Play Hard

Budding photographer? Check out this competition – you may even walk away with £10,000

Pssst… we’ve even got some insider tips from last year’s winner...

Written by Laura Kingston
Published 12.01.2021
Peter North, “Dawn at Fox Covert, Royston,” Hertfordshire, Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020. 

By Becky Hardy

The last 10 months haven’t been the best, to say the least. But what’s kept me going, at least, has been nature. Getting out and about, even if it is only for 30 minutes at a time, has provided a much-needed escape from the news bulletins, Zoom meetings and Facebook hype that seem to regulate our lives at the moment.

For me, this not necessarily newfound, but certainly newly-enthused zest for the outdoors – particularly for those gems right on my doorstep that I never knew existed – has also brought with it a new interest in photography. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still no expert. But having inherited an old DSLR, I’m beginning to find the beauty in the old point-and-shoot.

So, as you can imagine, I was pretty stoked to hear about the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. Now, this is nothing new either – 2021’s is its 14th instalment, actually – but having never really delved into this world before it was certainly news to me. The concept? Entrants have from tomorrow (13th January) until 14th April 2021, to submit their photographs of the British landscape for a chance to win £10,000 prize money. It’s open to everyone, with a special class for those younger than 18, and – best of all, in my opinion – it’s deliberately targeted at amateur photographers.

‘£10,000?!’ I hear you cry. ‘Sounds like it could be out of my league’. That was my reaction too. Then again, I’m firmly of the opinion: if you don’t shoot, you don’t score. At the end of the day, what have you got to lose? And you’ve got a lot more to gain than a healthy cash sum.

Peter North, “Dawn at Fox Covert, Royston,” Hertfordshire, Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020. 

Landscape photography has been likened to an alternate therapy.

It encourages us to venture outdoors, reconnect with our natural surroundings and use our creativity to truly capture the scene before us. Experts have also proven that photography can help us overcome anxiety and depression, with the practice having a calming effect while being able to have a positive impact on our wellbeing by boosting self-esteem, confidence, memory and decision making. And if absolutely nothing else, I can vouch for the fact that at least it takes your mind off all the craziness, even for just a second or two.

An exhibition of the shortlisted entries from this year’s competition will premiere in the late autumn, and while the final gallery has yet to be confirmed, previous locations for the annual showcase include the National Theatre, London Waterloo Station and London Bridge Station. Shortlisted entries will also be published in the book Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 14, published by Octopus Publishing and described by The Times as a ‘coffee table staple’. So even if you don’t win, you could see yourself becoming a published photographer, which isn’t something everyone can say now, is it?

Far be it for us to tell you what to do. We’re just here to delight, not dictate. But if this has piqued your interest even just a little, why not check out what last year’s winner, Chris Frost, has to say about what really makes a submission stand out from the crowd?

Terence Gibbins, “Autumn crunch,” Greater London, Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020

WHAT MAKES A WINNER

By Chris Frost, Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020

Whilst immensely rewarding, landscape photography is often equally frustrating as, time after time, we traipse home imageless as conditions and location fail to marry up. Although not foolproof, the tips below will hopefully help increase the frequency of those rewarding moments:

 

  • Plan ahead; scout locations and understand how different weather conditions will interact with scenes. Having a number of potential compositions in hand will allow you to work effectively with the available light and ensure you utilise favourable conditions
  • Chase the light; in addition to the golden hours at either end of the day, shoot dramatic and unusual weather conditions such as storms, fog, rainbows and wintery scenes – elements that bring the landscape to life.
  • Take your time and remember patience is key. Find a subject, try different lenses, perspectives and styles and you may be pleasantly surprised by the images produced.  One excellent image you’re truly happy with will always trump a number of so-so image. 

 

Simon King, “Elgol Cauldron,” Isle of Skye, Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020

  • Focus on compositions with fore, mid and background interest. Balancing a vivid sky with strong foreground elements delivers depth and a visual pathway through the image.
  • Don’t be scared to look for more intimate scenes.  While grand vistas are undeniably stunning, focusing on specific elements can produce equally impressive imagery – the less cluttered, more minimal scene is often more appealing to the viewer’s eye.
  • Invest time in learning and refining the art of post-processing; sometimes seen as a dark art, skilful processing can elevate what starts off as a good image to one that leaps out from the crowd.

To finish, rise early and stay out late, explore, experiment, practice (and practice some more) and, most importantly, have fun enjoying the experience!

The Landscape Photographer of the Year competition for 2021 is open to submissions from 13th January–14th April. For more information and to enter, visit their website, Facebook page or Instagram.

 

Tim Walton, “Strabeg Bothy,” Highland, Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020.

 

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