What does it take to win an internationally respected photography competition? A few weeks ago, the Sony World Photo Awards announced their winners, one of whom was Fstoppers community member Mikkel Beiter, who won two awards: Open Travel and Denmark National Award. We caught up with him to find out about his work and his prize-winning photograph.
Beiter has entered the competition in previous years, making a shortlist of "Commended Photographers," which prompted him to enter again this year. He submitted 10 images for free and later took advantage to enter another batch as part of an offer, not expecting to win but happy to put his work out there in the hope of some recognition.
"I already know it will have a positive effect on my photographic career. I've received a huge amount of exposure, which is great," he explains, and he encourages everyone to submit regularly to competitions. His dream is to one day work for National Geographic and hopes that this recognition brings him a step closer.
Beiter prefers to enter competitions that allow free submissions, and in light of the recent IPOTY scandal, it's worth doing your research before paying any money. He also says that it's important to research the rules and various categories that are available when compiling any submission. His other regular favorites include the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year and the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.
Beiter is proud to be self-taught, experimenting early on with nightlife photography, a lot of trial and error, and then establishing his wildlife and landscape work, which he produces when he gets time away from his career in IT. He takes great inspiration from other photographers, especially the Fstoppers community, and has regularly sought to improve his knowledge through tutorials found on YouTube and those offered by the likes of Elia Locardi.
He acquired his first DSLR ten years ago but discovered a love of landscape and wildlife photography during a few months spent working as an environmental conservation volunteer in Botswana in 2013. Further travels followed — Namibia, the Caribbean, and Tanzania — before a trip to Lofoten in the north of Norway in 2016 transformed his approach. He began using filters and long exposures, as well as being more deliberate in his approach to his post-production work in Lightroom and Photoshop.
A few years ago, Beiter made his first trip to the north of Norway, which proved to be a pivotal point in his photographic career. He found himself researching in detail in preparation for the trip, checking times for sunset and sunrise, and calculating the angles of the sun. For the first time, he used a 10-stop filter from Lee Filters in addition to some graduated filters for the sky. All of this new attention to planning paid off, and he found that he really enjoyed the process, finding a new passion for landscape imagery.
His winning photograph, "Shapes of Lofoten," was captured during a subsequent visit to Norway, and came about as a result of a walk around Sakrisøy, one of the islands that makes up the Lofoten archipelago. The location itself offers some stunning vistas, and Beiter's visit was enhanced by a layer of fresh snow from the night before. "I caught something special, I think," he explains, capturing the shot handheld. "You can actually see how crisp the snow is. Combined with the cloud, the mountain stands out, and the cabin with its yellow color — perfect contrasts and perfect alignment!"
Beiter is a long-time user of Canon, shooting on an EOS 5D Mark III with an EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM, an EF 100-400mm 4.5/5.6L IS II USM, and a Tamron SP 24-70mm 2.8 Di VC USD G2. He enjoys using a number of filters made by Formatt-Hitech and explains that he loves the level of quality that they deliver. Be sure to follow him on Instagram and Facebook so that you can keep up with his next trip: back to Namibia, where he will be out exploring in a 4x4 with a rooftop tent.
Images used with permission of Mikkel Beiter.