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2016 Photo of the Year Winners Announced

Congratulations to Graham Morgan for his amazing Revealing Nature photograph which won not only the category, but the $5000 cash first prize in the 2016 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year awards.


There are six categories into which photographers can enter and each entry is given a score by three judges. The highest aggregate is deemed the category winner. However, to win the overall prize, the six category winners are presented once again to the judges and asked to nominate first, second and third (even though there is only the first prize on offer). Interestingly, all six entrants were nominated by at least one of the judges to be in the top three. And all three judges nominated a different photograph as the overall winner!


So, what does this all mean? Well, we’re pretty sure Graham will agree that the other category winners are extremely good and that there is an element of luck, especially when it comes to taking out the main prize. The same could be said for winning the category because second, third and even tenth place were often only a few points away. Let’s face it, it is difficult to say categorically that one photograph is better than another – better in what way or for what purpose? In the end, there is an element of personal bias and that’s why we prefer to have three judges, not one, so that any individual bias is removed. Interestingly, three of our category winners (Graham Morgan, Kath Salier and Krzysztof Browko) have been previous winners or category winners of the Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year award, so there is an element of consistency in the winning photographers.


First of all, they enter competitions, because unless you enter, it’s rather hard to win! Second, over the years they have developed a style and approach to photography that is of a high standard – and no doubt entering competitions has assisted them. Third, they don’t enter just one photograph, because who knows exactly what the judges will like? By entering a number of photographs, they have a better chance of finding themselves at the very top.


There are a couple of differences in the way the Better Photography competition is run. First, the competition uses the same judges each year, again for consistency. Peter Eastway, Tony Hewitt and David Oliver are all AIPP Grand Masters of Photography with 30 to 40 years’ experience. This certainly makes them dinosaurs, but hopefully dinosaurs with the type of experience that makes them good judges. All three have won major photography awards as entrants, have judged nationally and internationally, for both amateur and professional awards, and have a huge breadth of experience. Even better, they have quite different views about what makes a strong photograph, meaning a wider range of photographs are likely to receive awards.


Another difference is that every photograph entered receives a judge’s comment. Sometimes that comment is simply well done because the entrant has won a Silver or a Gold Award. And it’s true that the comments are predominantly pre-set suggestions, but it allows the judges to give entrants invaluable feedback. Sometimes it’s as simple as the photograph is too light or too dark, or encouragement to look at the framing or composition. When entrants look at their score and personalised comment, it’s fantastic feedback for any photographer wanting to improve his or her work.


So, what about the awards? Out of 981 entries, there were 547 Bronze awards, 385 Silver awards and just 10 Gold awards. That is the majority of entries winning something, so what does this mean? The judges were instructed to give photographs that showed ‘signs of promise’ a Bronze award. In other words, reward the entrant if they are on the right path. And when you think about it, people entering photography competitions are likely to be quite good photographers, so a high number of Bronzes is expected.


However, Silver awards were handed out a little more frugally. Around one third of entries earned well-deserved Silvers and these are genuine scores. So if you managed to get a few Bronzes this year, then maybe your challenge is to get some Silvers next year!


And what about those 10 Golds? Well, Golds are very difficult because although there might have been 50 or more photographs where one judge scored it 88 or higher, you really need at least two judges in the Gold range to make it happen. And given the judges are quite different in their outlook when it gets to the higher scores, this is challenging. It’s interesting that the judges are generally all within the same range when it comes to Silver, Bronze or no award, but Golds are something else!


Congratulations to all the entrants and we hope you enjoy viewing the winning photographs.


To see the top 20 images in each category, visit the competition website here:







Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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