Is your photographer really an award winning photographer?

There’s nothing quite as reassuring to a potential client as seeing that their photographer has won an award. It adds an air of success to their business and gives potential clients a warm and glowing feeling knowing that they are booking someone who is really good. But before you put your faith in an award winning photographer, you might want to take a look at the organisation behind the accolades – you might be surprised.

At the moment, there are a fair few wedding suppliers who are boasting about the fact that they are finalists in The Wedding Industry Awards – surely this must be an indication of success and a mark of quality? You might think that there is some large, well established organisation behind this; perhaps the publishers of a wedding magazine or something of the sort. Looking at the organiser’s website, it is very difficult to find out who it is that’s behind the awards – it is not easy to find any contact details for the company, other than the small copyright notice at the bottom of the page which reads “copyright 23 events ltd 2011-2014.”

The domain name was registered in 2010 by a Damien Bailey. According to Companies House, 23 Events Ltd was founded in 2011and has two directors – Mr Damien Piers Bailey and Ms Anna Louise Bailey. It also appears that Mr Bailey used to be a director of Damien Bailey Photography Ltd, a company that was incorporated in 2006 and dissolved in 2009. Mr Bailey is still a working wedding photographer based in Surrey.

It is just a money-making exercise.

It is interesting to see how this award works. A happy client recommends their supplier for an award because they are delighted with the service that they’ve received. This is a lovely thing for them to do and they are doing it for the best reasons. However, the company that has been recommended is then expected to pay £50+VAT in order to be considered for an award. According to their own website, in 2012 they had over 2000 entries, quite a lucrative business as they have a vested interest in taking as many entries as possible. The actual voting for the award is done, not by an independent judging panel, but by the customers of the nominees. The votes are then analysed by the judging panel who then decide on the winners….

It is real as me being awarded “Best Photographer in the Universe” by my mum! It still makes me an award winning photographer

The Wedding Industry Awards are not the only such “awards” company out there. There are others, based abroad, which operate in a similar manner and some are even worse! I know of certain organisations that charge the entrant for registration and, if they “win”, then they are charged for the trophy or certificate! This strikes me as being completely unethical. It isn’t really an award that has been won: it has been bought. It is real as me being awarded “Best Photographer in the Universe” by my mum! It still makes me an award winning photographer.

So what sort of business would proudly proclaim that they’ve won one of these type of awards? Well, as far as I see it, they would fall into one of two categories. Either they are naive and foolish, or they are calculating and deceitful. It is up to you to determine which one applies.

Of course, there are those out there who have cottoned on to this sort of fake notoriety. Instead of actually being awarded anything (or even buying an award), they have littered their websites with badges and banners stating that they are “award winning” without actually stating what the award is, or how it was won. Perhaps they are referring to their 10m swimming badge that they won at school? Mind you, it is hardly surprising that this sort of thing goes on when Phil Jones, the CEO of the Society of Weddings & Portrait Professionals (SWPP), manages to get awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the organisation.

The moral of the story is this: don’t just accept that someone is an award winner. Check the award’s pedigree

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