If you follow me on any form of social media you will be very much aware that, for the second year running, I have recently enjoyed some success in a photographic competition and I thought it was worthwhile writing about my achievements.
The International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) is a developing photographic competition that is currently entering its 13th edition. The official website describes it as the world's premier competition and exhibition specialising in garden, plant, flower and botanical photography. These listed subjects are definitely not ones that I 'specialise' in working with and I would not have a chance of winning any of the main competition categories. Fortunately the IGPOTY is run in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; a place where I live very close to and have visited frequently ever since I was a young child.
Due to the competitions close partnership with Kew Gardens they run a special award, 'Captured at Kew', which is open exclusively to photographs that have been taken at the gardens. I entered this category last year, the first time I had ever partaken in a competition, and received a commended award for my photo of a brown hawker dragonfly.
This year saw me enter the same category once again and the competition results for 2019 were very recently released. I am very excited to reveal that this year two of my images were successful and received commended awards from the competition judges.
The first of these award winner was The Elusive Dragon. The below image is of a Chinese water dragon, a species of lizard native to China and south-east Asia. A little-known fact however is that these animals can actually be found in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens. The glasshouse is home to a number of individuals but they are often very difficult to spot. Their natural camouflage and timid personality coupled with the dense surrounding vegetation means it can be very easy to wander right past these majestic little lizards. I was able to capture this lovely profile image early one morning, before the hustle and bustle of visitors arrived, and this individual was more than content to sit and have a photograph taken. The early morning sunshine coming through the glass ceiling above helped to create a beautifully colourful and vibrant background which finished off the image perfectly.
The second of my award winning images was A Storm is Brewing, an image of the iconic Palm House.
If you have ever travelled to Kew Gardens you will no doubt recognise this building. This glasshouse was completed back in 1848 and is still home to a vast array of exotic flora species. The image itself was captured at the end of a summers trip to the gardens. The day itself had been blessed with bright sunshine but some large, storm-heavy clouds had rolled in during the late afternoon. One of said clouds emerged behind the Palm House as I headed towards the exit gate and so I quickly unpacked my camera before capturing this image. The impressive, multi-layered cloud took on a less sinister colour as the last of the days sunshine did its best to brighten the mood. This dominant yellow colouring illuminated the tree shadows within the Palm House excellently and helped create a serene contrast to the chaos developing behind.
Both of these images are currently on display on the IGPOTY website, where you can check out the full gallery of Captured at Kew award winners should you so wish. Obviously having two images receive awards in a competition is fantastic in itself but I was notified by a family member about another piece of very exciting news to come out of this.
My second image, A Storm is Brewing was featured on the BBC News Website in an article reporting on the winning images from the competition. It was selected, amongst an array of award winning pictures from all the categories, as a shot worthy of being displayed which made this years competition a truly memorable one for myself.
When I first set my sights on taking up photography as a hobby, I never would have imagined entering an established competition such as the IGPOTY let alone being awarded a prize for my work! I am well aware that the specialised category has helped to play a role in my receiving of recognition but I am hopefully that these successes are just the start of my positive photographic journey.