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Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 25: 12/26/17
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 25 edited by Rosamund Kidman Cox is a collection of photographs that I am counting for the Canadian Books Challenge even though the contest is run by the National History Museum of London, England, and the editor is also British. But this particular book, portfolio 25, to me is tied up with some very happy memories of a trip to Victoria. So bear with me as this "review" isn't a review in the normal sense. It is, instead, an indulgence in nostalgia.
For Christmas 2014 we opted to head north to Vancouver, rather than south to San Diego. We have relatives in both cities but a lot of the traditions we remember and know from our San Diego trips have evolved into something unfamiliar and off putting. So we opted to try for a quieter Christmas with Ian's brother and sister-in-law, and their two children. That first year we tried having Christmas with them and then heading over the Vancouver Island for a couple of days before heading home. It was also the year that we drove there — much to the bemusement of the woman at the border. I guess most Californians don't drive their Ford Fiesta to Canada.
That first year we learned two things: our sister-in-law's parents really prefer getting Christmas up there, so it would be better to come after the holiday. And two: some parts of Victoria are DEAD on Boxing Day — like the hotel we opted to stay at that year.
By Christmas 2015 we had a better, more refined plan. We were staying at the Chateau Victoria within walking distance of the things we were interested in. It's restaurant, Vista 18, was open for Christmas and Boxing Day (and is quite the place to be for Christmas brunch).
On Christmas Eve 2015, we walked down to the Royal BC Museum — though not by the most efficient route. We'd figure that out the next year. On the second floor was the traveling exhibit of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. In fact, it's there now until April 2, 2018. It was the first exhibit we stopped at and the longest one we stayed at.
When we were done at the end of the day we stopped into the gift shop and purchased Portfolio 25. I should note that the youth winner that year was a Canadian. It somehow made the entire experience all the more special — seeing the winning photo in the winner's country.
That year while I was there I promised I would enter the contest. It's international and open to amateurs. 2016 went by so quickly and by the end of the year I was so disheartened at the thought of moving to Kitchener, that I didn't even try to enter the contest. As it happens, I wasn't even reminded of it that Christmas, as the traveling display in 2016 was of a baby mammoth.
This December as I was reading through the few books to make it to my new house (still in Fairview — only two miles from where this move began), I came across Portfolio 25. I'd read it on Boxing Day, 2015 but I hadn't reviewed it. So I re-read it. And I remembered the contest. And I realized I still had time to enter. The entry fee is £30. This year I know I went into the contest unprepared but 2018, I'll be thinking more like an artist.
The Portfolios are nice. They include the artists' statements and the stories behind the winning or shortlisted photographs. But the portfolio can't possibly reproduce the eye popping, soul warming experience of seeing the photographs in person. They're backlit and and the colors and shades just pop. Really good photos will pull you across the room, through the crowd, and hold you captive for minutes. If you ever get a chance to see one of these traveling exhibits, Go!