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Six images in a weekly photo blog from my constantly expanding archives at www.timbirdphotography.com and bulging hard drives.

It’s World Cup Final day, and this week I’m taking the opportunity to recall some of my own photographic triumphs and near-misses.

Last week I was in London for the opening of the Travel Photographer of the Year 2013 competition exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington. The creator of the competition, Chris Coe, and his wife Karen have developed this contest to be among the world’s top showcases for travel photography, encouraging amateurs as well as professionals to enter their work and giving a boost to young aspiring enthusiasts. I’ve entered the competition every year for at least seven of the ten competitions judged so far – number 11 is open for entries right now until October 1 – and I’ve had varying degrees of success. I’ve entered again this year, so keep your fingers crossed.

I like entering competitions, partly as a way of increasing my confidence as a photographer and partly to match myself against other photographers. You can always learn something new in photography and you can do that by seeing what other people are doing. Being able to tag “Award Winning” to my description also helps to convince editors that I can shoot as well as write, not something that everyone can do. At the TPOTY opening I had another chance to meet and compare notes with photographers from all over the world. The deserving overall winner this year was Timothy Allen (bad move on my part, this – now I’ve linked you up to his page, you’ll probably never come back to mine!), an intrepid and talented photographer whose professional credits include the stills for the BBC TV series Human Planet.

So in this week’s Six Picks forgive me if I take the opportunity to indulge in some celebration of some of the prizes I have won in recent years.


Planet Ant, a highly commended entry from the Digital Photographer of the Year competition a few years back. Taken in Koh Chang in Thailand in 2009


The Travel Photographer of the Year competition celebrated its tenth anniversary last year with a separate “10 for 10” contest. My Splash of Colour shot won the overall prize and it’s on show at the exhibition in Kensington until August 17 (see below). It was shot in Udaipur in India in 2013. I won a handy and versatile Fujifilm X20 compact camera for this one.


May Day (Vappu) band in Helsinki. This shot earned me a Highly Commended in the TPOTY competition, single image Festivals category, in 2006.


A young cricketer in Agra, India, with the Taj Mahal looming through the mist. This won the Famous Places category in the AA Holiday Photographer of the Year 2008 – and earned me a cruise for two in the Canary Islands.


Buddhist monk novices in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, the site of the original Tree of Enlightenment. This was one of four images published in the Finnair inflight magazine Blue Wings that earned me the title of British Guild of Travel Writers Photographer of the Year for 2012 – and a commission to shoot for the Sarawak Tourist Board in Borneo.


Ghost ship to Stockholm: third prize in the Finnish Readers’ Digest / Matkaopas magazine / Kamera magazine Travel Photographer 2009 competition. Taken on the island of Suomenlinna in Helsinki with the help of the Silja Line ferry. The prize for this was a Canon Powershot camera.

If you are in London, drop in to the TPOTY exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington. It’s free of charge and runs until August 17. Many of the pictures are displayed outside in the courtyard, with the pervading and exotic perfume of jasmine flowers lending an appropriate sense of far-off places. The exhibition shop includes postcards, prints and posters from the competition Collection, soon to include another of my own short-listed entries, as well as the Journey series of compilations of previous competitions. The shot from Udaipur above is included in the latest volume, Journey Six.

Please feel free to share this weekly photo blog and to follow future issues. But please request permission before re-using this photos in any other context, including commercially – copyright remains with the photographer, that is, me, Tim Bird.

You’ll find more of my photos at www.timbirdphotography.com.