Photography News | Issue 33 | absolutephoto.com
Before the Judge
Each month, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences. This month we speak to multi-award winner and judge Roger Parry Roger Parry ARPS
Words by Roger Parry ARPS
I have won many medals over the years but my success in gaining the MPAGB Award pleased me most as it is a tough call and not many have achieved it since its introduction. I joined Smethwick Photographic Society as a schoolboy, around 50 years ago and I have been a member ever since. I became president for the first time at 21 and still continue to be the general secretary, a post I have held for most of my time in the club. I am an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and served on the Licentiate distinctions panel for many years. I am an EFIAP and have recently been awarded an ESFIAP for my services to FIAP. I am an MPAGB, for my photography, and an HonPAGB for my services to club photography. Photography has always played a big part in my life and becoming a judge and a lecturer was for me the way of giving something back to the camera club world. I started to judge on the local camera club circuit, progressing to inter clubs and local exhibitions, from this I moved on to federation, national and international exhibitions. With internationals, I have been fortunate enough to judge
Roger ParryARPS With numerous awards to his name and over 50 years in photography, Roger Parry has judged competitions in both the UK and abroad. Years in photography Over 50 years in photography. Home club Smethwick Photographic Society. RPS member. (Has served on the Favourite lens Canon 18-135mm Favourite photo accessories Studio flash Favourite subject Portraiture and fine art nude Awards ARPS, MPAGB, EFIAP, ESFIAP, HonPAGB L distinctions panel) Favourite camera Canon EOS 6D
in the UK and abroad in Portugal, Malta and Holland. Bearing in mind thatScotland,IrelandandSouthWales are considered as separate countries by international photographic organisations, I have done those too. I am a member of the PAGB executive and chair its judges sub- committee, where we select the judges for PAGB competitions and distinctions. The committee also considers nominations for inclusion of federation level judges, in the PAGB list. When I am judging at club level, I try to be as constructive as possible, because I think it is important to try to give information that helps the photographer improve their work. Never be dismissive, it is important to always find something, however small, that is good about the picture. Give praise where it is due, not a constant stream of criticism. I often hear comments that the last judge just described the picture, without saying how it could be improved. It is not fair to have pet likes and dislikes, as a judge you should give consideration to all genres. Although often asked to, I see very little value in giving marks to pictures, the exception being inter club competitions. Whilst there is no problem in awarding the high marks to the best pictures in the section, giving low marks to the less successful pictures is often off putting to the entrant and discourages them entering future competitions. The other problem is that all of the other pictures that lie in the middle ground then get similar marks to each other, this problem is made worse the larger the entry. Add to this the competition secretary who tells you that marks are out of 20, but please don’t give
anything under 14. Clubs will say that theywant marks so that members can see if they are improving, but because photography is subjective and not all judges think the same way this can be misleading. I know from personal experience that the same piece of work can have very different scores depending on a) the judge’s tastes and b) the quality of the rest of the work when judged in another competition. I am usually very pleased with the work at the top end of club competitions, but I do see a great variation between clubs and this not always related to clubsize. Sometimes clubs have very restrictive rules, which can stifle creativity. I think more encouragement should be given get photographers to thinkoutside the box, thereby breathing new life into club photography. When judging pictures, I often wish photographers would spend a little more time in considering the finishing touches to their work. You can make a picture look so much better if you clone out eye catching highlights and other unwanted intrusions, however, If the picture is being entered in a nature competition held under PAGB or RPS rules please be aware that you should not do this. Don’t be constrained by rules. Does the image look good to you, being critical of your work and honest with yourself? I produce many of my portrait images in landscape format,
giving negative space around the model. Whilst this is a break from traditional portrait photography, it can be very effective. You don’t always have to follow the accepted practice. Also please don’t follow the latest trend slavishly. Ask yourself if it will REALLY enhance your picture. A good example of this, that I have seen in judging exhibitions over the last few months, is the over use of near black vignettes, particularly on monochrome images, in some cases so intense that it is like viewing the image through a tube. Another popular irritant is the overuse ofHDR and grunge – your 19year old model might not appreciate looking older than her granny. One trend that I have seen in recent exhibitions that I have judged is the gradual demise of the over constructed ‘creative image’. I do remember one of my fellow judges commenting last year that all that a certain picture needed was the kitchen sink. Creativity is fine, but, it does need to say something or tell a story, a collection of random articles doesn’t really do this. One last piece of advice is this, visit as many exhibitions as you can or enter exhibitions. You will then get a catalogue or CD so you will be able to see successful images to inspire you. Good luckwith all your pictures.
Right Love and Chaos. Model Fredau shot on a Canon EOS 7D.
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.
Above The Old Dance Studio. Model Tilly, shot with available light at f/4.5 and 1/30sec, ISO 400.www.photographynews.co.uk
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