SPEAKERS’ CORNER Who do you shoot for?
Del Barrett ARPS’s piece in way back in PN3 took Gallery Photogroup chairman Colin Hugill even further back to his first competition experiences in camera clubs, bringing into question the impact of a judge’s opinion
Words by Colin Hugill
Reading Del Barrett’s article in an earlier issue of PN , in which she describes her experiences with camera club competitions and judges, reminded me so much of my first venture into club competitions. It was back in the days of prints from film and transparencies and when the only manipulation I could do at that time was to mask my slides with strips of tinfoil. I didn’t initially plan on entering competitions when I first joined my club, Gallery Photogroup, but after a great deal of thought and encouragement from my fellow members, I put together an entry. Competition night arrived and I sat waiting for the judge to pass comment. We were allowed to enter a total of four prints and four 35mm slides – at the time I didn’t have the know-how or equipment to produce prints, so I just put forward four slides. As many other clubs did, our entries were marked out of 30, and as I sat waiting for the first of mine to be shown, I could feel myself getting very nervous. Experienced photographers were receiving marks in the high 20s and I was fearing the worst. Eventually the first of my slides came on screen. It was a study of Himalayan balsam, a plant in full bloom, and I had gone in close and framed just a small section of it. Our judge was very complimentary and he went on to praise my techniques and camera skills, scoring me 28. As you can imagine, I was jumping for joy inside and most of my fears had gone. As the evening went on, two more of my slides were well received, both gaining respectable scores. I was feeling quite confident, I’d had three good results, one of which was the 28, which was going to give me third place, and in my opinion the best of my images was yet to come. This is when the wheels fell off.
I still hear people say that a judgewouldnot like this or that and to some that would be enoughnot to take the shot, which I think is a shame
images that came first, second and third, as well as any highly commended pictures. This makes a more relaxed competition atmosphere for everyone, and the evenings have been very successful. I still hear people say that a judge would not like this or that and to some that would be enough not to take the shot, which I think is a shame. Photography is a hobby to be enjoyed by everyone, and as individuals we all see things differently; this has to be reflected in how we view and produce images. If competitions are to feature in a camera club’s programme, then yes, they do need to be judged so that there is a winner, but I don’t think entrants should always stick to what might be perceived as a ‘safe entry’. To avoid running the risk of becoming clones, we should be honest with ourselves and each other. Don’t be afraid to show the images that are outside the box and reflect your style as a photographer.
My fourth and final image came on screen and although I was impressed with it, the judge was not. The image was of Durham Cathedral taken from down by the river. The judge went on to criticise it for lack of imagination and creativity and also used an expression I had never heard before, accusing me of ‘using tripod holes’. I found this very confusing, because at the time I did not have a tripod. After his comments I was awarded 15 points and brought back down with a bump. All this happened in about 1987 but it didn’t put me off. I’ve been taking part in competitions ever since, even to the point of becoming a judge myself in the mid-nineties. I think competitions play a big part in any camera club’s programme and they help to improve an entrant’s skills and technique. We don’t just listen to the remarks given about our own images, we have the rest of the group’s entries to glean information from. We may not always agree with the comments of our guest judges, and there will be occasions when positive remarks will be made, however one point is always stressed to the members of our camera club, and that is: we do not take pictures to please judges. A few years ago we decided, as a club, to move away from the points systemand just have our judge come along to deliver his comments on our work, after which we would ask the judge to announce the
IMAGES Despite his unnerving first foray into the competition world, Colin still continues to enter competitions, taking the photos that he likes and not the ones he thinks will please the judges.
π To find out more about Gallery Photogroup, go to www.galleryphotogroup.co.uk.
WHATDOYOUTHINK? Do you appreciate criticism as well as praise from a judge? Or do you trust your own instinct when it comes to what works with your images? Whatever your stance, let us know your thoughts at opinion@ photography-news.co.uk.
Photography News | Issue 15
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