Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Not another 'Beautiful Sunset'

Last week I judged a photographic exhibition with two other much younger judges. The first thing I asked the exhibition organisers to do was to remove the photographers' names and entry numbers while we had coffee.  I didn't want to see the entrants' names or for the other judges to do the same. Who the entrant is should have absolutely nothing to do with the judging process. Let's start off doing things right.

The next thing I asked the organisers to give each of the judges the entry and judging criteria. We all agreed on the entry conditions and what we were looking for in the entries. How many judges storm into an exhibition and start allocating scores willy nilly without first checking the criteria - even at camera club level.
Goa, India - professional dancer Merome at coffee

As we started judging, one of the young judges asked that we be able to see the titles for the images. Once again, I argued against this. 'Are we judging the photograph or some cleverness in penmanship and writing?' We are judging photographs - let's make the process valid and above all, ethical.

If its not apparent that an image titled 'Red Rose' is a red rose there is something radically wrong with the image. I've lost count of the the number of entries I've judged labelled 'A Beautiful Sunset', where the sunset was about as beautiful as a house brick and as boring as bat shit.

Sandakan, Malaysian Borneo - shops open 2pm
Actually, I love to read the story behind the image. But only after I have judged the image. It is after all a photography competition not a  writing competition. The image should stand on its own. If you are required to title or caption an image the information should be additional to the visual information not something that is apparent. 'A Beautiful Sunset' could be retitled 'Cable Beach, Broome, August 2012'.

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