AOP Open Awards 2010

Stardate 20th August 2010

When I found out I had been selected as part of the AOP Open Awards exhibition I couldn’t believe it really. I’ve had such an amazing run lately with photography competitions, and love entering. I entered the AOP Open on a whim, just thinking well, why not? The photograph I ended up entering was entered purely because it had been so popular with people who had seen it, who had really liked it. I never expected to get anywhere, mainly because the AOP seems to be so hard to even get in through the door to start with, and their winning choices can sometimes be a bit on the acquired taste side of things. I’d entered their student awards and got nowhere.

So there I am, on the train on the way down to London yesterday, dead excited. I had no idea what to expect. This would be the first time I’ve ever been part of something like this, and the first time my photography has been in a proper exhibition. I was thinking maybe I should preplan some sort of Yorkshire bullshit in my mind, just incase I got caught off my guard and somebody asked me what the photograph was all about, and I had to get into analytical gibberish mode. When I get down there, I thought, I’ll get changed and go and have a lovely glass of pimms at my favourite riverside spot and I’ll think of something clever to say.

Typically, the Grand Central train was late, an hour late. Valuable pimms time eaten into, huff puff. They’ve renovated Kings Cross now as well, and instead of a couple of escalators, and a few steps, you now have to walk what seems like a few miles through even bigger tunnels, with even more people, just to get to the tube. For a short-arse I can walk really fast, I motored to where I had to be and made my way to Waterloo where I was staying. Back into halls, good cheap bed, en-suite and just a skip away from the river, £36.00, you can’t beat that really. Broke into a sweat getting changed, then hoofed it down to see me old mate down at the pimms wagon on the Southbank. Angel juice that stuff. The Pimms wagon man always greets you like he remembers you, It’s possible he does, but I doubt it.
No time for hanging about, marathon over Embankment bridge to Charing Cross station and got on the tube to Old Street. When you’re running a bit late, everything seems to go into slow motion. Clock watching is rubbish and pointless, but that doesn’t stop you doing it. It was already quarter past seven and the Awards were to start at 7.30pm “SHARP” it said on the invitation. ‘Oh No, Im going to be late for my own party’. I hate being late for anything and rarely am, without good reason. I was starting to get a bit of a panic on. Changed at Euston, got back on the other Northern line, ‘Bank branch’ I was told, to go back down the other side to Old Street. It was just about 7.30 by the time I got there, I was late meeting my friend Laz and ran all the way from the tube station to the gallery.

The Gallery was absolutely ram packed with people and really buzzing with a great atmosphere. Bit different to the last time I was there. At the door I was asked, “Are you exhibiting?”, my face must have been beaming when I replied, “yes, yes I am”. Absolutely bloody great I felt at that moment. I could get used to this, I thought to myself. Boiling after legging it all the way from Waterloo, I probably had beads off sweat dripping of my nose end, but didn’t care. Quick reccy, then downstairs to make use of the free bar. Glad we did, because one beer is all we got! When Rennay turned up the bar was dry, we made up for that later though.

So on with the awards. The compare was a bit rubbish, but I liked it when he said how high the standard of work being shown was. The winning categories were read out. Unfortunately, I didn’t scoop best in show or public choice, but I wasn’t downhearted about that at all. The two that did win were very deserving. I thought a few weeks ago, I bet the black and white portrait of the girl wins, and it did. All in all, the whole exhibition was really amazing. I learned a lot from what I saw, and how I’ll do things differently if and when I get into it again next year. I realised I made a bit of a boo boo with the border dimensions on my photograph, because the white border was absolutely massive. I should have filled the whole frame with the image in hindsight, the photograph looked really small. But what a great experience and opportunity, I loved every second of it, and did feel proud as punch to have got that far really. I think in the end there was over 1500 entries, so I find it amazing I made it through. There’s a book available with all the photographs from the exhibition which you can buy online at:

It was all over in a flash really. The gallery was so busy it was quite hard to get a look at most of the photographs properly. After a look around, and realising the bar had run dry, we went outside. While we were stood outside we got chatting to a guy called Chris who’s day job was executive producer for TV. He also proudly told us that he runs a few online dating agencies. One of the websites was for, and I did hope I’d heard him wrong when he said this, married people who want to have affairs. He told us he’s got, I think it was something like 2.2% of the entire married population on his books. Sadly that’s probably true, bit sickening really. I don’t know why some people even bother getting married. He invited us to Vivienne Westwood’s son’s bondage film screening which was being show down the road. We did think about going, but didn’t. A funny topic of the night was the giant rat that had been shot in Yorkshire, and he joked that I’d come down south with a handbag full of giant rats to deposit around the capital. Did you see the size of that rat? I’d go into orbit if I ever saw a rat that size.

So, the exhibition was a success, and has got me even more excited about the future. I keep thinking to myself, ‘and this was just warming up, just imagine what sort of photographs I’m going to be taking in the next 12 months’. I really am excited, I love photography so much and can’t wait to really get cracking. I’d like to say thank you too, to everyone who voted for me, and for all your support and encouragement, it really does mean a lot to me.
We left the exhibition and strolled down the road to a little pub, where much merriment commenced. Rennay and I ended up getting fairly messy and dancing until 3am or what ever time it was in town. Went to a couple of great bars, it’s yonks since I’ve done that in London. Going on a wild cash machine chase with a taxi driver who didn’t know where he was going. Eating a superb egg and bacon roll from a little stall at Waterloo in the middle of the night, man was I pleased to see he was still frying. Sleeping in this morning and getting a rude awakening by the cleaner. Realising that there was no way I was waiting 7 hours for the only train I could get on with the cheap seat I’d bought and ended up buying another ticket to get back up North. Waiting an hour in intermittent rain to get a lift from the station with one of those creeping hangovers and booze sweats in the humidity. All in all a superb 24 hours. I’m looking forward to getting into my bed tonight!

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