Becoming an Award Winning Photographer with the BIPP

Best Wedding Photographers in Dorset

Photo courtesy of Scott Johnson (FBIPP)


So on Thursday 25th February 2016 I drove up to Aylesbury to attend the annual British Institute of  Professional Photography (BIPP) Awards. It got me thinking how I even came to be present here whilst standing surrounded by some of the most elite photographers in the country.

In 2015 as my wedding photography business was fast expanding I felt the need the take my photography to the next level. I had already attended various workshops for wedding photography. I needed someone who could nurture and guide me in a mentorship capacity. Fortunately came across Kevin Wilson who was giving a talk on Wedding photography locally.

Some weeks later I contacted Kevin and asked if I could embark on becoming one of his mentees. I was delighted he agreed to take me under his wing. Kevin’s classical eye has been honed over 2 decades, gaining

  • 5 fellowships from the British Institute of Professional Photography
  • 2 fellowships form the Master of Photographers Association
  • 2 fellowships from the Royal Photographic Society

By summer 2015 my mentorship was well underway and I had spent a couple of days with Kevin and gained so much valuable information from his vast knowledge and experience. I couldn’t think of anyone better to guide me on my way than Kevin. Geographically this was perfect as he resides in the same county as me however I would travel many miles to visit him even if he didn’t. My portfolio was gaining pace and I was encouraged to apply to join the BIPP as a provisional member. I submitted an application. This consisted of some highlights of my work so far. I soon heard back from the BIPP that my application was successful. I had 12 months to submit a panel of between 25-50 images. The BIPP’s qualification structure is recognised across the world. It has often been imitated but never surpassed. I knew I had a great challenge ahead of me and so my journey began. My submission of images and supporting evidence will be reviewed by a panel of trained assessors. The assessors will consider how I present myself to my clients, my technical knowledge and my attention to detail and creativity.

The qualifications levels are as follows with three tiers of achievement

Licentiate (LBIPP) The entry-level qualification for professional photographers. They must be adequately insured and earning income from their images. Their work should be commissioned, or be available for sale. All of the technical abilities that would be expected of a professional photographer are assessed and they must show professional competency within their images.

Associate (ABIPP) Often the most difficult qualification to achieve; Associateship includes all of the competencies of the Licentiate, but with additional creativity, knowledge and experience. These photographers are often in busy, successful companies and it can be hard to find the time to reach this level of achievement.

Fellow (FBIPP) Often recognised as one of the highest vocational qualifications within the profession, Fellowship of the Institute is an outstanding achievement. A unique style and a discerning quality are expected. The work is often presented as a standalone project, rather than a mix of commissioned images.

Currently I am putting my Licentiate portfolio together and adding to it as I enter into the 2016 wedding season.

Soon after becoming a provisional member of the BIPP I decided to test the water and submit a panel of images into the BIPP 2016 Awards. I named my panel ‘Children at the Wedding’ and entered it into the ‘Provisional Members’ category. This submission was not only my first to the BIPP but to any National Awards. I was understandably nervous. Early in 2016 I was asked to attend the Awards in Aylesbury as my panel had been nominated. I was very proud to hear this and attended the Awards with my wife Holly and we had the pleasure to meet the team at the BIPP and so many talented photographers. Expecting to leave empty handed but having had the privilege to attend such a high accolade event I was presented the Award of ‘Runner up provisional photographer of the year’.

Attending the Awards was very humbling indeed. I found all the Team and members to be so supportive and encouraging like a family unit. A powerful piece of advice I took away from an esteemed fellowship member was to not  hide your hard work as if it can’t be seen it will not be able to be recognised. I see myself as at the start of a journey with this institute. Already I would highly recommend any photographer wanting to take their work ethic to a high level to join and become part of this family as they will support, guide and encourage you so you are prepared for your qualification submissions and taking your professional business forward.

The institute also offers on going learning with so many network opportunities. They hold regular meetings along with professional advice in running your business. I am proud to be working towards becoming a member of the BIPP. I am excited to be able to use all its resources in the future and be able to deliver to my clients to the best of my ability images they can hold dearly forever. My confidence to go on and excel has been boosted by the words of the chairman of the BIPP National Awards as saying how difficult it is to be nominated.

I am looking forward to submitting my Licentiate panel this year and hopefully entering future awards.

I would like to thank my mentor Kevin Wilson for his on going support and guidance and my wife Holly for being there to share my journey and believing in my dream of becoming one of the best wedding photographers in Dorset.

The 2016 Award Winners can be found here