Benjamin Graham has won Landscape Photographer of the Year for his stunning image – Diminutive Dune, West Wittering.
Benjamin said it was an ‘honour’ to win the top prize and appear alongside photographers he has admired for years.
“I have been shortlisted for and been a category finalist in other contests before but I never foresaw that I would scoop the top LPOTY prize,” he told Spectrum Photographic.
“LPOTY is very highly regarded and probably the most prestigious competition in the UK’s outdoor photography calendar.
“So entering with all those other extraordinarily talented togs, some of whom I look up to as heroes and whose quality of work I aspire to, is daunting.
“And seeing them all in the 2017 book has been humbling for me. I am so honoured to be among them.”
Benjamin entered LPOTY last year but a technical error scuppered his chances.
“The first time I submitted my initial thumbnail images in unacceptable file dimensions so they were all summarily dismissed,” he said.
“I’ll never make that mistake again.”
Benjamin said the award was ‘especially meaningful’ because Diminutive Dune was a personal favourite from his 2016/17 portfolio.
“It was one of about a dozen or so images that I entered, out of which three were shortlisted and the winning one was selected,” he said.
“I like the textural simplicity and relative emptiness of Diminutive Dune.
“The minimalist composition with the simple motif and the quiet, analogous pastel palette work for me too.
“Finally, its scale is indeterminate – the sand forms could be two metres long or 2,000.
“I like that element of mystery. I was even asked whether it was a drone shot – by an actual real drone pilot.”
Benjamin loves the UK and shoots whenever, however and wherever he possibly can.
“Here, at the chilly confluence of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Northern European Seas, sit our rainy little islands,” he said.
“We may not have high plains, tropical forests, alpine mountains, frozen tundra or arid deserts. But the UK truly is a mutable treasure trove of coastal and countryside grandeur.
“As well as featuring some of the world’s most extraordinary historical and natural landmarks, there are over 5,000 kilometres of coastal paths.
“You could spend ten years travelling the country and only photograph ten per cent of it. Actually, I just made that up, but it sounds kind of plausible, right?
“Also, I firmly believe that it’s not what you shoot, it’s when and how you shoot it, so I make a point of always trying to be somewhere, anywhere, if the prospects are promising for great light or unusual atmospheric conditions.
“It’s our job as landscapers to make something of all situations and for that, the UK is just awesome.
“I know we can get a bit depressed about the weather sometimes but, seriously, some of the best images are acquired in the worst conditions.
“Not Diminutive Dune though. That was a calm and balmy autumnal evening.”
Benjamin said he was in shock when he first found out he had won the competition.
“When Charlie Waite phoned me up to give me the news I only managed to blurt unintelligible gibberish for about two minutes,” he said.
“I was so flabbergasted, at one point I actually started telling him how to take minimalist pictures. I know, right! Me, telling Charlie Waite how to compose using simplicity and exclusion.
“What a dork I must have sounded.
“Anyway, It all carried on being very surreal on Planet Benjamin for the next few days.
“When it finally sank in that I really was LPOTY 2017 I decided that I should be referred to as: El Poty. It’s a bit like El Presidente but way cooler obviously.”
El Poty, as we are now calling Benjamin in the office, was full of praise for his fellow competitors.
“I am blown away by the images in the book,” he said.
“And I am honoured beyond-beyond to be represented in the 2017 publication.
“As I said before; it’s humbling to be among them.
“So many could, quite rightfully, have scooped the top prize, I just happened to submit the one with the mood and the essence that resonated emotionally with the judges this year.”
So what’s next?
“I seem to spend most of my time on the road and on location in my campervan and I see no reason why that should change,” he said.
“I simply love being out creating new material.
“I also have courses running throughout the academic year at West Dean College near Chichester and I have a lot of requests and bookings for speaking engagements and presentations to clubs and photographic societies – a couple in 2019 already.”
A book is also in the works for 2017 but Benjamin can’t reveal the details yet.
To view more of Benjamin’s work visit benjamingraham.co.uk
All of the category winners can be viewed on the Landscape Photographer of the Year website.
Main image: Diminutive Dune, West Wittering, © Benjamin Graham
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