What the winners say

We take a look back at some of our competition winners over the years and learn how Landscape Photographer of the Year has helped them realise their photography goals and aspirations.
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Jan 20
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2017 Winner Benjamin Graham

'Diminutive Dune' does happen to be one of my favourites from my 2016/17 portfolio - I’ve always loved its simplicity - so that made its success all the more meaningful to me. Like the previous winners though, it’s the shock of hearing Charlie’s voice on the end of the line that will live with me forever. It's like getting a phone call from James Bond…

"The name's Waite... Charlie… Waite"
THE Charlie Waite?”
“Well… I don’t know whether I’m THE Charlie Waite…”
…I recognise his voice - it is THE Charlie Waite…
“Come on - you’re THE Charlie Waite.”
“OK, yes, it is 'the' Charlie Waite... Tell me, please - did you enter a photo of West Wittering into LPOTY?”
…Wibbly-wobbly jelly-legs trepidation…
“Yes, I entered two.”
“Well, I’m delighted to tell you that you’ve won!”
“Won what? Not the whole thing?!”
“Yes, the whole thing – you are UK Landscape Photographer of the Year… Congratulations, Benjamin, bravo!”

As I recall, my responses beyond this point could only be described as gushes of verbal diarrhoea - consisting largely of unintelligible gibberish, peppered with muttered and unprintable expletives… I still can’t believe it sometimes, it’s such a huge accolade; I was overjoyed when I knew I’d been shortlisted in the competition - that was enough recognition for me - but to win? It’s literally an overwhelming feeling, not just because LPOTY is so highly regarded, but also because it is so fiercely contested by such a massively talented group of UK photographers - many of whom I admire as heroes and whose work I aspire to. It has truly been the honour of a lifetime to hold the title.

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2016 Winner Matthew Cattell

When Charlie let me know that I was the overall winner of the 10th ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year’ competition, I was left completely speechless. To be held in such high regard amongst so many other talented photographers was humbling and I have been inspired by the support shown by amateurs and professionals alike.

During the winter months, the starling murmuration is an integral part of the Brighton landscape and I was thrilled to learn that my photograph which combines my love of both landscape and wildlife photography had been successful.

If I can offer any advice to future winners, it is this - when reviewing your photographs for entry this year give some thought to those which dare to challenge the definition of what a ‘landscape photograph’ should be. Good luck!

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2015 Winner Andy Farrer

Winning the ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year’ title in 2015 was a dream come true. I’ve entered each year since 2009 and, until receiving a commendation last year, never made it to the shortlist stage. Making it to the book was exciting but being honoured with the overall win is pure bucket list stuff.

Being from Dorset, it’s especially rewarding to have won with an image from one of the county's most visited beaches and one I visit regularly. Dorset has its fair share of ‘honeypot’ locations and like it or loath it, they are iconic because of their natural beauty. Living a short drive away allows one to be more picky with conditions than for those who have to come from further afield. The winning view, which is 180 degrees away from Durdle Door, often plays poor cousin to the arch, but is nonetheless a super bit of The Jurassic Coast.

Congratulations to all the talented photographers, many of whom are great friends, who made it past the shortlist and into the book. If you weren’t lucky enough to get shortlisted this time, keep at it. Each year when I select my entries, I look at my previous year’s entries with part surprise, part embarrassment, but with steady progress and slightly less embarrassment than the previous year.

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2014 Winner Mark Littlejohn

When I got the call [from Awards Founder, Charlie Waite], I was in a cafe in Tynemouth and it was a surreal experience to say the least. When you enter the competition you hope against hope that you will get an image in the book and you can't really consider the possibility that you will win. Even during the call I expected Charlie to tell me I was runner up or something of that nature and I struggled to take in the news that I'd actually won. I don't know what else to say really. You always feel doubt about the quality of your images and an award of this nature means a huge amount to me and my family.

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2013 Winner Tony Bennett

When Charlie rang me to tell me of my win, I was driving and I answered him on my ‘hands free’ phone. I remember him saying, ‘this is Charlie, Charlie Waite.’ My brain went into overdrive; intuitively I knew it was about the Landscape Photography Competition and was steeling myself to be told I had won one of the lesser prizes.

Then Charlie said, ‘Put both hands on the steering wheel and take a deep breath,’ a lump came into my throat as he said, ‘you have won first prize. Congratulations.’

After a stunned silence there was some light conversation between us, little of which I can recall, except I remember using the word ‘overwhelmed’, several times. Actually, that hardly described my feelings at that moment.

It took a stiff whisky and a shared bottle of wine later in the evening before the significance really began to dawn upon me.

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2012 Winner Simon Butterworth

The day Charlie rang to tell me I had won LPOTY will be etched on my memory forever. I am still coming to terms with with the news after six months, though I have stopped believing it was all a dream - or a practical joke!

The publicity and press interest that accompanied the win has been fantastic, it has raised my profile as a photographer enormously. I split my professional time between photography and performing classical music but LPOTY has significantly shifted the balance in favour of photography.

Although I now have trips to China, India and Australia, as well as workshops in the pipeline, I feel the most important thing that LPOTY has given me is the confidence and self belief to pursue my own goals and interests in photography.

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2011 Winner Robert Fulton

Receiving the phone call from Charlie to tell me that I had won the competition was probably the most memorable and surreal experience of my life, totally unbelievable. It was this first time I had entered the competition, although I had always considered it to be the most prestigious for a Landscape Photographer to win.

Initially I didn’t even have a website so I had to very quickly remedy that situation, and since then the surrounding publicity in the media and photographic magazines has been amazing. The website went live in November and by the end of March I’ve had 165,000 hits. I have been moved by the many compliments about my work that followed. Winning has certainly opened a lot of doors for me, such as being invited to judge in Austria and Turkey, as well as magazine competitions.

The prize money was very generous and will allow me to fulfil a lifetime ambition to visit Yellowstone on a photographic trip.

I don’t have any doubt that, for anyone considering turning professional, winning this prestigious competition would give their career a major boost. In my case, having been retired for some years and having reached the age of 67, I have decided to keep my photography on a largely amateur basis which I thoroughly enjoy, and long may it continue.

The win and the opening of the exhibition in the National Theatre in London have provided me with fantastic memories, and I rank winning the title as my proudest photographic achievement.

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2010 Winner Antony Spencer

Winning the Landscape Photographer of Year competition has been an incredible experience. The publicity has been absolutely huge and it has allowed me to realise my dream of becoming a full time landscape photographer.

I have sold more prints in the last six months than I could have imagined, as well as writing and having images published in national newspapers and magazines. I have even just finished some filming for a national TV show. The whole experience has been very exciting and has totally changed my life forever.

The support from Charlie and the team has been a massive help - I can’t thank them enough.

Winning the competition is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, I will never forget the moment Charlie Waite turned up at my door to bring me the news, a truly amazing experience!

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