Competitive photography

I was very pleased to learn on Saturday that three of my photos have been chosen for the shortlist of the Irish Times Amateur Photographer of the Year 2013. This is the second time (last year’s photo) I have been shortlisted and naturally I would love to win it, but looking at the quality of the other shortlisted entries it is easy to easy to see that this may prove to be difficult. The shortlist consists of 280 images for the seven categories of Monochrome, Portrait, Travel, Open, Nature, Street and Colour. I have two images in the Travel section and one in the Open one. Entries came from all over the world, with a young girl, Felicia Simion, a young Romanian girl, achieving the highest number, with a total of eight of her images being chosen.

Entering competitions is a nerve-wracking ordeal. First you have to select and deselect your best images for each category. This took me ages. I hemmed and hawed over which ones to choose, ending up choosing the ones which I felt would meet the descriptions of the categories best and also have the most appeal to the judging panel. In hindsight, and with the advantage of looking at the shortlist, I see that perhaps I should have gone with the images I liked best myself. I should have trusted more in my own gut instinct. In saying that, I do like the images they selected a lot, but if I was entering again I would choose some different images in some categories.

But that’s thing, competition is not what photography is about. I love taking photographs. I love looking at the images of friends on Flickr and I love looking at the work of established photographers. But I would find it hard to put photographs together and say which is better and why. Sure, I can say which I prefer, which ones I can connect with. But that is only one person’s opinion,  my opinion, my interpretation. And that may differ tomorrow and may change just by looking at another photograph. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to shift through all the submitted images that a competition like this gets. I am sure that there were hundreds of other photographs every bit as technically good, as appealing as those shortlisted.

So, why did I enter? Because I want to see how my photography stands next to that of others. I am not a professional, nor even a semi-professional photographer. I have had no training. I still struggle to fully command the mechanics of my camera. I still make lots of mistakes and I love it. It is a great process of learning and I guess entering competitions and being shortlisted is another step in that process.

Anyway, I am very pleased and proud to have been shortlisted. Knowing that it makes my family proud and happy is the best thing though.

Here are the three images. For larger size, click on image.

the unbeckoned
The Unbeckoned


This one I was pleased was chosen as it is the style of photography I am most interested in. It was selected in the Open category. You can see more of these type of images here.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing

This is shortlisted in the Travel Category. The famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing in Tokyo.

Into the Hong Kong night
Into the Hong Kong night

This is another shortlisted photograph in the Travel Category. Taken in Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.

Wish me luck!