WITHIN months of setting up his first studio, a County Durham photographer is in the running for an international award.

Jason Allison, of Crook, will discover if he has won the Guild of Photographers Image of the Year Competition in February.

Four photographs taken by the 46-year-old are shortlisted in three categories – a black and white picture of his friend Paul Smith in the portraiture genre; a picture of Florence the Springer Spaniel in the pet genre; and two striking portraits shortlisted in the avant-garde genre.

Mr Allison launched the Hidden Studio in Burnington Drive, Willington, at the end of August. The father-of-three, who specialises in family, individual and pet portraiture as well as commercial photography, has already won several regional and national awards .

“Creating special images has always been a passion of mine,” he said. “I love the whole process of getting to know people and dogs and then capturing and editing them in an artistic way, which tells the viewer a story.

“I have put a lot of work into developing my skills and the guild is a great platform to learn from. The standard of photography is incredible, and it helps me to push myself and to be the best I can be.

“From the thousands of entries submitted across the whole year, I cannot believe I have been selected in not one but three genres by the judges. This really is a dream come true.”

Each year, the guild runs an online monthly photographic competition, judged by internationally respected judges with awards given to the best entries.

In 2017, the competition attracted about 1,200 entries a month. Mr Allison has won the gold bar twice.

Guild director Lesley Thirsk said: “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.”

The outcome will be revealed on February 3 at an awards ceremony in Cheshire.