Photography News Issue 24 absolutephoto.com
Before the Judge
Each issue, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences. This month, we hear from international judge Brian Hopper
Words by Brian Hopper
Like many others I gravitated to judging when I proved I could produce good images; in other words when I walked the walk. I started, like most, by judging within my local club and then I was requested to judge in other clubs. I have been involved in assessing distinction panels at every level and consider this element of judging a considerable honour and a huge contribution to my overall experience. I regard it as a privilege to be asked to judge other photographers’ work. At some stage the success I attained was noticed by others and as a consequence I have been lucky to have been invited to judge international salons. I have judged online and in other countries and enjoy the process immensely. When someone approaches you after a competition and comments that as a judge you were very fair, you can consider you have done a good job. Club photographic competitions can be the seedbed of improvements inamateurphotographybutconstant effort must be made to expand the knowledge base by entering national and international competitions because club photography can easily become confined in technique and style. Amateur photography is generally very healthy and is open to many new techniques. In general, amateurs are not restricted in technique or subject and as such tend to experiment in their image making. I don’t mind how an image is made as long as it works. In general, many judges are open to the views of other judges and it is important to air your viewpoint when judging as a member of a panel. The result of judging is a balanced and collective result; the viewpoint of each member must be taken into account and the result should not be influenced unduly by any one member. My fear in judging an image is that I don’t or can’t understand what the author
BrianHopper Not just an international
photography judge, Brian is also a competitor with one of his most impressive achievements to date being his print coming top at the 2012 PSA (Photographic Society of America) conference, an invitation only event that he was invited to because of his PSA Gold Medal in an international salon. Years in photography I have been interested in photography for some 45 years. Home club Not attached to any club at present Favourite photo accessories My Lee filter kit and my Benbo 2 tripod Favourite photographic subject or technique I have concentrated over the last year on seascape photography, in particular sunrises and sunsets. Awards I have attained some 2700 acceptances with just over 350 awards in international salons and, if asked, I would have to say the 18 FIAP Blue Badges (Best Author in an international salon) would occupy pride of place in my awards collection. Favourite camera My trusted Nikon D3 Favourite lens The Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8
is trying to get across. I think experience comes into play here; the more you see, the more you understand or learn to appreciate. It’s always a pleasure to look at work which demonstrates a high technical ability or indeed work which breaks new ground. A technically good image should always gain an acceptance. Those images which portray emotion and indicate a strong personal approach or input from the photographer will always attain success. It is most important that each photographer is true to themself and their own photography. I say this because some photographers end up very frustrated when they feel it necessary to follow trends in photography and try to cater for the tastes of particular judges. Too many photographers over- engineer images both at the taking stage and in post-processing. In landscapes or seascapes, many
photographers try to control the dynamic range by balancing the light and controlling the exposure. Many photographers use multiple exposures or reverse grad filters to control the light from the sun but they can inadvertently cause the image to look unnatural. The sun should be the brightest part of the image and can be catered for within an image with careful post-processing. Understanding the capabilities of your camera is extremely important when considering dynamic range. My particular pet hate is the over sharpening of images. Every image requires sharpening and the trick is to know what amount is correct for any particular image. HDR is another pet hate, especially when it is overdone. We have all seen images ruined by unnatural, near psychedelic rendering of colours. Maximising the dynamic range within an image – whilst keeping it natural – is one of the most important aspects when post-processing in landscape or seascape photography. One of the highlights of my judging career has to be the 7th
International Photographic Salon Varna when I was appointed the chairman of the judges; this I consider a singular honour as the organisers placed a high level of trust in my ability to implement the standards of the international bodies, which accredited that salon. Last year Iwas invited to judge in the 1st International Salon of Print and Digital Art Photography Varna and was again appointed the chairman of the judges. My background, experience and theawardsIhaveattainedallprovide me with the tools to judge the images produced by other photographers. I believe judges have to prove themselves by walking the walk and by being prepared to constantly challenge themselves by placing their work for others to judge. I feel it is very important to treat the work of other photographers with the same respect you would expect for your own images. An encouraging critique, even if critical, will help more than negative comments, a trait that is too common in the judgment of photographs.
Top Boat at sunrise. Right Raphaella’s dance.
It is important that each photographer is true to themself and their photography
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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