Entering International Photography Competitions



Robynne Limoges

The willingness to take on entirely new visual challenges and to put your work forward in unfamiliar contexts can be invigorating and the results can be tremendously positive.

The encouragement to enter the 2014 International Garden Photographer of the Year Award (IGPOTY) came from a photography colleague, Jocelyn Horsfall, who specialises in abstract lyrical flower images. This annual, prestigious competition is presented in association with the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. It attracts on average 18,000 submissions from all over the world.

This was a daunting prospect for me. I have no botanical knowledge nor am I a flower photographer and I wondered if I might be stepping too far away from my established way of photographing.

The results truly surprised me, with awards in 2014 of Highly Commended in the overall competition and Finalist in the black and white projects. The image that won Highly Commended was a strongly graphic interpretation, a quality which the judges felt brought a real strength to the subject. In the book for that competition, the image was given a two-page spread.

I re-entered the competition the following year and was astounded by the results. A group of six images, Mysteries of Evening I through VI, won Finalist in the overall Portfolio category. One of the portfolio, Canopy, also won Finalist in the Macro section.  In addition, an image titled The Madonna Cactus won Finalist in the Single Image category.

The experience has brought significant benefits. By pushing myself to explore my emotional style in a subject previously unexplored by me, I discovered an intimacy with nature that touched me deeply. More tangibly, my images have been published in two beautiful books and are being toured widely by the organisers of the competition, including shows at the Paleis Soestdijk, Netherlands, Sheringham Gardens, National Trust, in Norfolk, several other galleries in England and there are plans for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney in 2016. It was featured in newspapers and on-line and blogged by others.

The act of stepping outside our comfort zone by studying unfamiliar subjects and forms can expand our creativity. Enlarging the context in which we present our work gives us the opportunity to reach wider and different audiences.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned is that while we work to stay true to our own vision and try to maintain a voice that speaks to the way in which we interpret the world, there is real value in remaining open minded. Taking risks is, after all, one of the exquisite rewards of being a photographer.

Discover more of Robynne’s work on her FolioLink website: http://robynnelimoges.com/


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