Q&A with Charlie Waite
Happisburgh, Norfolk by Andrew Midgley (Commended, Take a view – Landscape Photographer of the Year, 2014).
The search for the 2015 Landscape Photographer of the Year is underway. Now in its ninth year, this prestigious competition is dedicated to showcasing the beauty of British landscapes and celebrating the talents of photographers in the UK and beyond. The competition offers a top cash prize of £10,000 for the overall winner and culminates in a major exhibition. The best images will also be published in a stunning book, Landscape Photographer of the Year – Collection 9 by AA Publishing, which will be released on 19 October 2015.
To find out more about this year’s competition, which is open for entries until 12 July, we spoke to competition founder and renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite.
Outdoor Photography You founded Take a view – Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2007. What changes have you witnessed in the landscape genre since its launch?
Charlie Waite Camera technology is moving on apace, giving more people the opportunity to shoot high quality image files without spending a fortune on equipment. Creating an image within the camera is still very important to my own work, but an ongoing sophistication in post-production programmes and knowledge has generally led to greater subtlety than a decade ago.
OP What are your hopes for LPOTY 2015?
CW When I started the competition back in 2007, I wanted to raise the profile of landscape photography and provide a showcase where those who shared my passion could find a wider audience for their creative endeavours – and this desire hasn't changed. I also believe that the competition has a role in providing a record of our times. Our landscape is both wonderful and intriguing; a place in which to breathe and create. A photograph is a very powerful way to convey information, encouraging visitors to appreciate what Britain has to offer and to experience, first-hand, the joy to be had from our landscapes.
OP What makes the UK such a popular destination for landscape photographers?
CW I remember when Alan Titchmarsh spoke so eloquently at our exhibition back in 2010, he referred to the fact that visitors often complain about our weather – in particular the rain. He then went on to say that our wonderful landscapes are as they are because of the weather. This diverse climate, which shapes our landscapes and fills our lakes, also provides the light so loved by landscape photographers. And where else would you find such variety within such a relatively small island?
OP Who will be judging this year’s competition?
CW The feedback that we have had over the years from our entrants shows how much thought and passion goes into every entry, and we have spent a lot of thought on our judging process. Our final judging panel always includes people with different creative perspectives, including photographers, editors and researchers. We are delighted that Outdoor Photography’s editor, Steve Watkins will be joining us for the second year and that Joe Cornish has also been able to make time in his busy schedule to join our panel. A full list can be found on our website.
OP Last year, Mark Littlejohn was crowned Landscape Photographer of the Year for his wonderfully atmospheric image, A Beginning and an End, which could almost be mistaken for a painting. Do you think landscape photography is heading in a more artistic direction?
CW In the past, I feel that landscape photography has struggled in the UK for acceptance as an art form, and there has been a tendency for critics to dismiss it as ‘interior décor’. I am so pleased that this finally seems to be changing, with recent photography exhibitions at key national museums and galleries reflecting this shift.
OP The competition includes a category that encourages creativity and allows digital manipulation (Your view). How do you decide whether a photographer has taken things too far?
CW The key criteria for a photograph, to my mind, is whether it ‘works’. This can be a coming together of many factors, including composition, light, technique, creativity and emotion; the image has an impact on the viewer. The ‘Your view’ category allows a level of digital manipulation not allowed in other categories, but the resulting image still needs to speak effectively to the judges.
OP There is also an ‘Urban view’ category – can urbanised landscapes be beautiful?
CW I don't think we have the space here to discuss the definition of 'beauty', but as beauty can be described as stark and graphic, as well as soft and rounded, with thousands of other words in between, I would say that urban scenes can certainly be seen as beautiful in many ways. But, as mentioned earlier, the strength of an image lies in its emotional impact, so it does not have to be beautiful to be good. The competition’s definition of urban is also very broad; historic country towns are as eligible as glass skyscrapers.
To find out more and to enter Landscape Photographer of the Year 2015, which is being held in association with VisitBritain and Countryside is GREAT, please go to take-a-view.co.uk.