Richard Boll

Category Archives: Photography Award

How & Why I enter Photography Awards

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Filed under Exhibitions, Fine Art Photography, National Portrait Gallery, Photography Award, Photography career, Photography competitions, Portrait Photography

Why I enter photographic competitions

Early on in my photography career, I started entering interesting and highly respected competitions that were suited to my personal style and creativity.  I had various reasons for wanting to enter these competitions:

• Exposure for my work to be seen on respected global platforms
• The personal challenge to produce high-quality work for a specific brief
• Recognition for my work to be acknowledged by judges of a high calibre
• Providing me with some content to share, whether for a blog post, social media or to show potential clients
• The potential to win prizes!
• The opportunity to have my work seen alongside highly respected photographers

Here are some of the successful entries that have either won or been shortlisted in photography awards:

1. 2004 – 1st place – Audi/Next Level International Award for Contemporary Photography

A dark mirror leaning against a wall, from the project Studio, produced in the Edinburgh College of Art.

From the project Studio

2. 2006 – 1st place – National Portrait Gallery (NGP) Photographic Prize

The portrait Joe, winner of the National Portrait Gallery's Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize in 2006.

This image, Joe also led to a commission by the NPG to photograph Sir David Attenborough.

3. 2011 – Selected Winner – Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Exchange

A portrait of a man in a snow-covered field holding a pheasant from the project Death in the Afternoon. Richard Boll Photography, London.

From the project Death in the Afternoon

4. 2021 – Shortlisted – Wellcome Photography Prize

A portrait of Louise, taken in March of 2022.

Louise, March 2020

5. 2022 – 3rd place – Kuala Lumpur Photography Awards

The artist Adam Chodzko standing in a pond in Whitstable, Kent, 2022. Richard Boll Photography, London.

The Artist Adam Chodzko, Whitstable, 2022

6. 2023 – Shortlisted – Professional Creative Category – Sony World Photography Awards

An image from the project Road, shortlisted in the Sony World Photography Awards 2023.

From the project Road

Two main approaches

When deciding which competitions to enter, I have two main approaches and I’ve had good results from both. I’ve also entered many awards and competitions in which I had no success at all!

The first approach is producing work specifically for an award. This involves planning the kind of work that could potentially do well and photographing a subject accordingly. When researching new potential competitions, I turn to various sources of information regarding awards, competitions, and also open exhibitions for example:

https://submit.picter.com/home
http://fotoroom.co/photography-awards-competitions/
https://photocontestdeadlines.com/all-photo-competitions/

2. The second approach is when I have suitable images already created that I feel strongly about and that I believe have the potential for a specific competition. With this approach, there is an element of chance that I happen to have something that meets the competition brief.

Competition Advice

If I were to give any specific advice to photographers about entering competitions, I would encourage them to blend producing the strongest work that they can with meeting the expectations from any particular competition. It has to be work that you feel is strong and that has come from the heart, but there is a skill in adapting work to particular competitions and recognising the potential in that competition for your own work. Similarly, understanding when your work is not a good fit or suitable can be key. However much you’d like to be in the running, you have to be realistic about whether you have strong and suitable work. Looking at galleries of previously successful work is a good way of getting an understanding of the nature of imagery that judges in the competition are likely to be looking for. If you start to believe that a competition doesn’t correlate with your style of image-making, the best thing to do can be to decide not to enter at all.

I find researching and entering photography awards a fun and enjoyable process and it’s a significant part of my work. I like looking at images that have been successful in current competitions and seeing what’s fresh and contemporary in other photographers’ work.

I enjoy the personal challenge of selecting suitable images, entering awards, and then hearing the results, whether good or not so good! To have your photographs critically assessed and receive constructive feedback from respected judges helps to elevate the standards of your work.

Call +44(0)7812 908229 or email richard@richardbollphotography.com to discuss your next photography project.

Fine Art Photography Project shortlisted in Professional Creative category of Sony World Photography Awards 2023

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Filed under Conceptual Photography, Fine Art Photography, Photography Award, Post Production

This personal fine art photography project titled ‘Road’ (previously ‘Glitch’) was recently shortlisted in the Professional Creative category of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023.

A photograph manipulated in post production of the side of a road in Crete. Fine art photography by Richard Boll.

The Road – a fine art photography project

The project was based upon a series of photographs that I took whilst in Crete in August 2022. The taking of the images was haunted by an awareness of war crimes that had been committed in Crete by the Nazis in 1941. After the Germans invaded the island, strong resistance was shown by the local population, and in reprisal, many villages were razed and hundreds of civilians were massacred.

We were staying in a very remote hotel on a quiet country road and at night the road was very dark due to the lack of streetlights. I took photographs of the road using a flash. What interested me was the various points where the road turned around a bend. The flash would pick up the road itself and any trees, foliage, rocks, etc but it could only see so far around the bend leaving areas of darkness in the images. This aesthetic appealed to me and I felt that the road images are effective universal visual metaphors for the unknown. I took a series of shots of the road over two evenings.

A manipulated photograph of a road in Crete form the series titled Road. Fine art photography by Richard Boll.

Post Production

When I got back from the trip, I enjoyed looking at and working my way through the series of photographs but I felt that the images needed another layer of interest. They were good visual content to start working on but I wanted to develop the images further.
I manipulated them in various ways to play with the surface of the photograph with a view to generate questions about how we see the photographic image. The original pictures of the road became a canvas on which to work, rather than an end point in their own right.
The shots were taken digitally, so could be made either colour or black and white. They are mainly black and white, but with some selective areas of colour. I also turned some elements to negative, whether it was negative of a black and white or colour image. I also overlaid certain areas with blocks of colour and used coloured filters. The original image is still variably evident but with elements of abstraction applied.

Smashed glass laid over a black and white photograph of a remote road in Crete.

Experimental process

The whole project was intentionally instinctively experimental. I wanted to work quite quickly with the images to avoid overthinking what I was doing. This way of working was good for me, because most of my personal projects are often considered over a long period of time and I like the freshness in the images that this approach helped to generate. I’ve found that working more spontaneously can be refreshing and can often lead to unexpected results that I wouldn’t have achieved if I’d laboured over the images over a longer period of time.

A burnt photograph of a road in Crete from the fine art photography project Road.

Future Plans

I intend to build on this project. I see it as a starting point rather than an endpoint. Over time, some of the images will probably get discarded and other images will be brought into the project to be worked upon.
At this stage, I’m thinking about how I can manipulate the photographs further. Since beginning the project I’ve experimented with setting fire to certain parts of the images and overlaying glass that is then smashed. I plan to experiment with overlaying other elements, such as paint and tracing paper.
This project plays on the idea of our perception of the photographic image and things that can influence that perception. There are also visual comments on different visual mediums; where photography has come from, as well as posing questions about the direction that the photographic image is taking.

See all the Sony World Photography Award finalists here and see more of my past personal projects here.

UK Visual Artist Portraits 2 of 4: Adam Chodzko – Conceptual media artist, YBA and Saatchi 2007 ‘Sensation’ Exhibitor

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Filed under Artists, Editorial Photography, Editorial Portrait, Environmental Portrait, Fine Art Photography, Location Photography, Photography Award, Portrait Photography

UK Visual Artist Portrait Series

When I first became interested in photography and started learning about well-known artists and photographers I appreciated seeing portraits of them taken by other photographers. Initially, I might not have known who these people were, but an interesting portrait can tell a visual story and open a window into that person’s world. I found it really intriguing and was curious about why that person had been photographed in a particular way. I decided to continue this rich photographic tradition, by taking a series of photographs of well-known visual artists, currently working in the UK.

Adam Chodzko

The second set of images in this series features Adam Chodzko, a Kent-based, highly acclaimed conceptual artist working across a wide range of media, including video, installation, photography, and performance, and considered to be one of the Young British Artists (YBAs). The YBAs are a group of visual artists who are noted for shock tactics, the use of throwaway materials, and wild living. They attracted considerable media coverage and dominated British art during the ‘Cool Britannia’ scene of the 90s. Chodzko’s art relies on the viewer’s imagination and personal experience to create the meaning behind his work. Using elements of science fiction, he explores the space between documentary and fantasy, conceptualism, and surrealism. His art explores the interactions and possibilities of human behaviour by investigating the space of consciousness between how we are and what we might be.

Spotted by the art collector Charles Saatchi, he was invited to take part in ‘Sensation’, the highly controversial, contemporary art exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts (London) in 1997. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, this significant exhibition drew a lot of media attention at the time and showcased work by 42 different artists, including Gavin Turk, Damien Hirst, and Tracey Emin.

The photographic concept

This time, the approach was slightly different from the previous Gavin Turk shoot, in that Adam doesn’t work out of a traditional studio. I couldn’t take shots of him working in a studio, so we focused purely on portraits. Chodzko was really good at engaging with my ideas and very clear about what would suit him. I really enjoyed the collaborative elements of this project, born from a combination of both our ideas and an open, creative discussion, that generated the final images.

1. Collaboration, crossover, and a portrait prize

The idea I had for this portrait was Chodzko being in the countryside and somehow connected with water. He then took my idea and suggested wading around in a pond holding recording equipment, because that’s the sort of thing he might do for his work. An extra element of this shot was the sound clip of the space that was produced during the shoot. You not only hear countryside sounds like birds and mosquitoes, but as we were close to a road, you also hear cars, a car stereo and a dog barking. There’s an interesting crossover between the urban and rural spaces. I requested this sound clip from the artist as it might be suitable for an exhibition of these portraits in the future. I’m pleased to report that this image went on to win third prize in the Kuala Lumpur Portrait Awards and was exhibited in Malaysia and Japan. It was great to get this extra element of exposure for this portrait.

a photographic portrait of the conceptual artist adam chodzko in a pond copyright richard boll

2. Wasteland in the future?

This portrait was inspired by ‘A Hunting Scene’ (1992) by Canadian photographer Jeff Wall. Wall’s photo is of two men walking into a wasteland from a road and they’re both carrying guns. It’s an image that has always stuck in my mind and Adam said that it was a photograph that he’d always liked. Chodzko suggested we put an alternative spin on it. Instead of carrying guns or an axe, he tied white bedsheets together and dragged them around in this waste ground off a main road between a car park and scrubland. There’s a feeling of an in-between, non-space and I hope that it’s intriguing for the viewer in that what has happened in the image is ambiguous and is left up to the viewers’ imagination.

the artist adam chodzko dragging a white sheet in whitstable kent copyright richard boll

3. Whitstable in a (Wet)Suit

Another water-themed portrait was shot in the sea off the beach at Whitstable, where Chodzko lives and works. The idea surrounding this image was that the viewer can imagine that he’s just arrived on the beach and traveled from somewhere else, perhaps the strip of land that can be seen behind him across the water. Again, it’s left up to the viewer to imagine what the back story of this image might be.

a portrait of the artist adam chodzko in the sea in whitstable kent copyright richard boll

Watch this space for features on 2 more visual artists, currently working in the UK that I’ve also photographed, Gordon Cheung and Jake Wood-Evans. Future plans include an extensive exhibition of the complete UK Visual Artist Portrait Photography Series.

Discover more about Adam Chodzko and his work by visiting his website and reading about the controversial 1997 ‘Sensation’ exhibition.

Form & Void II in International Photography Awards

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Filed under Fine Art Photography, Photography Award

I’m thrilled to have received an honourable mention in the 2018 International Photography Awards, for the project Form and Void II.

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These images were produced in Iceland and seek to examine the interconnectedness of the forms and voids that exist within the landscape, and how these elements translate to the pictorial (specifically photographic) space.
Parallel to this is a consideration of aspects of cultural geography; humankind’s place within this landscape and its relationship to it.

The Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhou (born 370 BC), often known as Zhuangzi, proposed the notion that all things and events in the phenomenal world are dependent on one another, summarising existence as,

“This comes from that, and that is caused by this”.

In the same way that certain aspects of eastern philosophy sees the form and the void as one and the same, East Asian depictions of landscape generally intend to show that humankind is an inherent part of the landscape, and of nature, rather than ruling over it. This view is distinct from the more Western attitude of human society being a separate (and typically conflicting) entity in relation to nature.

A significant part of the project was a personal photographic “grounding”. The specific use of relatively traditional photographic equipment and techniques, including the use of a large format camera and black and white film, provides a clearer, more refined photographic language that is better suited to my intentions towards more considered and meditative compositions. The cumbersome nature of the camera is paradoxically beneficial for the production of stronger images. Slowing the process down and taking up to an hour to take an exposure is beneficial for encouraging a more analytical mode of seeing.

The whole of this project can be viewed here and fine art limited edition prints from the project can be purchased here.

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