Mark Gunter Photo Awards

I am regular reader of CyclingTips and thanks to them I stumbled upon a photography competition at the very end of 2019. The Mark Gunter Photo Awards. I had recently moved to British Columbia and wanted to make a career transition from working in filmmaking to sport photography. Coming to the province at the end of the cycling season, I only attended two races that my father was competing in. Pumpkin Cross, organized by Local Ride Racing, and the British Columbia provincial cyclocross championships.

I can't remember how many photos I had at the end of the year that I was extremely proud of, but I selected a few and decided to submit them to the Mark Gunter Photo Awards. I was mostly excited to share my photos with the world but it's really also an amazing fundraiser. The competition is in honour of Australian cycling photographer, Mark Gunter, who passed away from cancer. Submission fees go towards cancer research as well as youth cycling assistance grants.

The first year I submitted photos, CyclingTips reposted one of my photos from the provincial championships on their Instagram account. I thought that was super exciting at the time, being a regular read of the site. Below is the photo they shared.

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOX 2019 BC CYCLOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS PB CHAINLINE CYCLE

In 2020 I aimed to attend many more races and continue to learn about sports photography, so that hopefully one day I can make it a career. Obviously, COVID had other plans but I still managed to attend a handful of events albeit a slightly different structure and reduced number of riders. When the MGPA (Mark Gunter Photo Awards) came about again, I submitted even more photos.

This time, one of my photos was selected by CyclingTips as part of their weekly showcases of professional and amateur photos. I thought to myself, "How cool is this, my photo is on the site I love to read and others are seeing this too!" My goals for photography in 2020 were pretty modest. Photograph more races, learn new techniques, hopefully get hired to shoot a race or two. All those boxes were ticked, but it definitely felt like I was moving in the right direction having the photo in the showcase.

WESTERN TRACK CHALLENGE

Going in 2021, I wanted to build upon the relationships I had made and skills I had learned. Cycling BC, the Burnaby Velodrome Club, Giant Bicycle Canada, Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition and12 Hours of Glenridge have been extremely supportive in allowing me to shoot at their races. This definitely encouraged me to push myself and try new things.

2021 was tough, but good. Driving to crits after work, optimizing my editing workflow to have photos up by the following morning, talking to other photographers, looking at their work to see what I can learn from them, the list goes on. By the end of the year, I had compiled a library of photos that I had never had before. Thousands of images. When the MGPA came around this past December, it was even more difficult to choose what I wanted to submit. Below are the photos I submitted (except one, since I forget what it was!)

I've never gone into these awards thinking I would win anything. It's exciting to just have other see my photos (especially the judges who I all admire) and also donate more to the fundraiser. This year however, one of my photos was shortlisted by one of the judges, James Startt. In the three years of submitting, I go from Instagram repost, CyclingTips showcase, to having one of the judges (whose shot at every Tour de France since 1990) select one of my photos as his top 10 amateur photos. That alone has made the beginning of 2022 amazing. Again, the being able to see that on CyclingTips and know that readers from all over the world are seeing that too is giddying.

A few days later, the judges deliberated and chose the winners for the professional and amateur categories. I get an Instagram notification of story mentioning me. Completely stunned, I read the post and then go on the website and see the article "The Winning Photos from the 2021 Photographer of the Year Awards." My shortlisted photo placed third! To say I'm excited is an understatement. I have never won anything before, and to do it in something I am passionate about and also for a competition I really support, makes me extremely proud. This year had some absolutely stunning photos in both categories and to be selected amongst them is truly special. It's opened my eyes to new photographers and will inspire me to elevate my photography game.

There are lots of people I have to thank for their support and encouragement since starting my photographic journey. It feels like I'm learning and heading in the right direction. There's always room for improvement and I am already buzzing with ideas on how to create photos to top the submissions I made in 2021.

If you would like to learn more about the Mark Gunter Photo Awards and support their Tour de Cure fundraiser for cancer research, head over to https://www.markgunter.com.au/ . The gallery for all the finalists and winning photos from the 2021 Photographer of the Year Awards can be found at 

https://cyclingtips.com/2022/01/the-winning-photos-from-the-2021-mark-gunter-photographer-of-the-year-awards/ .

The Roller Coaster Crit

The Roller Coaster Crit

3rd Place - 2021 Mark Gunter Photographer of the Year Awards
(Photo by Filip Funk Photography)

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