Spring in the Shire Photo Essay Competition

Photo Essay Competition

Golden Plains Shire Council’s Spring in the Shire photographic essay competition is an opportunity for amateur photographers from across the Shire to showcase their talents by capturing the beautiful surrounds and vibrant communities of Golden Plains. 

This year’s competition theme Photo[synthesis] has an environmental focus and our Shire’s amateur photographers of all skill levels are encouraged to capture this theme through their lens.

This year's theme - Photo[synthesis]

The Photo[synthesis] theme asks visual storytellers to explore the beauty of the environment, as well environmental issues and challenges.

‘Photosynthesis’ is critical for the existence of the vast majority of life on Earth. It is the way in which virtually all energy in the biosphere becomes available to living things. As primary producers, photosynthetic organisms symbiotically form the base for all life on Earth.

We hope that entrants will harness their passion, curiosity and creativity to capture images that foster environmental awareness and encourage action. We are seeking images and stories that shine a light on our Golden Plains Shire environment.  

Subject matter could include:

  • Wildlife
  • Aquatic environments
  • Flora
  • Eco-systems
  • Biodiversity
  • Urban environment and development 
  • Scientific pursuit
  • Environmental destruction
  • Anthropological insights
  • Conservation

A photographic essay is a form of visual storytelling. For this competition, entrants are required to submit up to 100 words to accompany their image which could be an artist statement, essay, song lyric, poem or diary entry.

Images must be no greater than 20MB, be submitted with your written piece and have been taken in Golden Plains Shire within the last 12 months. Only one image per artist is allowed.

Entries open on 2 October and close at 11.59pm, Friday 3 November 2023.


In 2023, there are three categories, with 30 photographs to be selected for an exhibition and go in the running to win three cash prizes. This year’s categories are:

  • Major Prize (18 years and older) - $600
  • Young Adult Prize (13 to 17 years) - $400
  • Junior Prize (up to 12 years) - $200

The Sponsors for this year's competition are Geelong Landcare and Turosi Giving.


Golden Plains Shire Council's Cr Helena Kirby, RMIT’s Dr Li Ping Thong and Deakin University’s Dr Sean Loughrey will form the judging panel and will select the winner of each category.

Winners announced

Spring in the Shire Photographic Essay Competition winners will be announced at the Golden Plains Twilight Market on 14 December 2023 at Bannockburn Cultural Centre.

Competition Details
Frequently Asked Questions

Is this competition for amateur or professional photographers?
This competition is for amateur photographers only. The definition for professional photographers in this context is photographers who make money from their photography or their photography skills (e.g. photography teachers).

Is there a time frame during which the image must have been taken?
Yes – you can submit current images which have been produced in 2023.

What are the age categories for this year’s competition?
There are three categories for this year’s Spring in the Shire:

  • Junior – up to 12 years
  • Young Adult – 13 to 17 years
  • Adult – 18 years and older

How much does it cost to be part of Spring in the Shire competition?
It is free to enter Spring in the Shire - there are no entry fees. There will be no exhibition costs for those entries that are shortlisted for this year’s exhibition.

What is a photo essay? 
A photographic essay is a form of visual storytelling - a way to present a narrative or event through a series of images. A photo essay uses a photo or photographs and words to convey emotion and understanding within the viewer.

For this competition we would like you to submit up to 100 words to accompany your image. This can be a description of the species pictured, the habitat it was taken in or what issues you have sought to highlight. These 100 words could be an artist statement, or in essay form too - and you could also submit a poem, a song lyric or a diary entry to accompany your photo.

How many images can we submit?
Only one image can accompany the text.

Do you have any guidelines on post-processing? Are digital adjustments allowed?
Digital adjustments are allowed, and we encourage you to use your post-processing skills.  We have no rules about what can be done to an image as so long as it was originally captured on a photographic device. 
Entries will be shortlisted by participants of Golden Plains Shire Council’s Youth programs and Council officers. Thirty entries across all age categories will be selected for shortlisting.

These entries will go to our judging panel, who will select the prize winners for each category. The thirty shortlisted entries will also become our Spring in the Shire exhibition, which will tour throughout the Shire during 2023-24.  

Who is on the judging panel?

  • Cr Helena Kirby, Golden Plains Shire Council
  • Dr Li Ping Thong, RMIT
  • Dr Sean Loughrey, Deakin University

Is the judging anonymous? If so, how?
Our judging system replaces photographers' names with an ID number so the judges never see the photographers' name. We also remove any image with a water mark or name from judging.

When will the finalists and prize-winners be informed?
The thirty finalists and major prize-winners will be advised by email and/or phone before November 2023. Winners will not be made public until the official Twilight Market event opening on December 14, 2023, at the Bannockburn Cultural Centre.

Do I get to decide on the size and material my photographs are printed on for the exhibition?
Unfortunately, no - but we will print your photo on high quality paper and take care when framing and presenting your photo for exhibition.

When are the winners announced?
The winners are announced at the Exhibition Launch for the Spring in the Shire Photographic Essay Competition on 14 December 2023 during the Twilight Market in Bannockburn.

Do I need to be at the Spring in the Shire Photographic Essay Competition Exhibition Launch?
If you are a winner or finalist, you do not need to attend the exhibition launch, however it is a great occasion to network with other finalists and enjoy the Twilight Market. If you are a prize winner and can’t make the event, we will make other arrangements for you to receive your prize. 

Terms and Conditions

Golden Plains Shire Council invites amateur photographers of any skill level, who reside in Golden Plains Shire, to submit a photographic image representing Photo[synthesis] to be considered for a prize in the 2023 Spring in the Shire Photographic Essay Competition. 

The Spring in the Shire photography competition is an opportunity for photographers from across the Shire to showcase their talents by capturing the beautiful surrounds and vibrant communities of Golden Plains. 

This year’s competition theme Photo[synthesis], which has an environmental focus and photographers of any skill level are encouraged to capture this theme through their lens. 
The competition encourages photographers to capture the Golden Plains Shire environment through their lens.  Entries must be taken within the Shire. The photograph must be submitted along with a title and 100 words that describe the content of the image - to be displayed alongside the image submitted.
All submitted images and text will become the property of Golden Plains Shire and may be used in publications, online or on display in relation to the Spring in the Shire competition, Council’s 2040 Vision project or other Council activity. All images reproduced by Council will be credited to the artist.

Golden Plains Shire Council (Council) reserves the right to reproduce, distribute, display and create derivative works of the entries in any media now or hereafter known and also publish all entries on its website.

There is no entry fee.  

There are no exhibition costs.

Only one image per artist is allowed. 

Shortlisted entries will become part of the Spring in the Shire 2023 exhibition.
Thirty entries will be shortlisted across all age categories, their photograph will be printed on high quality photography paper for the exhibition.

Entries are to be submitted in a high quality (print quality) JPEG format via the online competition portal on and no greater than 20MB in size. 

The competition closes at 5pm on Friday 3 November, no late entries will be considered. 

The entrant warrants that all entries submitted are their original work and taken within the Golden Plains Shire. 

The entrant warrants that the submitted works have been produced in the last 12 months. 

Entries that do not conform to the entry requirements or are deemed unacceptable, inappropriate or otherwise as determined by Council Officers will be disqualified. 

The entrant understands that Council as managers of the “Spring in the Shire” competition has the final say. No correspondence will be entered into. 
Golden Plains Shire Staff and immediate family members are ineligible to apply. 

All Entrants will be advised on the outcome of the selection process via email.
The information you enter on the entry form may be used in a catalogue, on artwork labels and social media – so please ensure this information is accurate, appropriate and interesting.

Council will display the name of the shortlisted and prizewinning entrant along with the photo, with the 100-word accompaniment and the title of entry on its websites, exhibitions and in other locations where the works are shown.

All other personal information is collected and handled in line with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.

Rate this page

Is this page useful?