2016 Australian Professional Photography Awards – APPA

Over the past weekend, the 2016 Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA) were held in Melbourne. This was my first year entering the awards, and this is how it all went….

To be eligible to enter APPA, you first must qualify at the State Photography awards (QAPPA), which were held in Brisbane back in March. You must receive at least 2 Silver awards at QAPPA. I set out to achieve this goal, and I got the 2 silvers.

Then began the preparation for APPA! I wanted to push myself, fine-tune my technical skills as a photographer and also create something a little bit different, whilst staying true to my classic style of photography. Months of analysing my work, coming up with concepts, shooting, re shooting, re editing, having images critiqued by my peers, banging my head on my desk several times, I came up with my 4 images to enter into the newborn category. Then came a last minute change, as I unfortunately came across a hiccup with one of my images that I could no longer enter and had to decide on a new image to replace it. Stressing over the decision again, I finally sent my images off to my amazing printer, Brent at Photo Mart. The prints looked beautiful, with his assistance and guidance on paper choice and matting, I was so happy with how they looked and I felt pretty confident with my entry.

Then the long wait until judging day!

Unfortunately I could not attend the judging, which was held in Melbourne. But the AIPP did a great job at live streaming the judging, so I could sit back in my lounge room and watch the judging online. An hour into the judging and I saw my first image pop up! EEEEEKK, immediate butterflies! And there it was, 82 Silver Award, next print please. My goal for APPA was to receive 1 Silver, and I got it with my first image! So a mini celebration and a happy dance in my lounge room with my daughter Abbey and dog Sunny continued.

Whilst watching the judging I was overwhelmed by the incredibly high standard of entries. And I was extremely humbled. My work up there amongst photographers I have admired since I started.   It’s been a long time coming and I’ve absolutely worked my butt off to get here!

But for me it’s not about the competition. We don’t enter to beat anyone else, or get a higher score than anyone else. For me, it’s about pushing my self creatively to be a better photographer. To put yourself out there, in front of your peers and masters of photography who are critiquing the images, is such an emotional process! But the feedback and the growth from participating is priceless.

My next 2 images didn’t do as great as I had expected. Both of them had received solid silvers at the state awards in 2015 and 2016, so it was a bit disappointing that they didn’t award at APPA. It also goes to show that what may appeal to one judge, may not appeal as much to another. These are 2 of my favourite images ever and I will always be proud of them.

At this point I was getting nervous about my final entry. Watching image after image being critiqued that little bit of doubt sinks in. Then when it popped up on the screen and seeing that one judge had scored it 92 and another 78, well things were getting exciting! The image was challenged for a GOLD award, oh my goodness, I couldn’t stop shaking! After a good discussion, it was awarded a Silver Distinction, and I was over the moon. For my first time entering the APPA’s and to receive a Silver and Silver distinction, it really did exceed my expectations! It may not seem a lot to some, but I really am so happy!

So now I have a little bit more fire in my belly. To push myself harder and achieve more each time, even If its just learning something new, its so worth it for myself as a photographer and for my clients and my business.

Big Congratulations to everyone that entered, received awards, and to the finalists and category winners for setting the bar so high.

Looking ahead to next year and I hope to do it all again, improve on my result from this year and hopefully get enough points to earn my associate photographer badge. I got a little sniff of Gold this year, and I am going to go hard to get it!

Here are my 4 entries from the awards, enjoy!



Sarah Gage Photography Toowoomba Award Winning Newborn Photographer 2




Sarah Gage Photography Toowoomba Award Winning Newborn Photographer 4




Sarah Gage Photography Toowoomba Award Winning Newborn Photographer 3



QAPPA 2016 – SILVER AWARD Sarah Gage Photography Toowoomba Award Winning Newborn Photographer 1