Please Take A Number
A few months back, I joined a camera club with the intention of learning the tricks of the trade to becoming a better photographer . Participation in the club, calls for having your work judged. I had never been judged before. When I went to the juried competition, I learned that each photo is given a grade 1-10 by three separate judges. It is a nail biting session that often sends you home wondering what I was ever thinking for taking the photograph in the first place. I come from a different type of judging background. In my past as a rower, one’s merit is pretty clear. One is judged by who crosses the finish line first. To me, a photo is much like a race. It is either a success or it isn’t. In the digital age, we delete the ones that aren’t successful. In reality, anyone that brings a photo to a competition believes that the photo is a success or it wouldn’t have been brought at all. So after looking at the stubs where my nails once were, I throw my hands up and wonder, “what is the judge really looking for anyway? The judge can give a point more or less based on composition, sharpness or what ever, but do these qualities really tell the story of the photo? As a teen walks down a school hallway, does her clothing, hairstyle and boots really tell you about who she is? I see the merit in getting technical details correct, but what makes me continue to look at a photo is how it personally affects me. I love my wide-angle lens because it forces you to virtually become part of the photo. You become so involved with the scene that a piece of your heart is somehow imprinted in the image. Some of my favorite childhood photos are semi-blurred and off kilter, yet the image speaks volumes about who we are and where we come from. I love history and I love doing portraits. I don’t think that it is a mistake that I married these two passions into how I compose a photograph. Slapping a number or score on a photo has virtually no merit in deciding its significance to the photographer or the subject. So to all you photographers out there, feel good in knowing your photography is an extension of you. Much like the deli counter’s pink waiting number, when the judge scores your photo with a number it’s merely to tell you its your turn to be seen.
2/22/2011 09:16:43 pm
Another gem. You've put it so eloquently. Thank you.
2/22/2011 10:10:39 pm
Love it Jen! Written very well. Which camera club did you join?
2/22/2011 11:01:34 pm
Very nice blog and I love your style of photography.
2/22/2011 11:18:23 pm
Hi everyone. Thanks for the insightful comments. I have been a member of Castle Craig for about 6 months now. The members are very kind and helpful. Their link is http://www.castlecraigcameraclub.org/
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