See the My Reading photo competition winner and finalists

Claire Slobodian

This weekend, Explore Reading turns one year old. To celebrate my website’s one year anniversary, and all of you for reading and supporting along the way, I’ve been running a photography competition all month, asking you to share your favourite snaps of our town.

The theme for the competition was ‘My Reading’, and I wanted to see photos that show how you see Reading. The brief was: “Celebrate our architecture, nature, indie businesses, events and people. Show your most beautiful, dramatic, inspiring or funny shots of our town. It can be anything that says, ‘that’s my Reading’ to you.”

I was overwhelmed to have received nearly 150 photo entries each showing how you see Reading. There were charming, impressive, humorous and imposing shots documenting our town and it was so lovely to see Reading through the eyes of photographers who have a real affection for it.

My fellow judge Salvo Toscano and I spent a very tough two and half hours whittling all those photos down to the 11 finalists and selected one winner, and one honourable mention.

All the photos in the final show a great range of photography skills, but also a lovely view of Reading. These final 11 photos show a town full of heritage, history, striking architecture, community, family, diversity, openness, beauty, nature, rivers, industry and charm. And I don’t know about you, but that’s my Reading.

The winning photograph was unveiled at our photo final party (browse through our gallery of event photos above) held at the delightful South Street Arts Centre on Thursday 5 July, and I’m delighted to share it with you all here. The winner received a framed print of their winning entry and dinner for two at Honest Burgers, sponsored by the burger restaurant.

Scroll on down to see the winner, honourable mention and all the finalists. I’ve included some of the judges comments and thoughts below each photo.

The winner: Reading Pride, Rhiannon Stocking Williams

The judges say: This was one of the most colourful photos in the competition. It instantly made us smile and feel warm. This photo may not show a Reading landmark, but we feel this is the photo that most responded to the brief. Rhiannon’s photo, ‘Reading Pride’ captures Reading as a proud, colourful, inclusive, diverse, open community. That’s the town where we want to live.

The runner-up: Tango in the Park, Aaron Botham

The judges say: Aaron’s photo was such a close contender for the winning spot we had to give it an honourable mention. We loved the combination of movement and stillness in this tender image. It’s rare for a photo of the Forbury Gardens to not put our beautiful lion centre stage, but this photo manages to capture warmth and joy and a place that is distinctly Reading with only the tiniest corner of a lion’s foot. It also got a round of applause at the finalist party.

Finalist: Get Out of Town, Chris Short

The judges say: This photographer clearly has a sense of humour. It’s a witty and amusing take on Reading. The IDR isn’t beautiful, but traffic is a big part of what keeps Reading moving, or doesn’t in this case – and it’s definitely part of Reading. We also liked that it’s nicely framed, with good use of lines.

Finalist: Christchurch Bridge, Gareth Edwards

The judges say: Christchurch Bridge was the most submitted landmark in our photo competition. We had shots of it at night, by day and from underneath. This photographer shot with a long exposure and it’s captured that vital sense of movement on the river – the white trail in the centre is a swan swimming. Gareth makes the bridge more than a landmark, it’s a place where people and nature come together.

Finalist: The Abbey, Sam Grundy

The judges say: The recent reopening of the Reading Abbey Quarter has revitalised our interest in the history of our town, and we also received lots of photos of the Abbey Ruins to the competition. Sam’s photo made the final because we liked how he drew two of our biggest heritage sites, the abbey ruins and the prison, together in one well-framed, enticing image, lending our biggest attraction a hidden, secretive quality.

Finalist: At the Station, Selin Bengi

The judges say: This is another humorous image. It’s captured the back of the railway station, not a particularly beautiful part of town, in a minimal almost futuristic shot. Excellent use of shadow and line.

Finalist: Friar Street, Peter Kruschwitz

The judges say: A really smart image of Friar Street shot through a puddle. Peter has found beauty and something quite striking in a grey part of town. Peter shot in black and white on film with a Zorki-1, a Soviet rangefinder.

Finalist: Oxford Road, Dylan Jones

The judges say: One of the best shots from outside of the town centre. Dylan has captured the vibrancy and diversity of the Oxford Road, with great use of colour and shade.

Finalist: King Henry memorial at Forbury Gardens, Stuart Shafran

The judges say: Stuart used an infrared camera to capture a clean and bright image of another side of Forbury Gardens. We love the juxtaposition of the memorial stone with the office building in the background, Reading’s history and present in one shot.

Finalist: The Market Place, Stew Elliott

The judges say: An interesting perspective on Market Place, and the town centre, taken from a rare vantage point (I discovered at the event, it’s from Stew’s office window). This photo shows of a sense of community, vibrancy and movement in the town centre. Our market place looks bustling and lived in. We also loved the angles and the balance of red brick against the sky.

Finalist: On the River, Bernie Pallett

The judges say: Rivers built our town and those waterways still keep Reading flowing today. Just like Christchurch Bridge, we received lots of river shots, but we liked this moody black and white because it captures the industrial nature of our waterways. A balance of nature and working life.

Congratulations to Rhiannon, and Aaron and all our finalists! Thank you to all the photographers who submitted entries to our competition. We really enjoyed seeing them all. It was so successful, I hope to run another photo competition next year, so look out for it again in 2019!

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