A County Durham photographer has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Pets category of the fiercely contested Guild of Photographers Image of the Year competition.

At the end the year, judges from the Guild select ten images in each of the 15 genre categories and qualifying images need to achieve a Silver award status or above in their popular image of the month category.

Jason Allison, 47 from Crook specialises in pet portraiture and since launching his own business in 2017, has already achieved international acclaim.

Jason has built up his reputation as the ‘go-to’ dog and cat photographer which he shoots from his studio on the first floor of the Barton Townley Building in Willington.

In the Open category, Jason has been awarded 7 Gold, 12 Silver and 10 Bronze Awards this year and seven of his images (out of ten) have been shortlisted in the Pets category – giving him a great chance of winning ‘Pet Photographer of the Year’ in the final.

A panel of judges selected the images in December and Jason, together with other photographers from the Guild of Photographers, will find out if their images have won in the finals, which will be held next Saturday, 2 February at Crewe Hall in Cheshire.

Each category winner and runner-up will receive a trophy and there will also be two Guild Overall Images of the Year – ‘The Judges Choice’, which is chosen from the Image of the Year category winners and ‘The Members Choice’, which is chosen from all Gold Award Winners through the year.

The Guild is a highly respected UK-based association for photographers, which also includes members from overseas. Each year, it runs an on-line monthly photographic competition, judged by internationally respected judges with awards given to the best entries. During 2018, the competition attracted 12,000 entries from the most talented of photographers.

Photographers submit their images into the sections of their choice and the entries are assessed by a number of highly experienced judges who grade them in accordance with international judging criteria. The higher scoring images are given Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards with Gold being of particular distinction and very rare.

The married father of three said: “Photography is something I have always dreamt of doing full time and is a passion of mine. The business has only just celebrated its first anniversary, but I love what I do. I love meeting new clients and their humans, giving them a memorable experience and creating images that show the true character of the pet and the connection I have with them.

“I am constantly learning and improving and to receive 29 Guild awards this year alone speaks volumes for the portraits I have created. To be selected in the finals and for seven of my portraits (out of a possible 10) to be shortlisted in the Pets category is just awesome for me.”

One of Jason’s seven portraits which has been shortlisted in the finals and also received a 2018 Gold Award is his photo of nine Hungarian Vizsla pups. Owner Jill Mitchell commented: “I was thrilled to be approached by Jason to photograph my pups – the enormity of the challenge emerged the morning of the shoot when all nine of them were loaded in the car and howled the entire 45-minute journey to the studio!

“Jason is an absolute professional and was very relaxed with the invasion of his studio and pups exploring every corner of the room. The results of the shoot are stunning, and I will treasure these pictures with pride. Jason has captured the essence and nature of such a beautiful breed.”

Guild Director Lesley Thirsk said “One of the Guild’s aims is to drive standards and creativity amongst photographers. Our competition certainly does that, for the standard of the entries we see each month is quite staggering. To have an image recognised by the Guild in the monthly competition is difficult enough, so to have an image selected as being one of the best in a category for the end of year Final is without doubt an incredible achievement, and shows just how talented photographer, Jason is.”