Former Royal Marine Commando and expedition photographer Ian Finch has been announced as the official judge for the South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year competition. Based in London, Ian has spent over 10 years travelling to some of the most remote environments in the world to record and capture life in the great outdoors. He’s circumnavigated the Yukon River by canoe, travelled with Inuits across Greenland and hiked and canoed 1,200 miles on the Cherokee Trail of Tears – but the wonder of our very own 630-mile National Trail is not lost on him.
When asked about photographing the Coast Path, Ian said, “Past dramatic headlands, coastal valleys and intimate coves the South West Coast Path contours across a rugged an ancient landscape. With the ever-changing coastal weather and light, this land is a photographer’s dream. For me, the people and their connection to this wild place is where the stories are to be found.”
Ian added, “Photography can astound us, make us laugh, cry and inspire us. Some of the most powerful images are the most simple, but more importantly they tell a story of where you are, who you’re with, subject matter and the current mood or the emotion. As for me, I can go as far as saying I live and breathe photography. I read about it, I learn about it and I push myself to continue learning – some of the time failing, some of the time succeeding. Here are my top 4 tips to capturing images that will help you stand out.”
- Shoot Impromptu– Often the images that are taken between the ones that are planned are sometimes the most natural, real and organic. Before you shoot the image that you have been waiting all day for, take a step back and watch a scene unfold. Look behind you at how the light is interacting with different elements of your surroundings. Shoot the in-between moments, the small details, context shots, images that will draw the viewer into the scene and further develop the story. This could be hands, rucksacks, the boiling of a stove or the silhouette of someone in the scene. When it finally comes to getting that key shot, you’ll have lots more images in which to tell a complete story.
- Let the story move you, before you move the story– Every image you take will have a story attached. You will have been drawn to this place, whether it is the light on the landscape at a certain time, a person who inspires you to look closer at their life, beautiful wildlife or an epic adventure. Why is it that you’re drawn here? Use that intuitive call to the scene to add your own unique perspective and don’t be afraid to express that perspective, why? Because it’s yours.
- Innovate don’t imitate– Today, with the vast over saturation of images on Instagram, we can easily be encouraged to follow popular photographers to locations and imitate their photography style. In the early stages this can be a great way to learn, but in the long run can stunt creative progression and the development of your own style. Definitely be inspired by those that have come before you, yet research new locations, stories and worldly perspectives. Visit these places, take your time to uncover the story, there’s no rush (even though social media wants you to post it now). Follow your intuition, find your niche, carve YOUR path.
- Network & Collaborate– Meet other photographers, storytellers and creative types. Reach out, work with them for free, offer to be an assistant, watch how they work – Then use snippets of their techniques and skillsets and weave them into your own style. Watch photographers on YouTube, they will have endless hours of tips in the field you’re interested in. Watch how they navigate the “on the ground” technical issues and successes.
The competition is open to all types of photographs such as natural landscapes, snaps of coastal towns and villages, wildlife photography and people shots. However, the photographs must have been taken on or near the South West Coast Path, which runs from Minehead in Somerset around to Poole in Dorset. The winner will receive the coveted title of South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year, a £500 voucher towards a luxury holiday in Cornwall courtesy of sponsors Beach Retreats and a Nikon School photography course. The competition closes at midnight on 27th October and a winner will be selected by Ian and announced in November. For more information and to enter, please visit: www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/photographer-of-the-year. To learn more about our fantastic judge Ian Finch and see more examples of his work, visit ianefinch.com.