At any one time, there are hundreds of cameras snapping away at the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival. There’s a lot to look at: beautiful boats, interesting people, fascinating exhibitions and exciting performances. Since digital cameras became the norm, this means thousands of images captured on each of the four festival days. Not all of them are successful, of course, but when they are good, they’re very, very good.
As any photographer will tell you, it’s not just a case of being in the right place at the right time. It’s knowing how to see that brilliant shot (and in some cases, wait for it), to compose the elements, nail the focus and operate the camera at the limits of its technical capacity. If you are someone who often forgets to take the lens cap off, you probably won’t make it into the ranks at competition standard, but there are gifted photographers out there who can.
With the help of Specsavers, who put up the substantial prize money, and Brooke Street Pier, who provided the venue, we set out to find the best of the best for the Specsavers Wooden Boat Festival Photographic Competition. The rules were straightforward: we were looking for the best photos taken at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart, from any previous year. Photographers paid an entry fee, which went toward the cost of printing, mounting and displaying the finalist’s images. The prize money was worth having: $3,000 for First Prize, $1,500 for Second Prize and $500 for the People’s Choice Award, decide by popular ballot at the venue. Photographers retained their copyright at all times and if members of the public wished to order prints, they could do so, with revenue shared between the photographer and the printer, with no commission taken.
Judging was close and intense. Chairman of the panel was the internationally respected Sydney to Hobart photographer Richard Bennett. In the end, First Prize went to a glorious abstract study, by Mark Higgins. Mark reported that he only decided on a whim, at the last moment, to enter the competition. We are very pleased that he did (and so is he!).
Note: prints of all competition finalists are still available from Full Gamut, Hobart’s premiere fine art & photographic printer. Find them on the web at: www.fullgamut.com.au
Here’s the lively cover photo from the 2019 Official Festival Program by Jenny Schorta