LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2018 – A CELEBRATION

I’d like to start the blog with I’m pleased to announce…  

…but not this time around.  If you are not familiar with ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year’ (or LPOTY for short) it is an annual competition by Take-a-view started by Charlie Waite, celebrating the best of the British landscape.  This is the twelve year and in the photography world is a highly regarded competition.  Everyone is vying for the coveted title of ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year,’ but the reality is achieving a ‘commended’ or ‘highly commended’ is a fantastic achievement given the 1,000s of entries.  I’d like to clarify before going further this isn’t intended as a ‘why wasn’t it me?’ blog, but more of a appreciation of the competition.

For any photographer including myself the LPOTY competition is a roller coaster of emotions.  Firstly there is selecting a handful of your work (maximum of 25 images depending on what ‘tier’ you choose).  Twenty-five may sound like a lot but if you have an extensive portfolio it can be a challenging task whittling entries down. Then there is the pain of putting the images in the ‘right’ category.  Some images will work in more than one category, others will obviously not work in a given category, but typically you choose one category for each image and this takes careful consideration.  If like me you then get the ‘dear John’ email of disappointed, and the journey ends.  If you have done well you get ‘shortlisted,’ and wait a couple more painful months to see if you got any further.

Here are the images I put into the 2018 competition…

One of the biggest emotions, especially for myself after 3 years of trying is the rejection.  Why I am not good enough?  Do I keep entering?  Not easy questions to answer.  It is a strange thing to put yourself through when you strip it down… you pay Take-a-view to enter, they can use your images to promote the completion, if you get selected they can use your images in the book and exhibition.  With the exception of a select few who can win prize money you are effectively paying Take-a-view to use your images.  When you put it like that why would you enter?  In short, it can open doors.  Putting LPOTY on your list of achievements is something at the very least other photographers will recognise.  Such is the status now of the competition.

So after my rejection for this year my mind was almost set on never entering again.  And yet having seen my Twitter feed full of images that have been ‘commended’ or ‘highly commended’ my excitement for the competition has been re-ignited, to the point my mind is almost changed.  I can only put it down to my love of landscape photography and seeing people I follow week-in and week-out getting the recognition they deserve.  In other words I feel inspired.  And if my entry fee has helped some of these fellow photographers get the recognition they deserve then it was worth it.  Seeing what it means to people on Twitter has been an exciting time.

What has put a new perspective on the competition this year is seeing a couple of photographers that I know locally by name do well.  I featured Lucie Averill in a recent blog post ‘PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO INSPIRE ME,’ so I was delighted to see one of Lucie’s images get commended which you can see here.  I’ve admired Lucie’s work for years and I don’t say it lightly when I think Lucie is one of the best in Cornwall.  She thoroughly deserves it.  Then there is Josef FitzGerald-Patrick whose work I recognise from ‘Cornwall Camera Fun’ on Facebook.  He has won the coveted ‘Young LPOTY’ award.  A fantastic achievement.  It is really great to see these photographers putting Cornwall on the map.  We are blessed with great subjects to photograph down here in the South West.

And finally there is the overall winner and ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year’ 2018 Pete Rowbottom, whose winning image you can see here.  This isn’t meant to come across disrespectful in any way.  I actually like the image, but I don’t find it to be ‘out of this world.’  It’s a well seen shot, excellently composed but the light is pretty ‘flat’.  It however does show that whilst light and drama is important in landscape photography there is always a shot to be had, even when we think the light isn’t great.  And this is one of the problems with photography, it is very subjective.  It comes almost as a surprise to see on Twitter photographers saying they have entered the same image more than one year, for them to then have success the second time around when the image was completely over-looked the first time.  So every image, a different judge, on a different day stands a chance.  I guess this is ultimately why I’ll be considering giving it another go in 2019…

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