What is the enduring allure of travel photography? Perhaps we all fantasize about stepping away from our ordinary routines into a magical setting to suspend daily reality for just a little while. We are intrigued by other ways of living and curious to learn about other cultures, whether it’s the language, food, music, traditions, clothing or simply to enjoy the images that “freeze” another world for a moment. Therefore it seems fitting on a warm balmy summer’s night in London I was in the jasmine-scented gardens of the Royal Society in London chatting with Founder, Chris Coe and Jeremy Hoare, one of the distinguished judges for the prestigious “Travel Photographer of theYear” under the humorous signs, including one pointing to fictional Narnia.
As a child I grew up with the stories of grand expeditions funded by the Royal Society from David Livingston in Africa and Ernest Shackleton in Antarctica, the latter leading a team through an impossible ordeal. I read about the latter’s struggle in great detail thanks to his written accounts enhanced by the enduring power of the photographs taken by Australian adventurer Frank Hurley ... but that’s a story for another day.
I never dreamt I would be in London sipping a glass of wine in their grounds in sight of the Royal Albert Hall near Kensington Gardens and the grand museums of the Victorian era when scientific exploration was celebrated with pride. This prestigious institution with it impeccable pedigree for objective scientific exploration and sharing understanding could have been quite intimidating but the people were warm and engaging.
Fellow travelers (professional, amateur or air-chair travelers) seemed to revel in the range of images from wildlife to landscape to cityscape and surprising observations that left one puzzled or intrigued. The creative efforts of all image makers were celebrated while also respecting their copyright. The large free-standing panels were easy to view with time to read about the Finalists’ images and their makers without feeling crowded.
TPOTY could be such an intimidating, almost grandiose title. With billions of people whirling around this planet with unprecedented access to cameras in all their myriad of forms, how is it even possible to categorically announce who is the best? I was impressed by the calibre of works displayed that I was pleased to invest in a couple of books. Looking at the artistry again now I am home, particularly the BW images, I am in awe of the judging process.
So how does one become a Travel Photographer of the year? By not being timid. By submitting a single image or a series. By having the courage to share one’s vision and observations in a changing world. Regardless if you are pro or amateur, the power of the image can transcend a place to reveal a universal story. Follow the journey on tpoty.com. I know I am going to enter. Wish me luck this October.