Conference, socials, awards and photography thoughts

Forgetting to bring a jacket to Melbourne nearly tops my travel packing blunders. Only forgetting my camera rates higher. Oops. 

Arriving in Melbourne, my plans to head straight to the AirBnB house and crack out some work, went out the window. I traipsed around the CBD with my suitcase in tow trying to find a suitable jacket - one that would work for casual and as an overcoat for a Gala Dinner. One that went with red boots, and one that was different to any I had at home. Hmm. Two hours later - mission accomplished.

Walking to the AirBnB house on Punt Road was another (perhaps) mistake. I didn't realise there are two sets of numbers on the same road - you need to type in the suburb to find the exact address. This is something I didn't do. Oops. I end up twenty minutes walk away from where I should have been. My 40-minute walk turned into just over an hour. Oh well, at least I get some exercise. And I do see Olympic Park - a place I'd worked at when covering the Commonwealth Games for News Limited in 2006. 

Eventually, I arrive and meet my room mate. Our other house mates are still one their way. The week that unfolds is one of laughs, crying, disappointment, inspiration and socialising. I thought I was coming to this photography event for professional learning but come away with a different 'learning outcome'. One of inspiration, new friendships, life thoughts and a re-instated idea of living with passion.

Part one of the event is APPA (Australian Professional Print Awards), the Australian Institue of Professional Photography's annual national print awards. It's a competition where photographers compete for points that accrue to give statuses like Master Photographer and Grand Master Photographer. Photographers also compete for titles like Travel Photographer of the Year, Commercial Photographer of the Year and Photographer of the Year. The whole process is a long one to explain, so head on over to if you want to know more. 

I have entered the awards with four images in the Travel category. I was hopeful but unsure. Again, like previous years, I had left it to the last minute for selection, retouch and actually sending them in. Not the best idea. 

I don't have to wait long to get my results. Travel is judged on the first day, and soon enough I know that I only have one silver. The others receive 'professional standard', ranking in the 70s, but that is not why you (me) enter the awards. Surely we should know if they are professional standard or not. Oh wow. So continues my love-hate relationship with these awards and questioning of entering or not. I now have another year to think about entering or not.

My clouds aren't sexy enough. And the surfboards poking their tips into the air don't read 'travel' and 'human' enough. Score: 73

My clouds aren't sexy enough. And the surfboards poking their tips into the air don't read 'travel' and 'human' enough. Score: 73

"To the author. Great eye. Keep up with this style and you will crack it." Nice feedback. Score: 76

"To the author. Great eye. Keep up with this style and you will crack it." Nice feedback. Score: 76

Too weird. 'Don't understand it.' Score: 78

Too weird. 'Don't understand it.' Score: 78

Silver!!! Score: 80

Silver!!! Score: 80

My biggest question to ponder...

I have four years to gain nine merit points. Considering I average 1-2 points a year, is it worth the $4000 (or more) to gain my title of Master Photographer? I only want it for marketing purposes but wonder if it makes that much of a difference. This scenario eats up a lot of years, money and emotion. Help me!

The second part of this event is Incite, the AIPP Nikon Event - an annual conference for photographers and videographers. Two days of workshops and presentations plus additional workshop selections on the APPA judging days. Two official social events and casual social events on the other evenings fill the week. Wow - no wonder I am tired. Sleep is something I require, and I think I am still catching up a week later. 

I came to Melbourne hoping I would walk away with lots to implement. I am disappointed with my learning outcomes but have come away with a couple of little gold nuggets.

#1 Success or Significance? 

Photographers with a focus on success strive to be the best they can. Photography is their life passion, and they can easily let it run their lives - to the detriment of other areas. Personal relationships, hobbies, home life and personal time out can feel the strain. All in the strive for being on one of the top rungs of the photography leader ladder. One of 'the best'. But with a focus on significance, photographers can help others. They can do good with their work. They think about others and have balance. They strive to leave a legacy - whatever that may be - that is more than a title. 

I want to (and hope I already am) live my life with significance. I care to make a difference and realise I can. Whether it's making beautiful family photographic memories for my children, helping businesses be more successful or encouraging people to travel and discover not only the world but themselves too.

#2 Don't let photography control your life. Instead, photograph your life. 

On my tombstone I don't care if it says '# 1 photographer' but I do care for people to remember me as a kind person, good mum and beautiful friend that respects and cares for others. 

Now, back to work I go. 

BTW, not only do I help businesses succeed through commissioned photography, but I also teach people how to get their social media pics looking great. Check it out at I'll soon be launching a new LIVE round!

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