Try to imagine this nice tranquil scene in the Aves household; there we are all relaxed and cosy in front of the fire watching TV together on a Sunday night - what could be nicer? How was I supposed to know it would all end in argument and disagreement, and all over some photographs?
Let me explain; we were watching BBC’s Countryfile - you know, that nice programme that’s full of fluffy little animals, then John Craven doing his serious bit, then back to the fluffy animals again. Well, it got towards the end of the programme and everything was going well, until they announced the winners of the 2010 photo calendar competition.
As they pulled away some paper to unveil the winner there was a shout of "What?! You must be joking!!" from my son. As other pictures followed, there was complete uproar, my daughter favouring a mouse picture and my wife the landscape of the Lake District. So there we were each arguing our corner trying to win over support for our favourite picture.
But it was my son who went ballistic. He’s studying photography at college and his argument was simple - he said that there was no skill in the winning picture, that the lady who took it was just there at the time, just lucky and it wasn’t even shot on a "decent" camera.
The winning image was of a column of sheep walking away from the camera across a snowy field, taken on a compact camera. I can see where my son's coming from of course, but his argument doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny does it? On that basis, you could say that all the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson or Bert Hardy and those like them were all based on luck not skill, or argue that most photojournalists are just a bunch of chancers who keep getting lucky! Is it right to say that someone who uses a modest camera can’t take a fantastic image?
Personally I have to say that I rather liked the winning shot of those sheep. It was certainly a great composition, but was it better than some of the others? Surely it's all subjective isn’t it?
I'd be interested to know what your thoughts are. Tell me what you think about some of the more technical photos of insects or the beautifully exposed landscapes - should they have won instead? What was your favourite shot in the competition and why? If you didn’t see the programme you can view the short-listed images on the Countryfile website here.
Have a look and come back here to let me know your opinions.