Fifteen members of CCC went image to image with twelve members of SECCC on April 4th. Well, we submitted 101 to their 62. We have over 40 members now, I think. I’m a bit disappointed at the poor showing. I’ll allow that not everyone is interested in competing. You may think your work still needs some improvement and isn’t good enough. You may think that the judging is too subjective; too arbitrary and therefore meaningless. You may not have had time to prepare images for the competition. I shamelessly coerced a member who happens to be a good photographer but hates competition, to enter just to help boost our showing. The joint competition is a team exercise. Few of us take the scoring very seriously and we certainly never agree 100% with the judging. But it is one of the few opportunities we have to put forth our best work for others to appreciate and to show what we find interesting. It can become a personal challenge to simply strive to better your own scores, to compete with yourself in a way, rather than worry about how you compare to other members. Learning is not just about photos that need work as we see in the critiques but also about seeing what we consider our best work and being inspired. The more I look at good photos the more ideas I get for how to better my shots. Art should be shared. Our mutual interest in photography should be about sharing what we’ve done as well as how we do it.
I congratulate all those who participated, whether or not you scored well, you had the guts and team spirit to give it a shot. I hope you all were inspired a little too. And next April I hope to see more names on the list of joint competition participants.
Tips on what the judges are looking for:
1. FOCUS. If nothing else, be sure your subject is in focus. Soft, dreamy images may be artistic but won’t do well in a camera club competition.
2. Defined subject. A cluttered image usually won’t do well. If there are other elements in the scene they should support the subject, not compete with it. Avoid distracting elements. Lots of times you don’t notice them in the viewfinder.
3. Exposure and tone. Faded and dull, thumbs down. Too dark with no detail in the shadows, thumbs down. Blown out highlights, thumbs down. Don’t be afraid to give your colors a boost. Very few images are perfect straight out of the camera.
4. Dynamic & balanced composition. A centered subject is usually too static. Too much blank space competes with the subject. Look for angles, curves and leading lines to make an image visually exciting. Crop if you need to.
5. Be interesting. I’ve heard this more than once. “Everything has already been photographed”. Make your shot more interesting than all the others before. Joe McNally said, “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”