Photography News Issue 46

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Photography News Issue 46 absolutephoto.com

Interview

Above Homeless by Chan Kwok Hung, winner in 2011. Below Gone with dust by Michele Palazzi, winner in 2012.

innovative ways individuals and communities have responded to a changing environment, inspiring others to overcome the challenges to live sustainably. There is no doubt that EPOTY has influenced CIWEM’s own internal motivations and direction of travel. We have surrounded ourselves with images from the competition by displaying them within our staff offices. Whether directly or subliminally, this has had a real impact on CIWEM’s activities. For example, we have seenmany images over the years depicting the issue of urban flooding and latest statistics indicate that by 2060, more than a billion people will be at risk of catastrophic urban flooding. It is very difficult to ignore this fact, especially alongside some of the most powerful and thought provoking images from across the world. Has the competition grown much since its launch? What sort of entry numbers did you achieve last year compared with its launch year, and are you expecting the same level of response in 2017? It has grown phenomenally fast. Last year we received over 10,000 entries, compared with a few hundred in our launch year. We are certainly expecting similar numbers in 2017. How are you evolving the contest in terms of the categories? This year we have included a mobile phone category for the first time, as we have recognised that not all photographs are taken with a traditional camera. We are really interested to see how this category evolves and the types of images submitted. Inwhich categories are you keen to attract greater numbers? I would like to see our young EPOTY category continue to grow. We already attract a fantastic number of very talented young people to the competition but it would be wonderful to attract

even more. CIWEM is dedicated to meeting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, core to this is working together across the planet to improve life, in a sustainable way, for future generations. I hope by engaging young people in the competition we will not only give them a voice to highlight those issues most pressing to humankind, but to inspire new audiences of all ages to take care of our environment. One big evolution is that you are using celebrity judges like Stephen Fry, Christine Lampard and Ben Fogle. What was the thinking behind that decision and what sort of positive benefit are you expecting? The huge success of EPOTY has enabled us to attract people of high influence. Our judges such as Stephen Fry, Ben Fogle and Steve Backshall are all willing to get involved and champion the cause. These people are not environmentalists in the traditional sense but are now environmental champions working with organisations like CIWEM. The judges are actively engaged with and supportive of EPOTY. Words from Stephen Fry demonstrate this perfectly, “This excellent competition encourages all those with cameras (which is most of us these days, I suppose) to look at our environment with new eyes – to see the environmental impact of things around us, sometimes in the most surprising places. Our cameras can be turned from the narcissistic tool of the selfie into a weapon in the war on environmental destruction.” We also have some fantastic talented photographers involved, Tim Parkin and Ashley Cooper, whose expertise will be invaluable at the judging stage. What was the response from the celebrities when you initially approached them to get involved in the judging? We had a very positive response from the celebrities. Most of

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