Viewing the Change – 2015 Review Part 2

See what I did there? Probably not.

2015, wow, a pretty amazing year. Thanks for all the feedback on Part 1 of this particular blog. It’s really hard choosing images to go into a top 10 and after they were published I was reminded about a fair few more images too, It doesn’t seem fair that you can’t reward everyone, even if it is just a mention in a blog hardly anyone will read, but that doesn’t make the process any less hard.

I suppose it must be a lot like judging competitions in a way, although in this case I was relying more on memory rather than having shortlisted images laid out in front of me. It’s a rather fine analogy to make given the year I’ve had. So, rather than mew on about things, let’s just do a shakedown of the photographic highlights:

  1. Won Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2014 in February.
  2. Got a book deal and released ‘Mountainscape‘.
  3. Was shortlisted in Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
  4. Was shortlisted in Travel Photographer of the Year.
  5. Am shortlisted in Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year.
  6. Won  ‘Live the Adventure’ in Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2015.
  7. Had published articles in What Digital Camera, Amateur Photographer and Outdoor Photography magazines.
  8. Given the front cover of Outdoor Photography magazine (OP200).
  9. Gave first talks at Patchings Art Festival alongside Paul Sanders, Pete Bridgwood, Russ Barnes and others.
  10. Came 4th in the Mountain Photo of the Year.
  11. Had my OPOTY winning image displayed at The Photography Show at the NEC on the Fujifilm stand.
  12. Was made a Fuji X-Photographer.
  13. Successfully ran my first workshop in November.
  14. Exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London.

Oh, and I should mention…

15. 8th in this Buzzfeed list of 33 Horrific Middle-Class Problems…ahem

All in all, I’d say that was a pretty successful year I think, incredible even. Especially given where I was at this time last year. I was just emerging from the photographic equivalent of the Doldrums having spent the previous 4 or 5 months really struggling to see where I was going with my photography. A simple edit of a single image and a last minute entry into OPOTY changed all that. It seems I was swept out of the Doldrums and straight into the Roaring Forties.

Iceland: End of Time

Iceland: End of Time (Winning image of OPOTY 14)

Being told I had first won the category ‘Light of the Land’, which made me eligible for the top prize in OPOTY, really catapulted me into 2015 and gave me the motivation to get out and about into the hills for winter. That all resulted in a haul of imagery over the next six months that I hadn’t achieved before, success breeds success. My attitude changed and so did my point of view.

I see a lot of posts online from people who have ‘given up’ on competitions, “they are not for me” they say, and I respect their opinion on the matter. It’s clearly true that the styles and subject matter of some folk, however ‘arty’ or ‘cutting-edge’ they may be, simply don’t fit into the competition circuit. It can take time to recognise that of course and eventually they do and they move on and find their own path. Unfortunately many do not go silently into that good night and often such declarations are followed up by some bitter expression or derision of the competition and thus by default those who choose to enter them. What these people seem to forget of course is that we all have a passion for this pursuit, for photography, and in this day and age, when virtually everyone on the planet it seems has a camera on their smartphone, that subsequently all of those people are photographers…of sorts. In such a saturated world of imagery, to simply work on one’s little project in the middle of a dark wood in the middle of middle England and in the middle of sea of spectacular imagery from all four corners of the planet, and then to expect anyone other than their mum to take notice…well, it’s just not going to happen. Some folks only want their mum to be proud of them of course, and that is fine, but deriding others for wanting more just isn’t good sport.

Opportunities to get work noticed are few and far between. It tends to boil down to  Social Media (which requires a lot of time and effort), Exhibiting (which requires a lot of time and effort), Magazine submissions (which require a lot of time and effort…hmmm there seem to be a pattern emerging, though one could equally argue Magazines can be fire and forget), and Competitions (quick-fire in essence). It’s little wonder therefore that for emerging talent to get noticed, then of course competitions play a vital role. Now, I’m not saying that the only reason people who have become reasonably successful after winning a major competition have only done so because they won the competition, no of course not. Many were already being recognised through other endeavour, the competition was merely an aid, a single piece in the puzzle. But for me, winning OPOTY was a major step forward.

I’ll continue to enter competitions into 2016, where they intrigue or excite me. I don’t expect to win any, but it won’t stop me trying. I’m also going to start a new project, an extension of Mountainscape, of sorts. I’ve been practicing throughout 2015 and I think I’ve finally narrowed it down to what I want to do. But you’ll have to wait to see it, it’s going to take at least 2 years, if not more.

Anyway, back to 2015, what a year. Below are a small selection of images I captured during the year. I’m not going to call them favourites because I reserve that for myself, but more to help wrap up an incredible year. Thanks to everyone who has provided support and encouragement over the last 12 months, hopefully I can return the favour as we head into a new year.




Changing the View – 2015 Review Part 1

It’s around this time of year that folks start posting blogs about their favourite images they’ve taken during the year. I find that a little self indulgent but often I am fascinated by what they choose as quite often I don’t agree. It’s funny how we see our images differently to how everyone else sees them and I think this is because of the emotional connection we have with an image which overrides our ability to be critical about it. How often do we see people winning competitions with images they “wouldn’t have chosen” themselves, describing shortlisted entries merely as a “filler to make up the numbers”, and all too often seeming embarrassed by the positive reaction folks have to images or projects that they themselves simply don’t rate that highly…and then getting frustrated when the reaction to their “Masterpiece” amounts to a single Fav on Twitter. For this reason I try not to read too much into these types of blogs and it’s one of the reasons for this Part 1 to the year in review. I’ll talk more about my year (and what a year it has been) in Part 2, but in this part I want to highlight the favourite images I have seen from people I follow online, which is something I’ve done for the last 2 years. Sadly for everybody, Peter Lik doesn’t get a look in. Maybe next year Peter.

Ok, so let’s kick this off, this is in no particular order. I’m not going to sit here an analyse each image because for me at least, it’s often hard to put into words why I like an image. So, let’s just let the images speak for themselves for the most part. It’s possible I’ve missed an image or two, so if you aren’t mentioned, well I’m sure it’s just down to an error on my part 😉

1. Colin Bell – Woodland Tales

This image comes from Colin’s amazing Holme Fell portfolio of images. He posted it in November.

Woodland Tales

2. Alex Nail – Greenland Sunset

Shot during Alex’s three week long endurance hike in Greenland, once again going to great lengths to capture evocative imagery.

Greenland Sunset

3. Camillo Berenos – Still Here!

Buachaille Etive Mor is perhaps Scotland’s most photographed mountain, and for the most part, because of that, wouldn’t normally get a look in in this list…but I was captivated by Camillo’s sequence of images from a single winters morning, so much so, this one sticks in my mind. Not your usual fayre from there.

Still here!

4. Lizzie Shepherd – Zig-Zag

Lizzie won the Living the View category in this years Landscape Photographer of the Year with this wonderful opportunistic image from Wensleydale.

Zigzag, Wenlsleydale - winner of the Living the View category of LPOTY 2015

5. Matthew Dartford – Lenny Medlers Scrapyard

Matt has consistently pushed out great images this year, so much so that he has just won Wex Photographer of the Year. I could have chosen a number of images for this top 10, but this one has stuck in my mind all year.

Lenny Medlers Scrapyard 17/03/15

6. Lee Acaster – Protection

I’m not a sucker for sunrises…


7. Russ Barnes – In the Shadows

Love this from Russ. It deserved to do well in a few comps in my honest opinion.

In The Shadows

8. Mark Littlejohn – Curves and Colours

Ok, I’m going to stick my neck out, this is my favourite image of 2015 from people I know or follow.

Curves and Colours

9. Chaitanya Deshpande – Free Bird

Simplicity often creates the most sublime images…

Free Bird

10. Damien Taylor – Lost in the Wood

Some Multiple Exposure loveliness from young Mr Taylor

Lost in the Wood


Once again, sorry if you aren’t listed, I’ve seen so many cracking images this year, it really begins to make me feel inadequate. I might talk about that a bit more in Part 2. For now, let’s just enjoy these images.