Woohoo! I've just been awarded at the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards for the first time.
The APPAs, as they're affectionately known within the industry, are Australia’s pre-eminent professional photography event.
Established in 1976 - two years before I was born - the APPAs are essentially an annual peer review event that encourages professional photographers nationwide to continually strive to improve and excel, thereby raising public perception of professional photography.
Having just missed out on achieving the necessary 80+ score to be awarded on my three other entries - all sat at the higher end of "professional practice" with scores of 78, 78 and 77 respectively - I am thrilled to have achieved Silver with the last of my prints to be judged.
And, yes, you guess it ... the award-winning photograph is none other than my capture of a rainstorm cutting across a valley in the Arizona desert on an otherwise sunny day.
Titled Monument Valley Storm, this photograph has already been released as a limited-edition print, collected Silver in the 2013 International Loupe Awards and been exhibited at NSW Parliament House as a 2014 Head On Landscape Prize finalist.
I'm delighted to have achieved such success with an image that I personally really love.
Huge thanks goes out to my wife Paula for helping lug around my gear on our Arizona road trip last September when this photograph was captured and our Navajo guide Duffy from Monument Valley Safari for his incredible 4WD skills to get us to my vantage point on top of Hunts Mesa.
The Navajo Nation backcountry location, chosen after considerable research, required an overnight camping excursion. I'd had high expectations for capturing something special during dusk or dawn, but the storm appeared shortly after we arrived to set up camp, adding an unexpected element to the scene that couldn't be topped.
The storm band blew directly across the scene in front of me, tracking left to right as I looked at it and dissecting the valley that otherwise remained blue sky and sunny. I immediately knew it was something special and when I first saw the image large on my monitor I was ecstatic.
Incredibly, I almost missed this opportunity due to a flat tyre that morning after hitting a pothole as we were beginning our journey from the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley.
Driving along desert roads with no phone reception and pushing the space-saver spare tyre as much as I dared, trying to limit how late we would be for our scheduled campout departure and hoping we avoided any further delays, certainly raised the stress levels. Thankfully we were able to make contact with the tour company just over half way into the journey and they were prepared to wait for us!