So last night (14th May 2019) was the awards ceremony for the prestigious AOP Awards. I along with Tom Carson and Matt Whinney went along to soak in the art, the atmosphere and the alcohol. On a serious note what a wonderful night it was.

Entering the exhibit
Williamson Carson directors Tom Carson and Matthew Whinney at the exhibit

We started our evening at One Canada Square where all of the finalists were being displayed. The pictures are located around the centre (entrances to the offices above) and around the edge of the lobby leading down to the shops and restaurants below. On the map it looks quite strange how it’s laid out and a bit of a puzzle to navigate, but when we arrived you realise how well the space and layout work. It was quite busy when we went, as a lot of people were appreciating the photos before heading over to the awards. The lobby provides plenty of space to appreciate the pieces and you weren’t all fighting to get to the front. It also left you open to discussion; able to soak in others opinions on what they were looking at. I mean there aren’t many places where you would hear someone say that they don’t think it’s very hygienic to be naked in a kitchen.

Director Matthew Whinney at the exhibit

What was so wonderful about this point of the evening is that you got to see a lot of the photographers near their work, showing their friends and family what they’ve achieved and explaining a little bit about the process that they went through to get these pieces. As a spectator it was unique to see the person behind the work, it felt like you were getting a backstage glimpse and there is something very special about that. You could sense the pride in their work and achievement in being a finalist in the awards. Considering the vastness and the amount of photographers that enter these awards every year, they deserve to be proud and it’s a joy to celebrate that.

After enjoying the exhibit we headed over the road to the AOP awards ceremony and what a contrast it was. Going from a calm environment where you can drift around at your own leisure and soak in everything at your own pace to walking into the awards where there was loud music, colourful lighting and everyone bustling around catching up with old friends, colleagues and family. If the excitement hadn’t hit the photographers already by this point it definitely would have by now.

Seamus McGibbon at the Awards

The presentation of the awards was slick and modern. Starting with a countdown and a warm welcome with some thank you’s from Seamus McGibbon, the executive director of the AOP. The awards were announced one after the other on a slideshow where the winners were asked to make their way up stairs to collect their prize and have a photo. Though fast paced this was a wonderful moment. To hear the cheers from the winners friends and family as their photo was displayed and their name announced was lovely. We were fortunate to have one winner near us and it was truly touching to hear how happy and proud her friends and family were. She looked ecstatic as she took in her achievement. All the hard work paying off in such a wonderful way.

It was a spectacular evening overall, a chance to be able to look at some truly stunning pieces of photography was an honour. The detail, composition and truth hit hard and certainly paid off. It makes you appreciate what all photographers do.

The exhibit will still be available to view at One Canada Square until the 31st May 2019. But to see all of the winners from last nights event please click here