I did it on the spur of the moment, a last minute decision. A couple of days before entries closed for the first round, I became aware of the Amateur Photographer of the Year (APOY) competition. Actually, that is not strictly true. The UK based Amateur Photographer magazine has organised it for several years and I have occasionally entered it. The last time was over three years ago. Despite some success with my shot that time, I had not participated since. (The story of that photo is worthy of a post of its own and I have an article in preparation.)
The APOY Competition
The competition is held over eight rounds over the course of the year, each with a different theme. The top 30 images receive points, 30 for first place and down to 1 for 30th. Readers of the magazine receive a free entry, although by paying a fee it is possible to submit up to three images in each round. Only the highest placed one will receive any points, though. That is a change from last year. A very good nature photographer was successful with multiple entries in some of the rounds. He racked up sufficient points in his speciality to win the overall APOY competition by a wide margin.
Sigma sponsors the competition and the winner of each APOY round receives some of the company’s gear with a £1,000 value. The person with the highest tally when all eight rounds are complete is the overall winner and receives £2,000 worth of equipment in prizes. As a contest, it is real test of photographic ability and diversity. And there are some worthwhile prizes, to boot.
What changed this time? The theme for the first round was “Best of British” for photos taken within the British Isles and I had an image which I thought could do well. Looking at the list of topics, I have others which I thought might be appropriate for the later rounds. Being a reader of the magazine, I had nothing to lose by entering and considered that it would be an interesting challenge. Until last year, it was only possible to submit one entry per round and I decided to stick with that ethos. The process to determine which of my photos would succeed best is certainly a challenge which prove to be instructive.
Strangely, for the first round, I was more concerned with semantics than aesthetics. My shot, above, comes from Sark which is one of the Channel Islands and closer to France than the United Kingdom. It is British but not part of the United Kingdom, rather it is a self-governing British Crown dependency. The people living there speak English and most qualify for British residency by virtue of having been born in the United Kingdom or have a parent or grandparent born there. It is a confused situation, but I decided none of that would really matter to the Amateur Photographer judges. (You can find out more about I came take this photo in an earlier post on this blog.)
So, how did I do? Much to my surprise, I finished 6th overall and is one of my better results in the APOY competition. That meant that the shot appeared in Amateur Photographer magazine when the results were published a few weeks ago. The standard is very high and that is an achievement me in itself; anything more is a bonus so far as I am concerned. A few days ago, I met Nigel Atherton who is the editor of the magazine. He told me that the “Best of British” theme was chosen as the competition is popular with photographers from overseas. It allowed those who are more likely to be readers an early opportunity and encouragement to participlate in the later rounds. That has certainly been a successful ploy in my case.
This article is the first in which I will describe the experience of competing. There are still several rounds to go, so I cannot know how this will finish and I have no expectations of further success. That said, entrants are aware of the results long before the formal announcement in the magazine. At the time of writing, the judges have already decided the fate of my entries in the two subsequent rounds. There will be further posts in due course to coincide with the magazine’s publication schedule.