The Schools' Photo Competition
Key Stage 4 Winning entries

1st Place - Restricted love

by Lucy Paris - Stanborough school

Judges' Comments

Your image goes to the heart of some of the restrictions and changes that have seriously impacted the lives of most of us. Your head and shoulders portrait of a man and woman embracing has a real impact on the viewer. Your choice of monochrome simplifies and strengthens the image.  

The viewer’s gaze goes straight to the two faces. The Covid masks prominently emphasise the barrier that has been placed between the two people. Interestingly, the eyes of both the people are firmly closed suggesting perhaps that the barriers have been removed in their thoughts. The contrasting hands of the two people add to the strength of the picture. We see the man’s forearm and hand firmly holding the woman’s body. And by way of contrast there is the woman’s slender hand more delicately placed on the man’s chest. You have captured this scene by arranging the pose of the two subjects and by your choice of camera position and angle. The slightly lowered camera position means that you are looking up into their embrace and the viewer’s gaze is directed at their two faces.

2nd Place - Overlooking Welwyn Garden City

by Molly Giles - Monks Walk school

Judges' Comments

The image is undeniably reminding us of the considerable efforts that went into setting up the celebrations for WGC’s Centenary. How poignant that when you took it there was no idea of Coronavirus and we were all set for the year’s events to take off with a triumphant explosion of creativity and enthusiasm. How things changed, leading to everything plan being cancelled and the country entering enforced lockdown for months. You have created a bold and very effective image made up of two parts. On the right we have the back of a person wearing a fluorescent jacket bearing a Centenary celebration logo. 

They are sharply in focus and the viewer immediately latches onto them as the main subject. The viewer follows their gaze and can clearly see that, as identified in your title, they are overlooking Welwyn Garden City. You have created the feeling that he is looking at the overall scene, rather than something specific. You have successfully achieved that by selectively focusing on the person with the Garden City somewhat blurred. You have added to that by the subdued lighting which resulted from when you took the photo. We can see from the colour in the sky that sunset was probably approaching and so it was getting dark. There was however still plenty of daylight for us to identify the town centre view.

3rd Place - Our people

by Sadie Scales - Monks Walk school

Judges' Comments

This photo was entered for the initial theme of “Celebrations” and is a well-considered take on what we pride ourselves in celebrating in this country – the people in our society and their diversity.

You have given us eight portraits of quite different people taken mainly outdoors and in a range of settings that look to be around the town centre. This suggests that you have gone out and asked people you met if you could take their photograph. You have created a group of photos collectively as “Our people”. You are to be congratulated on this approach – it really isn’t easy to do it this successfully. Some of the different character and warmth of the individuals has been successfully captured in the portraits. It seems likely that all eight people will be delighted to be included as part of your image.

Highly Commended and RPS Choice - Across the gap ​
by Megan Joyner - Ridgeway Academy

Judges' Comments

This is another image that successfully addresses the isolation of lockdown. You have created a strong but uncomplicated image by photographing the doorway to your house. You have achieved this by photographing downwards to capture your own lower legs and feet. You are clearly and very firmly inside the house, in isolation, in the lower third of the photo. It may have been intended, but your choice of footwear works particularly well. Notice how the white edges on the soles of the shoes serve to emphasise the feet. The upper two thirds of the photo is clearly the “outside” with the doormat and the white bottom part of the doorframe marking the boundary and “Across the Gap”. Effective photographic compositions can often be achieved when they fit within the “Rule of thirds”. That is what you have done here. A 50:50 split of inside to outside would have worked less well. Viewers can see that for themselves by blanking off the top part of your photo.

Highly Commended - Fountain at sunset

by Amy Davies from Monks Walk School

Judges' Comments

It is a well-established photographic principle that night photographs can be particularly effective when they are taken at around sunset when there is still some light in the sky. That is exactly what you have done here, and it is why the photo works so well. This too is a picture celebrating the environment of WGC – the fountain being an iconic feature of the town, around which people congregate to admire, and around which events occur. The striking red colour at the base of the fountain ensures that the fountain stands out as the subject of the photo.

The coloured light is transported up in the water jets gradually fading as it goes. The red of the fountain contrasts with the orange hues of the sunset sky and together they form the main coloured parts of the image – held together by the fading blue of the darkening sky. Those sky colours would have been absent if the photo had been taken at a later time and the spots of light in other parts of the photo may well have become starbursts of light distracting from the main subject. The photo would have been much less effective without the orange colours in the sky. It will be interesting to see the printed version of this photo because detail in the darker parts may be more visible in the print. The framing of the photo is such that the water at the top of the fountain is missing. Whilst ideally that could have been included its absence wasn’t viewed as a major issue.

Commended - Two toned eyes

by Emily Henderson - Monks Walk school

Judges' Comments

You have created a very fine portrait of this cat. You have achieved this by a choice of camera position that is slightly looking up towards the cat’s face. Additionally, the cats face is very sharp – notice how the cat’s whiskers are particularly prominent. And the cat has a contented and perhaps thoughtful pose. The patch of white from the lampshade(?) in the background perhaps creates a slight distraction. However, this stood out as such a strong image that it attracted a lot of discussion. It was not seen as meeting either of the two subject requirements of Celebrations or Lockdown and so could not be rated alongside other entries. It was considered that the image merited a special commendation and I suppose could be argued as a celebration of the wonder of nature!
Explore the other categories
Lockdown Rainbows
by Isabella Grover
Caterpillars to butterflies
by Emma Baker

Keeping families connected

by Casey Hawtin
Restricted love
by Lucy Paris

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