It's Always Worth Doing Something That Terrifies You


Until very, very recently, I've never entered a photography competition. Well, that's not actually true: I entered, I think, one competition at the Lancaster Photographic Society some part in the last decade. But nothing national, or international, or indeed particularly outside my little bubble. Partly because failing was scary, but mostly because I was absolutely convinced that there was nothing in my output that was competition worthy.

If there's one thing that I've finally started to learn this year, it's that you've got to do the stuff that scares you. If you don't, it will continue to scare you, and you'll never know if you could have done it. Fear will have won, and all you'll be able to do in the future is make some excuse about not giving it a shot — "I didn't have anything that was a good fit for the competition," for example, which is just code for "well, I was too scared to try." If you're really honest with yourself and the people with whom you're talking.

So this year, I decided to throw my cap over the wall this year. And because I'm a lunatic and I don't like to do things by halves, I decided that the competition to enter would be the British Journal of Photography's International Photography Award.

Yes, I am that mad. I've got no illusions that I'm actually going to win anything. After all, I'm just a guy submitting some work. Maybe next year I'll do something more considered. Photo competitions like the IPA are about getting your work in front of the judges, and about making sure that people know you're alive. Other than that, it's pointless caring about winning — there are so many great photographers out there and so many stunning images.

I entered two sets of photographs this year: one of character studies — partly drawn from my Fifteen Minutes Portraits project, partly from stuff I'd shot on other commissions — and one of images. Because after 400+ images in that project, why the hell not? 

Here they are for your enjoyment: hope you like looking at them as much as I liked making them.