The hard work starts now that the competition is closed

First the team removes all the cars from the landscape section; animal shots from the people section and zoo pictures from the wildlife category

3 mins

The closing date for the Wanderlust Travel Photograph of the Year competition is passed, and now the hard work starts for the judges. The first trawl through is done by the Wanderlust team.

They take out the pictures which really don't make the grade, and also delete the numpty shots: you would not believe how many pictures of cars are entered into the landscape section; animal shots into the people section and zoo pictures into the wildlife category.

The latter is guaranteed to send our wildlife expert judge, Paul Goldstein into an apoplectic rage. The first main judging is in London. A mix of professional photographers, Wanderlust staff and sponsors whittle each category down to the ten images that will be exhibited at the Destinations Show, plus two or three reserves.

The judging if often lively: Paul can spot a bit of chain link fence in the background of a picture – even if it is blurred and about fifty feet behind the subject. He lobbies eloquently that these shots should not make it into the shortlist, and generally the other judges agree – although sometimes we will vote for them just to wind him up!

We look for images that really have a sense of place and celebrate the joy of travel. There are enough people out there who view travel as a concern, and other competitions who are more documentary biased and present the world as a somewhat miserable place. Wanderlust is a travel magazine, and whilst we are mindful of social and environmental issues, we want images that show what a fantastic place the world is, and really convey a feeling of what it is to travel!

All of the entries are judged anonymously, and the professional photographers don't get any extra votes, although we are sometimes called in to arbitrate whether an image has been over-manipulated and breaks the rules.

Once we have the shortlist, all of the pictures are printed up to exhibition size, before we reconvene at the Wanderlust offices in Windsor to decide on the ten images for each category that are exhibited, and also the winners, runner-up and the occasional highly commended entrant.

We have a similar process for the portfolio category, which is judged on professional criteria, and so if there is one weak image amongst the five, then the portfolio cannot win the main £3000 prize!

Do we always get it right?

Probably not. But over the years that I have been involved as a judge for this competition the right people have generally always won, and many great photographers have been rewarded with holidays, cameras and cash prizes.

If you would like to see whether you agree with the judging this year, then the Wanderlust Travel Photograph of the Year exhibition is shown at the Destinations show. The results are announced on Friday 4 February and there is a people's vote where visitors get to vote for the image that they think should win.

Photo credit: Not an actual Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year entry (malingering).

See Wanderlust Travel photo of the Year entries... More

Steve Davey leads his own exclusive range of travel photography tours, Better Travel Photography , with land arrangements by Intrepid Travel

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