Man’s Best Friend – Helen

March 2021 – People

Thank you again for inviting me to judge your competition. This is my third time with you and I hope you are starting to emerge from the constraints of the pandemic unscathed. It’s been hard for us all, and the camera has come out quite a few times for me, just experimenting with local wildlife, but shooting people, other than a few commercial jobs I have had, has been limited, so I am in awe at the number of entries. Well done!


Remember that for this group I am not expecting an advanced standard, but rather those images that have taken the subject of the competition and produced results that are correctly exposed and interesting, with the signs of creativity that make the difference. The term “people” does not necessarily mean “portrait” and there are images here that look at the subject from a number of different points of view. 


There are only six entries in this group, and I understand they come from two photographers. For that reason I am not going to award places on this group. I do expect a higher standard here than in Beginners.


Remember here that I am looking for more than just the photo. I am looking for creativity and this is a good selection indeed.

I put eight images into my final group under consideration to decide my top three, and had one other image, not shown here, which was a close contender but not quite worthy of a place this time; and then took a second hard look at the final group of eight.

At this point I’m going to let you into a secret. Some of you may have done your homework on me, and you might know I have a dance background. My mother was, in fact, a founder member and Life Fellow of the British Ballet Organisation.

I also love dogs, especially collies, vintage and veteran vehicles, (I drive a 1996 TVR Chimaera), and I shoot fashion and portraiture, so this is a tough call for me as every one of these images has a pull on me.

My top two places were, ultimately, pretty easy choices, and with a different judge, either could have taken top spot. My problem was which to put second.

Picking third place was the difficult one and I had to ask myself, objectively, for each image in contention, what would have set it apart from the others. In the end it is simplicity that gets third place.

Commended: Anna, Blue Sash and Fifi La Roux from the above, plus Key Worker.

Blue Sash would have been HC if the backdrop had had a “floor”. Fifi La Roux would have been HC if the man in the background had not been there.

Highly Commended: High Handed, Hair and Water

The top three … and why …

Third: Deep in Thought. I mentioned simplicity, both in the subject and the background, and the added bonus of the natural light, perfectly exposed, it took my heart.

Second: Age is no Barrier to Memories. This is a beautifully composed and perfectly shot portrait, and it came so close to winning. There was a hair’s breadth between first and second.

First: Man’s Best Friend. Faultless composition, brilliantly observed, a spot-on exposure gently vignetted to maintain the draw of the eyes to the subjects.

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