings without telling you. Your wifi router suddenly won’t let your computer connect, even though other devices are fine.

When in doubt, turn it off and back on again.

If that doesn’t work, disconnect everything you can: if the problem goes away, reconnect things one by one until you isolate the culprit. If your computer is becoming sluggish and your Mac is ‘beachballing’ a lot you probably have hard disk problems, either directory damage or hardware failure. Make an immediate, full backup or update an existing one, and then get the thing looked at. Don’t just persist; the problem will only get worse until the system dies and you lose data.

For deeper problems, advice from your peers is usually the best bet. Ask a question on the AOP Forum, and search to see if it’s already been answered. DO NOT contact the manufacturers; they almost always lead you a song and dance and you’ll usually lose settings and even data. Again, consider getting help from someone known to be knowledgeable and experienced.

4 Security

There are four major exceptions to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. They are:

• Operating system security updates
• Adobe Flash, Reader and Acrobat updates
• Microsoft Office updates
• Browser updates

Have your computer set to download and install them automatically. The problem is this: no matter how apparently obscure a security hole might be, and how unlikely it might seem that you will be affected by it, once a security update is published the ‘zero-day’ hole it plugs becomes widely known and immediately exploited by lowlife trying to crack and take over unpatched systems. You were probably relatively safe before the update was published; afterwards you’re vulnerable until you install it. So do it. Don’t mess about. That goes for your phone, too.

After that, be sensible. Use strong passwords, ad blockers, up to date anti-virus. Learn about tracking cookies and manage them properly. Uninstall Flash. Don’t open email attachments unless you know beyond reasonable doubt that they’re safe. Don’t fall for phishing scams and don’t click on links in phishing emails. Apple, Microsoft and your bank NEVER emails you to ‘update your user information’. FedEx NEVER sends you a ‘confidential message’ in a zip attachment. The High Commissioner of Nigeria’s personal banker NEVER needs your help to ‘transfer funds’.

And, if you frequent the darker parts of the Internet, be prepared. Even then, expect to have to visit the clinic.

Paul Ellis is The Digital Plumber. Make contact at

© 2016 Paul David Ellis. All Rights Reserved.

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Personal Projects - with Zoe Whishaw

For some photographers, shooting personal projects is as natural as breathing – why wouldn’t you be shooting stories and ideas that inspire and excite you? For them, ideas tend to come easily; they are always likely to have something on the go.

For others, the very idea of shooting outside a given brief will bring them out in hives. They may feel they have nothing to ‘say’, feel it is a bit of an indulgence or are simply devoid of ideas. While for some there is an acceptance that they are important and should be embraced, displacement activities will easily consume any time available. Guilt sets in.

Then of course there are those in between who want to work on projects, and despite time pressures try to squeeze them into their schedule.

Any successful professional creative, be they photographer, painter, writer, film maker, etc will agree how important it is to find ways to explore new ideas, to be allowed to make mistakes…to be surprised and to show others they are moving forwards and keeping things alive in their work.

Those who find themselves sticking to a formula or comfort zone with no time or inclination to explore personal passions are bound to come unstuck at some point and will feel as though they have come to a standstill. In the work that I do as a mentor, I come across many photographers who have had a decade or more of running a busy, lucrative business only to find they have become burnt out and find it difficult to know how to take their career to the next phase. This can often be due to being caught up in the inevitable pre-production, production, shooting, post production, etc, etc cycle that then repeats and repeats. They have little time or energy for anything else.

Yet, time needs to be found if you are to continue to grow as a photographer. It is crucial that the day-to-day of satisfying clients doesn’t stop you from thinking about new work that expands your viewpoint, techniques and approaches, and indeed gets you lost in your discoveries.

I came across a great quote recently from the playwright and novelist Deborah Levy that sums up this process:

When I begin a novel I plan a route and follow my direction….Yet, it’s when I detour and get lost that the writing starts to open its eyes”

The best personal projects are born out of private passions. These can be as much about how you see/enjoy the world (eg you love strong colours, are a party animal, are quiet and thoughtful…) as a subject you have experience/expertise in (eg growing vegetables, dancing, scuba diving…).

Loving the subjects you shoot in a manner that comes naturally to you must surely be the Holy Grail for photographers. But unless prospective clients can see examples of what drives you visually, this will only ever remain as a dream.

Agents will invariably encourage photographers to spend time on personal projects and indeed find that many clients actively seek out this work alongside their commercial body of work to get a glimpse of what is important to them and what their personality might be like.  This work shows the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, editor or designer. Regardless of style, it may even be the guiding factor in being selected as the photographer simply because they may see a common interest.

Tim Flach is a great example of photographer who is deeply passionate about the medium of photography and strongly believes personal projects allow for (and indeed demand) progression in his work.

The origins of his book project Equus can be traced back to a time when he was investigating the somewhat ethereal concept of spirituality. His hitherto fascination with animals and anthropomorphism was a perfect precedent to his exploration of ‘otherworldliness’ using a white horse. Using ambiguous viewpoints and curious crops he created a beautiful series of enigmatic ‘landscapes’ to transport the viewer beyond the reality of the horse.

Tim emphasises that this project really enabled him to investigate something that was preoccupying and fascinating to him – how to reduce down a subject to the point of abstraction and still manage to evoke an emotion.

It was several years later that his publisher saw the series in a magazine and made contact with him to propose Equus …which then lead on to Dogs Gods and numerous other projects since including a variety of high profile international exhibitions and advertising campaigns.


©Tim Flach 


© Tim Flach

Unknown 1 

© Tim Flach 


Tim Flach

©Tim Flach


Another photographer whose self-initiated projects have lead to advertising campaigns that echo their personal work is Venetia Dearden.  Much if not all of Venetia’s honest and spontaneous work sums up her personal spirit – you get the feeling she truly shares the mind-set and lifestyle of those she photographs.

Back in 2010 Venetia embarked on a short project entitled Eight Days, which was later published as a book. Her inspiration emanated from the fact that while she was accustomed to working on long-term personal projects, she had had several years of back-to-back commercial work and felt the urge to have more freedom and do something unscripted. It would be an opportunity to freely flex her creative muscles and ideas using a bunch of friends as they travelled across the American West.



©Venetia Dearden


Unknown 1

©Venetia Dearden


Meanwhile, Häagen-Dazs were looking for a photographer who was able to epitomise spontaneity, intimacy and naturalness between couples. ‘Eight Days’ wonderfully demonstrated her intrinsic ability to capture those free-spirited and playful moments and lead to her being commissioned for their 2014 campaign.

Unknown 2

©Venetia Dearden 


Unknown 3

© Venetia Dearden 


Phil James has been working as an advertising photographer for over 20 years and runs a busy, successful studio (Shadowplay) creating CGI, motion graphics and photography for wide-ranging clients. The in-house team is talented, multi-skilled and self-motivated but with Phil at the helm to guide and drive it forward. Until recently, there had been precious little time to further develop his own work until quite by chance he took his son out for a walk while on holiday. What began as a completely unplanned outing turned into pivotal series of pictures with no commercial constraints. The resulting images are a beautifully relaxed, natural and somewhat enigmatic portrait of their time together…pictures that Phil says take him to the heart of who his son is. Following this, further personal projects with this more natural style have been emerging.


©Phil James


©Phil James 


As an entrepreneur to his very core, Phil has recently embarked on developing his own clothing brand, ANDSONS. The timeless, traditional clothing is made by skilled artisan craftspeople using the finest natural materials. Crucially, Phil takes all the pictures for their campaigns and the imagery used resonates closely with his newly-discovered personal style which helps to further deepen the trust and belief in the brand and what it represents.


©Phil James 


©Phil James

These 3 journeys are a great example of shooting a subject in a style that is personally meaningful, which then takes on a life of its own as it begins to permeates more and more commissioned work.

Personal projects give a photographer permission to take a step back, to take a break from the relentless day-to-day of client demands. They are a wonderful resource for marketing and they can be the fuel that forces development and a reinforcement of a creative vision.

Experiment, make mistakes and push yourself in ways you cannot foresee as you continue to develop as a photographer in the quest to be hired for what comes naturally. 

Zoe Whishaw is a commercial photography consultant and mentor. 

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Mail online highlight 2016 AOP Awards

An astronaut's golden visor, Paralympians on the road to glory and a painted elephant are among the stunning winners of a prestigious photography prize

  • Winners from the Association of Photographers open awards, drawn from more than 2,000 entries
  • Photos include scenes from suburban Japan, champion slamdunkers and burned children's toys
  • There were 276 finalists, from photographers from around the world 



Take a cluster of Japanese apartments, a burned teddy bear and a novel take on the Sound Of Music and then add a camera.

In the right hands, the result can be truly remarkable - as seen by these winners from the Association of Photographers open awards, drawn from more than 2,000 entries and 276 finalists.

The subjects range from British Paralympians, such as powerlifter Ali Jawad, who was born without legs, to the Guinness World record-holder for the fastest 100m on forearm crutches.

Formed in 1968, the AOP is one of the most prestigious professional photographers' associations in the world   

The winning AOP images can be seen at The Old Truman Brewery, east London in London, until October 17. 

Benedict Redgrove went behind the scenes of Nasa's incredible technology for this space shot

Benedict Redgrove went behind the scenes of Nasa's incredible technology for this space shot

Finnish photographer Markku Lahdesmaki is known for his vivid images that mix humour with surrealism

Finnish photographer Markku Lahdesmaki is known for his vivid images that mix humour with surrealism

Tom Barnes took this stunning image of Paralympian Jonnie Peacock, a British sprinter who won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympics

Tom Barnes took this stunning image of Paralympian Jonnie Peacock, a British sprinter who won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympics

Kelvin Murray, with his unique take on Maria from film classic The Sound Of Music

Kelvin Murray, with his unique take on Maria from film classic The Sound Of Music

A portrait of actor Lucian Msamati  in his role as Salieri in the National Theatre's production of Amadeus, as shot by Seamus Ryan
Richard Bradbury's take on Tameru Zegeye - Guinness World record-holder for the fastest 100m on forearm crutches

A portrait of actor Lucian Msamati  in his role as Salieri in the National Theatre's production of Amadeus, as shot by Seamus Ryan; right, Richard Bradbury's take on Tameru Zegeye - Guinness World record-holder for the fastest 100m on forearm crutches

Greg White's Danchi - which, in Japanese, means large clusters of apartment buildings synonymous with public housing projects

Greg White's Danchi - which, in Japanese, means large clusters of apartment buildings synonymous with public housing projects

A burned teddy bear, by Tal Silverman, forms part of a hard-hitting Check Your Smoke Alarm campaign

A burned teddy bear, by Tal Silverman, forms part of a hard-hitting Check Your Smoke Alarm campaign

A clever use of illusion by German photographer Kai-Uwe Gundlach in this black-and-white portrait

A clever use of illusion by German photographer Kai-Uwe Gundlach in this black-and-white portrait

Collaborative practice Regan/Grey's inventive use of  stationery
An interior scene by Netherlands photographer Rene Van Der Hulst

Collaborative practice Regan/Grey's inventive use of stationery; and an interior scene by Netherlands photographer Rene Van Der Hulst

A portrait from Dan Prince's 'Snowing' series. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, he specialises  in people on location battling the ever-changing elements

A portrait from Dan Prince's 'Snowing' series. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, he specialises  in people on location battling the ever-changing elements

A moody portrait by Los Angeles-based photographer Deirdre O'Callaghan

A moody portrait by Los Angeles-based photographer Deirdre O'Callaghan

Another powerful piece from Tal Silverman's smoke alarm campaign in conjunction with Duracell

Another powerful piece from Tal Silverman's smoke alarm campaign in conjunction with Duracell

One of Tom Barnes's portraits from his Paralympian series. Pictured, British powerlifter Ali Jawad, who was born without legs

One of Tom Barnes's portraits from his Paralympian series. Pictured, British powerlifter Ali Jawad, who was born without legs

Images from Laura Lewis's book, Good Luck And Do Your Best
Her pictures aimed to capture the mood of suburban Japan

Above, images from Laura Lewis's book, Good Luck And Do Your Best - which aimed to capture the mood of suburban Japan

British Paralympic swimmer Charlotte Henshaw, photographed by Tom Barnes

British Paralympic swimmer Charlotte Henshaw, photographed by Tom Barnes

Part of Sophie Ebrard's Dunk Elite series, where she spent time with some of the world's best basketball players in New York

Part of Sophie Ebrard's Dunk Elite series, where she spent time with some of the world's best basketball players in New York

Another shot from Ebrard's Dunk Elite set, which extended way beyond the NBA

Another shot from Ebrard's Dunk Elite set, which extended way beyond the NBA

One of Lulu Ash's images, which tend to focus on 'feelings, connections, stories' - what she calls 'visual narratives'

One of Lulu Ash's images, which tend to focus on 'feelings, connections, stories' - what she calls 'visual narratives'

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Creative Review's gallery of AOP Award winners 2016


Winners of the AOP Photography Awards 2016


Earlier this evening, the winners of the 33rd AOP Photography Awards were announced at a ceremony held at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick lane. Awards were given out to professional photographers for the best single images and photo-series in several different categories. Here’s a look at the winning work.

Commissioned Advertising (curated by Andy Taylor, Executive Creative Director at Iris Worldwide)

Commissioned Design (curated by Stuart Radford – Creative Director at The Partners) 

Commissioned Editorial (Curated by Piers Morgan – Journalist) 

Non-commissioned Portrait (Curated by Terence Pepper – Photocurator and exhibition organiser, previously Head of Photographs at National Portrait Gallery)

Non-commissioned Life (Curated by Kirstie Johnstone – Creative Production Partner at AMV BBDO)

Non-commissioned Environment (Laura Noble – Director at L A Noble Gallery)

Non-commissioned Object (Henny Manley – Photo Director of Esquire UK)

Non-commissioned Fashion & Beauty (Perry Curties – Co-Founder of 125 Magazine) 

Project (Curated by It’s Nice That – Creative Arts blog)

The Open Awards 

Open Award (Curated by Bruno Bayley – Editor of Vice magazine) 

Moving Image (Curated by Nick Moran – Director, Actor & Producer)

Winner: Olly Burn

AOP Discovery Award

This new award category was open to Assisting Photographer members of the AOP, and is aimed at nurturing new talent.

AOP Photography Awards 2016 Discovery Award - Julien Brightwell
Discovery Award winner Julien Brightwell

For the full list of winning work visit

The AOP Photography Awards 2016 are accompanied by a four day series of events running under the title Beyond the Lens, which includes a programme of talks, seminars, portfolio reviews and more which will run at the Truman Brewery till Monday 17th October. 

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