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John_Metcalfe
04-16-2008, 10:28 PM
I have been apprehensive to post this paper I wrote for another forum due to being new to this one...

But having heard comments and people sharing their anxieties, I thought it might be the right time. If you find not worthy... well, I guess I'll crawl back under my rock. HA!

BTW, I would also like to welcome any discussions referring to competitions, subject matter & especially lighting...


Competition & Cup holders

The judges… What were they thinking?
Cup holders we have them everywhere…
They let that image in?
At the table, on the lawn chair…
Then at the same setting, they deny this image which clearly took more effort!
We have hats with them they’re in the swimming pool…
Why do they let some in that clearly need to be canned, while others that look ten times better not?
They are in the car. Heck, we even have harnesses with cup holders for our dogs…

Cup holders…
These are but a few questions I’ve overheard and used to wonder myself.
Questions there are already answers to. Still every competition the people and the questions return to the familiar places and set their libation into one of their many holders. Hardly ever bothering to get up and if so, step out of arms reach of their binky. Most times when going into competition, they photograph within their realm, wandering if their image will have enough juice and pray that the judges will have the courtesy to comment on their print this go around.
While still we all would like to hear comments on our prints, it is especially hard on those who have just started entering or are settled in and waiting for the judges to come to comprehend their way of thinking, not to mention harbor distaste from years past and or an almost image or in some cases images.
I’ve heard it all…
“I refuse to enter anything but clients work”! “I was stuck shooting it that way!” “I know I should have asked them to coordinate better.” “I’m not comfortable shooting without having an on-camera flash!” “Didn’t have time to wait”, “couldn’t get any help”, “couldn’t wait for the right time of day”, “didn’t feel like changing to the long lens”, “couldn’t find my meter”, whatever….
Does a judge hear any of this? Do they want to? Even though, try as they might to think through things, NO is still the answer. They can only work with what is there.
They wish to be presented with an image that sings. Another words, they are given a seat YES, but they only want to use the edge of it! They want to have something to talk about. Remember, these people at this table have pretty much seen it all. They are just hoping for YOUR print to knock it out of the park!
Now, what keeps your print from achieving glory? First let me ask, what is your goal? Do you want to merit, or do you have higher aspirations?
Think about this…
If your aim is to get an eighty image and you fall short, what happens? Back to the drawing board, that’s what. But, if you shoot for nineties and fade a little what do you get? A merit of achievement you can hang on to. See the difference?
What can you do to make your image more worthy? First, create impact. The title and when your image turns to the panel will hold the most weight. You can make a panel happy, sad or mad. You may even be able to pull a combination of more than one of these three in the same print, but the impact has to be there. If you have impact they will loosen up the parts of the scoring.
I would like to tell you my concentration is set on the impact & the title (or story in the image), but I’m not. I am not here to talk about me, I am here for you. I wish to disclose food for thought towards your image. Yes, image not images. A slave can only serve one master. That’s the first step in the process. Next you need a theme. What are your strengths? What do you have a passion for? Now find controversy, in this subject matter. Find something for people to talk about. Give the viewer a reason to look deeper into the print. Make them lean forward, ask questions, and if you can pull the right strings, GET OUT OF THEIR CHAIR! You want them to say, “WHOA! This is what I’m talking about!”

So, pick your drink up, get out of your easy chair, take the shackles off and take a walk. Scratch that. Don't walk run! Let’s turn this thing on its ear!

Cheri_MacCallum
04-16-2008, 11:15 PM
Great post John!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

John_Metcalfe
04-17-2008, 12:53 AM
Thanks Cheri!

This paper was originally written as the start of a string for Michael & I's competition class. Hopefully, it inspires more than yammers...

Todd_Reichman
04-17-2008, 02:38 AM
So John, if a slave can serve but one master, then are you arguing that those folks that strive for competition greatness produce work solely for the purpose of competition?

John_Metcalfe
04-17-2008, 02:50 AM
So John, if a slave can serve but one master, then are you arguing that those folks that strive for competition greatness produce work solely for the purpose of competition?

I have listed my statement again for you:

I wish to disclose food for thought towards your image. Yes, image not images. A slave can only serve one master. That’s the first step in the process.

Meaning to concentrate on one image at a time.

Todd_Reichman
04-17-2008, 02:59 AM
So, what impacts a panel that has seen it all? Is it controversy specifically - is that the best way?

- trr

Carver_Shivers
04-17-2008, 04:33 AM
I agree with John, never be complacent... Take Risks, expand your horizon, go to art galleries, study the masters, the innovators like Geoge Hurrell and others...especially now with digital, It should not hold you back... One image at a time...

John_Metcalfe
04-17-2008, 04:44 AM
So, what impacts a panel that has seen it all? Is it controversy specifically - is that the best way?

- trr

Is it the best way? That is a good question.

Even though I didn't start competing till 1999, I have watched competition images since 1985. I have observed the trends and seen the b&w documentary come to play, the IR images take hold, the E.I.s knock it out of the park, the scenics tip the scales, the animals make their push. The one consistency has been proper exposure for competition and an interesting lighting pattern that takes it from deserving of a merit to the next level. What puts it over the top most times is by having a conversation piece.

Example this is my 5th year in competition. All the years prior to this one I did O.K. meriting most of the time I stuck around the 80-82 mark, the highest being 87. All of my images were customer images. Something I was very proud of to be sure. But the scores plateaued. This year I changed my approach and chose my titles before I shot. I then chose my models to fit my selected projects. They were still my customers, I just asked them to do something for me after their session. The themes I chose were controversial. Yes. I photographed them in a manner that limited flaws, with clean images that head little need for retouching.

This time I did it for me, I was fortunate and it paid off.