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Outdoor Show versus The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

The choice was easy!

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Myself and Dav Thomas went to report on the Outdoor Show last week and planned on spending a couple of days looking around and chatting with the exhibitors in the Photographic Village. However, the photographic village turned out to be a stall for GMC Publications, Joe Cornish and Andy Rouse, Ocean Capture and .. and .. well that was about it. There was more balsamic vinegar stands than photography stands. We saw Charlie Waite give a talk but instead of a theatre, it was just a bunch of benches in front of a couple of large screen televisions and a small PA system. The music from the slacklining stand provided entertaining background music (not) but Charlie's talk about 'influence', giving examples of classic photographs and possible subliminal links with Charlies ouvre were entertaining and to see some of Charlie's new images from Libya (and to hear about his intriguing experiences for the unknown client) was a refreshing change. However it couldn't make up for the poor show elsewhere.

Even the Outdoor Show itself dissapointed. Very few exhibitors were showing and the majority of the stands were adventure holidays or organic food. The Paramo stand was good and I was happy to see the full range of F-Stop gear (although it might prove expensive).

We eventually gave up, went for a curry and made a change of plans. The following day we visited the 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' exhibition and the Natural History Museum. Now here was something worth visiting London for. Both myself and Dav are hardly 'wildlife' fans but these images went beyond visual preference. Even though we had to pay £8 each to see the exhibition, the way it was presented and the quality of the peripherals (e.g. computer consoles that allowed you to find out more, vote for you favourites, add comments and get prints) transformed it into an event - I didn't even react that badly to the merchandising (although 'mini chocolates' and 'luggage labels' push the boundaries somewhat). You can see what it looks like by browsing the images below.

The quality of images was very high indeed. What really surprised me was that nearly every single image was powerful and each was presented in a way that maximised its impact. There were some particular favourites, quite a few of which were taken in snowy conditions that created simple, abstract compositions. We spent a good two hours wandering around the exhibition and both agreed that it was one of the best we had visited.

Comparing this to the Landscape Photographer of the Year is not really fair as the Wildlife Photographer of the Year has been running for a lot longer and is truly international but this is definitely an exhibition/competition to aspire to.

For now - take a look at the images below and do yourself a favour and visit the exhibition whilst it is still open until the end of February.

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