Back in 2009, I entered the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and one of my images, "Moody Moeraki", which is in my 500px gallery made it through to the final 100. I was all ready to go to London for the awards and exhibition when I received the most dreadful news - the photo had been disqualified on the grounds that it had received a commendation in another competition, even though the rules specified only 'prize winners' were ineligible. It dawned on me that this was truly the competition that mattered most to nature photographers and by far the toughest to succeed in. And that in my lifetime I might not have another chance - a devastating realization for me. To add insult to injury I passed through London on my way to Scotland that year and it pained me to see the advertisements for the exhibition at virtually every tube station.
When in 2010, I received the news that I had done one better this year and achieved runners up in the landscape category, it was mainly a sense of relief that I felt. The photo which I had originally titled "Tendrils of Fury" was renamed "Southern Swell" by the British Natural History Museum.
You may think the most important aspects of this achievement was exposure, prize and merchandising money or prestige but you would be wrong. It was meeting the photographers behind the other 100 images, hearing the stories behind them and the inspiration I received.
All of which takes me back to social networking in photography. Although we see plenty of great photos on forums, let's not forget that there is a whole level of photography above what we see here and on other websites. People who we don't hear about on Facebook, twitter, flickr and yes 500px. I know these nature photographers spend months and sometimes years working to get their shots and don't have the time nor inclination to post photos on line. Where will you see their work? The pages of National Geographic and the Veolia/BBC WPOTY traveling exhibition and the annual Wild Photos symposium in London are places to start.