Soon, the 2016 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year (APOTY) competition will be coming to a close, and we’ll be catching up with our final category winners from the 2015 competition. In this instalment, we talk to the winner of the 2015 Landscape category, Nicola Pye, about what she’s been working on since her win last year.
D-Photo: What made you decide to enter the 2015 D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year competition?
Nicola Pye: It was a spur of the moment thing! I was a bit daunted by the quality of the previous winners, and didn’t really think I’d place anywhere, but I’ve been trying to get a bit braver about entering competitions over the last year or so, and I really wanted to win the Lee Filters — and this seemed like a painless way to give it a go!
What was it like to have such a positive outcome in winning your category of the competition?
It was fantastic! Completely unexpected, and very encouraging! It’s definitely given me more confidence to enter other competitions and club exhibitions, and to accept that while not all judges will like my work, some of them just might.
Can you tell us the story behind your winning image?
A friend and I had both bought new cameras shortly before I took this image, and we were finding it a little bit tricky adapting to a new brand. We knew we had to get tough, and cut ourselves off cold turkey from our very familiar older cameras, so we left them at home and went out to a few local beaches with the new cameras. My image was taken at the top of a very long, steep path on our way home, when I noticed how perfectly the cloud formation was placed just above the path.
What gear did you use to capture your image? Are you using the same gear now or have you changed your preferred equipment?
I used my new (at the time) Olympus OM-D E-M1, with a 12–40mm f/2.8 lens. I’m still using the same, and love it now that I know my way around it a bit better!
What projects are you currently working on at the moment?
I don’t have any particular projects going on, although I have just started a collection called ‘Oblivious’, which is of images I’ve caught where there are really interesting things going on in the background that the other people in the image don’t seem to notice. Otherwise, I suppose my main project is the one I’ve been doing over the past few years, where I try to document our family life in images that are a combo of holiday snaps / landscapes / portraits. This has been inspired by the memory of how precious our old family photos were (and still are), but how often they were almost ruined by Nana’s thumb over half the frame, or heads being cut off. I want to try and do a better job for my kids’ memories!
What inspired you to pick up a camera for the first time, and how long have you been shooting?
When I was little, my dad would often set up a darkroom in the toilet, after we’d gone to bed, to develop and print his own photos, and that seemed really magical to me! I’ve always loved photography, but I didn’t really get serious about it until about 2012.
What would you say to someone considering entering the competition, but who are a little hesitant in clicking the ‘submit’ button?
Don’t hesitate! It almost feels anonymous when you’re submitting entries online, so it’s not too scary — there’s nothing to lose, but it feels so exciting to see your work in print if you win!