It's Georgie Awards time again! The call for entries went out last week, which means that many of you are probably figuring out what you're going to enter, when, and all that. Since we've been providing Georgie Awards photography for over half a decade, it's time to share a few bits of road knowledge we've picked up along the way.
1. What category are you entering in...and what other categories?
That's obvious, right? You look at your project budget, whether you're a reno or a new build, and find out which "slot" it fits into. But if your project is a whole-house renovation or a new build, you can take it one step further: with a little bit of planning (and a bit of work in Excel to divvy up your project budget) you can enter parts of the same project in other categories that might have different or less competition. Do you have an onsite sales centre as well? Does your renovation have a stunning outdoor room? Is this a new build with a fit-for-an-Iron Chef kitchen? Once you've assembled everything for one category, you've already done a good chunk of the work to enter an additional one.
The trick is to make sure you fulfil both the technical and the photo requirements for the additional category. If you're having us do your photos, our Georgie Awards photo packages have enough images to cover two categories, assuming that a number of photos can be reused (often with a bit of cropping) in both categories. We also make it easy to license the two or three additional images you might need if necessary. If you're going to enter multiple categories or are strongly considering it, let your writer and photographer know in advance so we can make sure things are covered and avoid extra visits.
2. Your project is special: let everyone know why.
Some parts of your project are obviously visually stunning: maybe it's the odd-angled custom countertop or the perfectly framed view of Stanley Park. Other parts of your project may be less obvious: the under-stair lighting, the ability to control the whole place from your iPad, or the off-grid heating setup. Some things will photograph well, and some things will come up only in the written part of your entry. Tell your writer and photographer where and what the less-obvious things are so that they get covered somewhere in your entry so that the judges will know as well.
3. Get organized.
We're talking about your entry requirements, of course, but you also want to make sure that your project looks as good as possible when it's photographed. If there's a bit of construction still to be done, it's a good excuse to get the finishing trades through to take care of deficiencies, and if there are any major things that would appear in photos, hide/fix them or point them out so they don't get featured inadvertently. If the place is occupied, make sure the owners clean up the kids' toys out of the living room and wipe up the crumbs out of the stove. If the place isn't occupied, think about getting some furniture staged in. Empty spaces don't show as well as ones with a bit of "fluff" to show how the space could be used.
If your project is still under construction, there's a fine balance here between having photographs done too early and having the place look unfinished, and risking missing the deadline. If you're in this situation, let your photographer know so we can (hopefully) reserve some time for you at the last minute.
4. Write tight. Or find a good writer.
You have a grand total of 350 words for the written part of your entry--that's half the length of this post. That's not much, so use it well. Use your word processor's Word Count feature to help you edit. Terrified by a blank page? There are several good writers in town that specialize in doing this sort of work. We're happy to recommend them.
5. Share the costs.
We hate to admit it, but photography can be one of the biggest expenses in preparing your entry. You might not have to carry the entire cost yourself, however. Did you use an architect or interior designer on the project, or was there a specific trade that played a pivotal part in the project? Let them know you're entering, give them the opportunity to be credited as an affiliated firm on your entry, and see if they're willing to share the costs of your Georgie Awards photography in trade for being able to use the photos in their portfolio as well. Let us know and we can coordinate costs and logistics so everyone gets the photos they need.
BONUS: Hooray, your entry is done! Now what?
Once you've wrapped your entry up, sent it off to the CHBA, and are sitting back and enjoying a glass of your favourite beverage, the last thing you want to think about is...doing another entry. However, most awards programs have relatively similar requirements. Once you've entered a project in the Georgie Awards, you have most of what you need to enter the GVHBA Ovation Awards if you're in Metro Vancouver, or the CARE Awards if you're on the Island. You're also a few bits of formatting away from a SAM Awards entry, or a Department G Award if you're BuiltGreen. Entering multiple awards programs lets you spread the costs around, and gives you even more good PR if you win. It's also worth remembering that now that you've pulled everything together for your entry, it's also a great time to blog about it, update your web site, hand everything over to your graphic artist for new tradeshow display signs, or put out a new print ad. The possibilities are endless!