In 1981 Chris gained a Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society (the highest level of distinction) for his work in black and white cave photography. Later honours include the Peter M. Hauer Award from the National Speleological Society in the USA for significant speleological history research (1993), the Giles Barker Award for excellence in cave photography (1997), the Tratman Award for speleological publications (twice, in 1997 and, jointly with Judith Calford for Descent magazine, in 2008), and the Spelean Arts and Letters Award (1998).
The annual caving conference in the UK, Hidden Earth, includes a photo salon where he has won the Premier Trophy, the UK’s top cave photography award, 9 times in addition to taking first place in individual print categories 15 times (monochrome), 6 times (projected image), 8 times (cave life) and 2 times (colour print), as well as many second and third placements plus numerous merits and distinctions. He has taken first place in the Spanish International Speleological Salon three times and received twelve medals (first place awards) in the National Speleological Society Photo Salon, plus 39 ribbons. In the 2016 international EuroSpeleo event, of the five salon categories Chris won three with first places in the colour print, cave life and projected image sections, plus three additional distinctions.
In 1997 he won the Outdoor Writers’ Guild/Fuji Professional Award for Photographic Excellence with his book Images Below, and in 2013 the renamed Outdoor Writers and Photographers’ Guild Award for Excellence in the Photography category, sponsored by the outdoor clothing company of Páramo. The judges’ comment on the set of cave photographs was: ‘This portfolio comprised excellent quality photography with compositional and technical technique and was professionally and thoughtfully presented. Every photograph stood out on its own.’ The following year, 2014, his portfolio of caving images was Highly Commended and then in 2015, with the award still sponsored by Páramo, he again took first place. The judge’s comment was that the portfolio: ‘Demonstrates powerful composition, excellent use of scale, the ability to work with people, styling and colour coordination of the model and excellent use of lighting’.
Most recently, in October 2016 a portfolio from a single day’s shoot in Bridge Cave, South Wales, won the photography category again and drew the following judge’s comment:
‘Chris’s caving photography, continues to be the yardstick by which this award can be measured. His images show a technical mastery of camera and lighting technique, which must now be expected in contemporary professional photography. At the same time he is able to consider sensitive composition, paying close attention to line, shape and form to convey a sense of place and a sense of adventure in his work and importantly, because he is often working literally in the dark, Chris is able to pre-conceive his images and make them happen. These are not “snapshots” and demonstrate a professional and rigorous approach to creating a visual narrative.’
One of the images from that set went on to win the Action category in the 2017 UIS International Congress of Speleology in Sydney, Australia; in the Caves and Caving section one photo was Highly Commended and another won the highest award of the Best of Show and also the Cavers’ Choice.