Photography Contests – What a participant is expecting?

As a participant – a photography contest is expected to be a fairly judged place where the very same act must enable all the participants (including the winners) to excel further in their chosen hobby/passion/profession.

But in the recent contest I have participated, I have been selected for portfolio review (supposed to be the pre-final level) where they were supposed to look at the best images from all the participants. The judging panel consists of two local photographers who happened to be photographing for long time (decades!). The reason is that they are holding some senior positions in a local photography community or they are senior photographers! The chief judge is the highlight of the judging panel, he is a technical consultant for that optics company. He is a technically loaded person, he can talk about anything from white balance, sensors, pixels, RGB values, Colours, Colour theory, CMYK, Printing nuances, anything inside the camera and anything on the photograph technically. The other side of this gentleman is he take/took no decent photograph.

Even if he (or for that matter the whole judging panel) would have shot excellent photographs, it was not anywhere in the public medium, not in social media, not in any websites, nowhere.  It is better if the judges were known proven photographers so that the meaning for the contest is intact. If a contest has been conducted as ritual formalities, there is no point in it.

The whole day review was a nightmare, where every photograph from all the participants were analysed/checked for technical qualities, tonal values, checked with the crop tool (I do agree with the crop tool that it is a second opportunity to recompose your decent photograph, check this article I have wrote a year back!) and checked for horizon tilt (If there was a blunder, it should not have been selected in the earlier round itself). They also talked about Histogram, ETTR, colour spaces etc., all technicals. Portfolio reviews are not supposed to discuss about crop, horizon tool. These tools were supposed to be discussed at an amateur level and less than that. It is a place where a good photograph should be selected which could easily be agreed by almost all of the participants. No participant comes with a mindset that his/her’s is the best work. But all the participants needs to be convinced that the selected photograph is better than his/her’s.

I have following questions pertain to the contest.

  1. Why the contests have been highly aligned towards technical stuffs? This photographical world is already been dodged with lots of technical stuffs. Why a contest needs to be aligned in that way?
  2. Why the judging panel is not having a decent/known photographer? Or the contest is not been intended to bring out the talented people out there? The objective is not clear or it is just a formality.
  3. If a contest been conducted in a fair manner, why the judges profile have not been revealed? – if he/she is not much known to the outer world.

In an other earlier event organised by Behance, few photographs of mine were chosen by the judging panel, taken printout and the hardcopies were about to be reviewed by “Yannick cormier”. Yannick did reviewed, but unfortunately for that particular event, I was not able to participate. I had made some earlier commitments on those dates and I was unable to dodge those commitments or postpone them. I literally missed an opportunity to meet the great photographer.

Honestly speaking, this article is not meant to hurt anyone or to offend anyone. The only intention is to make better competitions, healthy discussions, cultivate better talents and teach people. Make the competition healthier, hygienic – a more better planet to live altogether.

Finally a fair and nice article about participating in photographic competitions.

A quick update here

There was one gentle man in the judging panel, during my portfolio review he said – This photograph is an excellent composition. I don’t know whether this words have been heard by the chief judge! but just wanted to put it in this post that he did talked about composition and photography. Atleast one man was there to talk about photography.


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