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  • Writer's pictureRuss Tierney

WE WON A scam AWARD... yay! Don't fall for this..

Updated: Aug 2

I'm writing this to hopefully warn others, as the photography industry is an easy target.

"Good afternoon Russ,

I hope you are well and have been coping with the pandemic.

My name is **** and I am from the Wales Prestige Awards. I understand you have been in touch with a colleague of mine **** and as you know you were nominated for Photography Studio of the Year. We have now made our decision on the winner of this award and I have some fantastic news for you. "

Photography Studio of the Year!

The above message was last year, as the wording probably suggests. I have had them contact me the previous year and this year too. Basically, if you show any interest then it progresses from there, where I imagine they all down tools in the office as sirens go off, and they stand up and shout something like "hey, we've caught a live one here". The previous year, as I'm notorious for having my phone on silent, I missed the call, and that was the last I (didn't) hear(d) from them.. because, I guess, time is money, and chasing people who aren't easy to capture isn't worth their time. However, last year, I did, as I gave them a time slot so was expecting their call and I was curious to see if it was legit and not at all bollocks. It was. Let's set the scene. The person on the other end of the phone uses your name every three words because they've been to bullshit school or seen the Wolf Of Wall Street a few too many times..

Y'know, the, "hey I remember your name, and to prove it, I will use it in every other sentence, just so you know you're really important to me", which I guess works on three years old and the impressionable, but to anyone with any sense of nuance regarding emotion and the understanding of language, knows it's either a habit of a kindly old person born of a different era, or a complete condescending fuck wit with an agenda. The above scene does it justice. It's been a pet hate of mine since way before that flick made it to air. People talk about the ick, and that is one of my many icks. Excuse the language, as I've not excused mine thus far, but my mind will instantly go to "what a cunt" if you try that with me in any guise.. I just find it embarrassing for the person doing it. But hey, I'm a fair and open-minded man. Maybe they went to some kind of media school of bullshit to appear professional. It doesn't excuse it as it will do them no favours other than gaslighting the easily led, but as said, let's be somewhat polite in discovering if there truly is an agenda here. So is there really one? Am I just being brutally forward and honest.. another personal trait I find hard to suppress in favour of integrity. My peace and integrity is more important than your or anyone else's bullshit, and that's worth remembering, and it's why i'm terrible at business and have my phone on silent as an introvert. In any exchange we have, I may nod out of politeness at your bullshit, but as soon as you drag me in it and make it my problem, I'll destroy you.. it's just a talent of mine, giving you just enough rope to hang yourself.

"Are there any costs?

Unlike many awards programs, we offer no options for companies or individuals to make any financial contributions prior to this year’s decisions being made. This includes booking of advertorial space or partnership opportunities of any kind.

Winners are chosen by our independent panel made up of select industry experts and our editor-in-chief. This ensures the most deserving are picked each year and decisions cannot be influenced by current relationships."

Ignore that I highlighted prior (if you can), so it sounds OK, right? I'm not sure who all these others are that charge prior, as surely that would mean you're just paying for a hollow made up award, right? You may as well go down to your local trophy shop, buy one and print any old shit on it as let someone you don't know do the same and then present it to you for an inflated price.. but that's prior, so these guys must be cool and legit, right?

So on to this year's e-mail

"Did you receive my last email safely? I wanted to establish if you wish to be part of our Wales Prestige Awards 2023/24 awards programme.

To clarify, there are no costs involved whatsoever or in the case you are selected as a winner.

At this stage we are confirming if you were interested in submitting more information. If you wish to do so, kindly send me a reply confirming and I will send the details."

It's the same copy and paste e-mail (or thereabouts) that we get each year.. besides, we won it last year dammit, why do I have to submit more information again.. y'know that we're awesome, right, you told us so!? .. and thus, there is the problem. It's completely hollow. What did I win from last year... well, nothing, apart from being ona list in print, which I imagine is a glorified index in a sea of businesses. Maybe a title no one ever heard of too. Who here has heard of the Wales Prestige awards? Who here as seen anything about the prestige awards. Honestly, the only thing I have seen about it and from it's winners is via their own socials themselves, where they've reposted said winners boasting about their new CV LinkedIn fodder award. Now these are aimed at everything and everyone in terms of small businesses, not just the photography industry, plus they're UK wide, so saying Wales again makes it feel more personal right? You would have thought I'd know of someone else in my industry, never mind the million others, shouting about it right? It would make the local news at least, because they like printing any old crap for clicks, aka adverting money, too.

So where's the scam? Well, those who do buy in to it then get smacked about the face with a tiered price list and invited to an awards show, which in our case, because we're in North Wales, is 4 hours away down south.. it would be closer to go to their HQ in Birmingham. And sure, you don't have to buy anything, you can have your glorified listing in an index of other names in a print that no-one sees outside the awards show given no-ones ever heard of them, but if you want to show off a trophy and act all Jonny big bollocks and actually have something worth shouting about, then you're talking about paying for a package in the hundreds of hundreds. That's great I guess if you want a day off work because you're already hammering money in to your account, as now you've got an opportunity to right off several hundred quid against tax, but many people are just trying to pay their bills by doing something they love. Being promised (somewhat overexaggerated here) fame and fortune, networking and amazing opportunities for a hefty price tag when you're struggling, is either going to seem like a piss take to the sensible, or an opportunity to grab with both hands where you may live some kind of fantasy upturn in business in the near future, for the desperate.

Y'know, let's be kind to the morons, I mean, lovely people who bought in to it; they just want a day out, something to do for hundreds of pounds, and the off chance they meet someone in another industry who may take a shine to them so they can get loads of work from off of one another.. but..

This is a numbers game. IE, there are thousands upon thousands of potential small businesses, and, if even a small enough percentage take it up... CHING CHING. It's basically just an advertising company who want you to pay them silly money for a half/full page ad in their awards booklet under the guise of some fairy tale awards ceremony I've never seen or heard of outside of the people themselves. And then they want hundreds more for an award ceremony, where the award was probably £20 down the local trophy shop and the venue hire is covered by just one of the top tier packages.

I mean, I have a hard time even taking the Society of photographers seriously. I've won certificates there, and won letters after my name with a free subscription to their site, or whatever it is supposed to be, but the second you're no longer subscribed (and outside of winning a sub I was never going to be), they're like "ohh, you can't use our letters after your name any more". If you need that hollow validation from someone you don't know, or feel more included in life from such a community, then go for it, I guess, we all need a hobby and friendship group. They at least have the community aspect, and you get a little something for your money, but it's just a cliquey mass of arse lickers and those who feel entitled to some sort of brilliance, and ultimately an easy business opportunity too. And the last time I used their website, it was horrific and completely unintuitive to navigate for it to be worthy of any value whatsoever.

So in conclusion,

We are the proud winners of Photography Studio of the Year - Denbighshire, and outside of family high street studios, we're also probably the only Photography Studio in Denbighshire. That's the calibre right there, and where the moneymaker is. Pure volume. "Hey, you're the winner of the best tea maker who has the same post code as you and that lives nearest to the red post box... do you want to pay us loads of money to advertise that in our awards' booklet, and then pay to come to the ceremony to pick up a trophy?"

If you're a freelancer or have a small business, do yourself a favour and avoid dumb shit like this will ya.

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