Felpham man Benjamin Graham has been named Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017, winning the UK’s most prestigious photography prize.
Beating off competition from more than 20,000 amateur and professional photographers, Benjamin’s winning photograph is a stunning shot taken at West Wittering beach.
A private tutor and group leader at West Dean College, Benjamin, 59, is an internationally-renowned freelance photographer and filmmaker. He moved to Felpham two years ago but spends much of his time on location in a campervan.
Benjamin said: “I have been captivated by the photographic arts for as long as I can remember.
“Photography has been an on-and-off passion ever since my dad bought me my first-ever film camera – the Agfamatic ISO-Rapid C (an Agfa version of a Kodak Instamatic) in 1968.
“I am, to this day, still fascinated by and fanatical about every aspect of the creative processes of photography.”
Entirely self-taught, Benjamin has been a professional photographer since 2014. Several of his images have been shortlisted for prizes before this major award.
He said: “I have to say, I am at once humbled, honoured and rendered utterly speechless by this prestigious accolade. I haven’t quite come to terms with it yet.
“Whilst, of course, I believe in my work, photography is such a subjective genre that one person’s fine art always has the potential to be another person’s aesthetic pollution.
“Among hundreds of other images that are just as worthy, if not more so from my point of view, mine was fortunate to be chosen by the judges because it has the particular style and impact that they responded to this year.
“The bonus for me is that it also happens to be one of my favourite images of 2017. I love its simplicity and relative emptiness; it is a minimalist view with a quiet, analogous palette. And its scale is indeterminate – the s-curve could be two metres long or 200. I like that mysterious element.”
The image, Benjamin believes, demonstrates effective photography, which is as much about what to exclude from the frame as what to include.
He sees it as his task to endeavour to make something of every scene, to spot prospects and to try to use all conditions to his advantage.
“I am always ready to trust my instincts, to stop en-route to a location if I do see an unexpected opportunity, because that moment will never be offered up again,” Benjamin added.
“When I am on location and I identify what I actually have to work with, pre-visualisation becomes a major part of the process.
“The time I do spend on location, studying the landscape, becoming aware of what it is presenting and creating fresh material,is the essence that I crave. It is the core that defines me. It is an elemental fulfilment that I am privileged to experience.”
See more of Benjamin’s work at www.benjamingraham.co.uk
This year’s Landscape Photographer of the Year will be the 11th edition of the stunning coffee-table book, containing spectacular full-colour prints of the winning and commended entries from the competition.
The book showcases the UK’s most beautiful and dramatic scenery through the sharp eyes of the best amateur and professional photographers.
An exhibition of shortlisted and winning entries will premiere at London Waterloo station on from November 20 to February 4, before a tour of the country.