One of the ways I challenge myself to become a better photography is through entering image competition. The process is pretty straight forward. First, I pour my heart and soul into creating an image. Then, I deliver the result to a group of judges who score it based on a hard set of rules and a healthy dose of artistic subjectivity. Finally, I wait patiently for them to run roughshod over my ego in the hope that, maybe this time, I will finally impress them enough to earn a “merit”.
More than one person with whom I confide during this process has asked the question, “Why do you do this to yourself?” It is a fair question and I ask it of myself often. The answer is quite simple: I want to be a better photographer.
How Image Competition Makes Me Better
Most people know when they like an image, but they don’t really understand why it appeals. Photographers are often happy to offer a critique, but they do not necessarily use constant technical and artistic measures when doing so informally. I have gotten better at explaining why I like a given image over the years. I feel I can offer a decent critique, but I am one person, capable of missing the finer points.
In image competition, multiple judges view, and often review, an image as a group, using a series of guidelines. Sometimes, the process is painful and subjectivity seems to grip every score. However, the more I watch, the more I participate, the more I learn.
How Image Competition Helps You
As a potential client, my participation in image competition helps inform my technical and creative decisions. It teaches me where I am and shows me the minor tweaks I need to take a good image and make it great. In the end, it helps guarantee that you will get increasingly better quality when you hire me.
In the past three years, I have entered 19 images into image competitions. I have yet to “merit” (scoring an 80 or higher). While I could call it a day, most of my images are scoring “above average” with 11 images scoring in the 77-78 range.
When you are almost there, do you throw in the towel? While tempting, I prefer to press on, pursuing what I know to be achievable.