Each year, the Australian Institute Of Professional Photography (AIPP) runs several print-based photography competitions to engage its members. Unfortunately, 2020 turned out to be a complicated year due to COVID-19, so the group needed to innovate in a new way to unite Australia's photography community. In this spirit, the AIPP Silver Lining Awards were conceived.
Taking place entirely online, the awards implemented several initiatives to make it an educational, motivational, and inspirational experience for all involved. Photographers were first invited to submit pre-entry images that were evaluated by an expert panel of judges. This valuable feedback was then used to fine-tune their entries. AIPP also organized the competition into two broad categories—Creative and Classic. This allowed photographers to place their focus on the 10 subcategories that fell under these umbrellas. Lastly, they created a Student and Newcomer category to promote entries from all levels of expertise.
“The idea was, quite literally, to create a ‘silver lining’ out of the current situation,” explains Tony Hewitt, who is Chair of the AIPP Awards Committee. “We wanted not only to give members a creative outlet at a time when many wouldn’t have much work, but also make the whole experience much more beneficial professionally for everybody who entered. At the same time, we wanted everybody to have a bit of fun. And it worked brilliantly; the response has been massive with 3,000 entries, from which we selected 300 semi-finalists and then 120 finalists, 10 in each of the six categories.”
The incredible winners from each category speak to the success of the competition. By highlighting Australia's diverse photography talent, AIPP has created a bright spot during what has been a difficult time for many. These photographers were also awarded from a $45,000 prize pool, and given innovative prizes like workshops and mentoring sessions. Surely, these prizes will be even more valued during a time when many photographers find themselves without work. Thanks to the AIPP, they have even more reason to stay involved and creative.