Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016
Winner of the Outdoor Guide Prize
I take pictures for my own enjoyment and that is just fine by me but when your main photographic output is a personal website like this, it is very easy to find yourself working in a bubble.
I like the pictures I take but it's nice to know every now and again, if other people think they are any good.
There are many sites like Flikr that offer good feed back systems and that can be very useful but the people regularly commenting on such sites tend to be quite polite and rarely offer hard critical judgment.
This might be very encouraging for some photographers but can be over reassuring. "I like it and no one says it's bad so it must be good..."
Nothing wrong with that but competitions offer me a different kind of assessment.
To be clear, I do not think they are the only benchmark nor even necessarily the best. At the end of the day the results of such competitions are only ever a matter of opinion, but entering them does tend to drive my work in a different direction.
I have learned much of my craft in the competitive arena. First it was local club competitions, then exhibitions and international salons. It inspired me to seek out interesting subjects, improve my compositions, develop my technique and ultimately, I hope, produce better images. It's not everyone's way but it has suited me over the years.
"Take a View", The Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards, has been just such a touchstone for me for ten years now. The first year I entered I got nothing in and looking back at the quality of my entry then, I can now see why. Since then I have done better but it has never been a sure thing. The competition gets stronger year by year, the entries increase and that means I have to try harder each year just to get something shortlisted. To get something commended and in the book is a real achievement for me, to get something higher than that is a target that drives me to push my boundaries.
Ironically, I get far less time to take pictures now than I did ten years ago. My living history business has grown a great deal in those years and for that I count myself very fortunate. There are not many people that get to make a living doing something they love. My photography is still precious to me though and I feel that the small amount of work I produce now does still slowly improve as a result of those tough competitive challenges.
The two images you see here were both commended and will appear in this years book. The “Circle of Fire” was also awarded the “Outdoor Guide Prize” and was printed for the exhibition while the shot of the fireworks display over Blackpool was in the projected presentation. Follow the links on the images if you want to see more information about them.