After a hectic few weeks, I finally got chance the other night to look through the portfolio book of this year’s WPoY competition. This has always been the Oscars of the wildlife photography community and with such intense competition, anyone who gets an image within a sniff of the finals is to be congratulated. Quite simply, it’s the best competition of its kind in the world.
That said, I found myself a tad disappointed on filtering through the images. It wasn’t that they weren’t beautifully conceived, crafted and executed; it was a general lack of impact. And let’s be honest here, it’s impact that makes a good image great. In fairness, I don’t think the standard was any less than in previous years; probably quite the opposite. What’s changed I think, is expectation, mine in particular. We see so much top quality material thesedays, it takes something truly exceptional to really hit you between the eyes, to etch itself on your mind. Worryingly I guess this invites the discussion on the future of the stand-alone still image: has it perhaps had its day? Not surprisingly I hope not, but I fear that as photographers, we need to prepare for life after the still.
For what it’s worth, my favourite three images (by some margin I have to say) were as follows:
1. The overall winner by Daniel Beltra. This is not only a compelling image, it signifies a willingness on the part of the judges to break the mould of the winning image, and I for one, applaud that.
2. Salmon Swipe by Paul Souders. The standard of underwater photography has rocketed in recent years and this is just a great image with behavioural interest and humour in equal measure.
3. Beavering by Louis-Marie Preau. It’s not easy to make a giant water rodent interesting and although I’ve seen this image previously, it’s just full of intrigue and again, a small dose of humour which is always a useful ingredient.
I think it’s the first time I’ve leaned so heavily towards the underwater images and perhaps it’s because we’re being shown new things about an environment that has always been a closed door for most of us.
My humble congratulations to all the runners and riders in this year’s awards. I’d be interested in your views as to where the still image is headed?