West Yorkshire-based photographer Colin Jones is the new Kodak Wedding Photographer of the Year 2006, and photographer Hoss Mahdavi has been crowned Kodak Portrait Photographer of the Year 2006.rn

West Yorkshire-based photographer Colin Jones is the new Kodak Wedding Photographer of the Year 2006, and just months after helping judge the annual Professional Photographers? Association of Northern Ireland Awards Abbots Langley photographer Hoss Mahdavi has become the new Kodak Portrait Photographer of the Year 2006.

Colin Jones, who runs Waterhouse Photography in Brighouse said, ?I am still in total shock. Three years ago I was running the digital department in my 25th year at the Leach Colour prolab. Then I lost my job. I decided to go for it and plough my redundancy money into a new wedding photography business with my partner, Lesley.? He added, ?Pressure of work meant we came very close to not even entering the Kodak Portrait & Wedding Awards ? but boy, I am glad we did! I have spent hours admiring the websites of the top professionals and it?s just a dream come true to have proven to ourselves that we are up there with the best in the UK.

The winning picture was a candid shot of four little bridesmaids taking part in an impromptu ?Ring a ring o? roses? game in a field while we all waited for the bride to turn up (shown opposite). Then the image was enhanced in Photoshop to give it a mystical look. It was a shot in a million.?

Hoss Mahdavi , who runs Hoss Photography said: ?I keep pinching myself. It?s such an honour to win this award. I have been a pro for 17 years and have always pushed myself to the limit. I have to thank superb photographers like Ray Lowe, Les Pringle and Paul Kaye for all their mentoring help over recent years.? He continued: ?The winning image was selected for entry by my wife Tracy ? she believes it epitomises my ?urban? shooting style ? real photography with no manipulation.?

The new-look Kodak/ MPA Portrait & Wedding Awards programme was launched at Focus last year. The two winners each receive £1,000 cash plus £1,000 each for their winning consumers. Colin Buck, MPA chief executive said ?The new awards programme is also raising money for PACE, the charity that works with children suffering from cerebral palsy. Each entry cost photographers £1, which we have donated to PACE. The London Portrait Group has donated £1,000 and both winners are giving £100 each too.? He added: ?We are discussing next year?s awards with Kodak right now and we hope to be extending the programme for 2007.?

At a day-long sitting at Kodak House Former MPA president Richard Dutkowski and award-winning Leicestershire photographer Maz Mashru judged the 2006 entries.

David Kitchin, Kodak Professional marketing manager said, ?Kodak Portrait and Weddings awards are seen as the pinnacle of achievement in the UK for a social photographer. There is still no more prestigious an award programme than this.

Colin Jones has proved that it?s possible to reach for the stars – and in a very short space of time. We are now working on ways to enhance the programme yet again for 2007.?