A couple of months have now passed since the announcement and it still feels very surreal and humbling, but mostly it feels pretty awesome. Apologies for taking so long to post this message to the website too. Thanks for the support and kind messages I've received where it has been posted by myself or through the various media channels.
To say the coverage of this competition and subsequent media from winning the competition is huge, is a massive understatement! The awards day itself was quite busy with interviews, newspapers, magazines, radio and TV all wanting their own comment. The awards announcement was scheduled later the same evening and I had been under embargo for a week or two, so I had time to digest the win itself - just not the amount of attention it generates. Even had a press photographer capture a portrait of me - that felt awkward! It was a little bit overwhelming, but in a really good way and an experience I am truly grateful for and certainly will still feel the buzz for years to come.
Awards Day & Evening
The day and evening was very special and the fantastic people at the South Australian Museum certainly made me feel like a winner, made even more special that my parents could join me at the awards ceremony. It was really great to meet all the other photographers at the event, I was truly humbled to be surrounded by a wonderful and exceptionally talented group of people.
I was also lucky to get a sneak peak at all the images prior to the official awards announcement later in the evening and my heart stopped when I saw the feature wall with my image mounted on its own - this was the moment when the magnitude of this competition really hit me. I was yet to see it printed at such a large size and was really impressed with the overall presentation, I was also just a little bit impressed with the drone handling this size print.
The presentation of the images courtesy of Atkins Lab were truly spectacular, the standard of imagery was exceptional and made even more impressive when they are treated with such care in the printing, mounting & lighting of the images. All the work done by Atkins was at an exceptional standard, there would not be many in Australia that I feel could meet this standard....after all, my life on this photographic journey did start with being a printer (& Kodak guy) for 6 years and the treatment and presentation of the final print holds a special place in my heart. Of course a big thanks has to go to the South Australian Museum for its expert curation of the exhibition too.
Why I Entered & Why You Should
I enter a lot of competitions and I certainly feel my submitted entries are capable of making it past the first round of judging, however it doesn't always pan out that way as the judges often completely disagree with me! This was the first time I'd entered this competition and I only entered because of the interest this image generated when I captured it it 2018 - the beaching was quite a rare event in the small coastal town of Cheynes Beach.
The Albany Advertiser & The West Newspapers ran an article with my picture on it. If not for the interest in the image then, I may never have entered this image at all.
Truth be told I was intimidated by the standard of imagery that gets entered every year, it really is quite impressive. I felt I had something in my entries that would potentially draw the attention of the judges, to possibly be shortlisted (but not a category finalist). So that is the target I set for myself, as I do with every competition - to be shortlisted at the least and anything beyond that is a bonus.
At the time the shortlisted images got announced, I did an interview with ABC radio where I was asked how I felt to be shortlisted? I was really very happy and proud to be shortlisted - I was completely over the moon to have an image noticed in this competition. The next question was how would you feel if you won? In my head was a lot of laughter, me totally dismissing the notion as I'd seen all the shortlisted entries and I clearly didn't see my image in that level of exceptional standard.
But if Grand Master Photographer Peter Eastway's words never rang truer than during this competition, it is that your entry is completely at the mercy of judgment which is subjective, what some might see as mundane others might see as exceptional and to hear those comments by the judges really brought home this message - which is in turn my message to you.
The worst that can happen when entering a competition is you are a couple of dollars lighter (most have a small entry fee) and you don't make it past the first round. This will give you experience and hopefully some feedback for when the next time comes around. The flip-side is one that could completely turn you upside down and have something truly remarkable happen, so if you have an image and you really aren't sure, can I make the strongest possible recommendation - please enter.
See The Winning Images
For those who get the opportunity to visit one of the exhibitions and I believe it will make it's way to Albany Museum later in 2020 do yourself a favour and go see these images in the flesh - they are absolutely amazing! For those wanting a print for their own home or office of any one of the finalists images, take a look at these and order directly through the South Australian Museum Shop here. & Shop.
The latest Issue of Australian Geographic also features the finalist images - click on the magazine image to buy a copy.
The best part for last is the book of all the finalist images - click on the book image to buy a copy.
Where to Enter - Bookmark This Site
Thanks again if you've read this far and once again for all the kind words of support!
Mat Beetson - 2019 AIPP Western Australian Professional Nature Photographer of the Year!