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mooseontheloose
08-20-2009, 10:49 PM
So...I've never really entered any photography competitions before, but I would like to this year as I feel that I finally have some photos that might have a chance at winning. Unfortunately, many of the competitions have the same deadline (September 30th seems to be popular) and I'm now debating which one I should try. I'm assuming it's not kosher to submit the same image to multiple competitions running at the same time, but correct me if I'm wrong here.

In any event, it just made me wonder why others choose to compete in these types of competitions, and what the deciding factor is in choosing which ones to enter. Is it the probability of winning anything? The prizes? The status of the competition/organization sponsoring it?

I know in the end the final decision will be up to me but I'd appreciate hearing how others go about it -- it may offer some insights in helping me decide which one to choose.

Sirius Glass
08-20-2009, 11:08 PM
I don't. Some contests require you to sign over use of your work. I do not need the problems. I know my work is good. I do not need a ribbon to tell me.

Steve

DWThomas
08-21-2009, 12:20 AM
Why? Well, to become rich and famous! Shur-r-r-re, that's it. :D

Uh -- but seriously, I've been entering some juried shows the last few years just as a sort of personal challenge. There's a certain warm fuzzy in getting an image or two through jurying by somebody who has no idea who I am -- especially if only 10 or 12% of the submitted images get into the show. Of course, sometimes they don't get in, that can be a downer, but I've already had the experience of having work declined from one show accepted into another. It's a crap shoot.

The possibility of significant cash prizes certainly doesn't discourage me, but I'm way too aware that only a small percentage of those few that get in actually win prizes. As with paintings, I've found it is sometimes helpful to see my own work next to others, especially since I'm a bit of a hermit and tend to work by myself. Usually those comparisons evaluate to suggest I'm not as good as I might have wished, but it's an important data point. The last two years I have volunteered to sit a couple of afternoons with a fairly prestigious show. That occasionally provides an opportunity to meet some of the other artists, and sometimes I've gotten some interesting feedback from visitors about work by myself or others. It's a few steps along the path in what I hope is a continuous learning process (even at my advanced age!)

The exhibitions I've entered are also sales opportunities, although so far it's good I'm not depending on that for food!

I haven't done so, but I guess in most cases, since they are prints, you could enter the same image in several places. Unless the potential award is to have your work used for some application, in which case the sponsors might want "exclusive" stuff. For me, having eight different framed prints ready to cover four overlapping exhibitions earlier this year was part of the personal challenge aspect.

Edit: Re-reading I note you did say "contests" I suppose they could be considered different from juried exhibitions, although in my mind it's all a continuum.

DaveT

mooseontheloose
08-21-2009, 12:34 AM
Dave,

You're right, I did say contests -- I'm not even contemplating juried shows yet -- but, like you, I consider them all to be part of the same continuum.

I guess because I live in a kind of photographic vacuum this is a way of getting my work out, and in part, learning from the hits and misses. Not that I'll get a lot of feedback from the judges (unless I win something). ;-)

Vaughn
08-21-2009, 12:35 AM
I enter local contests...1) it is a way to get new work in front of like-minded people, 2) it supports the art organization, 3) it forces one to take that new image and finish it, frame it and all that, 3) the occasional award (especially cash) is nice -- more film!

I enter one annual non-local competition (Yosemite Renaissance, a multi media show/competition) as a challenge to produce an exceptional piece every year of Yosemite. Also if I get something accepted, then I have a good excuse to go to Yosemite in February for the opening (at which time I try to take a photograph for the next year's competition.) I did not get an image in last year, but something happen that was as good - a fellow I started on carbon printing did get a carbon print in the show. That was very rewarding.

Vaughn

Dan Henderson
08-21-2009, 05:58 AM
Juried shows are a place to exhibit work that expresses my vision as a photographer. The positive feedback of having a piece accepted into a show judged by someone with an art education and background reinforces my internal drive to keep producing work.

As far as entering the same pieces in multiple competitions, our local art council sponsored 2 contests at the same time this summer, although at two different venues. I emailed to ask if I could submit the same two photographs to both contests, and they encouraged me to do so. One of the imaged declined from one show was accepted into the other, so as DW commented, it is a crap shoot completely at the subjective whim of the judge.

eclarke
08-21-2009, 06:30 AM
One reason NOT to is if you find yourself photographing to please judges instead of yourself. Camera club contests are particularly crappy because many subscribe to the subject and compositional "rules" of the P.S.A. ...Evan Clarke

reellis67
08-21-2009, 07:24 AM
One reason NOT to is if you find yourself photographing to please judges instead of yourself. Camera club contests are particularly crappy because many subscribe to the subject and compositional "rules" of the P.S.A. ...Evan Clarke

This is the main reason why I no longer do this type of thing, but it's not just limited to camera clubs. Many juried group shows suffer from the similar problems. I regularly speak with artists working in non-photographic media and, at least in their experience, it is apparently not at all uncommon for judges to allow their own personal preferences to skew their judgments. I mean, no one is totally impartial - we all have some influences that cannot be completely set aside - but still...

I am told that the thing to do if you are interested in this type of event is to keep track of the judges who like the style of work that you do and then only submit work to their shows. It takes time to learn who likes what type of work, but I am told that's the best way to get your work seen without spending overly large amounts of money on entry fees for shows that you have little chance of getting in to. The cost to submit three prints to any given event is not large, in and of itself, but if you add up how many submissions you make each year it can get fairly impressive. I expect, though, that everyone will have a slightly different take on this...

- Randy

DWThomas
08-21-2009, 07:53 AM
I am told that the thing to do if you are interested in this type of event is to keep track of the judges who like the style of work that you do and then only submit work to their shows. It takes time to learn who likes what type of work, but I am told that's the best way to get your work seen without spending overly large amounts of money on entry fees for shows that you have little chance of getting in to. The cost to submit three prints to any given event is not large, in and of itself, but if you add up how many submissions you make each year it can get fairly impressive. I expect, though, that everyone will have a slightly different take on this...


Maybe it's because I haven't done a lot show submissions, although I am also involved in putting on several general art shows each year, but I'm not convinced that advice is totally reliable. Not to say it's bad, but I have occasionally seen what appeared to be a judge giving short shrift to work similar to his own. Maybe he wanted to avoid accusations of bias, maybe to distance the competition -- who knows?! :rolleyes: I suppose if you can get the opportunity to see previous shows the person has judged, the idea could work, but in my experience many groups try not to repeat judges very often so tracking previous results could be difficult. For my club's open juried art
shows we try not to repeat a judge for at least six or seven years. And since we normally have two judges, when we do repeat, we try to pair them with a different person. We hope that's a way to keep things mixed up a bit.

I believe I've seen some indication that judges who are educators -- say art school professors -- may tend to be a bit more diverse in their selections and less anchored to one style. I also like shows juried by more than one person, I think that provides more balance.

The idea of shooting "for the contest" is scary. We have a few events around here that have themes of a sort. Sometimes they are just looking for something within a geographic region. That I can see, but as I play it, if I don't have anything that fits the requirement, I pass. In some cases, if a theme intersected with some of my favorite(?) subjects, I might make a special effort to come up with shots if I had time. So far I go with my own interests and self-amusement which is probably one reason my work isn't being snapped off the walls -- I can understand a B&W of the twisted rusty remains of a 19th C industrial ruin doesn't work in to too many suburban living rooms. :p

DaveT

Sirius Glass
08-21-2009, 10:37 AM
This is the main reason why I no longer do this type of thing, but it's not just limited to camera clubs. Many juried group shows suffer from the similar problems. I regularly speak with artists working in non-photographic media and, at least in their experience, it is apparently not at all uncommon for judges to allow their own personal preferences to skew their judgments. I mean, no one is totally impartial - we all have some influences that cannot be completely set aside - but still...


This is what I have seen enough times to come to the conclusion of my first post on this thread.

Steve

Vaughn
08-21-2009, 12:31 PM
As someone who has judged a few local photo shows, I heard complaints here about judges who use their own judgements (or preferences) and those who put aside those preferences and judge accord to "rules" of composition, etc. Seems like a judge can't win no matter how s/he bases her/his decisions!;)

Artists who get accepted into shows -- especially those who win awards -- rarely complain or critize the judge!:D

Vaughn

PS...Have pity on the poor soul who enters a photo based on the work I do! I am harder on them as I know the most about that type of work! And have pity on the artists of whom I know a lot about their work -- they will be judged based on how well the entered piece excels the work they have done in the past!

jolefler
08-21-2009, 01:54 PM
because it does seem to make me concentrate on finishing the project. It also does help the local arts association that runs two shows annually.

I've also been submitting work lately to keep silver based processes in the competition. It seems I'm the only throw-back shooting film in the past three shows to which I've submitted work. I make it a point to sling a camera over the shoulder when attending the reception & awards ceremony.

If you're considering giving it a try, I'd encourage you to do so. Just keep in mind that whomever is judging should not sway your own opinion as to the quality of your work. It took me a few shows to get the attitude that the process is sooo subjective it shouldn't affect your own visions and goals.

Jo

Prest_400
08-21-2009, 02:18 PM
One reason NOT to is if you find yourself photographing to please judges instead of yourself. Camera club contests are particularly crappy because many subscribe to the subject and compositional "rules" of the P.S.A. ...Evan Clarke
Good point.

I got into a school comp last year. It wasn't fun, judges just went to their preferences. Specially when you see that a boring boring photo is over your work just because it shows a thing in it that has caught the attention of the judges. But it's worth as much as the "paper" it's printed on.
And thinking about what you said, yeah, I was shooting for the judges, my bad. Not really for me (even if I liked the results).
Won't get anymore into there, I'll try to control the feeling that says "go for it!".
I should forget most of the comps here, all is just digital.

reellis67
08-21-2009, 03:55 PM
Maybe it's because I haven't done a lot show submissions, although I am also involved in putting on several general art shows each year, but I'm not convinced that advice is totally reliable. Not to say it's bad, but I have occasionally seen what appeared to be a judge giving short shrift to work similar to his own. Maybe he wanted to avoid accusations of bias, maybe to distance the competition -- who knows?! :rolleyes: I suppose if you can get the opportunity to see previous shows the person has judged, the idea could work, but in my experience many groups try not to repeat judges very often so tracking previous results could be difficult. For my club's open juried art shows we try not to repeat a judge for at least six or seven years. And since we normally have two judges, when we do repeat, we try to pair them with a different person. We hope that's a way to keep things mixed up a bit.

I believe I've seen some indication that judges who are educators -- say art school professors -- may tend to be a bit more diverse in their selections and less anchored to one style. I also like shows juried by more than one person, I think that provides more balance.

...

DaveT

I suppose it all depends on the community you're interacting with. My own experience has been primarily with the P.S.A., although I have responded to about a dozen non-P.S.A. calls for entry as well. The judges were other P.S.A. members, or in the other situations, artists of varying experience. The person giving me the advice that I relayed above is a professional artist - that is to say that she has lived solely on her art-derived income for the last 22 years - and all of the shows that she submits work to are judged by other professional artists. That said, I fully recognize that this means nothing more than these are two individual's experiences that may or may not have any relation to how things work in a different area or with different groups. I'm glad that not everyone has had this type of experience.

I seem to go back and forth every couple of years, feeling that it might be interesting to have work shown in contest-type shows from time to time, but my experiences have been enough to leave me with a permanent distaste for the whole process. Honestly speaking, and I'm not trying to be critical in any way of anyone's views here, I get a lot more out of interacting with people viewing work displayed in a group gallery show or by showing prints directly to individuals than I ever got from anything sent to a contest.

- Randy

Sirius Glass
08-21-2009, 04:46 PM
I seem to go back and forth every couple of years, feeling that it might be interesting to have work shown in contest-type shows from time to time, but my experiences have been enough to leave me with a permanent distaste for the whole process. Honestly speaking, and I'm not trying to be critical in any way of anyone's views here, I get a lot more out of interacting with people viewing work displayed in a group gallery show or by showing prints directly to individuals than I ever got from anything sent to a contest.

Randy said it better than I did.

Steve