Young photographers honoured at awards ceremony
Some of Wolverhampton's finest budding photographers have been recognised for their work at a prestigious awards ceremony.
Schoolchildren from across the city were honoured for their bright, thoughtful and impressive photography skills at an awards ceremony at Wolverhampton Grammar School on Monday evening.
Organised by Wolverhampton Photographic Society, almost 300 young people entered the competition, doubling the entries from last year.
Judged by three photographic experts, including Express & Star chief photographer Tim Thursfield, the hundreds of entries were reduced to a final 10, before the top three were announced at the awards evening.
All of the top three were presented with a certificate, while the winner of each category was also given a £50 cash prize.
This year there was a under 15 category, followed by four categories covering different photography styles, creative, open, portrait and reflection.
The four winners from those categories were then up for the overall award, with that artist receiving a trophy and being crowned Wolverhampton Young Photographer 2018.
Rob Cowell, chairman of Wolverhampton Photographic Society, said: "The whole idea of this competition is to inspire young people to get hold of a camera, go out and think about what they're taking.
"If we just inspire one person a year to go into photography then that would be a success.
"It's vitally important for young people to get involved, too many of them are chilling out on computers and playing games, so something like this gives them something to do, get's them out doing things and is creative.
"There are some real skill in the photos we have here, it's fantastic.
"It gives them confidence to put their ideas forward and it takes a lot to come on a night like this and wonder if you're going to win.
"Everybody who is here tonight has made it, even if they don't win, they've achieved so much.
"The judges were unanimous that the standard of the work for the age group is extremely high, it's really first class, that could have been taken by people in a club."
Natasha Rodrigues was thrilled when she picked up first place in the portrait category with her piece titled Rembrant.
But the 18-year-old from Ormiston New Academy was shocked when she was named Wolverhampton Young Photographer 2018.
She said: "I can't believe it, I really didn't think I'd win, let alone win one category and then the overall category.
"The school and my teachers got me into photography in the first place.
"I don't have any plans to do it as a career, it's more of a hobby, but I didn't expect to win anything like this.
"It's amazing, I'm very proud of it."
The winner in the under 15 category was 13-year-old Lyla Harris with her photo titled London Bridge in Motion.
After picking up the gong, the Saint Matthias School student is planning to continue with her snaps.
She said: "It's very shocking, and I was nervous when I won, but I'm very happy, it's a big thing.
"I enjoy photography and I'm planning to carry on with it.
"The best thing is capturing emotion and making the person looking at the photo feeling that same emotion.
"It's really nice to be recognised, I'm very proud."
The winner in the creative category was 18-year-old Simi Kaur with her piece titled Abandoned III.
The Wolverhampton Grammar School student said: "My mum was so happy when it was announced that I had won, I really didn't expect it.
"I'm very proud, it means that all the effort to put the work together was worth it, it takes a lot of work to put it together and it's an honour to be recognised for that.
"It's only a hobby of mine, my plan for my career is to go into interior design, so I still definitely want to stay on the creative path."
Sam Jones, aged 16, was the winner in the reflection category for his clever illusion piece titled Empty.
The Wolverhampton Grammar School student said: "I didn't expect to win, I entered last year and didn't win.
"My photo took a lot of work with Photoshop and is basically two images put together, I had to stand in the boots and take a photo to get the reflection in the puddle and then put the boots alone in the same place and take another shot.
"I looked at a lot of photos about reflection on the internet and it inspired me to create my piece.
"I'm very proud, I was in complete shock when I won, I'm really pleased."
The winner in the open category was 17-year-old Emily Rodwell with her photo called New Beginnings.
The Ormiston New Academy student said: "I'm so proud but shocked, I didn't even think it was my best photo.
"I can't really put it into words, I'm speechless.
"It's great how different interpretations of the photo come from different people, and that people have thoughts on it that I didn't even think of.
"It's incredible to know that those judges thought mine was the best, it's a great achievement."
The final award was the Schools Award, which was brand new for this year, and was presented to the school with the most children in the top three of this year's category.
Ormiston New Academy came away with the win and were presented with a trophy that they will keep until next year's awards.