Philip Smith reflects on a very successful fifth International Garden Photographer of the Year at Kew, and how wonderful it is to see photographers develop their skills and do really well in the competition.
Well, the judging is over, the exhibition is up, the book is printed, and the winners are announced. Time for a sit-down, a cup of camomile tea, a fluffy blanket and a catch up on what’s happening on Countdown. Maybe even a small slice of fruit cake.
It’s been an epic year. We have had about two months less than usual to get ready for the annual exhibition and so we are really, really and, yes, really, exhausted!.
This year's winner - Upside Down by Magdalena Wasizcek
Bigger and better
We have had more entries than ever before and a whole swathe of new people taking part in the competition. We have had exhibitions in New York, Sydney, Wakehurst - Kew of course - Hereford and Portugal.
And what a set of winners and finalists we have! This year we are celebrating the fifth year of IGPOTY at Kew with a wonderful exhibition in the Nash Conservatory and you can see them all there.
Sometimes people say – why have an exhibition when you can see the photographs on the website, or in the book? To me it’s like watching a film on DVD compared with at the cinema. It’s a very different experience. You see the photographs much bigger and at their best. You mingle with people. You talk to your friend about the images, point things out and go back again to have another look. Going round an exhibition can be a life-changing experience for some people. It sticks in the mind.
Boat-house by Dace Umblija. Winner in the 'Breathing Spaces' category
Persistence pays off
This year we have seen some great achievements from people who have been trying to succeed in the competition right from year one. Dace Umblija has won the ‘Breathing Spaces’ category with her photograph of Winkworth Arboretum. Dace has come on a number of our workshops and has always entered a variety of images – but has never been successful until now. And her photograph has been admired not only by the judges but by everyone who has seen it.
Our overall winner, Magdalena Wasiczek, has entered for the last four years and been a finalist before but never won a big award – this year she has won not only the overall winner award but also one of the categories –‘The Beauty of Plants’. Her photography has always been eye-catching but this year it has hit new heights.
So it’s time to reflect on a job well done by a large number of photographers. But what about the unsuccessful ones? Many of them have asked for feedback on their unsuccessful entries and they are waiting for replies which we are happy to give. We hope in the future, as this year, to unearth new talents as well as giving a lot of pleasure to a lot of people.
Apparently Carol Vorderman’s not on Countdown any more. And I’ve got crumbs all over my fluffy blanket. Yes we could start on the feedback emails right now. The next competition is already open and I’d love to see the early entries that people have begun to send in…and next year’s exhibition needs preparing…
Time to get up and at it!
- Philip -
- The exhibition is now open in the Nash Conservatory
- International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition 6 is now open. Go to the website for full details.
- Want to develop and hone your skills? Why not come on one of our workshops like Dace did?
Buy the book
Here’s what one person thinks of it:
"My copy arrived yesterday and after the day's grind I thought to flick through Collection 5 to quickly get an impression and take a moment between other tasks. It's Friday evening the twilight hour and a drink in my hand. I thought it would be a brief, relaxing - almost meditational moment between the real work - if you understand what I'm saying
Far from it, this collection is energising and inspiring. Each turned page is a new thrill. No doubt it's a strenuous annual challenge for you but what a result!! So goodbye three quarters of an hour and hello lift off!
What I love is the incredible permutation of the accidental, the carefully planned - the technological mastery, the eye for composition. And caring enough to return at dawn or some other improbable hour when the light will be right.
This is a long winded way of saying congratulations, what a privilege to be part of this fantastic programme."
About Philip Smith
Philip Smith is a professional photographer specialising in gardens and plants with 15 years’ experience. His photography has featured in many magazines and books including The English Garden, The Garden (RHS) , and Gardeners’ World. His work has also featured in exhibitions at Kew Gardens and the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley and London.
As co-founder and Managing Director of the International Garden Photographer of the Year Philip is responsible for the world’s premier competition in the field, which culminates in an annual exhibition at Kew Gardens and other venues. Philip is the author of Better Plant and Garden Photography.
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