I’m very pleased, and distinctly surprised, to be able to say that one of my images – ‘Zip’, my first Howgill Fells capture – has been commended in the 2011 Landscape Photographer of the Year competition (LPOTY, to avoid my having to type all that again).
My surprise is due to the fact that everything I’ve read about photography competitions suggests – well, usually states – that they favour rather more obviously appealing subject matter – things like sunshine, warmth and a view; or morning mist. I’m sure I’ve described the origin of ‘Zip’ before on this site: it was supposed to include mist, if not the other three items. Instead, I had a hard frost to work with; yet this turned out to be much more interesting – at least, it was to me, and also, it would seem, to the judges.
Are competitions a good thing?
I have to admit that I was a little reticent about entering in the first place – I’m not entirely convinced that any art can be meaningfully compared in a competitive sense; the process clearly involves a high level of subjectivity. Having said that, I was also sufficiently self-aware, when I was deliberating about making a submission, to know that I’d be very flattered to receive any kind of recognition in the competition. So, I was unashamedly pleased to be short-listed and am delighted to have an image in the 2011 book, displayed at the exhibition at the National Theatre during December and January, and in the Sunday Times magazine feature on 23rd October 2011. I was also reticent as I felt slightly presumptuous, as a relative beginner, in even thinking of submitting an image – fortunately my ‘what the hell’ instinct kicked in there…
One of my motivations – OK, perhaps I should say self-justifications! – for entering LPOTY was that I hoped to be encouraged, if I was fortunate enough to have any degree of success, to make more images. Right now, typing this a couple of days after receiving the email saying that ‘Zip’ was ‘commended’ and would be in both the exhibition and the book, and a few hours after seeing it in the Sunday Times, I’m definitely feeling inspired anew. With autumn here and winter not far off – my favourite times of year, especially for photography – feeling encouraged and inspired can only be a good thing!
It’s easy to be cynical about any competition which necessitates the comparison of any art form – and I assure you I can be pretty cynical about all sorts of things when I want to be – but there’s no denying that they:
- draw attention to things that most people wouldn’t otherwise hear about, see or read;
- provide great encouragement to those people who are fortunate enough to meet with the judges’ approval;
- encourage people to enter the art, whatever it may be; to ‘have a go’.
Without doubt, this success means that I do feel greatly encouraged to try to produce more good work and I’m very happy that I decided to enter!
On the off-chance that any of the judges are reading this: thank you very much!
And to everyone who’s provided constructive critique and encouragement to me on Flickr et al in the past year, many thanks; it’s really very much appreciated and has helped me a great deal.
I’d better stop there!