For a while now I have been asking myself the question of whether I should enter photography competitions, or just do art ones. There is a difference, and it is something I am still trying to work out, but after my last attempt at entering one, getting the results, I think I am beginning to understand.
I entered a landscape photography contest and perhaps there were a few issues with me entering it, one being, that I don’t really consider myself a landscape photographer. Well I do now, but it isn’t something that I think I have been doing for long. It was perhaps too soon to enter.
The other issue is that the judges, and we were told who they were with links to their work, did work that was nothing like what I do. It is one thing you learn in the art world, you will succeed a lot more if you do work that the judges can relate to, or understand.
Though perhaps my downfall was really that my images were not the standard sort of images that people enter into photography competitions and I have realised that they are more technical and it becomes more about the technical aspect of an image. Have you got the right exposure? Is the image composed correctly, according to photography conventions? These things really came through in their criticism of my work.
In art competitions, the technical aspects of you work don’t matter, it is all about the image and the message you are trying to convey. You’re image could be out of focus, and it wouldn’t matter, especially if it was a pleasing visual. What matters is the image and do people get what you are trying to convey.
I know that sometimes when I am taking a photo or working on a photo, I don’t do everything correctly, but I have to just go with the way I want to do the image. The “technically correct way” isn’t always important to me, but I can see if I want to enter some competitions, that it has to be.
Another thing I was completely astounded by was how patronising the feedback was. I was told to consider exposure and maybe I should put my images into a program like Photoshop. Seriously, how can you respect a judge, or judges that can’t tell that you have done that, especially on an image that has been completely changed in Photoshop.
This experience has lead me to believe that Photography competitions are not for me. They are, I suppose, exactly how I thought they would be. I think from now on I should look for competitions that are more about art. I know I may not do well in those, but I would feel a lot more comfortable in that world.
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