It wasn’t my idea.

It all started about two years ago, with a whisper from Lindsay, an active member of the Wakatipu TC.

Have you seen the FMC Magazine? They have a photo competition. We should enter.

I remember politely agreeing with her, as did others, and then, a couple of competitions came and went.

It was winter 2017, and again, a nudge from Lindsay. With the weather unfavourable for tramping, several of us started going through our photos. Each snapshot brought back warmer days, specific moments from our tramps in the bush and on the mountaintops. We encouraged each other to submit their best. It was hard to decide.

Eventually we found a few, and shared them at our August club meeting. We immediately realised this was not the forum to use and chose to upload the photos to our webpage, so everyone could view them at their leisure. We rallied a few more members to participate, and our contest was born. We had a couple of weeks to view, and then vote for the ones we liked best.

Looking back, perhaps our biggest problem – which was also our greatest joy – was the cloud of subjectivity that these pictures evoked! How difficult it would be to critically look at these photos at face value, as would a judge – on merits such as subject matter, composition, lighting, impact, technical qualities, colour, and storytelling!

Most of our submissions reflected our best memories. None of us are sure we put in our best photos.

Does it matter? No, not really.

We learned more about ourselves and about photography. We are keen to get back on the trail, and yes, capture more moments. We plan to enter again in 2018, and encourage other clubs to do the same.

We know we are all amateurs – in the very best sense of the word. We do it because we love it: the tramping, the camaraderie, and yes, even the photos.

Sally Stockdale is a member of the Wakatipu Tramping Club. This article was first published in the March issue of FMC’s Backcountry Magazine.  

You can find out more about the FMC Photo competition online, and if you feel like following Sally’s example, there’s a great resource here at Wilderlife for “How to run a Photo comp“.