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Measuring up

February 02, 2014  •  2 Comments

It's that time of year again, last weekend was the annual camera club awards dinner and this year I was pleased to collect two trophies, one for best colour print and the other for digital projected image. Admittedly that's one less than last year but as they're both quite large there wouldn't have been room for a third on the shelf!

It's nice to win but club competitions always leave me in two minds. On one hand I'm fairly competitive so I enjoy entering and seeing what people think of my photography, on the other hand I question whether it's worth the effort. Yes it can be disappointing if a judge doesn't rate your image highly, or frustrating if a photo is misinterpreted but it's not just that, I wonder what does winning or losing actually prove?

Does winning a competition make you the best photographer? Of course not. So what is it a measure of? Not a lot really, just that someone qualified to judge photos happened to like your photo the best on that day... on another day with another judge it could (or almost certainly would) have been someone else's print that won. It doesn't even make you the best photographer on that particular day really because it's just one persons opinion.

Ok there are certain elements in a photograph that judges assess to decide how good a photo is but that's just a reflection of how good a camera club competition photo it is as obviously with something so subjective there is no best, no good or bad just different opinions. So it's best not to get too smug in victory or too deflated if you don't do so well.

So how do you take a competition winning photo? Don't even try is my advice! Taking photos for your own enjoyment is far more rewarding than taking them to try and please somebody else, (especially as you've no idea exactly what that other person might be looking for). if a judge happens to like a photo that you've created and are particularly proud of then isn't that all the more satisfying?


Dawn Black(non-registered)
I agree wholeheartedly that you should shoot for yourself and that if others like what you do it is a bonus. It can be a boost to have others reward your images but that should not be the sole reason for creating.

At the club I attend in The Netherlands the monthly challenges are peer judged with each member ranking their favourite 5 images of those submitted 1 (worth 5 points) to 5 (worth 1 point) and those with the most points winning. This way it is not one person's subjective opinion that is judging the images.
Mara Acoma(non-registered)
I think you have to take them with a pinch of salt. I've attended competition nights where the judges have been wonderful, witty and informative. Also seen them be rude, ignorant and boring. Now I just treat them as an evening out for a discussion on photos. :)
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Justin Minns is a part time photographer whose award winning landscapes have been widely published.



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