I need to say a big thank-you to everyone who has sent their congratulations over the last few weeks. I have had literally hundreds of messages via email, social media and in person, and I haven’t been able to respond to even half of them.
It has been an overwhelming couple of months. Since mid october I’ve had an image Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year, the opening double-page spreads of both Outdoor Photography Magazine and The Great Outdoors Magazine, and this – a category win in the British Wildlife Photography Awards.
This is not the first time I’ve won a category in a national competition, but even so I was not prepared for just how much attention it would bring. On top of the fantastic awards event at the Mall Galleries in London, I’ve had my images printed throughout the national press, my image appear on the BBC Breakfast show, interviews with magazines, print sales to as far away as Florida, and a large increase in bookings for my photography workshops.
I’ve known since late summer that I’d won the Wild Woods category, but the phone call was long enough ago that I’d almost stopped being excited about it. That quickly changed when the results were announced however, and the couple of days around the announcement are a bit of a blur. I’ve been fortunate enough to Highly Commended images in the BWPA for the past 3 years in a row, but this was an entirely different experience.
I’ll leave you with a couple of observations which you might find interesting:
1. Every single one of my images which have had competition success or have been printed large in magazines in the last two months were unplanned, and simply the result of being in the right place at the right time. My winning image in the BWPA was taken in a rushed 30 seconds from the road. The only previsualisation was the idea of looking for autumn colours mixing with snow, nothing more. Planning images with military precision can work wonders sometimes, but does it necessarily make you a better photographer? Some days it does, some days it doesn’t.
2. Your images actually do not necessarily need to be technically perfect to do well in the biggest national competitions. The main requirement is impact. If an image has enough of that, nobody cares if they are technically perfect or not. And having the best possible gear is not that important. My category winning image this year was taken on an knackered old 50mm f1.8 lens, which is the cheapest lens I own, and had been dropped in a puddle 2 hours earlier! There’s a lot of weight behind the saying ‘the best lens is the one you have with you’.
A huge congratulations to everyone else who had success in this year’s competition. It was brilliant to see so many friends and familiar names do well, and even better to discover some immensely talented photographers I’d never come across before. It was also great to chat to Christopher Swan, Kev Morgans, Chris Dale, and David Noton, all of who’s work I greatly admire.
And another big thanks to all of you who support my photography, attend my workshops and commission my services. It pays my bills!