Barking-born photographer's stunning snap of Hornchurch Country Park could be named Essex Wildlife Trust's photo of the year
PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 January 2020
An idyllic snap of swans in the River Ingrebourne at Hornchurch Country Park is in the running to be named the Essex Wildlife Trust's photograph of the year - and you could help it win the coveted award.
Matt Chapman's photograph, Swanning Around, has already won the EWT to a Tee category in the trust's Photograph of the Year 2019 competition, and now it's in the running to win the overall award and a £200 prize.
To do that, the 29-year-old will need your help, as the overall winner is determined by a public vote.
Matt lives in Hadleigh, near Southend, but works as an NHS mental health service provider in Barking and Dagenham - where he grew up.
That means that every day he drives to work down the old A13, right past Hornchurch Country Park.
A keen photographer, one morning Matt realised that his journey past the beautiful green space coincided with the sunrise.
He said: "I realised if I left for work a little bit earlier I could get out the car and take a few photos.
"I always keep my camera in the back of my car and it seems like a good way to keep getting a bit of regular practice.
"I do it to relax a bit before work, it's what keeps me sane."
So Matt began heading over to the country park, which is predominantly made up of the fantastic marshland and reedbeds of the River Ingrebourne Valley.
"As soon as I took the photo I knew it was good - there is something about the light in that area as the sun comes up, I've been back a few more times since to explore a bit.
"It really does look amazing."
But, even equipped with what he knew were really good pictures, entering the Essex Wildlife Trust's competition wasn't something he gave all that much thought to.
You may also want to watch:
"It was one of those things I did on a bit of a whim to be totally honest," he said.
"I uploaded three photographs and sent them in, then I didn't really think anything more about it.
"A couple of months later I got an email from the trust congratulating me, so I went onto the website and saw a list of highly commended entries - I assumed my ones would be in there.
"Then I saw I had actually won the entire category and I just thought, 'oh wow, okay, fair enough'."
Matt's photograph is now up against some other impressive photographs that have all won their respective categories.
Amongst them is a well-timed image of a shaking fox, and a remarkable snap of a common darter dragonfly up close and personal in high resolution.
The panel of judges included Essex Wildlife Trust CEO Andrew Impey and acclaimed wildlife photographer Russell Savory.
The 2019 competition saw more than 250 participants and more than 500 Essex-based images submitted; a record number for the annual competition.
And Matt, who has also had a photograph recently published in the Outdoor Swimming magazine, is grateful for any and all support his photo attracts.
He said: "I'm not the sort of person to go begging for votes.
"If people like the photo then go ahead and give it a tick, any level of support is great really."
Lily Chambers, communications assistant at Essex Wildlife Trust, said: "Thank you to everyone who entered the 2019 competition, the images submitted never cease to astound and impress us all here at the Trust. We can't wait to see which image is the public's favourite!
"A huge thanks also to ACL (Adult Community Learning), part of Essex County Council and the largest provider of adult learning courses in Essex, for sponsoring the competition for another year in a row."
Voting closes at the end of January and the overall winner will be announced shortly after.
Please visit essexwt.org.uk/photo-comp/vote to vote for your favourite to win and browse through some of the other stunning images submitted to the photography competition.