Monday, 5 December 2011

I WIN! (aka Cider Photography 101- don't expect to earn a living)

Good news, on Friday I was lucky enough to be informed I've been awarded first prize (€500 plus €100 of books) in the Spanish cider magazine 'La Sidra' photo competition (my life is now complete.)

For those of you that speak Spanish, here is the press release.

Being both cidery and photographic, I felt I had a few contenders 'in the bag' and as I was planning to travel to Asturias in 2012 to continue my exploration of global cider culture, I thought I should give it a go. Even if (as usual) I didn't place at all, it could be beneficial marketing. Having not seen what or who I was up against it was hard to get too excited about it, Cider photography a tiny and bespoke market so specialising in it is ridiculous really. I've entered some competitions in the past but always get lost in the melee never to be heard from again, so I didn't pay too much attention to the T&C's.

I thought, on the off chance I win anything at all, I should celebrate wisely by investing my winnings in a trip to Asturias, the home of the competition. I've spent so much time over the last seven years (and more money than I should) 'doing' cider, I could at least partly justify a cider specific trip the best way I can, by contributing competition winnings back into it. I rarely get paid for doing any cider work, more than 99% of my income comes from my freelance work (and even that doesn't earn me much if I'm honest.)

Primer Sidra del Añu, (First Cider of the Year) is an Asturian festival that celebrates the new years cider being ready, something I'm quite good at. A few cider buddies and I are talking about getting together there for a few days hardcore cider throwing. I especially enjoy the idea of celebrating it because its ready (I'm a firm believer in celebrating good news, its important) so here's my chance... early April, crisp Spring mornings, sunny warm evenings, passionate cider drinking festival... a win means I can go, its the green light I've been waiting for, funds available etc! However the organisers of the photo competition (who also know I am planning to attend Aprils festival) have kindly pointed out "it's NECESARY to come personally to receive the prize... so I'm afraid you're going to use a good part of your 500 € travelling" to Asturias in late January to collect the winnings. Having tentatively checked online, I can confirm that its more than likely to cost me the same (possibly more) than the winnings to go and collect the winnings. In this instance winning the competition means I can at best hope to break even, again leaving me poorer overall if I travel back 6 weeks later. Not even entering (and despite winning) it'll still cost me that trip to Asturias to document the festival. What a pickle to get oneself into with some good news. I have asked if we can delay and I can collect in April but... we shall see.

Here are the winning photographs.

1st place:
Falling Apples II
2nd place:

3rd place:
Silhoueta I

JR Cider 'special prize':
Mayando Fuerte

I have to say, I really like the second place entry, if I was judging that would have been difficult not to give it first place, it really appeals to me and I'd love to see more of his/her work. The technical aspects of it are really tight (the exposure, the contrast, the colours, the moment etc) but the social aspect of cidermaking as content really elevates it to something special. For me thats where the real power and interest of cider lies. It takes the subject away from the usual apples, orchards, glasses of juice etc and propels the theme to humanity and social history. It adds value, something many subjects could benefit from.

Anyway, the irony continues with my second, more immediate, much sillier (and cheaper) way for me to celebrate: by sharing with you another winning 'Photograph.' 

Go on, let all 4.12 minutes of it play, you know you want to. Its the most appropriate, feel good sound I can have in this situation, and its probably the only time I can ever vaguely justify posting this particular guilty pleasure on a cider photography blog. I've got so much more material in the pipeline, that its much more worthwhile and relevant. So apologies for my moment of self indulgent fun.

For any Lepp-geek-wannabes out there, 'Photograph' is from their 1983 album 'Pyromania'. When it was released as a single, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart and No. 12 on the Pop Singles chart. The album went on to sell over 10 million copies in the US alone, ranked number 384 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and placed the album ranked 35 in its list of Q magazines "40 Best Albums of the '80s.

X Factor wannabes, eat my 1980s pop-metal.


  1. Well done mate, you deserve to be the winner!

  2. fantastic news billy! what a lovely story - i have to say, you know ive always loved that picture of yours - but i love third place! reminds me of my brothers wedding - sneaking about in the dark and the pictures you took of us cheersing the good stuff! mazin! im hoping to buy a camera in jan sales - chosen a different one in the end! x

  3. Congratulations Bill!!
    How nice we are in Asturias ;)

    Just for your information, we are organizing a travel to Asturias in March, cidermakers, writters and people relationated with cider in germany. Some of them you know them already.
    If you have will be 5 days tour really interesting :)

    Eduardo Coto

  4. The falling apples photo is really amazing! By the way, Congrats!

  5. Thanks all, I appreciate the love!
    Edu- what are the dates?

  6. Congratulations!

    The Falling Apples II photo is awesome! Do you know who made it and how it was staged?

  7. I love the falling apples shot! Like Thearica, I'm curious how it was "staged". I discovered your blog when I read the story of a town in Britain being rained down on by a freak "apple shower". They used your 1st place winner as the photo.

  8. Hi Thearica and Isaiah,
    I took the photo of the falling apples. I was lucky enough to have a day where I could visit a cider farm towards the end of the harvest. At that stage, many apple growers decide to shake the remaining apples out from the trees. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time, as so many photos are. There's no Photoshop or digital trickery, it was all in camera - the way it should be!
    Happy Christmas everyone!