On December 14, the site photo.rgo.ru began accepting entries for the VII photo competition of the Russian Geographical Society "The Most Beautiful Country". Its main innovation is that for the first time not only photographs can be submitted to the competition, but also short videos (up to three minutes) about how this or that photo was taken. A special "Behind the Scenes" category has been established for the best video.
This year, the works for the competition are accepted in ten categories: "Landscape", "Wild Animals", "Those Funny Animals", "Russia from a Bird's Eye View", "Art of Wildlife (fine-art photography)", "Many Faces of Russia", "Taken on a Smartphone", "Photo Project", "Live Archive" and "Magic of Water".
Also, four special categories have been established: "Behind the Scenes", "Reserved Russia", "Russia in the Faces of the Older Generation" and "People's Choice Award". The winner in these categories will be chosen by Internet users through open voting.
The works can be submitted until April 5, 2021. An expert commission of 17 professional photographers and photo editors will select 10 finalists in each category. Then, during May 2021, a meeting of the competition jury will be held, which will determine the winners.
A special category "Behind the Scenes" was established. Within its framework, short videos taken by the authors of photographs are accepted. The videos should tell the audience the amazing creation stories of the beautiful shots, because often the pictures of the contestants are so wonderful that you want to visit the "set", to understand how the photographer managed to catch the moment that made their picture unique.
We are waiting for videos made directly during the taking of a particular photo; videos from photo expeditions during which the photos were captured; videos taken after shooting, upon returning home. But we hope that even in this case, the author will be able to tell a fascinating story of how this or that shot was born.
Another innovation of the competition is that, from this year, in each category, not only the winner will be determined, but also the owners of the 2nd and 3rd places.
The "Live Archive" category has become even more interesting. In this category we offer photographers to reproduce archival photographs of the 19th - first half of the 20th century.
This year, we give authors the opportunity not only to choose from our list of archived images, but also to upload images from their own, family archives. For example, you can use a photo taken by your grandfather or father, recreate it from the same angle and send it to the competition.
Moreover, we tried to make the selection of those shots that we ourselves offer photographers more interesting. This year, in addition to photographs from the Scientific Archive of the Russian Geographical Society and the funds of the Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive, the category includes more than 150 photographs of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, the founder of color photography in Russia, a member of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. At the beginning of the 20th century, on behalf of Nicholas II, he traveled across the Russian Empire for several years, creating its first ever colored "photographic portrait". We propose to recreate these pictures from 1906-1916, to find out together how our country has changed over the time passed.
A new category has appeared – "Water Magic". It will gather photographs of the water element in all its diversity: from the beauty of summer rains and the power of waterfalls to the destructive power of floods, storms and ice drifts.
"Reserved Russia" is among the new special categories established by the partner of the competition, VTB Bank. A special prize will be awarded to the author of the best shot taken in specially protected natural areas. Moreover, this year, pictures from photo and video traps installed in reserves and national parks are allowed to the competition.
The Elena and Gennady Timchenko Foundation will present the award in the category "Russia in the Faces of the Older Generation". One of the Foundation's missions is to form a society for all ages in Russia, a society in which it is not scary to grow old. Particular attention is paid to the topic of caring for people of the older generation in their immediate environment.
The Russian Geographical Society's photo contest "The Most Beautiful Country" has been held annually since 2015. Every year, tens of thousands of professional and amateur photographers take part in the competition. They shoot with ultra-expensive equipment and ordinary smartphones. This accessibility allows us to speak of "The Most Beautiful Country" as the largest Russian wildlife photography contest – over the six years of the contest's existence, participants have submitted over 510 thousand photographs. 59,538 photographs were sent to the VI Photo Contest – almost 18 thousand more than during the V Photo Contest.
Any person, regardless of place of residence, citizenship and age, can become a project participant. The only condition is that the photographs must be taken in Russia.
It should be noted, that for the third year in a row, within the framework of our competition, a separate competition is held for young photographers under 16 years old – "The Most Beautiful Country through the Eyes of Children". They will be able to submit pictures in four categories: "Landscape", "Animal World", "Human World" and "Macroworld".
The accessible nature of the competition also implies a special approach to the formation of the jury. Together with famous photographers, the works of the finalists are evaluated by people from other spheres of art – filmmakers, actors, art critics, who have their own view of the artistic value of photographs.
The President of the Russian Geographical Society Sergey Shoigu; the Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Marina Loshak; photographer Sergey Gorshkov (this year recognized as the world's best wildlife photographer by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award) will be taking up their places on the jury again. The full jury will be announced in January.
“Such photographs give an incredible burst of energy!” Marina Loshak explains her long-term participation on the jury. “I look at the pictures with the eyes of an artist who chooses this or that image and creates it. I envy people who can turn on deep loving meditation within themselves to get such pictures.”
The main prize in each category of the main competition is 250 thousand rubles; and the winners of "The Most Beautiful Country through the Eyes of Children" will receive professional cameras.
The works of the finalists will take part in exhibitions around the world, as well as in an online exhibition with elements of augmented reality on the Russian Geographical Society website.