Photography News Issue 32

Photography News | Issue 32 | absolutephoto.com

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Profile

Before the Judge

Biography

Each month, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences. This month we hear fromMalcolmRapier who has 25 years of judging experience MalcolmRapier

Words by MalcolmRapier

All my judging experience has been at local club/society level, where I have judged internal competitions, club exhibitions and inter-club battles. I have been judging for in excess of 25 years. I consider local clubs and societies to be the backbone of photography. This is where, with encouragement and advice, photographers can hone skills and go on to greater things. In some ways I fell into judging almost by accident. As a competition secretary interacting with judges, I had my own views as to what constituted a ‘good’ judge. I thought that I should perhaps know a bit more about this judging lark. I attended a judges’ workshop, organised by my club's federation, to see if my thinking accorded with what was considered good practice. A short while later a local club asked me to judge a competition for them and I was on my way. In our area there is a local contact group for programme secretaries. Apparently before too long my name had been passed around as a ‘new judge’ and things went on from there. Things have continued in much the same way. There is a nucleus of clubs that I have returned to many times over the years and new ones are always being added. Judging can be very rewarding – for me it is all about ‘giving something back’. Over the years I have learnt a great deal from some very good and supportive judges. I hope that some of what I have learnt I am now able to pass on to others. It is rewarding when somebody comes up to you at the end of an evening and says 'thank you – I would not have thought of that and it will help me no end'. To return to the same club and be told 'thanks to your encouragement I applied and gained an award' is very heartening. I consider judging to be more acting as a ‘critical friend’ rather

MalcolmRapier Malcolm Rapier has been a member of Edmonton Camera Club for 35 years and has been judging for 25 years. Years in photography I have been involved with photography one way or another for more years than I care to remember. My first experiences came through learning the rudiments at an after-school club when just a pupil. Home club My wife and I have been members of Edmonton Camera Club since 1981. I am a Past President of the Club and we have served as Competition Secretaries for many years. During that time we have organised many Club competitions and exhibitions. We are therefore well versed in what judges expect and what is needed to make an evening go well. Favourite camera My earliest camera was a Zenith E. My current favourite camera is the Canon EOS 7D Mark II which does everything that I want. Favourite lens My Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 -II zoom – it’s great for sport. I have recently acquired a Canon 24- 105mm f/4 IS lens, which I am also enjoying getting used to. Favourite photo accessories I frequently have the need to use my Manfrotto monopod when out at sports events. I also find that a bin liner comes in very handy when you want to sit on damp grass without getting a wet bum! Favourite photographers So many to choose from. Eamonn McCabe a brilliant sports photographer but so much more. Irene Froy for her amazing ‘seeing eye’ and delicate images. Favourite subject I’m willing to give most things a go but I derive the greatest pleasure from sports photography. Awards I regularly enter images in national exhibitions (BPE), international exhibitions and salons (FIAP) and I have been fortunate to have been awarded distinctions and awards. In addition to my ARPS, I currently have the AFIAP award (hopefully the EFAIP in June when ratified), a CPAGB and a 3* BPE rating.

than acting as a dictator as to what’s right and wrong. You really have to respect that somebody has taken the time, trouble and expense to present their work to you. They deserve a fair appraisal. I feel that the overall standard of pictures can be very variable and differs from club to club. Clearly in some clubs there is fierce competition for the top slot. I feel that in many cases photographers would benefit from exposure to competition in a wider arena than only their own club. Entering work for external and international exhibitions has been an individual challenge for me. However, it has made me take stock, to really take notice of what is out there and strive to improve. By and large I feel the standard of amateur photography in theUK to be very good and continuing to improve. One only has to look at the number of acceptances and awards that authors from the UK gain in international exhibitions. There is a strong body

of photographers flying the flags of the home nations. I believe that UK photographers are less stereotypical than those of some other countries. They seem more willing to embrace a wider range of imagery. As a result we have acknowledged leaders in all fields of our hobby. I have never been lost for words when confronted by an entry. My background and career was spent as a lecturer and senior collegemanager – such people tend not to be lost for words! However, one sometimes does have to be guarded in what one says. It is not always best to say the first thing that comes into your head, whatever that may be! Sometimes one does see an entry that is quite exceptional. On such occasions I have invited the audience just to pause a moment and really appreciate what is in front of them. Needless to say my comment on such occasions is ‘I really wish that I had taken that’. Three things spring to mind when I think of the biggest or most common failings. The first is simply that the author has not been self- critical enough. If you think that you have done all you can to an image leave it a couple of days and then have another look. In my experience if you think that something needs cropping or cloning out then deal with it. If you don’t that will be the first thing that the judge will say

when they see it. When you return to an image it is surprising how often you might say to yourself ‘how did I miss that?’ Another bugbear for me is authors doing things because they can and not doing things because it enhances the image. There are a host of plug-ins and other devices out there. Remember, the sliders don’t always have to be pushed as hard over as they will go. I have seen too many harsh, gritty, over contrasty, oversharpened, monochrome images. Mind you I have also seen more than my fair share of mono work that is as flat as a pancake. Some seem to think converting any colour image to mono is a panacea – it is not. The final thing is presentation. Judges shouldnotmarkpresentation but without doubt it is part of the overall package that influences. Heavy, contrasting and brightly coloured borders with projected images can be a great distraction. My advice to be successful – enter! If you don’t enter you can’t win. If there is a set theme or subject apply yourself to the task at hand. Above all else – don’t be discouraged, if the judge doesn’t think that your image is brilliant, listen to the comments, take them on board, think about them and come back again. It is only by striving to improve that one actually does improve.

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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