Ahead of the launch of APOY 2022, we talk to the APOY 2021 winners to find out what inspires them – and what they did with those all-important prize vouchers

The top three from the 2021 Amateur Photographer of the Year (APOY) competition share their top tips, inspiration and future plans below.

APOY 2021 First place

Nguyen Tan Tuan, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

Nguyen Tan Tuan is a construction engineer, and is also a member of the art council of the Ho Chi Minh City photography association.

What camera kit do you use?

I use Canon cameras, and have a big selection of Canon lenses. I also have a DJI Mavic 3 drone.

When did you start taking photographs?

I started taking photos in 2015, after my brother lent me a camera when I was going travelling. I have loved the subject ever since.

What are your favourite subjects?

I love photographing landscapes and the traditional craft villages in my country. I would like my pictures to help to preserve and spread the message about the beauty of my country.

Harvesting water lilies in Moc Hoa

Harvesting water lilies in Moc Hoa, Long An

Which photographers inspire you?

There are too many of them to list, but in my country I love the work of Andre Luu and Nguyen Bao Son.

Why is photography so special to you?

Because it helps me to discover new and beautiful things in my country, and it has also helped me to meet people and make friends not only in Vietnam but across the world.

How much time do you spend taking pictures?

With landscape photographs, I spend a lot of time preparing and waiting for the sunrise or sunset – sometimes as much as two or three hours. I usually prepare very carefully when I travel for my photography, but at home in Ho Chi Minh City, I usually have my camera with me in order to capture special or interesting moments.

Nguyen Tan Tuan Traditional Champa dancing

Traditional Champa dancing, South-central Vietnam

Do you travel a lot for your photography?

I usually take time to travel around five or six times a year, for a few days at a time.

How did Covid affect your photography?

I ended up missing out on photographing a number of places, because it was almost impossible to travel during the best season to shoot them.

How many times have you entered APOY?

This is my second year participating in APOY. In 2020, I was awarded first prize in the Black & White category, which gave me the confidence and determination to improve on that in the 2021 competition.

How did you go about choosing which images to enter?

I spent time reviewing the winning images from previous years, to make sure mine stood out as being different.

Nguyen Tan Tuan apoy 2021 winner, Sunrise over Tea Hill

Sunrise over Tea Hill – considered to be the most picturesque in Vietnam

What did you learn from entering APOY?

APOY has so many categories, it encouraged me to shoot a wider range of genres. Because so many photographers from around the world participate, in the competition, I’ve learned a lot from them.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter APOY this year?

Research each category carefully.

What was your reaction when you found out you had won?

I was very happy, of course, but also surprised, because I accidentally lost my Photocrowd account, which meant I missed the deadlines for two of the competition’s categories. But I was determined to continue learning and improving, so I carried on entering, and I was lucky enough to win!

What did you buy with your prize voucher?

I used it to buy a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens.

What are your plans for your photography?

I will continue to document the landscape, culture and traditions of my country.

APOY 2021 Second place

Daniel Newton, Dubai

daniel newton profile

Daniel works as a health and safety advisor in the oil and gas industry.

What camera kit do you use?

I moved from Nikon to Sony last year, starting with the A7R Mark IV. I now have an A1, and use a combination of zooms and primes. My favourite lens is probably the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II. The speed and sharpness of this lens really is something else.

What made you start taking photographs?

Work can be a little stressful, but photography is a good relief from the nine to five. Working offshore for the oil industry took me to some beautiful places, so I wanted to capture what I was seeing – flying fish in the Mediterranean, humpback whales breaching off the Canadian coast, sunsets off Brazil. I managed some onshore leave while working in the Gulf of Mexico, and walked into Walmart and bought my first DLSR, a Nikon D3200.

What are your favourite subjects?

I love photographing wildlife. I grew up in South Africa and have always had a passion for wildlife and conservation. Here in the UAE, there is a lot of wonderful wildlife – the trick is finding it out in the desert! An off-road vehicle is a must.

daniel newton second place in round 9 apoy 2021, black and white minimal street

An atmospheric scene that won second place in Round 9, Street

How did Covid affect your photography?

We went through extensive lockdown and for several weeks we could only leave the house for essential items a couple of times a week. Household items became interesting photographic subjects with a macro lens, as well as Rosie, our bulldog. Thankfully the region seems to have bounced back pretty quickly and we are outdoors again.

What did you learn from entering APOY?

This was my first time entering, and I missed the first few categories. However, I submitted an entry in the landscape category that won, so I decided that I would try a few more categories to see how I fared. It made me plan my shots because, like most people, I didn’t already have images that fit. I have every intention of entering again this year. The skills I learned in trying new things have benefited my photography.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter APOY this year?

The categories are all nicely spread throughout the year, so you have time to learn the desired skill. Take your time, and read the category description. Look at the previous year’s entries and then go out and shoot with a plan in your mind. Getting out there and creating is the most important step. The prizes are a nice incentive, too.

Daniel newton round 4 winner, road in middle of desert apoy 2021

Daniel won Round 4, Landscape, with this minimalist shot

What did you buy with your prize voucher?

I now have a Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM in my bag, thanks to AP and MPB.

What are your plans for your photography?

I like to think that one day I will turn pro. I’ve started a website and am managing my own limited-edition prints. It’s a small start but it is a start, and I think that’s an important step. Being able to have ‘runner-up for APOY 2021’ on my website is also an honour and who knows, maybe one day I will be able to add APOY winner to this, as well.

APOY 2021 Third place

Ian Bramham, Poynton, Cheshire

ian bramham profile

Ian is a chartered architect whose office is next door to Manchester United’s stadium.

What camera kit do you use?

From 2012 until a few weeks ago I used a Nikon D800 with a few zoom lenses, including an AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, and a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6. I enjoy long-exposure photography, so I have a few neutral-density filters, including a B+W 6-stop and a LEE 10-stop. I also have a couple of tripods that I use a lot, including a Manfrotto 055CXPro3.

When and why did you start taking photographs?

In 2007 I bought a Fujifilm F31fd digital compact. It coincided with us getting broadband at home and, for the first time, I was able to see the work of photographers who were posting beautiful photos online using this same camera. I had never before thought of photography as an art form; it inspired me to give it a go.

What are your favourite subjects?

Rural and urban landscapes, and architecture. Much of my work is black & white square format due to the influence of photographers such as Edward Steichen, Ansel Adams, Bill Brandt and Richard Avedon.

Ian Bramham, first place in round 1 apoy 2021

Full of atmosphere, this urban scene was a worthy winner of Round 1, Black & White

How much time do you spend taking pictures?

I work full time as an architect, so most of my photos are taken during holidays and weekends.

How did Covid affect your photography?

The time I could dedicate to photography slowed considerably during Covid.

How did you go about choosing which images to enter into APOY?

I entered APOY by chance after seeing a free coupon code in the magazine and I was amazed when my entry won the first round which was Black & White. My interests in photography are quite narrow so I didn’t submit an entry into each round, but I was lucky enough to also win the travel round. Both my winning photos are personal favourites.

What did you learn from entering APOY?

I was genuinely surprised that the judges liked two of my photos enough to place them as winners. I had been going through a long period where I was doubting myself as a photographer, and winning these two rounds helped my self-confidence.

Ian Bramham, first place in round 8 apoy 2021

Ian took a different approach to the theme of travel, and was awarded first in Round 8

What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter APOY this year?

I’d advise anyone to have a go. Only enter your own favourite photos and don’t try to predict what the judges might like.

What did you buy with your prize voucher?

I replaced my Nikon D800 DSLR that I’ve been using for nine and a half years with the latest mirrorless Nikon Z 7II and a 14-30mm lens from MPB. I’m writing this while on a trip to Paris and I’ve been busy every day in the city taking photos at dawn and dusk with the new camera. Although I haven’t managed to take any photos that I think are very good, I’ve enjoyed myself very much!

What are your plans for your photography in the future?

My only hope for the future is to continue enjoying my photography.

Amateur Photographer of the Year 2022

Amateur Photographer of the Year 2022 is now open for entries!


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