There’s no doubt about it: Allan Bailey takes the best shots around. He’s practically the master of great photography.
The St. Albert-based commercial photographer was named the National Photographic Artist of the Year by the Professional Photographers of Canada during its annual awards ceremony to recognize exceptional achievement in photographic arts. The event was held last month in Calgary.
For Bailey, it means that he’s not just getting better at expressing his inner Rembrandt. It also means that his peers are taking notice.
“That’s about the biggest award I could win at the national level. It’s very nice to be recognized by such a large organization of professionals that you’re competing against,” Bailey said.
“It’s the biggest professional organization of photographers in Canada. I joined up as a member five years ago and I made a list of stuff I wanted to do. It’s something I wasn’t sure I would ever attain.”
He was recognized with the Judge’s Choice for the Image of the Year and National Master Photographer of the Year, both for a black and white image called Stray. It will be added to the organization’s permanent lease collection.
He was also given the Judge’s Choice for Favourite Image for an image called Solitude.
The big win, however, was the National Photographic Artist of the Year award, the organization’s top award, for being the best overall photographer of the year.
If it weren’t for his continuing interest in pursuing creative photography, he might consider this the culmination of his professional career. Photography has been his lifelong passion, he said, and will continue to be so.
“I love working with my hands. I love drawing. I love building things, mechanics… all that. My dad was a pretty avid photographer when I was young and it was just a natural progression of another way for me to make something or create something.”
He has been operating his home-based business, Bailey Photographic, for nearly the last two decades. While he offers excellent commercial photographic services, it’s the artistic work that is holding his primary interest these days. It’s paying off, not with these awards alone either.
“That’s the part of my business that I’m really focusing on. It’s not something that a ton of photographers do because it’s not the easiest market to break into but it’s the stuff that I’ve always enjoyed doing the most. Whatever I think looks cool or anything, I can make look different. That part has slowly started becoming a bigger and bigger part of my business over the last year.”
Bailey is preparing to have his first public solo exhibition at the Bugera Matheson Gallery in Edmonton. It is set to open on June 24.
He said that he hopes these accolades will help to draw more attention to his fine art work and the exhibit.
“I’m very proud. There’s only one person a year who wins it so I’m pretty glad it was me.”