by Dennis Orchard Published 01/10/2012
Be brave! To enter is to learn
How long have you been picking up a camera?
Before I ever picked up a camera I would pick up and 'read' photographs. My aunt was an agent for a mail order catalogue and every year she would get a wall calendar with scenes of woodlands, waterfalls and cathedrals. From the age of five I would spend hours looking at the smallest detail in the images. By the time I was eight, I was hooked on 'Viewmaster' 3D reels. Not the ones you get now, which are all cartoon based, but the Countries of the World series. I travelled the world through those little 3D images and I still have my collection. I was 11 before I saved up to buy my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic. I still have the photos I took with my first roll of film. They are landscapes.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a photographer?
Not at first, because I really wanted to be a secret agent!
At 14 in England you get an interview with a Careers Advisor. I remember going into the room and seeing all these books on banking, insurance, engineering, marketing, etc. And I couldn't see a single book on photography. So more for devilment than anything else, I said that I wanted to be a photographer. The poor chap didn't have a clue about photography as a career and told me to find out what courses there might be. I did some research and discovered a three-year Higher Diploma course in Photography, Film, Television and High-speed Scientific Photography at Harrow College, London. I enrolled on the course at 18 and came out with a 2-1.
What is your speciality as a photographer?
In my early days I only shot landscapes. I worked for a stock library in London (which eventually became Getty Images) and travelled Europe with a plate camera photographing for calendars and posters. At that time my speciality was composition and my images would often sell because I would find different angles from which to shoot well known locations.
Over the last 15 years I have moved over to photographing people. I started shooting editorial photography for The Daily Telegraph and other magazines. Eventually I found my love for wedding photography and I consider this to be my current speciality. The most important skill I have acquired in wedding photography is the ability to make people relax in front of the camera.
Two years ago year I did a little 'street' photography in Bath City (a World Heritage city). I limited myself to only one lens (85mm) and one aperture (f1.2). It was quite challenging to do. I also took some time off after a wedding in Scotland and drove around for a couple of days doing 'moody' landscapes. This kind of personal work should be made into an exhibition, I know, but I am lazy and quite content to post it on Facebook and wait for someone (or anyone, please!) to say they love it.
You have been an international judge for many years now, how did you first get into judging?
I paid a vast sum of money in a brown manilla envelope to Bill Hurter atWPPI!!!
OK, but truthfully in 1999 I won UK Wedding Photographer of the Year and part of the prize was a trip to WPPI Las Vegas. I entered the 16x20 competition for the first time that year and fell off my chair (literally, as I'm known for liking the odd vodka) when two prints scored over 80 and I got my first two Accolades. I decided to go back the next year and enter again.
I got four that year and in 2001 WPPI asked me and two other 'Brits' to speak at the Convention.
The following year one of my images got a Grand Award in Wedding Photojournalism and so WPPI asked me to speak again. Over the next couple of years I enrolled on the WPPI Accolades Programme. Through this programme you receive a point for each print scoring 80 + in competition.
The highest award (for reaching 65 prints over 80) is the 'Accolade of Lifetime Photographic Excellence'. I achieved that in 2004 and they asked me to speak and also judge for the following year. In 2005 I got first place in 'Wedding Photojournalism (Humour)' and WPPI asked me to judge for the second time (I must have done something right). In 2006 they gave me their top award 'WPPI Lifetime Achievement Award' and I've been invited to judge every year since then. I have also judged at international level in Northern Ireland, Eire, Estonia and the Baltic States, and of course the IAA.
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