Persistence Brings Success

21 August 2015

SIG: Travel

If you are the kind of person who thinks you have no chance of winning a photographic competition, I hope you’ll take heart from Sue O’Connell, Travel Group member of Western Region’s experience!



"I am a great 'enterer' of things but never with any great expectation of success – until last year, that is, when one of my images was Highly Commended in the USA Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. I don’t actually count myself as a landscape photographer in any way, so you can see how speculative my entries are! However, spurred on, I then entered the Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) and was lucky enough to be runner-up in the Monochrome section. With that came the honour (and thrill) of having my image included in the fantastic TPOTY exhibition held in the gardens of the Royal Geographical Society in London and of attending the Private View and prize-giving.




Sue O'Connell's successful photograph - Java


A little background to TPOTY: since small beginnings in 2003, this has grown into a major event in the photographic calendar, with entries from around 100 countries. It’s popular with professionals and amateurs alike, not only for the exposure it offers winners (the current touring exhibition is about to go international, for example) but also because it is one of the very few big competitions that doesn’t claim copyright or licensing rig

hts. By contrast, if you ever felt like entering the National Geographic Traveler photo competition, you would need a team of lawyers to vet all the documentation required!


There are various TPOTY categories including portfolio and single image, as well as special awards for young photographers, video and smart phone images. Everything is explained in dizzying detail on the website: displays all award winning images (including mine).


My entry was very much last minute, just one day before we set off on a trip to Mongolia, in fact! Maybe there’s a lesson there: Don’t give an entry too much thought? It included one Portfolio and three One Shot categories, sixteen images in all. My winning shot illustrates the law of serendipity. Although it seemed very much a colour shot, I was short of monochrome images and thought it might just work in mono. Apparently, it was precisely the fact that it was that bit different that the judges liked. So there you have it, runner-up to the work of a pro photographer in TPOTY! Proud or what??


Finalists were announced mid-November, and amazingly these included four of my One Shot images. At this point, you need to have images printed to their absolute best advantage and to provide captions and bio-data. Then it’s a waiting game until the results a month later.


One word of caution: TPOTY rules rule out images which have won prizes in another national or international competition by the closing date. So salonistas among you, beware!


All in all, this has been a hugely positive experience and I hope some of you will now “give it go”. Entries for the 2015 TOPTY close on 1 October - there’s plenty of time!"





Sue meets Liz Rhodes, RPS Travel Group Chair at the Exhibition



Article and Images by Sue O’Connell ARPS, EFIAP/b, DPAGB, BPE 3*