Sunday, 7 May 2017

The best pictures won. But I tried.

When I was down in North Devon last year my Appledore friend Jayne drew my attention to the local Appledore Visitors Association annual Amateur Photographic Competition - open to everyone, including of course visitors. She urged me to have a go. It was pretty easy to do. You paid a small fee to enter each shot, as many as you liked, and this bought you an identifying serial number to use. You then captioned your shot or shots with the serial number - and a title like 'Seagulls gaily frolicking on Appledore quayside' - and submitted them all by email. All on the understanding that the winners would see their shots printed in the following year's Appledore Calendar, and that the AVA could use the pictures for whatever tourist purpose they liked.

Well, I'd never been one for competitions. But Jayne egged me on. Here she is, egging, on the beach at Woolacombe with her dog Callie, and then at The Coffee Cabin, a nice eatery on Appledore Quay (where seagulls gaily frolic) - and to prove the niceness, I include shots of the food we had:

I hasten to add two things. One, these spring-2016 shots are a gross libel on Jayne's currently svelte appearance (she has slimmed down wonderfully, a fantastic achievement); and two, for me too this was all pre-Slimming World: I was just a blob at the time. I wouldn't normally have any bread and butter nowadays! (Well, if I did, I'd be careful!)

Once home, I chose my entries - five of them - and emailed them off, following all printed instructions. Each one had to be sent with its own email - here's an example:

For blogging purposes, I've used Heinz Tomato Ketchup in a liberal way to conceal my address and phone number. Naturally the original would have been ketchup-free. That was on 8th May 2016. 

These were my five entries. Number One, 'Appledore - sunset just over':

Number Two, 'Appledore - where sea captains lived in Irsha':

Number Three, 'Appledore - the Instow Ferry arrives':

Number Four, 'Appledore - a street leading down to the Quay':

And finally Number Five, 'Appledore - a leisurely lunch in the sun on the Quay':

Basically I wanted any buyer of the following year's Calendar to appreciate that Appledore is a laid-back, sunny, attractive, historical place right on the riverside, with a stunning view across to Instow and out to sea. 

On 10th May 2016, the AVA sent this encouraging reply:

Was it already in the bag? Well, I wasn't so naïve. I guessed that local interests might take a hand. You know:

AVA Chair: Now we come to our final shortlist of entries. Some strong contenders here!
AVA Committee Member 1: Ah, but they're not all Appledore residents. There's someone called Lucy Melford, who has put up five nice shots. But she's not local. Sussex, I think.
AVA Chair: Oh dear, that's awkward. 
AVA Committee Member 2: And besides, nice though these shots are, they're just sunny views of the town, with none showing the name of a local business. 
AVA Chair: That's not good. 
AVA Committee Member 3: And in any case our own local amateur photographers will be miffed if some unknown lady from miles away is a winner.
AVA Chair: It's something to bear in mind, certainly. Well, thumbs up or down for Miss Melford's pictures?

I anticipated no prizes! And I was right. I was never emailed to say that, with regret, my entries had been unsuccessful in the Competition. But the results were going to be announced in October 2016, and, when I heard nothing more, I drew conclusions! Oh well.

I was still very interested to know which shots had been considered good enough to be used in the AVA's 2017 Calendar, so when in Appledore last month, and seeing Jayne again, we called into the Docton Gallery. The people who own it, David and Jenny Carter, who know me a bit from my repeated visits to Appledore, and my support for the Book Festival, were there. I asked Jenny whether she still had any copies of the 2017 Calendar. Yes, a dozen or so left. I bought one. 

This was the Overall Winner:

And these were the runners-up:

All of them are worth study. They tell you something important about what kind of photo is needed for a tourist-orientated calendar. They also prove that you have to be there to get one of these shots. I dare say I could have turned out a decent picture of the Summer Gig Race if I'd been present, right there on the Quay, with my camera. But I hadn't been. Nor had I witnessed the ship leaving the shipyard, nor the brass band. I am not going to put my own shots down, but I can see why they weren't quite what the AVA were looking for. And I also do understand the feelings of local amateurs. 

And I'm pretty sure that if I had produced an absolutely amazing shot that ticked all the boxes, and was a brilliant advertisement for Appledore, the AVA judges would have given me a win, or at least a runner-up's commendation. So I'm not discouraged. 

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Lucy Melford