Photography News | Issue 41 | absolutephoto.com
Before the judge MontyTrent Join us for our monthly chat with a photographic judge. Monty Trent took up judging as a challenge for his own photography and believes the most important people are the losers
Some primarily judge a picture by its faults instead of looking at the image and asking what it is ‘saying’. Instead, they concentrate every effort detecting tiny areas of, for example, burnt out highlights or horses with three legs. They insist on the Holy Grail of 100% critical sharpness whether or not the image demands it. Of course, I can’t ignore technical faults but I want to play a small part by looking at pictures as a whole, adopting a constructive rather than a critical approach. I think the most important people in the competition world are not the gong and certificate winners but those whose ‘babies’ fail to make the grade. I want them to feel they have had a fair crack of the whip and come away with some ideas of how to improve their photography. However, it’s true that my most rewarding experience was seeing a club member burst into tears when I awarded her first ever win. Standards vary from club to club. Generally, standards are improving and, nowadays, most members are up to ‘club standard’. The best clubs have themore experiencedmembers and achieve higher standards. Like bridge or chess players we improve
I in photography during my teens. I developed my own film, made contact prints and later bought a home-made enlarger from a teacher for £4 and spent many a happy night stinking-out the bathroom. I was at Welwyn Garden City Photographic Club for over 16 years and it was there I got into judging. From time to time the East Anglia Federation ran a judges’ workshop to train putative judges and select new ones. I went along one day out of curiosity to see if I could hack it but also because I felt it was a new challenge for my photography. Now I’m a grade C judge. For four years I judged for the EAF at club level. Since moving to God’s own county, I have been placed on the Yorkshire Photographic Union supplementary list. I really enjoy looking at others’ photographs. They stimulate my passion for photography. Learning to comment and appraise (I feel the term ‘appraiser’ is so much better than ‘judge’) photographs is helpful in editing and reviewing my own. Judges come in all shapes and sizes and a few get a bad press. developed an interest
Howmany years in photography?
Like many photographers, I developed an interest in photography during my teens. Home club The first club I joined was Welwyn Garden City Photographic Club. I later joined the RPS and became a member of UPP (United Postal Portfolios). After retiring, I moved to Yorkshire and now enjoy membership of both Leeds and Harrogate Photographic Societies What is your favourite camera? An Olympus OM-D E-M1. I started using Micro Four Thirds a few years ago looking for a lighter second camera for trips. What is your favorite lens? The Olympus 17mm f/1.8 prime. It is equivalent to a 34mm focal length on a full frame DSLR and my go-to lens for street photography. What is your favourite photo accessory? This must be my Op/Tech sling strap system. Who is your favourite photographer? That’s a tough question. I have learnt much by looking at photographs and spending time with friends like Colin Westgate, Les Mclean and Hugh Milsom. But if you put a gun to my head it must be André Kertész. What is your own favourite photographic subject or technique? People pictures outside the studio followed by landscape. But, I have no favourites. I’m 71 years young: there’s no time to waste. I don’t want to limit myself. I am always trying out new techniques or embarking on a new journey of discovery. What awards/distinctions/ medals have youwon? LRPS.
by competing with people better and more experienced than ourselves. Of course, in a contest many pictures don’t make the grade for a variety of reasons. The first is the derivative or unexciting picture. Much of this is as a result of the drive to produce recognisable winning pictures with a high ‘wow’ factor but lack emotional or intellectual appeal. Many people rush to please judges; to imitate fashionable genres or revisit popular tripod holes without bringing anything original to them. I also see too many ‘nice’ pictures that come, un-cropped, straight out
of the camera without processing. There are only a handful of photographers with the technical skills to achieve perfection in- camera. For the rest of us, I am sorry but ‘nice’ is not good enough. It is as important to invest time learning how to post-process our pictures to make them potential prize winners. Software is improving and becoming easier to learn. Google Nik Efex is now available free while applications like Lightroom, Capture One and Topaz are tailor made for photographers. Being constructive when you see a snapshot in front of you is a big problem. The picture might be someone’s first ever entry and harsh criticism would be harmful. But, judges have a duty to be honest as well as constructive: to mark honestly to ensure that there is a real range of marks to distinguish the sheep from the goats. As I said, the most important person in the clubroom is the one who loses. Every entrant should be treated with respect, win or lose. My final piece of advice for club members is to believe in themselves; be bold, brave, daring and original and choreograph your pictures to force a judge’s eye on the vision you are expressing.
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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