To win just once against the odds
And once be smiled on by the Gods
Like a wain just woke up from his sleep I called at my ma and das door at 1am last night. I had crystal in my hands, 4 awards for wedding photography, I wasn’t going to bed til we’d welcomed them home in good Doherty style.
My da was the original, the man with a creative energy to make thing happen in the village of Ballykelly. He was the original photographer in our family’s history. He documented our childhood, our families, the local community, the odd wedding, every parish event, cubs and scouts, GAA, folk long gone only living in our memories and on his rolls of Kodak ‘safety’ film. Gentle mother my forever guide in life, with a willing ear and subtle advice at every turn on the journey. Arisen then from their slumber, on a dry icy night 20th March 2015. I’d left the awards ceremony 90 minutes before, just as the band was getting kindled up, as the river of champagne got to full flow. I shook 100 hands, hugged and dealt out my respects, then wandered through the midnight air arm in arm with my good wife; the party was about to kick off but I had to folk in Muff to see. We celebrated along the roads of mid-Ulster with a can of Club orange and a box of Pringles – the best of times need to be shared with those that matter the most.
I win an award everytime I lift my camera - to see a face appear on the screen, to watch it come alive as a print, to know a microsecond of history has been made, time frozen forever- it’s just magic, total wizardry. Did you ever walk into someone’s house and see your photo framed above the mantelpiece, ever get an email from someone overseas that their Irish wedding album has arrived and they cried, ever get cornered by 2 oul biddies in Clonmany Centra and have them talk about your work as if you weren’t there! It brings a quare feeling of satisfaction that’s for sure. I’ve more awards than I could use, I taste the victory everytime I lift the camera.
Photography industry awards are nothing I’d ever meant to pursue. I’m my own harshest judge, I know when I’ve half-assed, I know when I’ve went full throttle and made the impossible against the odds. But open minds lead to open doors so in I charged, the PPANI photography awards, 2 years in a row. Last year, my first attempt, I got a runner up trophy, delighted. This year, 4 crystal trophies sat in the passenger seat in the van on the way home. There was hardly room for the wife up front. Contemporary Wedding photographer of the Year, Documentary Wedding Photographer of the Year, LPPANI wedding photographer of the Year and overall NI Wedding Photographer of the Year. I nearly had a stitch in my side I walked to the stage that many times, the soles of my new shoes were near worn through - there’s not many times in life a man can have such a complaint! I’m so grateful, to the PPANI, the photographer’s association in which I am a proud and content member. A community that has given plenty in the way of support, where I endeavour to give as much as I have received. A place I’ve had the pleasure of sitting side by side with many of my photographic heroes, Mustafa Oymak for one, easily one of my top photographers worldwide. I’ve forged friendships that I know will last a lifetime, Sam McDermott, Paul McElhennon, Marie Allen, Catherine MacKenzie, Paul Davis and his legend of a mammy, dozens more - familiar faces to share the highs and the dramas of working as a professional wedding photographer. There are none of us alone anymore, in what could be a very lonely and isolated job. Yes a fare lucky man I am to call these folk friends and many, many more that I am privileged to share time with. I told Catherine last night that I’m finished with photography awards, and I’ll stand by this. I’m content and happy having a shelf at my ma’s house for my crystalwares, but it’s not really my drive in life or my work. It’s nice to win, to leave a bit of a physical legacy for the grand kids, but my work, the folk I get to meet and share wedding and family days with, the roads I get to walk are where my energies are best invested. I’ll leave the awards game to the youngsters, I’ll bow out and sit in the back row next year with a glass of stout and cheer for the folk that are called forth.
There are too many people to thank and I guess it would too easy to deal out a group thanks so I’ll dive in a reel out a few names, knowing right well that I’ll miss plenty and no doubt will receive a warm ear for it. To the good folk at PPANI - Marie, Paul, David, Graham – your hard work is appreciated, to my supporters and friends that had my back since the start, my brothers, my ma and da, ‘The Dohertys’ - what a team I get to play for. Every bride and groom that has brought me along on their great adventure, every daring manoeuvre, every wee glance toward the lens, I have shouted ‘class’ and meant it everytime, the brides and grooms that have become my friends, Shaun Doherty, my main man, someday I’ll be second shooting for you we both know this, uncle Bamber that had my back since I lifted a camera, uncle Willy and John on the wife’s side, to anyone that has said ‘aye’ when I suggest something pretty ridiculous, the girls at Vixen in Carndonagh, Ciara Burke, Buncrana Camera Club, Pixcam, Yvonne, Nadean, Claire and all the fine staff at the Redcastle, Francis, Leanne, Shay and the gang at The Red Door, Walter and co. at An Grianan hotel, John McDaid for the words of advice waaay back at the start, Rich Gilligan my original and current photographic hero, The Mighty Boost, Dearbhla Walsh, Tracy and co. at McGrorys, my friends in Ballyliffin; the Upper, the Lodge, Johnny the legend at The Strand, Darius at Arco, Nikon, Ciara at Beautiful Day, Ann at Treasured Memories, Heaven Scent in Carn for the other day, Charlene and Deborah on the calculators,The Malin Hotel, the cool priests, vicars and registrars out there that have allowed me to wander the aisles and altars, Florence Blackburn, Cool Classics, the car drivers that say ‘no problem’ everytime I ask can we pull over, Samantha at The Roe Park, Gerardpro, Sinead, Paula, Helen, Decky, Katrina and anyone that has ever had the misfortune of being my second shooter, Leo and Kirsty, Bod and Steve at New Deal, Liam Kidney, Mellissa Mannion, PJ, Michelle, The 13th Duke, Trish, William Healy, Denis Hyland, Eileen, Dee, and my old pals at idwf, Brendan Landy (my original friend and mentor), Lady Paula O’Hara, Reverend Dave McClelland, Bruno Rosa, Simon Barr, Sean O’Donnell, The Redcastle Bar, Yasmin and Andy, Annie Claire’s cottage, Beezo and the Kierney family, Angela at Mamore Cottages, Anthony and Fergal at Leisureland, all my Guinness Brides, John and Trisha Deery, Gavin’s Cabins of Cavan, skateboarding, the wonderful Ana Palas, George Mills, Adrian and Laura at Bunagee, Cathy Callaghan’s granny…
The beautiful soul that is Karen Doherty, my wife, our children Emily and Pollan Jay…