Updated: May 21
For me, Isolation has changed a lot in my life, as I believe it has done for most people. It started with a week or two of being sat in my room enjoying a recent subscription to an online streaming service. It was an unproductive wallow in self-pity, contemplating how I would now pay my bills as a result of losing my YouTube sponsorship. And whether I would be able to stay in Bristol as a result of all this. Though I was snapped out of this after a realisation. I still had a supportive family around me (or a couple of hours away at least) and other people were dealing with far worse things than I was. That, and an unexpected phone call from a friend of mine. I had met Jack only a handful of times, at parties and events. But nothing more than that at that point. I answered, only to be pitched the beginnings of what I thought was a fantastic idea. Jack had been working on his final film for his masters (in a home macro studio) in wildlife filmmaking at the University of the West of England over the last couple of weeks and had been completely absorbed, finding escapism from all the chaos. In doing so he had the idea of starting a wildlife photography competition restricted to the home and garden, to try and give people a goal with their photography and give them the same escapism. I was immediately on board and pushed him to start it there and then. So he did, and I joined as a judge. Whilst he worked on setting up the website, I worked on getting a panel of judges together. First was a friend of mine, Sam Rowley. The gent who took the incredible photo of mice fighting that appeared, without exaggeration, everywhere this year. I then asked another friend of mine Megan McCubbin, she was a brilliant photographer and had experience judging competitions. Last but definitely not least was Nikon Ambassador Richard Peters. A photographer whose work I really admired and wasn’t sure would have the time to do this. But he said yes. This all happened in a matter of days. Two days before the website went live, the idea of a short film category was suggested in jest. Two days later we had a short film category and some quite frankly incredibly judges. Award winning film maker Daphne Wong, top class adventure and wildlife camera operator Ben Harris and wildlife presenter Patrick Aryee. And to top it all off, at 10:30pm on the night before the launch, multi-award winning camera operator Jamie McPherson shocked us by saying he was in. In a week we had the makings of an exciting project that we now believed could get people really engaged with wildlife and caring about it by giving bored minds something to do. What followed has been a lot of fast learning, the occasional dose of utter joy, a pinch of stress and one unexpected turn after another. I have even found myself working with some of my wildlife inspirations and heroes in order to produce content for our social media channels. Something that if you had told me I would be doing only a couple of months ago, I would have openly laughed at. In the meantime, I have managed to practice what I preach and find unending amounts of surprising wildlife right on my doorstep. I would go into detail, but I want to keep some of it a surprise for the people who watch my channel. I know I am incredibly lucky for all this to have worked (so far). As a result of all this, I have found myself re-evaluating my career path. Which probably seems like the worst time ever to do so. But it does make you realise, that in times of change or hardship, we can often learn the most about ourselves.
Enter here - www.iwpawards2020.com
Matt Gould is a wildlife photographer and content creator, co-founder of Isolation Wildlife Photography Awards 2020.
Twitter - @mattgould22
Instagram - @mattgould22