Victorian seascape photographer, Tal Lemmens, has won the 2020 Vienna International Photo Award (VIEPA) Our World category, for his image Apex.
Apex was captured on the NSW South Coast, and shows an ocean wave taking on a mountain-like form moments before crashing. While the VIEPA win was a surprise, Tal entered the image knowing it was a different compared with other pictures typically entered in landscape photo contests.
‘I feel the photo is so simple, but a unique moment in time,’ he told Inside Imaging. ‘Many of the other award-winning landscape photos are land-based composites, whereas this was just one press of the shutter button, and I was stoked with the result. Despite being a water formation, it looks like a landscape – a little like the Icelandic mountain, Kirkjufell. The light is really interesting on the NSW South Coast. In the mornings the sun comes up over the ocean and shines through the wave, making it back lit and the water appears transparent and like glass.’
The photo will appear in the VIEphoto exhibition at the Vienna Summer Photo Festival, organised by the Lik Akademie education institution. Tal is also set to take home prizes for winning the award, which was open to entrants around the world to celebrate the ‘peaceful power of photography to unite nations, peoples and continents.
Tal, an emerging self-taught photographer from the Victorian West Coast, shoots most photos while in the ocean with an underwater housing, and is inspired by the work of leading Australian surf photographers like Ray Collins and Warren Keelan. He picked up a camera when he was 17, and started taking photos from the beach of his mates surfing around Warrnambool in Victoria.
‘In a sense, on the land you’re looking for shots but I felt removed from the action,’ he said. ‘So around five years later I decided my next progression was to get the water housing. And over time I became less interested in shooting surfing – guys on waves – and started looking at the abstract formations of the ocean.’
He’s had an unusual year. Like many others he’s spent more time at home, but it wasn’t only due to a pandemic. Just prior to the lock down, he suffered a horrific mountain bike accident that left him with a broken tibia, three breaks to his fibula, and a dislocated ankle. The doctor ordered at least six months out of the water.
This presented Tal with an opportunity to tackle tedious tasks he previously put aside, such as cleaning up his website and marketing, which involved entering more contests to gain exposure. While he’d have preferred to have kept his tibia in tact, he says in a weird turn of events the accident probably played a part in him winning the VIEPA category.
Check out Tal’s photos here.