I’m really happy to be one of the judges for the Thomas Cook Explore the Elements photo blogging competition. It’s all about capturing and expressing the four elements through travel photography.
We’re looking for bloggers to publish photographs they’ve taken which best represent one of the four elements. All the categories are open to your interpretation, so you can be free to take a picture of anything you feel showcases your chosen element.
Once the competition has finished our panel of leading travel experts will come together to select the best photos. Each judge will preside over one category picking a winner from each before they collectively choose an overall winner.
The four individual category winners will receive either a MacBook Air, a Fujifilm X-T1 camera, or an iPhone 6 with Bose noise cancelling headphones, depending on their personal choice. The overall winner will be awarded an amazing £5,000 travel fund.
I’ll be judging the Water category and here’s the low down on what will catch my eye:
I’m looking for images with depth and character. Images that tell a story or stir the soul. This contest is similar to a commercial photography assignment since there are some directives that need to be followed. Be creative in your interpretation of the guidelines as that is an important factor in how I’ll be judging. Good luck and have fun!
Keep up with the conversation using the official hashtag #ExploreTheElements
The official contest page can be found here: Thomas Cook Explore the Elements
The four categories are:
Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth
Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness , physicality and gravity
Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world
Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism
Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world
Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit
Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement
Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom
My Sample Post
The beautiful red tones of the walls of Antelope Canyon in Arizona are a must see place for photographers. The compositions are endless but it can be tricky to get a good shot with all the tourists that are constantly streaming through the place. Bring a tripod and act fast when the scene clears up and you’ll get a few shots in the limited amount of time that you’re allocated at Antelope. There are several other canyons in the area as well, so look into those too as they are far less crowded and you can spend more time exploring in these canyons.
One of my most favorite places in the world to photograph is on this beautiful beach in Iceland. One of the unique aspects of this beach is the fact that you get a chance to experience water in so many forms. Salt water of the ocean, fresh water of the ice formations, rain, snow, mist, and fog. All that’s missing is steam.
I love photographing here because it is never the same twice. The ice comes and goes and the weather changes on an hourly basis. Be careful though when shooting here. It is very easy to get mesmerized by the water swirling around the ice and at times there are hundreds if not thousands of pieces of ice of all size on the black sand beach. I’ve seen many people trip over ice and several fall into the water (myself included). Many a camera has been claimed by the sea here so be vigilant.
I’ve always been fascinated by fire and the people that work with it like glassblowers, welders, firemen, and metal workers such as these men who are crafting a bell at the Grassmayr Bell Foundry in Innsbruck. The room was dark and there was an acrid smell and taste in the air but I was captivated. It was tricky getting this shot, having only a brief few moments to capture a few images as they transported the molten metal to it’s final destination in the mould where it will cool to take shape as a bell.
These gentlemen were obviously seasoned veterans of bellfounding and the entire process of the pouring of the metal took only a few minutes but they moved together as if it was choreographed. It was beautiful to witness and fun to photograph.
Looking back at the days when I did a lot more people photography is a fun walk down memory lane and to this day i remain fond of this photo. There is a simplicity to it a purity as well. I sense freedom seeing the wind blow through the model’s hair and the soft blue hues in the sky along with the whipped cream fluffy clouds make her look like she is flying if you glance at the photo quickly.
I remember that sunrise as if it were yesterday. The memories of the crisp, clean air along with the sounds of the wind and waves always puts a smile on my face, especially on cold Canadian winter nights like tonight.
My Travel Blogger/Photographer Nominations are
- Matt Karsten, writer/photographer at Expert Vagabond
- Kirsten Alana, writer/photographer at Aviators and a Camera
- Jen Pollack Bianco, writer/photographer at My Life’s a Trip
- Kiersten Rich, writer/photographer at The Blonde Abroad
- Bethany Salvon, writer/photographer at Beers & Beans
Explore the Elements is a contest that invites bloggers to showcase the images they’ve captured on their travels. There are four categories (Earth, Water, Fire and Air) and the challenge is to submit photos that capture the essence of each of the elements. There is no stipulation on how long you’ve been blogging so bloggers new and old are welcome to take part.
While it isn’t compulsory to submit an image for each of the four elements, you’ve got more chance of winning one of the prizes on offer if you do submit a photograph for each category. It’s also worth noting that to be in with a chance of winning the grand prize of a £5,000 travel fund, you’ll have to submit a photo for all four element categories.
The competition pages are listed below:
The official hashtag of Explore the Elements is #exploretheelements. Follow the hashtag to view competition entries and keep up with conversation about the contest!
What do you have to do to enter?
1. Publish an Explore the Elements post on your blog with images for all 4 elements. If you don’t have photos for all 4 elements, post images for the elements that you do have images for. Those who don’t have photos for all 4 elements will still be in with a chance of winning the category winner prizes but won’t be in the running for the main £5,000 travel fund prize.
2. Nominate and notify 5 other bloggers to take part in Explore the Elements at the end of your post to spread the word about the contest!
3. Notify Thomas Cook of your entry before the closing date of the 16th March 2015 by either:
- Tweeting @thomascookuk including #exploretheelements and a link to your blog post in your tweet or;
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, including a link to your post, your name and your email address.
4. Thomas Cook and the competition judges will share and retweet some of our favourite Explore the Elements posts throughout the contest’s 8 week duration so be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter accounts closely!
5. Every Explore the Elements blog entry will be judged by our 4 judges with each judge selecting an element category winner to receive either a Fujifilm camera, an Apple MacBook Air, or an Apple iPhone 6 with Bose noise cancelling headphones depending on their choice. The judges will then work together to select the overall winner of the £5,000 travel fund. For further information about the judging and the prizes see the Terms & Conditions by clicking the link below.
Got any questions?
If you want to know more about the contest or if you have any questions please get in touch via either Twitter (@thomascookuk) or email