We live in one of the most vibrant and photogenic regions of the country and this is reflected every year in the aptly named Port of Tyne Reflect Awards.
Thousands of people enter one of the region’s most popular competitions, responding to the challenge to produce an award-winning photograph or short film.
Invariably the awards also highlight the creative talent in our midst. It is no secret that the judges annually face a formidable task once the entries are in and decision day approaches.
The Port of Tyne Reflect Awards, the seventh, are launched today, signalling the moment at which photographers and film-makers - young or old, professional or amateur - can seek to match or exceed the high standards set by past winners.
A range of broad categories and a line-up of distinguished judges await the contenders of this year’s competition.
There are cash prizes for the winners and the runners-up totalling almost £4,000 but also the opportunity to see their work prominently displayed and to attend a high profile awards ceremony. Last year’s was an exciting and enjoyable affair at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.
Photography has been a popular pastime for many years but never has it been so democratic or widespread.
Smartphone technology has put it within many people’s grasp and it is just as likely that this year’s winners will come from a hand-held ‘mobile’ as from an expensive and bulky camera. It is the photograph rather than the technology used that the judges will be assessing.
Similarly, there was a time - not that long ago - when only those with specialist knowledge or equipment could hope to enter a film competition.
These days the film categories of the Port of Tyne Reflect Awards are likely to rival the photographic categories in terms of popularity. The means to make a short film and upload it via YouTube lie within the capabilities of many people.
Susan Wear, director of corporate affairs at Port of Tyne, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of the Reflect Awards.
“Over the years the competition has attracted thousands of entries and we’re hoping to break the record again this year.
“It is a great way to help promote all the fantastic things on offer in our region and to showcase the creative talents of the entrants.
“We have made it very easy to enter so that anyone who has a camera of any type can go out and enjoy the area, take photographs or make a short film and be in line for some great prizes.”
She added: “Previous Reflect winners have used the competition to launch careers in film production and photography and others have gone on to win national acclaim.
“We encourage everyone to enter. Some of the best photos entered last year were taken by young people using simple mobile phones and basic cameras.
“This isn’t about whether you have the best equipment. Our judges are seeking out raw talent.”
While the North East and its people must be the subject of the photos or films submitted for consideration, the competition is open to visitors from outside the region.
Last year entries came in from as far afield as Italy, the Czech Republic and even Australia, which also serves to emphasise Port of Tyne’s status as one of the great international gateways to the region.
The Journal has joined with Port of Tyne as a media partner for this year’s Reflect Awards.
Editor Brian Aitken said: “The Reflect Awards provide a great creative channel to demonstrate what’s great, different and exciting about the North East and we are delighted to be working with the Port of Tyne to encourage as many people as possible to enter.”
If you want to see some of the best entries to last year’s competition, they currently feature in a touring exhibition which is on until October 25 at Newcastle City Library before moving to the Tyneside Cinema during November and the Port of Tyne International Passenger Terminal in December.
The basic message from the organisers and the judges is a simple one - wherever you are going in the coming months, make sure you have a camera handy. You never know when or where inspiration might strike.
:: For detailed information about how to enter the Port of Tyne Reflect Awards 2013, visit www.portoftyne/reflect If you want to follow the Port of Tyne Reflect Awards on Twitter the address is @reflectawards or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/portoftynereflectcompetition