As part of the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards, the judges went on the hunt for the best photographers representing a selection of different countries. In the UK it was 41 year old Sean Batten, a C++ and C# software developer who's from Bristol but now lives in Surrey, who came out on top. He particularly likes architectural and street photography, so his winning image of Canary Warf tube station isn't too much of a surprise! Sean took his winning image at Canary Wharf tube station at 12:54 on a Wednesday. He says that it was planned to the extent that he took his camera to work that day knowing that he wanted some photos of Canary Wharf and the area, but that particular view came about by chance: 'I just happened to go into the smaller entrance on Upper Bank Street and was impressed by the smaller space (compared to the rest of the station) and the impressive, and imposing, roof.'
Taking photos on the Underground isn't anything new for Sean, so he knew what to expect in terms of being able to get his shot: 'The staff don’t mind what you do as long as you’re not obstructing anybody and you don’t use a tripod.' Not being able to use a tripod meant that he shot wide open at ƒ/2.8 with his 14-24mm lens on his Nikon D800. The light coming in from the glass roof together with the shadows meant he needed three bracketed shots to cover the dynamic range.
He took a series of images to help secure against camera-shake, and although he knew he had a good image on his hands when he started to process the sets, it was down to social media that he entered it into the Sony World Photography Awards. 'I uploaded it to Flickr and got a lot of positive feedback, so it seemed like an obvious choice to enter into the Sony WPO awards.'
Now that Sean has a new Sony A7 to play with, I asked him if there's anything in particular that he's looking forward to photographing. Unsurprisingly, he's looking forward to taking it out and around London for some street photography, being lighter and more discreet than his Nikon D800. For someone who enjoys street photography in the capital, he hasn't had too many bad experiences with his camera.
Sean says that it can be difficult trying to take photos outside the Shell Centre on the Southbank, but that his experiences with the police have been positive. 'Every 5 November I go along to the Operation Vendetta march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square and there’s always a load of police to make sure the event goes off without any trouble. They never ask you to stop taking photos, and will even stop and let you take their picture, sometimes alongside a protestor!'
As for his dream shoot, that's an easy answer: 'Antarctica! I’ve always wanted to go, and these days it's become a more of a possibility, even though it’s still expensive. If I win the lottery then that’s where I’ll be going with my camera.' Although, if he doesn't win the lottery, he'll aim for San Francisco or Seattle.
Many congratulations to Sean, and our thanks for taking the time to talk with us. You can see his winning image 'in bigness' (as my father would have it) at the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition at Somerset House, London, from 1 to 18 May 2014. Sean is particularly looking forward to seeing winner of the Smile category, by Alpay Erdem, and the winner of the Korean National Award by Dowon Choi. Otherwise, you can see more of Sean's work on his Flickr stream.