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Wine Photographer of the Year 2020: The winners

Patrick Grabham, Decanter's art editor for the past 14 years, was one of the judges of the 2020 Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year awards, which includes the Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year category. With his 30 years of magazine experience, he looks at what makes a good photo, and reveals all the wine winners…

German photographer David Weimann has won the Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year, a category of the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2020.

Weimann won the People section for his portrait of Meike and Dorte Näkel, winemakers at Meyer Näkel in Ahr, Germany. He then triumphed over the winners of the Places and Produce sections for the overall wine prize.

Tom Hyland (US): Castiglione Falletto in Langhe, Piedmont

US-based wine writer Tom Hyland, who has contributed to Decanter on Italian wines, won the Places category with his winterscape of Castiglione Falletto in Piedmont’s Langhe region.

French photographer Patrick Desgraupes won the Produce category for his image of a worker at Clos St-Patrice in Châteauneuf du Pape.

Patrick Desgraupes (France): Worker at Clos St-Patrice, Châteauneuf du Pape

The awards ceremony was held online for the first time since the competition’s inception in 2011, with winners announced in a live-streamed event on the evening of 28 April.

Renowned food photographer David Loftus was the chair of judges, whose panel included Decanter contributor and wine writer Joanna Simon, as well as winery representatives Magui Chadwiz of Viña Errazuriz and Vitalie Taittinger of Champagne Taittinger.

How Decanter’s art editor judges a photo

Things were very different when I started life as a lowly junior designer more than 30 years ago.

My main responsibilities then seemed to be making tea, collecting the art editor’s dry-cleaning and designing the letters or horoscope pages.

There have been many changes in magazines since but the one constant has been, and always will be, great photography.

When the organisers of the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year competition asked me to be a judge, I jumped at the chance. But, as I looked at the many different images in each category, I realised how difficult it is to assess a great photo. To be honest I found it quite daunting.

The first thing to do when judging is to remove any personal preference or objection. I once submitted a front cover design to my editor who instantly hated it, even though the photo was impactful. It transpired he didn’t like yellow, so when I changed the design to orange he loved it!

A good photograph needs a focal point, whether it is a sun-drenched dewdrop on a grape, the concentrated stare of a vineyard worker or a distant château amid a misty landscape. The viewer needs to be drawn into the image.

Colour is another important element; whether vibrant or subdued, it can be used to create a mood. In the same way light can transform a subject by highlighting the focal point or creating contrasting shadows.

Technical details

I am acutely aware of modern technology used in digital photography. I prefer an image that looks natural without many hours of post-production PhotoShop applied to it. However, this technology can also enhance an image without being intrusive.

It’s when it oversteps this mark that it no longer becomes an aid but an obstacle. Colour can be enhanced, or altered to the point where it looks false. A great photo is an image that captivates you and makes you believe in it.

And while a great camera helps, you don’t need expensive equipment to take a great photograph. David Weimann’s winning photo was shot using a Hasselblad, but LM Archer’s third in the Places section was taken on an iphone.

Nearing the end of our judging process, we were asked to order the final entries into order of preference; it took me close to an hour to complete.

When I returned to the task the following morning with a fresh mind, I realised that while I was happy to swap around some entries, the top ones in each category always remained the same. A great photo stands out above the rest.

My last consideration when judging a photograph is, ‘Could I have taken that?’

I have looked at thousands of images during my time as an art editor and have learnt many things from excellent photographers. But it comes down to that innate ability (or luck) to capture a particular 1/100th of a second in time that separates a great photo from a good one.

A photograph should tell the whole story in a single frame.

Wine Photographer of the Year: runners up

John Carey (UK): Holborn Dining Room’s head sommelier Michael Raebel in The Pie Room. Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year (People) 2nd

Marina Spironetti (Italy): Time to meditate, at the Vineria of Tenuta San Leonardo in Trentino. Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year (People) 3rd

Jon Wyand (UK): Late afternoon sun illuminates the vineyards of the Vallée des Vaux, Côte Chalonnaise. Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year (Places) 2nd

LM Archer (US): Villa Calicantus, a biodynamic wine producer in Bardolino, Veneto. Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year (Places) 3rd

Matt Wilson (Chile): Schalk and Bertho van der Westhuizen, winemakers at the Alto Estate Winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year (Produce) 2nd

Andrew Barrow (UK): Wine and cheese still life with Old Master styling. Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year (Produce) 3rd

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