I thought I would write a post from a different angle in order to stimulate more responses from hobbyists. I used to be an avid aquascaper, producing aquascapes regularly in order to improve my skills. Today I have a lot less time to be aquascaping even though that is what my business revolves around (kind of ironic isn't it?!).
Most of my time is taken up dealing with the everyday running of the business, providing advice and assistance to customers and ordering goods, sourcing new products etc. But I'm trying to make a bit more time in my day so I can dip my arm back into the water and start scaping. I've even got a brand new ADA tank and cabinet which sits empty and looks very sad at the moment...
But the point of this post is to reach out to you guys and find out what you think of the planted aquarium market today.
Recently the International Aquascaping Contest took place where hobbyists from around the world were invited to send in pictures of their planted aquariums in order for them to be judged and compared to other competitors. Now this is always a great competition and the standard continues to rise every year. I rarely agree with the winners and often think many of the lower ranked scapes are much better but, beauty is in the eye of the beholder (something for another blog post...). But what really got me about the results was the number of British scapers who submitted their aquascapes and were listed in the top 1000 - I could count them on one hand and found that actually quite sad (in a melancholic way). So I've been racking my brains thinking about and wondering why more UK scapers don't actually scape. Perhaps it's one of the below:
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of skill
- Lack of inclination
- Lack of time
- Lack of money
Is it any of these or is it something else? What I do know is that aquascaping skills are not sufficient and photography skills need to be right at the top too if you're going to win any decent prize. Have a look at top UK Scaper Mark Evans - some of this tanks are truly incredible and he won the top British award. Check this out:
A truly incredible position and rightly deserved too. Mark's photography skill is as impressive as his aquasapes and this helps to enhance his scapes. If his photography skills were not where they were today (and lets say he had a poor quality camera), I wonder how this would have effected his aquascaping? Maybe he would have been forced to discover the art of photography in order to pursue his passion of planted aquarium and maybe that's what more people need to do in the UK...? Camera technology improves all the time and the price comes down but sometimes if you see the lights and camera equipment involved that Mark uses, it can look rather daunting.
So I asked this same question on Twitter and @pfkeditor tweeted back - Brits like to critise and not get involved. I think there's a lot of truth in that and wondered if that would ever change. In order for us to improve as a nation we have to be more encouraging and less critical. Yes it's easy to criticise particularly sat on your sofa with the laptop next to you. But this isn't helping our unique hobby and we need to be more encouraging to everyone, let people make mistakes and we can all learn together. Lets face it you don't even need that much money to get you going either. You can buy a small tank and maybe 6-7 pots of aquarium plants, lighting, filtration and a CO2 set and you're away. What you do need is drive and determination because if you're going to make a go of it, you'll need lots of drive, you'll have to be able to take criticism and move on.
I would really love to hear what you guys think about this subject. What is is that holds you back. What would make you consider entering competitions and why do you think other hobbyists are a little camera shy?