Being based on the other side of the world and only being an occasional visitor to the UK, I jumped at the chance to be able to show some of my work at the London Photo Festival.
The timing was perfect as I had just finished an exhibition about the Hamar tribe of Southern Ethiopia, and it was some of these images that I put forward for the Festival. The main reason I wanted to enter was to get further international exposure and test the appeal of my cultural portraits in a metropolitan marketplace. I wanted to show images designed to be interpreted as cultural crossings, where the space between photographer and photography is more than just physical. On the faces of the portraits I submitted was a mix of suspicion and acceptance, my attempt to personify the deeper issue of tourism versus exploitation.
Having read about the Festival the previous year I knew that it was easy for overseas photographers to get everything organised online. I didn’t really expect to sell any of the work, but when I did the communication was very professional.
Of course, a real highlight was being judged 1st Runner Up, a complete surprise and honour. Sharing that accolade on social media has led to further interest and also boosted those who had previously purchased from the original exhibition, knowing that they had chosen award-winning work.
For me it was certainly worthwhile taking the time to enter the Festival and I’ll be back again next year!