I’ve been twice before. Once to stand on the line representing the Prime Meridian for a school trip with the Brownie group (all the fun), and again last year to see a late night show at the Royal Maritime Museum. To the Royal Borough of Greenwich, that is. This long Bank Holiday weekend seemed the perfect chance to pose as tourists, sleeping in a local AirBnB spot, vintage shopping in the twilight market and heading to the University which is playing host to the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition (TPOTY).
It’s the first year that I’ve made it to the show, and it didn’t disappoint with prize titles for both young and adult entries, amateurs and semi-professionals with submissions under portfolio categories titles including: ‘Faces, People, Encounters’; ‘Nature & Environment’; and ‘Monochromal’. TPOTY describes itself as a competition run by photographers, for photographers, with submissions from every continent (over 114 countries are represented), often seeking to highlight points and peoples under cultural or environmental threat.
Upon entry, there is a map that invites visitors to pin where they’d most like to visit in the world, whetting the appetite for an artistic gallop from tanneries in the suburbs of Dhaka to flyover rainbows in Tokyo:
The Young Travel Photographer of the Year was the entrant who the judges felt submitted the best entry on the theme ‘Travels Through my lens’. 18-year old Chas Guttman from the USA claimed this title, already a two-time winner of this category, minor Instagram celebrity and recognised travel photographer. His series of images are taken in the frost-laden foothills of the remote nation of Lesotho, where the Basotho people wear traditional tribal blankets for village ceremonies and familial milestones, where shepherds converge on the jagged basalt cliffs of Maletsunyane Falls as the sun begins to rise, and where Basuto ponies are pictured as crucial to the survival of local Sotho tribes.
Meanwhile, Marsel van Oosten won the overall title for best submissions across the three portfolio categories. Van Oosten is a professional nature photographer from the Netherlands. His images are best known for his graphic approach to composition, the direct result of his previous career as an art director in advertising. In his work he tries to simplify, to get rid of the extraneous. For him, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
His images are featured in galleries and museums, and he is a regular contributor for National Geographic Magazine and together with his wife Danielle he runs Squiver, a company that organizes specialized wildlife and landscape photography tours and workshops for small groups of all experience levels to spectacular locations worldwide. His winning series features Danielle canoeing through the eerie cypress swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin on a trip they took through North America, with a self-referential quality often featuring her with poised camera.
The monochromal portfolio category was my personal favourite, with the winning submission from Xia Xuejun beautifully rising to the challenge of creating good composition through light, tone, and shadow without the natural impact of colour.
Running until 4 September, this is just one more reason to make a trip down to Greenwich, covering inspiring ground that might just prompt enough to submit for this year’s TPOTY competition. Who knows where it might take you.
Image Credit (all): A.Bow-Bertrand