The Association of Photographers (AOP) has announced that University of Gloucestershire photography student, Jimmy Fletcher, has won the Best in Show award in the AOP’s 2023 Student Awards with his multi-screen short film which documents the entire breeding season of the northern gannet at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire.

London, 27 June 2023:

The judges collectively felt that Jimmy’s film represented both ‘moving’ and the concept of stills in the same work. His piece won him a prize with a total worth of over £9,000 including a cash grant of £2,500, a commissioned project with Fujifilm, access to Fujifilm kit for his next project and the opportunity to work with a Fujifilm approved Professional Lab to print a series of images for his portfolio.

Jimmy, who also won the Silver award in the Places category, said he was blown away by his first view of the gannets at Bempton Cliffs: “As I looked down from the cliff tops, I was absolutely astonished. The sky was filled with gannets flying back and forth with food and nesting materials, the cliff faces saw gannets feeding young, mating, building nests, clashing beaks and fighting for territory. I immediately fell in love with this almost prehistoric looking scene and decided that I wanted to recreate this emotive experience”.

On his win, he added, “I am beyond delighted to have won silver in the places category and best in show. Hearing my name and seeing my work on screen at the announcement had me absolutely buzzing! I am still in complete shock! I have often doubted myself and my talent, but to have my vision and hard work recognised in such a prestigious competition has really boosted my confidence. I am now feeling very positive and excited for what the future holds for me.”

northern gannets in screengrab of jimmy fletcher's bempton black and white film winner of student best in show aop awards

Jimmy Fletcher, Bempton

Watch Jimmy’s ‘Bempton’ film here.

Update 27th July 2023:

The University of Gloucestershire photography student – who is set to complete his degree in 2023 – will now work closely with Fujifilm ambassador and AOP member, Kristina Varaksina, to deliver a four-week project. A portrait and fine-art photographer, Kristina is one of Fujifilm’s UK-based X-Photographers, using the GFX100S to capture the strongest emotions from her subjects.

As well as loaning its latest kit, Fujifilm will also be providing video production support to create a short video of the Jimmy’s journey. Here, he will gain exclusive access to one of Fujifilm’s approved Professional Labs, who will advise them – and print – a series of images for his portfolio. The work will also feature in future Fujifilm campaigns alongside well-known industry professionals.

Jimmy Fletcher said: “The AOP Student Awards have provided a platform for me to showcase my creativity and the talent on display is incredible. Winning the Best in Show prize is fantastic, and I am blown away at the prize. Not only will give me an opportunity to really kickstart my career as a photographer upon graduation, but the experience of working closely with Fujifilm, the AOP and the Professional Lab is priceless. I can’t wait to see where I go from here!”

Theo Georghiades, General Manager for Fujifilm UK, Imaging Solutions, said: “Fujifilm is proud to support the next generation of photographers through our association with the AOP’s Student Awards. We believe in nurturing creativity and innovation in the field of imaging, and we are thrilled to offer Jimmy a cash grant towards his next project, which will be featured in our ‘Print to Prove it’ Campaign, and access to Fujifilm kit for the project.”

Isabelle Doran, CEO of the AOP, said: “The AOP Student Awards offer an opportunity for newcomers to photography to showcase their best work. The talent on show this year has been outstanding – as highlighted through the exhibition at the Truman Brewery – and all the winners should be suitably proud. Partnering with Fujifilm has allowed us to offer our best prize yet and we can’t wait to see how Jimmy’s story unfolds.”

The prize is the latest instalment of Fujifilm’s Print to Prove it campaign, which aims to encourage photographers to print professionally. Print to Prove it offers photographers the chance to claim three free 10×8” or 12×8” prints from an approved Professional Lab, with a choice of lustre and gloss professional Fujifilm paper. Since its inception in 2021, Print to Prove it has seen over 2,000 photographers take advantage of the offer.

The Gold award in the Places category went to London Metropolitan student Cristina Filimon. Arts University Bournemouth student, Nick Teo won the Gold award in the People category and Oxford Brookes University student Reuben Worlledge took Silver.

Unusually there were two Silver awards given in the Things category, with Falmouth University’s Alexander Norman and Olivia Eden winning Gold and Silver awards respectively and London Metropolitan’s Kitty (Kasia) Kowalska also receiving a Silver.#

olivia eden lumen photo

Olivia Eden, Sea Change – Lumen 3/4

Association of Photographers CEO Isabelle Doran said she was:  “Very pleasantly surprised to see such a wide range of different styles & techniques embraced for this year’s Student Awards, including a number of motion entries and several classic photographic techniques such as cyanotypes. Beautiful, thoughtful and provocative.”

All the finalists’ images can be seen online. The AOP is running Starting Out 2023 – a programme of free talks and folio reviews for photography graduates and students – alongside the exhibition

The Association of Photographers has also announced, that for the second year in a row, James Cant has been voted AOP Lecturer of the Year and his London Metropolitan BA Photography course has been voted AOP Accredited Course of the Year. Both these awards were voted on by AOP Accredited course students.

Association of Photographers’ Student Awards – Judges comments

People Category – judged by Julia Fullerton Batten:

“I really enjoyed judging the AOP Student Awards this year. There were load of entries and it took quite some time to look at all of them. When judging I look out for interesting storytelling, creativity, technical quality and the impact the image has on me…” [my winning] entries really impressed me with their “unique storytelling and style’.”

Places Category – judged by Krishna Sheth:

“It was such a pleasure judging the AOP Student Awards for 2023. Such a wide spectrum of entries within the [Places] category, but for me the Gold and Silver winners shone through.”

Things Category – judged by Ian Potter:

“I personally would like to thank the AOP for their continued support of emerging talent in our ever-changing industry, and all those who made the effort to take part. Don’t be upset if you are not included as a finalist, participating in competition is all part of the learning curve. Competitions show us what is out there, and what people are up to – they also demonstrate how differently we all see the world.

Try to understand what the judges have seen in the finalists, whether you agree with them or not. And something you should learn asap as an image maker, is that your work will always be judged, and very often by people far less qualified than you! Take it in, don’t reject it. It’s all part of the creative business.”

Images: Screengrabs of Jimmy Fletcher’s ‘Bempton’. Credit: Jimmy Fletcher

Students and young photographers aged 21 and under are invited to enter our Young Amateur Photographer of the Year competition. It’s free to enter. Photographers over 21 can enter our Amateur Photographer of the Year category.

Related reading:

University of Gloucestershire students share new perspectives at photojournalism show

Falmouth students share diverse techniques in Gweles exhibition

Best cameras for photography students

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