An aspiring young photographer’s striking shot of lifeboat crew preparing for action on Skegness beach has won a hotly contested competition seeking images to promote the town internationally.
Friskney youngster, 11-year-old Joel Blevins’ iconic image captured the judges’ imagination at the launch of ‘A Fresh Eye On Skegness’ exhibition held at St Matthew’s Church on Thursday evening.
Joel, who was given his first camera for Christmas when he was eight, also received commendations for several of his other submissions and is delighted to have had his work recognised at such a young age.
“I’m very, very pleased with myself to have been chosen as the winner,” he said.
“I didn’t think I would make it this high.”
Judges were impressed with the standard of submissions across the board, which came from local photographers of all ages and backgrounds demonstrating vastly differing conceptions of what represented Skegness to them.
Fellow photographer John Byford, who judged the entrants along with the Mayor of Skegness Coun Jim Carpenter, felt Joel’s image managed to ‘capture something that Skegness is all about’.
“All the elements came together and that ticked a lot of boxes,” he said.
“I’m really, really pleased that it has gone to some one so young - there’s some real talent in this town.”
Joel said he chose the lifeboat crew as he felt they were a ‘unique’ part of what made Skegness special. When pictured alongside the fairground attractions in the background, he felt the shot was particularly identifiable as an image of Skegness.
To fund his photographic hobby, Joel has set up a website (which can be viewed here ) to sell some of his images and has already been approached by a film producer in London.
Other highly praised photographers included Gwen Drury who came second and Chantelle Lee in third place.
Coun Carpenter said: “They’re all winners to me.”
The competition was instigated by the Reverend Fran Jefferies as part of a collaborative project between Skegness and its partner towns in the European Union funded ‘transnational network.
Groups of young people involved with the network will use the images in the creation of a multi-language website, promoting each of the partner towns as a visitor destination.
“We’re going to be selling each other’s areas on this website,” said Rev Jeffries.
It’s hoped that by involving young people with rewarding and aspirational projects, they may see a better future for themselves in their hometown, thereby helping Skegness to retain more if its talented, intelligent young adults.
Thursday’s event was timed to coincide with the SO Festival, making it one of the first ‘fringe’ events to have taken place.