On the circuit The Trierenberg Super Circuit is one of the globe’s biggest andmost competitive salons and to win an award is something a great many photographers aspire to. PN’s editorWill Cheung was one of this year’s selectors and he brings us this exclusive fly-on-the-wall report Competitions JUDGING
Words by Will Cheung
The Trierenberg Super Circuit (TSC) has been going for 22 years (it started life as the Austrian Super Circuit) and is one of the biggest photographic competitions in the world. This year I was the sole UK representative on the selection panel that comprised 12 accomplished photographers from ten countries. Chris Hinterobermaier, the organiser of the TSC, had divided the 12 selectors into four judging salons and each would view the same set of pictures over the weekend. At first appearance that might seem odd, but given that each salon comprised photographers of different disciplines and tastes it was highly unlikely that each salon would come up with the same winning pictures. Viewed another way, it gives the entrants a greater chance of gaining acceptances. I was judging in Salon 1 with Gabriela Staebler, a German professional wildlife photographer who shoots mostly in Africa and whose work has been published in the National Geographic magazine as well as in books and calendars. The third member of the panel was Abdul Obeidan Fakhroo from Qatar, organiser of another well-known photographic salon, the Al Thani, which is judged in the same building as the TSC. My salon was being judged on the Saturday and with thousands of images to look at, the day got off to a very early start. Before judging started Chris gave us a briefing: “Salon 1 starts with the prints and Salon 2 with the projected digital images (PDI). You vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Only images that get three ‘yes’ votes will get through to the next stage and you’ll see those again. From these you will pick gold, silver and bronze medal winners – that’s all.” As judging formats go, it seemed pretty straightforward, but only having three prizes to dish out can produce tension within a panel of judges. More awards to share out can make things more harmonious because there are more chances to compromise. Three award winners means it could be an interesting day, but Chris had more: “In Salon 1 I want Gabi to pick her favourite picture for a selector’s award from the colour prints. Abdul you pick your favourite from the mono print section and Will, you choose from the PDI section. That’s it! Let’s start.” Not much more detail was needed because all the selectors had done a TSC before – this was my third time. Having a few more awards to give out would perhaps cut down the chance of judges squabbling. We started with the prints and with a team of helpers we began with the monochrome section and a big pile awaited us. Many were mounted in mattes, many were flush mounted but the majority weren’t
– making an educated guess from the content of the images, I’d say these were from the Far East. But of course we were judging image content so presentation was not a consideration here. Print quality varied. Many lab-produced prints seemed less punchy with weaker blacks but this was only a quick impression because there was no time to linger on each image. It is impossible to overstress how precious little time an image has to make an impression to get a yes vote. By the way, this isn’t peculiar to the TSC – selecting images for most salons and contests is the same. It is the only way you can get through the large number of entries.
Photography News | Issue 8
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