A lot has been written about photographic competitions; I could write a long list of reasons for participating in them, and equally long one, against. Recent proliferation of competitions shows clearly that there is a strong interest and need for them. Most of the competition provide an opportunity for photographers to get exposure, therefore giving your career a major boost, as well as win some money or gear.
Selecting the best images from many thousands of entries is a difficult task for judges. How do you select ‘the best’? Most of us agree that art is not and should not be a competition, as it is so subjective. In the selection process, many thousands of images are rejected, leaving photographers disappointed. However, most of us know that even if a photo entered is amazing, there are hundreds or thousands equally good ones.
I have sat on quite a few judging panels, including Landscape Photographer of the Year and enjoyed every minute of the process. Every image in front of me gets my full attention, but often while whittling down images over and over again, I wished I could leave in more images. Most of the judges know all about composition, light, exposure, post-processing – they studied and practiced photography for years and they have seen a lot of photographs. Each of us, including all judges have their own preferences. I have too. There are many images that captivate my heart, and some that leave me deflated. Some of my pet hates are horizons that are not quite straight, saturation slider moved to the far right, messy edges and lack of focus point. Images for me should be technically sound, but more importantly, they should be creative, and tell a story. What I also treasure is a truthful depiction of landscapes and the natural world. An example of an image that tells a powerful story is ‘Toxic Beauty’ by Ovidiu Lazar. There is so much beauty in the pattern created of the waste ground, such a perfect harmony between yellows and blues, captivating dynamics of the diagonal composition, yet all this is poison… This image shows environmental destruction and I am sure it will make people think that better protection of our planet is needed. We need more images like this in various photographic competition, on social media and in the press, as their message is strong.
Whatever is your motivation of taking part in photographic competitions, try to promote with some of your images the need for a healthy environment. On the other hand, don’t forget that competitions are controversial and never let a rejection make you question your passion for photography. Art is not a competition. It is your personal creative journey.
Discover. Experience. Create