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The 2018 Mark Gunter Photographer of the Year Awards closed last week, and over the past month, we’ve been privileged to see hundreds of incredible submissions – truly some of the best cycling photography of the year.
In addition to being a great showcase for the talented entrants, the Awards also have two important purposes – raising a significant amount of money for cancer research through Tour de Cure, and providing financial support through Young Cyclist Assistance.
Each of the judges have gone through the difficult task of shortlisting their top ten images from each of the four categories. From these shortlists, the judges will deliberate on the top three of each category in the coming days, with final winners to be announced on January 11, 2019.
Graham Watson is arguably the most well known and experienced cycling photographer on the planet, and has judged each edition of the awards to date. His iconic images have captured some of cycling’s most significant moments and with 44 years of photography under his belt, he is one of the pioneers of sporting media. “I had the pleasure of working alongside Mark Gunter at numerous races, so being asked to judge the awards was a great privilege. As a photographer, images are my life and it was a pleasure looking through each and every one. As I flicked from one to the next I experienced a broad range of reactions from wincing at fresh gravel rash to almost laughing out loud at crazy cyclocross antics,” said Graham.
“This year’s judging of the Mark Gunter Awards carried with it the realisation that the level of quality in the entries has risen yet again, and in all categories too. As such, there was both a sense of satisfaction at seeing the competitiveness edge up yet further, but also increased pressure to make the right choices from such fine photography. Three years ago, Wouter Roosenboom’s winning shot stood out so far ahead of its rivals, it made the judge’s work easy. In the 2018 awards, any one of the top-ten images amongst the pros’ could have won. The same goes for the ‘enthusiast’ category – back in 2016, the gap between pro and enthusiast was enormous. This time around it was sometimes hard to see the difference between some of the pro and enthusiast entries, a fact that made judging far more difficult.
“The greatest progress, however, has been made amongst the ‘smartphone’ entries. It never fails to impress me what creativity can be achieved with such basic machinery – and even some mighty-fine race-action shots of the Tour de France have made it into the top-ten compilations. I’ve enjoyed most of all a virtual tour of the world’s finest landscapes. The mountains, valleys, oceans and forests alongside which cyclists often ride were a favourite part of my life when I was shooting the big races. So I suppose it’s only natural that my judgement of the many entries is influenced by what I once photographed, with the beauty of the sport at the summit of my reasoning. As I studied each and every photograph, I often felt it could have been me taking the image, perhaps that’s how far the quality of the entries has risen?
“I know Mark Gunter would have been impressed with this year’s entries. Mark and I shared a similar taste in cycling photography, both of us wanting to capture those luscious landscapes but also the element of drama and emotion that this sport possesses in huge amounts. Mark would be very touched to see how ‘his’ awards have encouraged and inspired so many photographers to capture the sport the way they have.”
He kicks off with his shortlist from the 2018 Mark Gunter Photographer of the Year Awards.
PROUD CYCLING MOMENT:
Wouter Roosenboom is a Dutch cycling and sports photographer that has captured the world’s highest profile cycling races, and is the author of the artbook SCHERP. He was the winner of the inaugural Mark Gunter Photographer of the Year Award, and is honoured to be invited to return as a judge for 2018.
“I met Mark in 2012 at the Road World Championchips in Valkenburg,” Wouter explains. “Waiting for the peloton in the field we had a really nice chat about our passion, and we kept in touch by social media. The news about his death came as a shock, but this contest keeps the memories about Mark alive and helps raising money to help cure cancer!
“Winning the 2016 Mark Gunter Photographer of the Year Awards is still such a great experience in my photography career so it feels like a great privilege to judge this third edition,” Wouter said. “Not an easy job, because you are judging your colleagues work, but it helped a lot that no names were mentioned when I selected the photos.
“Judging photos is always a matter of taste but sorting through the submissions I tried to find pictures which had something extra. A photo which really got my attention and I would like to have on my wall or a photo which surprised me, because the photographer did something different or captured something special. I have tried to imagine how the photographer challenged himself to get the shot.
“It was a great pleasure to watch all these amazing cycling photos from all over the world. Once I applied my criteria I was able to make my shortlist.”
Here’s Wouter’s shortlist from the 2018 Mark Gunter Photographer of the Year Awards.
PROUD CYCLING MOMENT:
Russ Ellis is a passionate sports photographer from the UK, who has been working full-time in the field since late 2015 covering events including Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France. With a distinctive style that captures the emotion and intimacy of the sport, Ellis has quickly made a mark in the industry.
“Sadly, I never got to meet Mark, but thanks to this amazing competition that has been created in his memory I was able to find out about Mark’s work and his love for cycling photography,” Ellis said. “It really is an honor to be a judge on this competition and I have loved looking through all the wonderful images that have been submitted from fellow pros, part time photographers and amateurs alike. There are images from literally all over the world which is amazing to see!
“Regardless of the category my process for making my selections remained the same; I was looking for images that just made me pause on them as I was scrolling through, something about the image needed to grab me and make me want to look deeper at it. It could have been the movement in the image, the light, the emotion a story or just that it made me smile.
“I hope you all like my choices. Well done everyone.”
Here’s Russ’s shortlist from the 2018 Mark Gunter Photographer of the Year Awards:
PROUD CYCLING MOMENT:
What are your favourites of this year’s competition? Let us know in the comments what images struck a chord for you.