One Walrus Not Sleeping, Karl XII Island, Svalbard
Phase One XF 100MP Trichromatic, 240mm Schneider, f5.0 @ 1/1600 second, ISO 400
I recently read a Facebook post by Karen Alsop about how she had made a print of one of her competition entries - before she knew the results. The photo in question (we published it in Better Photographymagazine BP#94 - The Elephant In The Room) happened to earn a Gold Award and helped her pick up the 2018 AIPP Australian Pet/Animal Photographer of the Year, but what resonated with both Karen and me is the fact she made the print first. She liked what she had created and that was enough.
It didn't stop her from entering the competition, of course, but it meant that win, lose or draw, she was happy with what she had created.
This is a great position to be in, mentally and emotionally. I know a lot of readers think about entering photo competitions, but never quite get around to it. Sometimes it is because they don't want to hear a judge criticize work that they are in love with. Yet I think this is the point. You'll only get to a point of confidence and self-satisfaction once you've taken a few knocks. If you're worried about the opinion of a few judges, you're not there yet.
Once you gain experience as a photographer, whether by entering awards or working professionally, there comes a time when you know who you are and what you like to create. I find myself in that position now and after entering photography awards for over 40 years, I can assure you that the judges still don't like all of my photos as much as I do! I did rather well in the recent AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photography Awards, but in addition to having the highest scoring print, I'm pretty sure I had the lowest scoring print as well! And I love that photo!
So, what do you enter into a competition? Do you only enter photos you love, or to some extent do you try to second guess the judges? When entering a competition, it's only four or maybe up to 12 entries. Most of us have far more 'good photos' than this, so I certainly try to pick photos that I think the judges will like. That's just like being a professional photographer, trying to create images that clients will love - so I have no trouble approaching competitions this way.
So, what about the walrus shot above? It's a photo that I love. And I've made a print! But I'm not entering it into the AIPP's Australian Professional Photography Awards this weekend because I don't think the judges will respond the same way I do. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'll never know!
Two suggestions. If you live in Sydney, why not visit the AIPP's print judging at Randwick Racecourse this weekend (Sat to Mon) - it's free and the experience is amazing. Every print receives a comment so lots to learn. You'll find details at http://www.aippappa.com/.
And second, entries into the 2019 Better Photography Photo of the Year Awards close on 15 August 2019, so there's still time to enter - and who knows, you could be part of the $17,000 prize pool too! For more details, visit www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com now!