Photography News | Issue 36 | absolutephoto.com
Before the Judge
Each month, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences. This month we speak to David Gibbins who’s been judging since the 80s David Gibbins
DavidGibbins David Gibbins is the judges and lecturers secretary for the North & East Midlands Photographic Federation (N&EMPF) Executive Committee, and he is also chairman of PAGB Patronage on the PAGB Executive. He has been judging since 1983, graduating through the N&EMPF senior list to the PAGB list. Years in photography Photography has been my main hobby for over 35 years. It is not just ‘taking pictures’ as I get even more enjoyment from the camaraderie of being a member of a camera club, and visiting clubs as a judge and speaker as well as helping clubs through my active involvement on the N&EMPF Executive. Home club Beeston (Notts) Camera Club. I have recently had the honour of being made president. Favourite camera I don’t have a favourite camera. My workhorse camera is a Canon EOS 60D. Favourite lens My 75-300mm zoom is the one I use most. Favourite photographers I don’t have one specific favourite photography; over the years there are many I’ve admired. When I first got into photographer I started in landscape and I was influenced by Colin Baxter. Favourite subject I still have a soft spot for landscape work, but I like all genres. Awards ARPS, APAGB, EFIAP/bronze and BPE4*
My reward from judging is seeing good pictures. I have also learnt so much from visiting different clubs and different federations over the years that I may not have learnt if I had not gone out judging. I enjoy all judging events whether at the smallest club or the largest club and the different exhibitions and salons. Perhaps the most rewarding experience was when I was an adjudicator at the Awards for Photographic Merit at Keyworth in November 2014 when four photographers gained their MPAGB. Personally I believe the general standard of photography has increased over the 30 years I have been judging. Overall the technical side has greatly improved. In my opinion the standard of amateur photography in the UK is very high. The UK has done extremelywell at club level and PAGB level in recent FIAP World Cups and Biennials. Some of the best work in the UK can be seen at the PAGB Inter- Club PDI and Print Championships. In all my exhibition judging I have never been frustrated with my fellow panel members. There will always be occasions where one of us will score highly and another panel member will score low for a specific image. That is the benefit of having a panel. Sometimes when it comes to awards compromise may be required, but given that we have all scored highly for that image it is no major issue, and many exhibitions have a judge’s personal award. I prefer the spontaneity of cold judging as I see the images at the same time as the audience and can enjoy the impact with them. During the course of a season I see many images I consider outstanding. For me the skill, as a judge, is to try and articulate why the image works forme. The emotional response canbe very strong but for another person the imagemay not work as well.
From a technical perspective there is a tendency to oversharpen or overprocess images. Many images suffer from poor use of lighting; for landscapes this is often because the picture was taken under flat lighting conditions. Some images could be improved by selective cropping to simplify the image. The rule of thirds is a good guideline, especially for beginners. Many images are enhanced by the use of thirds. However, I have seen stunning images where all rules are broken, so from a judging perspective it is important to be open-minded. An ordinary snapshot could mean many things to many judges. There are some locations I see several times in a season and some interpretations workbetter than others, oftenbecause of lighting conditions, a slightly different viewpoint, and different exposure times. In a club competition if there are two very similar images I often compare them together to explainwhyoneworks better than the other.Ihaveyettofindanimagewhere I can’t find something positive to say, although sometimes it is difficult. There are a number of techniques or styles of photography that one could easily get fed up with. However at club level it is crucial to evaluate each picture against others in the competition and not to express any prejudices. If it is a good picture and conveys themessage it shoulddowell. It is not easy to stand up and analyse images in front of anaudience. This all comes with experience and knowledge and I am sure many judges might have done or said
Words by David Gibbins
I have been judging at camera club level for over 30years and I amhappy to travel anywhere. As well as visiting clubs I have undertaken taped and written judging for many clubs who do not have easy access to judges within the PAGB area. I have judged many exhibitions, my latest is the 2016Midland Salon. In the early 80s I volunteered to be a judge with the North & East Midlands Photographic Federation. I wanted to give something back to the federation and other clubs as I had called upon the services of lecturers and judges at my own club. I graduated quite quickly from the Federation’s supplementary judges list and eventually was honoured and delighted to be appointed to the Photographic Alliance list of judges. I always find judging rewarding. I sincerely hope I provide constructive feedback but that is for clubs to comment upon. I always try and find something positive to say about a picture and where I think improvements could be made, then makethesuggestionssympathetically.
something differently, especially in their early days of judging. I mention this because the judge who comes maybe just starting out. Alternatively, some judges are not always aware of current trends. I recognise that some judges seem unduly harsh or let personal dislikes influence their marking but the majority do a very good constructive job. It is important to recognise we all have different likes and dislikes; the best judges are thosewhocanevaluate every picture and allow the audience to understand how they came to their conclusion. Of course not everybody is open to criticism. My advice to potential entrants is to see as many exhibitions as possible as this will give them a general idea of the standard required and the type of image that is getting awards. From personal experience that some of my images are more successful overseas. Regardless of trends, excellent images will succeed. My recommendation would be to keep the image simple and ensure that it is the best quality possible, even more sowith prints. My advice to potential entrants is to see as many exhibitions as possible
What do you think?
Have you seen a photographic judge at work who you’d like to see profiled in Photography News ? If so please drop us a line to opinion@photography- news.co.uk with the judge’s name and, if possible, their contact details.
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