About this interview
Many congratulations on becoming an IGPOTY winner. As such we'd love for you to share a little bit more about you and your photography. This will not only provide valuable insights for others but also an opportunity to give essential inspiration to photographers everywhere. Please provide as much information as you like.
Q1. Congratulations on being placed in the competition, what does this mean to you?
Thank you very much. I was very happy to win this award. It is a great honour for me to win the IGPOTY! This title is what all photographers of plants and gardens aspire to. I get immense pride in seeing my images on display at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and in various locations in Europe. This encourages me to produce new images and develop new projects.
Q2. Let’s talk about the context of the photograph. What drew you to the location and subject? What's special about this place?
This is a field of wild flowers of the genus Paepalanthus at sunrise. These plants reflect light in a special way and are very interesting to photograph during the magic hour. These are my favourite wildflowers and I have photographed these plants for more than a decade during the magic hour and at night.
Q3. Did you make a specific journey? What was that like?
Yes I made a specific trip to photograph these wild flowers and I stayed for a week to be able to photograph this formation of clouds at sunrise. I have many images of this plant but this is my favourite so far because the plants in shot are perfect examples and beautifully aligned in the foreground.
Q4. And more specifically, how did you know what to shoot and why?
I've been shooting this plant for more than a decade and have developed techniques to capture them.
So, what I have to do is walk all over the area to find the best composition, then I mark this location with GPS and return during the dawn and the magic hour.
Q5. What was the main challenge in taking this photograph?
This flower attracts many mosquitoes and it becomes very difficult to photograph during the magic hours.
Even using repellent and protective clothing, you end up having lots of mosquito bites! Although this location has a large flowering field, it is not easy to find a perfect spot with the flowers lined up to fill the foreground.
Q6. From a technical perspective, what did you do to achieve the final shot? Did you use any special equipment or techniques?
This is a photo with ETTR exposure, so I can recover the highlights without losing detail in the shadows.
I used a hyperfocal point to have the maximum DOF. These plants are very interesting to photograph during the magic hour.
The plants reflect the sunlight and this generates an interesting effect, making it seem as if the plant is emitting light. I intensified its effect by increasing the contrast between the flower and the grass.
Q7. So we know all about the photograph but what about you as a photographer. Could you tell us about your background?
I have been shooting for 20 years and have gained international recognition with my images. I am a specialist in panoramic and underwater photography and hold the Guinness World Record title for the largest underwater image. I have also been awarded prizes in other prestigious competitions including: WPY, NBP, MML, Glanzlichter, Asferico, NPOTY, ILPOTY, Panoawards, Big Picture, Oasis, Montphoto, etc...
Q8. Why enter IGPOTY?
IGPOTY is the best and most prestigious photography contest in the world specialising in plants, gardens and botanical subjects! The winning images are displayed in several places in Europe and the annual book is of excellent quality. In addition to the cash prizes the winning images achieve great traction with the media, internet and social networks. Some magazines specialising in nature photography have already contacted me to publish my winning image. IGPOTY is the best competition for plant-loving photographers.
Q9. What are your favourite plants to photograph and why?
The Paepalanthus is my favourite plant because it is the most impressive wildflower I have photographed. I also have several images of this plant that have won contests and that have been published in magazines and calendars, so I have a special attachment to it for a few reasons. But I also like to photograph Lengas forests in Patagonia during the fall and underwater vegetations in crystalline waters. So there are many plants that I want to photograph, but they are usually wild plants.
Q10. And finally, do you have any advice for budding garden photographers?
I think you should be looking for plants near your home because you are more likely to be able to capture a special scene. Every plant has its magic but it depends on the light of the moment, its composition and techniques used. There are thousands of images of Paepalanthus but only a few are special because they were made at the right time with the right equipment and right techniques.