Each year photographers are invited to submit their photos the Australian Institute of Professional Photography Awards. Thousands of entries are submitted and the judging is done by Australia’s top photographers – it is tough to impress these guys! So, I was very excited to find out that we won a silver, and one silver with distinction at the Australian Institute of Professional Photography Awards.
The silver with distinction missed on out being a gold by a whisker. The photos I entered were from travels I haven been on in the last year. We find that taking time out over the quiet wedding season (winter) to explore and photograph amazing parts of the world leave us inspired and energized for our next season of weddings.
This photo was taken in Hue, Vietnam, at the Thien Mu Pagoda. It was the beginnings of our love for photographing in the rain! This was awarded a silver.
The next photo has quite a story to it. It was during my travels to China in 2011, it was taken in a rural part of Sichuan Province, China. This part of China boarders with Tibet, and is a beautiful, magical area. The culture, food, architecture and people are mostly of Tibetian background, although it is much less touristy. And unlike Tibet, visitors can roam around freely without the need for extra permits and a guide as required in Tibet itself.
To get here I caught a local bus for 14 hours from Chengdu to Danba, via highway which was still under construction. It was amazing going through beautifully landscape meters from a rushing river, via rocky unpaved road, new bridges, and recently blasted tunnels which were not yet paved or anything fancy like that. From Danba to Tagong, it took approximately 4 hours, on 2 minibuses to get there. One of the minibuses involved me basically much sharing a seat with a young Chinese man, whilst a lovely, but extremely large, elderly Tibetan couple, and their bags of shopping also shared our 3 seat row. With about 20cm of space, I held my camera bag sideways on my lap as we bumped along the mountainous roads.
From Tagong, we followed some vague instructions to hike to this fabulous monastery A stray dog followed us all the way, when we reached the area we first met the nuns from Ana Gopha the nunnery. The hike was only meant to take 3 hours, but I think we zigzagged a little, as it was more like 4 hours across the grassy hills. With a couple of river crossings on the way.
When we stumbled upon the village the Nuns welcomed us where we sung, danced and played some games. We hiked a little more to the monastery down the hill, which is where this photo is taken, as the monks showed us around. I hiked back to the Ana Gopha later in the evening, to find that the one convenience store had already closed. I asked a nun where I could eat, and she invited me in. I ate with the nuns, they brought me a bucket of warm water to wash in, and insisted I stay the night. Despite having booked a simple room in the guesthouse above the convinced store, the nuns insisted I not walk the 20 minutes over there as I might get eaten by the dogs that are guarding the livestock over night.
The nuns and I stayed up late chatting… well trying to communicate. They laughed at me in the morning when I complained my hair was messy and their shaved heads were perfect, and in broken English, and my broken Chinese they offered to shave my head. We cooked in the stove in the middle of the room about 30cm from my bed. I was awaken at sunrise to the eldest nun in the dorm singing, for about half an hour which was the best alarm clock ever. As I brushed my teeth leaning over the ditch out front of their hut, I tried to squeeze the last drop of toothpaste out of my Colgate tube. Five minutes later, the eldest nun returned with a brand new tube of Colgate, which she insisted I keep… which was crazy as we were in the middle of nowhere, there wasn’t even running water, sewerage or electricity but they had supplies of Colgate! That’s what I get up to when I’m not photographing weddings!
So, I’m glad that I don’t just love this photos because of the story behind it… the judges have decided :) It was awarded silver with distinction.