The Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year Finalist - 2017
My portfolio: www.davidwheater.photo
Yesterday I was lucky enough to find out that I'd been commended in the Urban category for my photo "floating city" (below) in the finals of The Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year competition - 2017.
It's always nice to have your hard work recognised, and I'm delighted to be part of this wonderful competition - but it's important to remember that photography is a very subjective, personal art and winning competitions should not be the reason we take photographs.
If I hadn't been awarded a commendation - would I have been disappointed? - yes of course - but would it have dampened my enthusiasm for photography in any way? - definitely not! I'm compelled to take photographs and nothing will ever diminish my passion and love for the art. It's emotional. If you want to take better photographs, the best advice I can give is to shoot from your heart. Shoot what you feel - not what you see. If you're not connecting on some emotional level with your photographs, then I would advise to re-evaluate your why and start afresh.
If you ever look at other people's photos and feel despondent in any way - don't! Their photos are simply their take on the world - and your photos are yours - both are equally valid and have a rightful place in this world. You have just the same right to express yourself as anyone else and the way you choose to do this is just as valid and true as anyone else's. If your photo makes you happy then it's truly a great one, regardless of what anyone else says or thinks.
Photography is like everything else in life - we can get disheartened when we compare our efforts to other peoples - but this ignores the reasons why we take photos in the first place. It's to record our emotions and feelings about the people, places and things we love most in the world - in our own distinct way - in the best way we can. This is why the winners of this years SLPOTY-2017 competition did so well. Yes, you definitely should understand how to use your camera properly and achieve a good exposure - but nothing is more important than what you ultimately aim it at.
We take photographs because it's fun and a way to express ourselves. It should be your take on the world, through your eyes and the emotions in your heart and, as long as you're doing this - staying true to yourself - it really doesn't matter what other people think and it certainly doesn't matter whether you win competitions or not.
Some of the best images I've ever seen have been taken by enthusiasts on basic digital cameras and smartphones, so work with what you've got and do not be put off if you can't afford expensive equipment. The test I always apply to my own photos is incredibly simple - Does this photo make me happy?
The photography world is a very competitive one now, and many people struggle to make it from amateur to professional - particularly in Landscape photography. There are a very lucky few who can make a full-time living from it, but this is becoming increasingly rare. In the age of Google, Facebook and social media the currency of a good photo has perhaps been devalued somewhat - but this, I think, is what makes it even more important to take the best possible photos we can - regardless of financial gains, which may or may not come.
Take photos because it's a joy. Go on adventures and create pictures. Make them emotional to match what's in your head and your heart and they'll enrich your life, and the lives of those you love, for years to come.
Before I go, I must give a big shout out to Stuart Low and his team of amazing judges and volunteers for organising the SLPOTY Awards. It must be an enormous amount of work and we're very lucky to have such a superb competition here in Scotland. This competition not only helps to promote Scotland's incredible natural beauty to the rest of the world, but gives important recognition to all those hard working photographers out there that venture outside in all weathers to record the Scotland we know for generations to come.
And finally, a huge congratulations to the overall winner, Paul Webster and runner up, Alex Nail and all the other winners for some incredibly beautiful and inspiring photos of Scotland.
My photography portfolio is available to see at www.davidwheater.com