Amateur Photographer is proud to be a media partner of the prestigious Landscape Photographer of the year competition. As creative director Paul Sanders explains, there are a lot of changes to this year’s competition, which is now welcoming entries in a very wide range of categories
The long-established Landscape Photographer of the Year competition is now open for 2023, and has undergone some of the biggest changes in its 15-year history. Creative director Paul Sanders (below) who is also a highly respected landscape photographer and teacher in his own right, gives us the full story below (where you’ll also find details of an exclusive entry fee discount for AP readers).
If you’re inspired to enter this year’s contest, don’t miss our complete guide to landscape photography, and our round of up the best cameras for landscape shooting.
Paul, can you tell us about the biggest changes to the competition?
I came onboard in late October last year, having been a judge of the competition for at least the last six or seven years. One the things that always struck me as a judge was that the entries were all very similar. When I spoke to the founder, Charlie Waite, about coming aboard, I was keen to keep the traditional backbone of the competition but open it up to people who are more expressive about their landscape photography.
Can you tell us about the new categories?
First up is the Impressions of the Landscape Category, which enables people to submit ICM (intentional camera movement), multiple exposures, multimedia – if you write or draw on your pictures as well as printing them out, you can now enter them, too.
We have also updated the Network Rail Lines in the Landscape category, so it’s called My Railway Adventure. Now you can include images of any kind of railway, including heritage ones. Trains make such a beautiful subject in the landscape. You can include all the architecture and infrastructure, too – the category is wide open so long as it include some element of rail travel.
We’ve also introduced an Intimate View (macro and close up) category for people who don’t feel the big landscape, but love all the details, the rocks, the seaweed, the flowers… All those tiny details that many of miss as we focus on setting our tripod down and getting the wider landscape. So, there’s now a category for people who love the tiny landscape – this is important as landscape photography can mean very different things to different people.
I am also excited about the Bird’s Eye View category, which is just for drone photography. We have been getting more and more drone entries in past few years, but they seemed at odds with the Classic view category. Drone photography has come a long way – I don’t do it myself – but is growing all the time, particularly amongst young people.
Then there is the MPB-sponsored category, Change in the Landscape. We were trying to work out how we could implement this. We decided the idea of ‘change’ in landscape can also be positive, as well as the negative stuff around environmental destruction. MPB wanted to encourage people who noted subtle changes in the wind, or the weather, or the seasons… to open up the category for however you interpret change.
If we can see beauty and positivity in change, it also changes our own mindset, in the way that we perceive changes that happen directly to us. The traditional categories are still there – Classic View, Black and White, Cityscapes and Coastal, for example.
What are you doing to make the competition more diverse, and encourage a wider range of photographers to have a shot at winning?
One thing I have noticed is a slight divide between how men and women shoot landscapes. A lot of women photographers work more with expressive techniques, whether it be polaroid emulsion lifts, using specialist creative lenses, ICM, blending images and multiple exposure. Meanwhile, a lot of male photographers who enter tend to favour a more ‘classic’ style. Of course, there is plenty of crossover, but we have opened up the competition so the new categories have a wider appeal.
A lot of people saw Landscape Photographer of the Year as a very traditional competition and not as forward looking as we thought it was. We want it to keep evolving and appeal to people who are coming into photography through their smartphones and through colleges and universities, as well as the camera club route.
The judging panel is more diverse too. Natasha Burns, the winner of last year’s Young Landscape Photographer of the Year, is now a judge and we have more women judges generally. We’ve also brought in judges who specialise in drone and multimedia photography.
Do you worry that all these changes might deter landscape photographers who take a more traditional approach from entering?
No, because each of the adult categories has a £1000 prize so there is something for everybody. The more traditional, Classic View category has always been our biggest draw, attracting a third more entries than any other. I am hoping the new categories will inspire people to think a bit differently about the landscapes they are working in. My big goal as a photographer is to encourage people to see the beauty in where they are.
Also, the theme of this year’s competition is love the landscape you’re in, which is why we launched on Valentine’s Day. We want entrants to be be more open abut how they see their local landscapes, rather than shooting the predictable classics!
Paul Sanders’ top tips for winning Landscape Photographer of the Year
- Read through the categories carefully and select the one where you feel you stand the best chance. For instance, don’t enter architectural images into Classic View.
- Don’t over process the images. In the traditional categories, try to keep the final image as natural-looking as possible.
- Judges always love to be surprised so new ideas are always well received.
- Don’t shoot to win, make pictures you enjoy and then choose the categories they suit. If you put that much pressure on yourself you’ll just end up disappointed, so use the competition to help you refine the images you truly love from the last five years.
- Look at the judges, this year there are many new faces so if you’ve been unlucky in the past try again this year!
Get an exclusive discount on entry to Landscape Photographer of the Year
You can get 15% off the price of entry to this year’s contest with the code LPOTYAP15. Valid from Saturday, March 18th to the competition closing date of May 31st. For full entry details see the official site.
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