Gardens In Focus

Launched in 2011, the Gardens in Focus competition proved popular with photographers from around the nation. The first competition attracted a huge volume of entries and culminated with an exhibition of photographers’ work at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

In its second year, the competition has doubled its participants and opened up the arena to accept images taken at botanical gardens from all over the globe. With a prize of $10,000 up for grabs, the calibre of entries is high – witness the pics on this page as proof. The overall winner will be announced in May, but so popular has the event proved, that plans are already underway for a third competition, with entries opening in June.

Inspired by the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition in Kew Gardens, the members of the Friends of Botanic Garden have put their own spin on things and developed a competition that really showcases not only the talent of our photographers, but the beauty of the country’s botanic gardens as well.

Pam Milthorpe (curator) has been particularly enamored with the standard of entries across the categories (which range from plant images, to garden creatures and vistas). Professionals, amateurs and young photographers have all been encouraged to enter and this year the competition has included an international garden section.

“Of course we know a lot of photographers like the macro shot,” admits Pam “but we also want to encourage vistas and showcase how people use their botanic gardens, so we have a number of different categories. “This year we widened the competition, so it is now called Australia and New Zealand Gardens in Focus and we’ve opened up an international category so we have a much wider reach in terms of the photographers entering.”

Macro photography has become extremely popular in the last few years and Pam has her own reasoning for its popularity in the Gardens in Focus competition.

“From looking at the entries I think when people spend time with a subject, somehow the camera allows them, gives them permission if you like, to really stop and look at the detail. When you have that sense of wonder about the detail, and we all can have it, photography has the ability of allowing you to capture that detail.”

A keen amateur and aficionado of photography, Milthorpe is looking forward to seeing the finalists’ works on display and can’t wait to discover which images have caught the judges’ notice. “We always felt that if we were going to run the competition we wanted to aim for the highest possible standard. We wanted to not only capture the enthusiastic amateurs but professionals as well and we’ve been lucky enough to attract a lot of those professionals to judge the competition.”

Indeed judges include world-renowned shooters such as Anne Geddes and Chris Jones. Jones has even gone so far as to put together an eBook of tips and provide feedback on images. For Milthorpe, the biggest surprise has been the amazing level of talent. “We had an extraordinary range of gifted amateurs who had put enormous amount of time into getting the shot they wanted and it’s often required patience and a vision. They were prepared to put in the time. Some of them have brought a new vision and spontaneity.

“Last year’s winner, Sugianto Yahya really captured what we wanted to do – which was highlight the botanic gardens – Sugianto’s picture had a real sense of place and was clearly identifiable as being shot in a botanic garden. It covered the garden, the vista and really captured a moment in time…”


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