Ken Drake Selected as Judge for AIPP QLD Professional Photography Awards

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Recently, the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP) held the Queensland Professional Photography Awards (QPPA) and for the first time, and I had the honour of being invited to be a judge. I of course said yes, and pushed any doubts about ‘not being worthy’ to the back of my mind. I knew it would not only be a hugely enjoyable experience, but I would learn an awful lot as well. I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the most respected photographers not just in Queensland but from around Australia and New Zealand too.

For those who don’t know, the AIPP State and National Awards are all judged by a pool of the most experienced local, interstate and international judges, and the standards of both the judging and the entries are envied across the globe. They really are something all Australians should be proud of. Each entry is judged by a panel of 5 judges, who independently score each photo out of a possible 100 points, and an average is given. For most photos all the scores are really close, but for some the scores can vary pretty extremely, which is only to be expected when judging something as personal and subjective as art. If this happens, one judge will champion the print, and explain why they scored it highly. Other judges will be asked to explain why they didn’t score so highly, and standard debating rules are followed. After this debate, each Judge can re-score the print and this final tally is averaged and a new score awarded. It really is very exciting to witness and to hear the thoughts of these highly regarded and experienced judges is very educational!

As judges, we are asked to bear in mind a few things when judging a print. I always firstly take a few seconds and let the emotional impact of an image hit me, and I evaluate that. How does the photo make me feel, does it ‘talk’ to me? I then look at the composition, and get up and closely look at the print to see if the technical skills displayed are good enough for an award, such as the lighting, the posing, the composition, the quality of the print, the print preparation, and how original the image is. We then allocate a score between 50 and 100, with 80 being the Award standard (Silver). Anything over 90 is a Gold award. We are also constantly reminded that judging is a team effort, its the team of 5 judges working together to give each photo the fairest score.

Its pretty nerve wracking doing the actual judging, especially when the photographer is in the audience listening to everything being said, but its also great fun too. I would have loved to have judge the brand new Pet / Animal category, but as I had entered this category I couldn’t, but I was able to (nervously) sit and watch while the category and my photos were judged.

Behind the scenes is fascinating, with a whole troupe of print handlers sorting the hundreds of prints and making sure the correct print is before the judges at the right time, to match up with the print displayed on the screen for the audience. So much work is involved in these type of awards, and of course 99% of people are volunteering their time. Without all the volunteers these awards just would not be possible so I would like to personally thank each and every one of them.

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