Back to News

A blog by photography tutor Julia Rafferty

28 Nov 2019

The Photographic Portfolio Development groups competition in response to Pensthorpe being named, ‘Most beautiful garden to visit in Britain’. 

On 3rd August 2019, The Times ran an article called: ‘The most beautiful gardens to visit in Britain — and where to stay’. Pensthorpe Natural Park was listed at number 1. As a photography tutor, working with many talented photographers at Pensthorpe, I decided to organise a competition for my groups. The challenge was to put together a panel of 6 photos, that recorded a personal refection on this special place. I called the competition, ‘Your take on…Pensthorpe Natural Park’ and asked Jo Atherton, the Marketing & PR Manager at Pensthorpe, to judge the competition. A wonderful prize of a pair of annual membership passes was offered and here is the story…

On my competition brief, I asked the photographers to produce photos which expressed a personal reflection of what Pensthorpe meant to them. Will it be the water and reflections? Or will it be a quiet woodland area? Maybe the flowers and the carefully designed gardens? Or is it the sculptures, wildlife or other animals that capture your attention? I asked that they share their photos and help us to celebrate Pensthorpe being chosen as one of the most beautiful gardens to visit in the UK.

Jo was so impressed with the quality of the entries and found it hard to choose an out-right winner; indeed, she chose two photographers’ panels as joint winners and offered them both the prize of a pair of annual membership passes. Jo chose Julia Fawcett’s panel and said, “I liked her style because it really highlighted what Pensthorpe meant to her by focusing on each subject being in colour and the rest of the image being just in black and white”. This is a clever technique which is sometimes called: Spot Colour. It allows the photographer to draw attention to an aspect of the image in the original colours, whilst the rest of the image is converted to monochrome.

Here is Julia’s panel of 6 images:

Such a lovely mix of subjects and a carefully planned panel, which makes the most of the colours and subjects  – the swathes of flowers on either side of the single iris on the top row, and the flamingos framed with the red squirrel and butterfly in similar colouring – a truly unique view.  Here are Julia’s two favourite images from her panel:




Michael I’Anson was our other joint winner with his panel of 6 images. Jo said, “I was drawn to the atmospheric theme in all of his shots and the beauty of the natural landscape and the fauna that are displayed in the photos”.  Here is Michael’s panel of 6 images:


Michael’s panel mixes colour and monochrome images and gives a wonderful flavour of the unique habitats that make up the diversity of Pensthorpe Natural Park. The photos are very textural and take us through the seasons and the times of the day and again, exhibit a very personal exploration of this special place. Here are his two favourite photos:





Many thanks to Jo Artherton for judging the competition and to all my photographers who took part – it has been wonderful to look through your panels and I have so enjoyed your work. Thank you.