Why did this image get awarded first place?

Lobster Pots_CWhenever we lose a competition we automatically think, why did the winning image win? So here at Wonky Eye when we win a competition we want to know the same. Our most recent win was two weeks ago at the International Mayfly Festival in Oughterard, Galway. The adjudicator was the esteemed photographer Geoff Smyth. Geoff worked as a professional advertising photographer throughout the world for 45 years and has just retired to Oughterard, Galway. He was kind enough to send me some written feedback which really helps understand how photography competitions are judged.

The Pier at Tully
Approaching this picture for the first time, from a distance, I had the impression that I was viewing a monolithic structure; something that sits well in an Irish landscape and resonates with other Irish monolithic structures like dolmens.
Closer inspection reveals the remains of wall, once part of a building, occupying the top left hand sweet spot of the image. Cascading down from the wall and reading from left to right, is a variety of cages and lobster pots and completes the structure of the foreground.
The middle distance is the sea, bogland and a few dwellings. The far distance is a backdrop of mountains and sky.
The picture is well composed with everything where it should be. It works as a landscape and it works as a still-life. What could be chaos, the chance arrangement of the lobster pots, is harmonious and very pleasing to the eye. There is lots to see and every part of this of this section of the image is full of interesting diagonals.
The bottom left hand of the foreground is grass and sand bits of rope and the subdued light imbues it with a mysterious quality. In fact the whole picture has an ethereal quality; something spiritual. To my eye, it’s just beautiful.
That’s the text of the photograph; the next bit is the sub-text, the backstory. When I look at this picture I want to know about the people who created this structure, the fishermen, the ones who worked the sea and the land. Are they still alive? What was that building, why did it rise, why did it fall? There is a novel inside this powerful image. People come and go but the backdrop, the mountains endure.
This is first class photograph and passes the; “I wish I’d taken that” test.


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