A photographer from Winchmore Hill won the top prize in an international photography award ceremony last month.

Panikos Hajistilly, 58, won the Animals (Pets) and Classical Portrait Categories and the most coveted UK Master Photographer of the Year 2017/18 with the five highest scoring images in the 2017/18 Master Photography Awards.

Enfield Independent:

These are Panikos’ fourth, fifth and sixth MPA National awards in addition to many other regional and national trophies since he started working independently in 2009. He specialises in family, maternity & newborn, pet photography, fashion & beauty and of course classical portraiture.

Ray Lowe, chairman of the MPA, said: “Panikos is probably the most popular and worthy winner of the Master Photographer of the Year award in the last decade. The standing ovation, which went on for many minutes was a testament to the high esteem that Panikos is held in. The set of 5 outstanding images that won Panikos this accolade showed the variety and depth of his portraiture.”

I spoke to the man himself to find out more…

Enfield Independent:

Tell me about your background

I was born in Cyprus and came to London in 1964. I grew up in Wood Green from 1967 and when I married in 1981 we lived in Edmonton and then Palmers Green, so I’m very much an Enfield resident.

I’ve always loved photography from when I was at school. In fact my “big” project for my English O Level was on photography, there was surprisingly little information about photography back in those days. I did all my research from the Amateur Photographer magazine and the Encyclopaedia Brittanica that was in my school library, which seemed to be the only place to read up on it.

When did you first get into photography?

My first route into photography was through camera repairs. When I was 14 a friend had a repair business in the West End and he’d often take stuff home to fix. He showed me a few things that really fascinated me and I eventually got a job in Finsbury Park repairing Russian cameras, which was in 1976.

Enfield Independent:

Describe your style of photography

My style of photography is that I try to make people look the very best they can, with sympathetic lighting styles to suit their character. That’s one of the reasons why I ask people to wear plain, unfussy clothes for their photo shoots, as clothes sometimes detract from the faces and expressions, especially on little ones faces.

My real passion in photography is in high end “Fine Art” photography, whether that is of models on location, or of the natural world, landscapes or anything else. I have gained awards in landscape, the natural world, black & white, wildlife, events, classical and creative portraiture, which shows that I have quite a diverse breadth of skills, but what all these have in common is that they are all particularly high quality images with that something extra that appeals to the viewer.

Enfield Independent:

What are you top photography tips?

My top photography tips are, keep it simple! Make sure the background of your photos – what is behind your subject - is uncluttered. A busy background often spoils a perfectly good photo. If taking people pictures, have them stand at 45 degrees to the camera and their faces pointing at the camera, bodies “square on” to the camera look like an identity parade at a police station! Lots more tips on my blog here: blog.panikosphoto.com

How did it feel to win?

Winning the awards was totally unexpected. I knew I had some reasonably strong images and though I had a slim chance of getting something. The thing was, I was shooting a wedding in Johannesburg the weekend of the awards ceremony in Leicester so obviously couldn’t attend.

Enfield Independent:

Anything to add?

Where to next? Who knows, I’ll simply carry on doing what I love with the support of those around me, my lovely wife Joanna and my six amazing children, Chris, Mario, Sarah, Abigail, Margarita and little Rachel.