Talk with WPO and Alys Tomlinson

Our first lesson was an introduction to the new brief, and we were also lucky enough to have a talk from two members of the WPO, Panos Pomonis and Emma Double and the winner of this years competition, Alys Tomlinson. This talk was very interesting as they enlightened us as to what the SWPO does, what its about, how to enter it and what it can do for photographers to get their name out there. When it was Alys’ turn to talk, she educated us on her journey to capture her winning images, what it has done for her since she won it and how it has developed her professional photography career.

During the talk with Emma and Panos they told us about the different categories, what sort of work has been entered before, how to get inspiration for our project work etc. They also told us about the prizes that can be won, the press coverage the awards get and the awards ceremony that takes place, along with the exhibition of winners and nominees work.

This caught my attention during the talk, as they said to us, even if you don’t win, it doesn’t matter, don’t enter it to win, but enter it to give yourself a chance and to possibly even get shortlisted or nominated. Even if I was to enter and didn’t win, with what they were telling us, it sounded like my name could still get around and my work could still be seen. With the huge amount of coverage they get, I think i remember the number 4000 cropping up somewhere, whether it be interviews, galleries or broadcasted, your name and work will be seen by someone. This excited me and made me want to put a lot of effort into perfecting the photos I will compose and enter into the Sony World Photo Awards 2019.

The talk with Aly Tomlinson was really interesting. She was telling us how she got the inspiration for her image series “Ex-Voto” from a TV series she had watched, and then she went on a package tour to visit a pilgrimage site. She went there first time around with a camera, took some images, came back and didn’t like them, and this repeated a few times. Then she went back again, but this time she took a Victorian style single frame  camera, where you could only get a few shots at a time, as the sheets were big and expensive. She told us that the key to her capturing such enticing images was taking her time to make sure she got the right shot, as she wouldn’t have had another go at it, and she also had to earn peoples trust to be able to take their portrait. With the amount of times she went back to complete her series of images, Alys said that she made friends with the people at the pilgrimage site and they became fascinated by her and were very welcoming.

Her journey/story about capturing her “Ex-Voto” images was very interesting and quite a warming story to hear. Alys then went on to tell us about how her life changed after winning the SWPO Photographer of the year. Alys told us that her work was exhibited in Somerset House in London, that sh did numerous interviews for newspapers such as The Guardian and TV news interviews on channels such as Sky, ITV and BBC, then she proceeded to say that her series of work is now being turned into a book that will be published later on this year.

Alys’ success story is definitely inspiring, she entered the competition thinking nothing of it, and then it changed her career/life and now she is a well known photographer with an amazing story to tell. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.

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