As another year draws to a close, I find myself looking forward to the next one invigorated with a creative energy that I have never felt before. In terms of truly outstanding images, nothing really made much of an impression during the year. However as I review my opus 2012, it is in fact a collection that I am very proud of. Boundaries were pushed in my street, travel and portrait photography. I scratched the surface of a new coastal destination, Brittany, which I hope to consolidate in the new year. Experimenting with a no-itinerary workshop where each day was planned on the fly turned out to be an exciting way of running a tour. Expect to see more of these adventure tours listed for 2013.
Once again, 2012 was personally a good year in the competitions with success in 100% of the contests I entered. I must say that only getting to the final round of BBC/Veolia WPOTY after being part of the exhibition in London the past couple years made me feel that something was missing. Fortunately, the disappointment of this was wiped out with first prizes in three other contests. First of all there was the win in the landscape section of Digital Camera’s Photographer of the Year. This was followed by another first prize in the black and white category of ANZANG. I’ve always wondered how my New Zealand landscapes would go up against the local photographers, whom I regard as among the best in the world. I was also particularly drawn to the New Zealand Geographic contest as the great Andris Apse was one of the judges. For these reasons, winning the landscape and Peoples’ Choice awards were the highlight of my year. I’m considering winding down my participation in competitions in 2013 as I feel that I’ve achieved what I wanted to in this arena. I’ve been very selective over the years, entering only contests which I felt offered a standard of quality at the highest level.
It’s easy to fall into routine after years of shooting, especially if it continues to churn out the goods. I think this may have been the case with my landscape photography recent years. Losing key pieces of my equipment in New Zealand forced me to reassess the way I construct photos. While there’s nothing wrong with finding your own groove in image-creation, I think it’s of benefit for photographers who have been shooting for years and have developed a particular style to pause and assess where their art is going. Continue with variations or write a new theme? Wiping the slate clean and trying to see things anew is of course easier said than done. On my flow chart, these affect the first two steps, the most inherent and difficult to learn aspects of photography. What has worked for me is to mentally free myself of the camera, just observe and not be concerned about whether I make any images or not. I believe that at some point, the trophy-hunting mentality becomes detrimental to continuing development of artistic expression. Ditching your habitual method of working the scene and starting from scratch is a little frightening. But the reward may be seeing something nobody else has noticed and producing something truly original that sets you apart from the ever-increasing crowd.
I’ve noticed many photographers are starting to put together their best of 2012 collections. Since I have a tendency to box many of my favourite images for later, I’m still to release around half of my year’s top ten so look out for the high resolution versions of these in the near future on my website galleries and the Magic Hour Travelscapes facebook page. In the meantime, I’ll kick off my top 10 of 2012 with perhaps my favourite landscape shot of the year. Even though I got my 16-35mm lens working again, the effects of having to exercise my imagination when limited to my two primes no doubt played its part in creating this abstract. I’m curious about how easily people perceive the human aspect to this and whether anyone can work out what they are actually seeing so please leave feedback on this one!