On 17th May I found myself at the crypt of St George the Martyr in London to judge the travel photo contest. Judging travel images is always challenge because it is a such a wide genre that can encompass everything from sweeping landscapes to tiny details, to people, animals and abstracts. Indeed the images submitted spanned all of these and more. But this is part of the fun of judging a photo competition. Seeing how other interpret a theme is both enlightening and entertaining.
With so many strong images to select from, the two hours I spent walking around the exhibition were fraught with changes of mind, multiple winners and uncertainty over what to select as the overall best image, not to mention a second and third. The best solution is to be ruthless. In almost every image at the exhibition I found something to like or love, but there were also, in my opinion, faults. And it was these tiny faults that I had to use to cull. For example, there were two images that I really loved, as traditional pictures. But for me they just needed a tiny tweak – in both cases the subject was just off-balance in the frame – it was by the tiniest of margins but once the thought had formed in my mind, I couldn’t see past it and so they were discarded.
I walked around and around, constantly refining my choices. My first pass got me to around 20 images. Second time around this came down to 10. By my fourth pass I was down to seven. These formed the basis of my winners and honourable mentions as I’d decided four honourable mentions was acceptable, any more seemed indecisive in the extreme! Trying to go from these seven to a top three was nearly impossible, but there was one image that I kept coming back to.
Interestingly for me, it was not a traditional photo, but crossed the boundary in to art. For anyone that knows my work, I’ve very much about capturing the image in camera, so quite why this piece of artwork called to me so strongly is a bit of a mystery. I think it’s because of all the images there, it gave the purest sense of travel, journey and place. Maybe something that couldn’t be captured in a single image but required a montage to create an almost dreamscape of the location and the feeling of travelling. Despite my reservations about it being a photoshop montage I felt it fitted the theme better than anything else and was visually arresting to and for that reason, I selected Henry Rice as the winner.
As I said above though, there was something to love in almost every image submitted and on a different day, in a different mood, I could have selected any number of other winners and honourable mentions.
For those that entered, if I didn’t select you, do not feel disheartened or disillusioned. Judging a photo contest is a challenging and personal journey and ultimately, your success or otherwise falls on the decision of the judge. Keep persevering, keep shooting and keep entering. I hope to see you at a future LPF event!