Photographing architecture is a somewhat lonely profession. I suppose my reason to advocate for an industry awards night is inherently social. For me, it is an excuse to emerge from the singular Dracula-den that is the modern digital-darkroom, and risk being outdoors at a time that I am not obsessed about how light is falling onto a building. It is for me to stride valiantly (haha) into regular society in order to get together with some of the like-minded friends I have made for a beer and a yarn. How great it would be to spend time with others who know the highs and lows of our incredibly unique genre of photography in order to celebrate and acknowledge our achievements as architectural photographers.
So apart from this insatiable social itch - Why? Why have awards at all? I hear some of your thoughts - “photography is art man, art isn’t competition maaaaan”, I get it. But, so is architecture and they still have awards - some people just opt out. You don’t have to enter, and if you don’t that’s cool - please come to the event regardless. The main outcome I can see is building some much-needed solidarity in the industry - to champion our profession and to present the highest standard to broader industry and public. All of these things can only raise the bar and increase the value of what we do.
This idea is still fresh and will need to be highly considered; please send thoughts and ideas. I would like to see it run as a non-for-profit exercise and ideally I would like to hand off this project to someone else - hopefully someone such as Architecture Media could take up the mantle, or a collaboration between partners - the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photographers) and Architecture Media or the like… Perhaps they could run in conjunction or around the timing of the Houses Awards or DenFair (?)
To get the conversation going here’s some thoughts I have about who would judge the awards, what categories there would be, etc - here we go -
JUDGING & JUDGING PANEL
I think the first year should operate as a way to build a framework for future success and for that reason I think the awards should be an invite-only for this first one. There would be an exhaustive short-list of Australian architectural photographers (agreed upon by the panel) that would be invited to enter. The photographs entered have to be have shot within the last 12 months of the entry cut off date.
I would like to see a panel of 3 - 5 judges that each bring a different area of expertise. To start with, someone from the architecture community that has judged on a panel before and has seen a huge variety of projects and photographs would be great, perhaps a magazine editor.I also think architect’s would get intent of the architecture versus what is captured - it is no surprise that our genre of photography carries a similar vein of technicality to the approach our clients take to their work.
We would also need an expert from the photography world, someone with balance and an understanding on the artistic and technical-side of photography, maybe a long-standing or board member of the AIPP. Sometimes average photography is enhanced by the quality of the project being photographed and sometimes great photography is hampered by an average project - a master photographer and expert would help here. I think the next person would be a senior and respected person from the genre, a seasoned architectural photographer - perhaps a Shannon McGrath, Brett Boardman, John Gollings, Michael Nicholson, or Dianna Snape as such.
The judging would be collective and there would need to be consensus on each decision, I am yet to fully think through criteria so would be open to as much suggestion here as people are willing to give.
I think something similar to the architecture or Houses awards (again our industry keeping step with that of our subject matter) where projects and individuals/ practices are awarded. In terms of awards for individuals I would like to see an ‘Australian Architectural Photographer of The Year’ awarded along with awards for the best newcomer, most improved, and an industry legend/ legacy type award (I could, again, see someone like John Gollings, Diana Snape, Boardman, McGrath. Michael Nicholson, or the like as the kind of recipient we will see). I think the individual awards are shortlisted by the panel and then peer voted as well - perhaps each set of judging are weighted 50/50. These would be judged based on that year’s body of work.
Other awards will be based on individual images and genres. i.e. there would be the exterior image category but there might be 3 or 4 categories within that, such as an award for best commercial project image, best residential project image, best large-scale or public project etc There would be an aerial photography section, an interiors section , and many more to consider.
So these are some of my thoughts so far, so much more to discuss such as sponsors, venues, timeframe, entry fees, prizes, publicity.
Please feel free to email me or call if you’re keen to get involved - firstname.lastname@example.org +61421 916 966