Back in the Autumn of last year I decided to enter the Travel Photographer of the Year competition, one of the most prestigious competitions in photography. I'm always a big admirer of the winning photos and those that go on to make the exhibitions, I have bought many of the books that are produced each year and since I first visited one of their exhibitions it has been a big aspiration of mine to one day have my own photos exhibited and maybe one day even win!
As this was when I was renting out my flat however, I had no job and had just returned from several months in India and three weeks in Poland, money was very tight and since there is a fee to enter almost all photography competitions, I almost didn't enter at all.
In the end, because it is such a prestigious competition and probably the one I admire and aspire to win more than any other and because I knew I had some great photos from my time in India, I decided to enter just one photo into one of their single images categories.
The photo I decided to enter was this one below, which I took in Dobi Ghat, the world's largest open air laundromat which is situated right in the heart of India.
As a lover of photography, visiting many exhibitions, looking at award winning images, admiring photo books and online galleries, this was a photo I was confident the judges would probably like and I thought it fit perfectly into the 'Street Life' category as that's exactly what the photo is, a completely unstaged photo of a man going about his every day working life.
Even though it is totally candid though and I've had no control over the man himself or his actions, it is still a photo where I have carefully considered my composition and timing in capturing the right moment in the most pleasing way possible. It is also a photo which tells a story about a specific place unique to Mumbai.
In November I received an email informing me that my photo had been chosen as one of the finalist images which I was obviously thrilled about and in January this year I went to the first Travel Photographer of the Year Awards Night at Fujifilm's new House of Photography in Covent Garden, London, to find out if I had won.
It was a great night filled with amazing photography, passionate and brilliant photographers, lots of like minded people and plenty of beer and wine. What's not to love! So even though I sadly did not win, I thoroughly enjoyed the night and I met some great people who I even ended up going out for a meal with afterwards and having one of the best steaks I've ever had.
It was also incredibly encouraging just to make it as a finalist given the level of talent and number of entrants from all across the world which this competition attracts. Speaking to many of the photographers who were at the awards night as well, I discovered that they had all entered the competition consistently for a few years, submitting a fair number of photos each time and many of them still had not won.
Yet this was my very first time entering and I had only entered 1 single photo and I still made it as a finalist. In past months I had been very hard on myself, beating myself up that I wasn't making the progress or hadn't achieved the things I thought I should be, but this is something I should be very proud of and take lots of encouragement from.
At my first attempt, entering just 1 photo into one of the biggest and most prestigious photography competitions in the world and making it as a finalist, amongst such brilliant peers, that is a real achievement, it is something I can build on and is further proof that I should never give up on this journey.
And who knows, maybe next year I might just go one better!
See more of my photos from Mumbai here
See all of my blog posts from India along with my photos here
Or watch all of my videos here