Judges Blog… 5
Based on my previous blogs, I would hope that you are now amassing a pretty good outline of what is like to take on the privileged role of judging. In previous blogs I have given you the perspective of my experiences what I want to do here is turn the tables slightly and give you a different angle to consider. I brought this particular issue forward in my blog diary following an excellent lecture recently by Mikki Aston (CACC judge) on why we should enter competitions and what does a judge look for. In taking up the role of judge I have become more aware of some key questions ‘why this image’and ‘what is it telling me’ and by entering competitions myself I am acutely aware of what they actually mean to me.
I believe that as a photographer when you capture an image you are in some aspects actually putting a virtual full stop at the end of a sentence or paragraph. In other words you are completing, what for some, may be a lifetime’s quest. A photograph is often the culmination of a journey. Every photograph ever taken has a ‘story’. An episode of events that leads us to the ‘Grand Finale’. Believe it or not every photo you have taken has an unprecedented amount of emotional investment in it. You and only you know why you took it.
OK here’s your picture – It’s a rare Hornbilled toucan
This picture was captured after travelling 8 thousand miles by aircraft, 2 days by boat, 12 hours in the back of a truck, 9 hours on foot with the last 2 spent hacking through the deepest darkest Patagonian rain forest. Half of your body was consumed by mosquito’s and leeches. The 15 mins spent wading through piranha infested river have left you totally paranoid about dark muddy water, the dysentery, loss of your sleeping bag, battery charger and passport. The entire trip has cost £4,750 and the big toenail off your left foot. Nevertheless after all this blood, sweat and tears you managed to capture this picture. The rarely seen Brown Hornbilled Toucan – number 47 of the 101 things to see before you die hit-list. This is the culmination of your entire trip and you are cannot describe how totally and utterly emotionally fulfilled you are at this moment in time. A once in a lifetime opportunity and the best photo you have ever taken.
“OK here’s the last photo before we take a break” – Hornbilled Toucan. – “A pleasing image” pause “Reasonably sharp”,etc. the usual polite critique, then comes the truth. “Burnt out highlights, positioning, and composition”. Then the closing remarks “If you get the opportunity to take this again it would really help if…………(constructive comment) “A reasonable effort but is up against better images tonight” …….“Thirteen”
Three weeks later you awaken from a medically induced coma surrounded by nurses and consultants. You are aware of a muffled conversation and a sharp pain in your neck. As your eyes begin to focus it becomes apparent that there are others in the room with sweatshirts baring the words Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.
As a judge your role is to judge/comment on that which is presented and score it based on your expertise accordingly, the back-story should be quite irrelevant. Sometimes authors don’t see it that way. Just be careful of recently tanned people wearing bush-hats and carrying bamboo pipes.
I love being a judge…. till next time
*original photo courteously of https://nomadlens66.wordpress.com/tag/hornbill/
Thoughts of a judge
Alan Taberer IMAGEZ