The Earth laughs in flowers*

By: Philip Smith - 23/06/2011

Philip Smith talks through his favourite photos from this year's International Garden Photographer of the Year competition, on display at Kew Gardens.

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We just starting to recover from the installation of this year’s International Garden Photographer of the Year awards day and exhibition, running near the Pavilion restaurant at Kew Gardens. It was a very busy time, but hugely enjoyable for everyone who came to see us.

We received these kind words in an email from one of the International Garden Photographer of the Year finalists this year. He had travelled from the USA to take in the exhibition.

"As for the outdoor display, I felt that the photos had been extremely well arrayed and sited and the visitors that I saw seemed to be completely engrossed. Enormously satisfying for me to experience my familiar pictures taking their places as small voices in an extremely beautiful and varied chorus of images from around the world.”

IGPOTY exhibition at Kew Gardens  IGPOTY exhibition at Kew Gardens

International Garden Photographer exhibition at Kew Gardens

Talking of enjoyment, as organiser, I am often asked ‘what’s your favourite picture?' By the time of the exhibition opening, Mary Denton and I have become very familiar with all of the images, and exchanged emails with most of the photographers, and often spoken to them personally. So, by the time the public gets to see the photographs we have ‘lived with them’ for many weeks and months. So, when I'm asked that question, I like to think about three different responses:

  1. the 'grabbers’ – the ones that struck me immediately when I watched the judging process
  2. the images that are ‘slow burners’ – ones that I didn’t ‘get’ when the judging was taking place but now I really like
  3. the ‘quiet ones' – the ones I just didn’t really notice one way or another, until I suddenly look at them afresh and see the real value of them.

Here's my personal top three:

My favourite ‘grabber’ – ‘Unmistakable Similarities’ Ute Klaphake

This photograph leapt out at the judging panel because it is so amusing.

‘Unmistakable Similarities’ Ute Klaphake

‘Unmistakable Similarities’ Ute Klaphake

My favourite ‘slow burner’ - 'Autumn is Coming’ by Gerard Leeuw

An image that is quite difficult to ‘read’, but reveals itself over time – distinctly weird!

‘Autumn is Coming’ by Gerard Leeuw

‘Autumn is Coming’ by Gerard Leeuw

This print is available to buy.

My favourite ‘quiet one’ - ‘Martina and Peter’ by Magdalena Strakova

This one isn’t in the exhibition, but was ‘highly commended’ and included in the book of the exhibition. Just a great bit of photography – absolutely captures the decisive moment.

‘Martina and Peter’ by Magdalena Strakova

‘Martina and Peter’ by Magdalena Strakova

- Philip -



Related links

*Ralph Waldo Emerson – thanks to Sarah-fiona Helme

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