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.

Handicap is just a word.

Don’t do what you do not like – Period

Why one need to do what they cannot hold upon? In my case, it is photography. The answer is really simple. You don’t know what you are really capable of unless you try doing it. But your instincts or inner gut have somehow already know it.

Life Quote

Last week, I have attended one of my friend’s wedding. She is friendly, well matured and a good communicator. When I was working, we both were working together in a project where she would be able to make friends wherever she just walks in. But to me, it was her the only one friend. During that time, I was losing interest in the project and the work itself  for many reasons –  one reason was my immediate superior being a highly incompetent person. It was a sin to work under an incompetent person. Despite having many personal reasons to continue my work there, I started thinking about pursuing photography which I am doing it often then and now. And it was a call from my heart  – I should mention it here, some gut feeling, often my mind stays in photography.


I placed my resignation letter, the formalities were completed and I started pursuing photography as I wished. Similar to any startups or any creative person’s initial days, I have also faced turbulence in running it for living. Now have extended my photography to all commercial avenues, including candid Weddings, Industrial shoots, Facilities, Fashion, Fine art and I have also started conducting Photography workshops, Lightroom workshops etc. Now planning to open my own studio soon, waiting for the funds to flow in. More importantly, I can fix a routine to my work.


Now coming back to the friend’s wedding, I met another friend who was working on the other project then. She was interested in music & singing and had performed on stages at small level. Her mind was always in music, not in the excel sheets. In the wedding she came to me and said – “I also quit my job, got a scholarship in music course, going to full time music class to upgrade myself and you are the inspiration for me to quit my job”. I felt like I had no words to say anything to her. As it was a wedding hall, I kept myself quite with all my energies, and just said “All the very best for your future”. Though I had not achieved much except few wonderful photographs and really worth friends,  I am not doing what I do not like. I think not doing what you do not like is more important than doing what you like to do. Because you might not have come across the thing which might blow your head yet, so stop doing what you don’t like. Start exploring. After all, it’s your life. 🙂

When I was driving back home, I told my wife “I have inspired one and I am proud of it”.