The folly of judging

19 07 2009

As a member of a camera club I have had the dubious pleasure of observing first hand how subjective and personal photography is. Witness a recent entry seen in the previous blog looking at the judges own work this rendition would have had more success.Upper Nihitipu Falls

One of the problems  with judging photography is that personal taste must  colour opinion and at club level here in NZ with only one judge on the night the placing you get will vary considerably between judges and even on different occasions and invariably the style or genre the judge prefers will win the day.

Even at national competition level you often see a particular style of work being favoured take a look at the recent AIPP awards to see this graphically demonstrated notice with a few exceptions the particular colouration and pp treatment of the winning entries.

You can see that if you want to do well in such competitions you need to emulate this style.

So far from advancing photography by encouraging the development of the photographers own style and vision such competitions foster a stylistic straitjacket.Infrared Melbourne

To quote from an excellent book I have been enjoying “Like cooking photography is a matter of taste, a matter of relative not absolute value” and equally apt Photographs are never wholly mirrors nor wholly windows: they are more akin to semi-silvered glass upon which a ghostly representation of the photographers intent is mingled with a reflection of our own concerns and through which we see an incomplete image of the world” LANDSCAPE WITHIN by David Ward.

In view of that I believe the idea of judging photography as if were a competitive sport is a mistake after all the success of an image must vary from person to person and indeed only the author can know what the original intent was.




4 responses

19 07 2009

How true. I often wonder if it sucks the fun out of photography.

9 08 2009

Excellent comments Rodney, certainly the way I am starting to think. I have realised I’m looking at every photograph I see as if it were up for judging at club competition – not at all healthy

10 08 2009

Yes not that the Judging process can’t add value Its more the critique process rather than the score that has merit.

Of course anybody’s reaction to your work has merit particularly if they can express it.

And its not so much the rules but rather how the rules are validated if a particular image resonates with its audience or not.

9 06 2010
Arthur Plottier

Very nice page and valuable comments.
I is a pleassure to see your images.
All the best

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