Thoughts on photo competitions
I’ve learned something this week.
It’s that trying to organise a “fun, family friendly, inclusive photo competition” aimed at allowing people who take holiday snaps to join in along side those who shoot with honking great DSLRs – it’s that those with the DSLRs have an astounding capacity to be jerks about it.
The rules of the game started off as:
- Deadline is 1pm Saturday
- Photos must be taken this week, and of the festival (daytrips to the seaside don’t count)
- One entry per person
- No photoshopping
That last rule was put in because not everyone has a laptop with them, let alone the skills or inclination to drive photoshop. It’s essentially an attempt to level the playing field and allow everyone to take part. It’s also been the bane of my week.
It started off as “That’s ok, I use GIMP” – so it was changed to “no post processing” – this was the worst thing I could have done. I’ve spent all week having the same discussions with every bugger who shoots RAW. I’m fed up with them asking “what am I allowed to do when converting raw to jpeg?” I started off trying to answer these questions, “whitebalance is allowed, exposure tweaks aren’t, sharpening and noise removal are not, cropping and straightening is right out” but last night, one shooter in particular (who it turns out, is not even intending to enter) wound me right up.
It started as your average “does converting to jpg count as post processing” progressed through some “cloning should be allowed so I can eliminate dead pixels” and turned into “your rules are completely arbitrary, you should be using the set of rules that my favourite photo competition website uses as they’re clearly much better”
It’s rare that after 10 days of chilling out in a field I get so steamed up about something that I need to take some time out, but I walked off site for two and a bit hours, and walked for 7.5 miles down country lanes in the dark.
It took 2 and a bit hours of stomping along in the dark for me to come to the conclusion that what I’d experienced is a fundamental difference in approach to photography.
For me, a photo is about capturing a moment in time, a subject, a feeling. It’s about composition, timing, and emotion. It’s about what you point the camera at and when you press the button. For some, it’s about the technology, the toys, the gadgets, making each pixel technically perfect, ironing out any percieved imperfection carefully and methodically.
So, the Bungay Photo Competition will be going ahead tonight, we’ve had 6 entries so far and half the site aren’t even awake yet – but if it happens again next year, I’m having nothing to do with it.