Inside this issue
Judging the Judges
Thoughts on Competition and Image Critique
Professional photographic artist, author and speaker working primarily in the Western US.
It is a shame to see in the work of an artist the limitations of his critics. ~Robert Brault
One of the transformations I witnessed over the years in how and why people practice photography, is the rise in popularity of participating in competitions and in critique sessions. The trend seems to coincide with the rise of photography practised (to whatever degree) as a social—rather than as a personally expressive—endeavor.
Before sharing my thoughts on competition and critique, I’ll preempt my conclusion, which is this: take any judgment of your work by others with a grain of salt; and on most occasions, as no worthier than a grain of salt. And the reason for mentioning my conclusion at this point is this: I wish to also volunteer a couple of grains of salt for you to keep in mind as you read this essay.
A good place to start may be to examine what motivates those who enter their work into such contests, and those who seek critique for their work, especially online. Off the bat, I’ll set aside reasons having to do with vanity and bragging rights. Not only do I find these unimportant and distracting to my own goal of creative self-expression, but the knowledge that another photographer is driven by such things is enough to diminish my interest in their work.