Manchester photographer wins top prize in Off to Work photography awards

A Manchester photographer who quit a job in finance to follow his dreams has won the top prize in a prestigious national photography competition.

Joyful weddings, intimate family moments and spectacular live gatherings are captured in all their glory in these breathtaking shots that scooped the top spots in the prestigious Off to Work Event Photography Awards.

Steve Grogan, 47, from Failsworth won the top prize, and his candid and intimate shot of a nursing bride was a clear winner, having gladdened the hearts of the judges.

Steve said: “It was an unforgettable experience to walk away with three trophies and the winner’s cheque for £1,000, I got a few odd looks on the train back home to Manchester carrying my massive novelty cheque!

“Thank you to my family and friends for being so supportive since I took the leap of faith to be a full-time photographer almost nine years ago.”

Steve started his photography business nine years, taking the plunge and giving up a good job in finance to follow his photographic passions

“There was this moment when I just needed to get out of the office, I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life so I just took the plunge.

“Quitting my job gave me the fear to drive me on.” Said Steve, who had been an amateur photographer since studying the subject at college and university.

And speaking about the stunning photograph which scooped him the top £1,000 prize, he added: “My approach is always to try and capture the person being natural, so they can remember what happened and not what they were told to do.

“There is always lots of humour too, funny things can happen when 100 people get together!

“The winning photograph actually happened on my break, I was just down the corridor from the meal, and was sitting in the area having my food when the bridge came out and started to feed her baby.

“She was already comfortable with the idea of being photographed feeding her baby, it was just real life

“I was chatting to her and then all of a sudden her sister came along and joined in our conversation and started feeding her some dessert. I knew instinctively that this was a really pure moment.”

The ninth Off to Work Event Photography Awards ceremony took place at RIBA (Royal Institutes of Architects) in central London on June 5, celebrating the best commercial photographers and their spectacular moment-catching skills.

Battersea Power Station’s relaunch event was the subject of the Overall Runner-up shot, captured by Noah Goodrich, while Luke Dyson, picked up a Highly-Commended trophy with his shot of Chris Martin of Coldplay during a show at Wembley Stadium shows.

The other Overall Highly-Commended trophy went to Katja Ogrin for her colourful shot of the Pride Birmingham parade that won the Cultural Events category.

The not-for-profit competition highlights the importance of photography to the events industry, which contributes over £42 billion a year to the UK economy.

Competition founder, Philip Atkins, MD of staffing agency Off to Work, said: “Photography does so much to amplify, justify and sustain the events industry, so it’s heartening that the competition is now attracting so many entries, including from agencies, caterers and venues, as an investment in photography is given increasing importance.

“The competition was the toughest ever and the images entered encapsulated the impact, both societal and commercial, of a durable and effervescent events sector, which contributes over £42 billion a year to the UK economy.”

Over 1,700 images from nearly 200 event photographers were submitted to a panel of industry-leading judges.

Among the spectacular snaps is one taken from a cherry picker to capture a huge crowd of revellers at the Mighty Hoopla Festival, who completely fill the frame as the colourful LGBTQI+ community comes together for two fun days.

London Lions winner Holly Winterburn takes one for the team as she’s photographed happily handling all of four of the trophies won by her team in the British Basketball League – a first for any team.

And Papua New Guinea cheerleaders bring some culture to the non-descript toilets at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington, as they apply colourful face paint ahead of the Rugby League World Cup group match.

Competition and Event Director, Graham Hill, added: “The competition has been a great success and we are already making plans for the 10th-anniversary competition, for which entries will open in October.”

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