Last week I entered some photos into the 2008 Metro Photography Competition. The competition was open to students who had taken classes in photography at Metro college. There were 4 Categories including: People (General, Portraits, Weddings, Photojournalism), Nature (Travel, Landscapes, Flowers, Wildlife), Commercial (Still-life, Fashion, Industrial) and Abstract (General, Macro, Experimental). I submitted six images in total in three of the categories.
The criteria used in judging the photos was as follows:
- Stimulating subject choice
- Strong composition
- Creative cropping
- An awareness of lighting, lighting positions, shadows, etc
- The importance of tonal separation
- Effective exposure with the camera – technical and aesthetic
- Selective styling and propping to enhance the subject matter
- Visual and emotional impact
The evening began with all the photos on display. There were some truly amazing images captured by the participants. Going into the competition I wasn’t expecting much and after seeing what my competition had submitted I was even less optimistic.
The Cigar Man – 1st Place – People Category. Winner of Best in Show
When the judging began, each photo was displayed in front of the three judges for approximately 30 seconds. Each judge gave their score out 10 and the combined scores were announced. It was very nerve wracking as the scores were announced. Photos that I thought should have scored higher got low marks and some photos that I didn’t find that strong received some fairly high marks. It was an emotional roller coaster as my images were being judged. The first few I entered scored in the bottom or the middle of the pack. I started to get a bit disheartened and wondered if I had really learned anything over the past two years. I had to remind myself that this was a learning experience and that these things are very subjective.
Once all of the judging was complete, the judges retired to another room to pick the top 5 in each category and select the overall best in show. I had loosely been keeping track of the scores and was surprised that one of my images had garnered the highest score of the evening – a 26 out of 30. Still, the judges had to review their scores and debate which ones they liked the best so I knew that the score might not be enough to win the competition.
When the final judging was complete, to my surprise my image of the “Cigar Man” that I captured while in Barcelona, Spain won 1st place in the People category and Best in Show. I also took 2nd place in the Abstract category with my image of the shadow of a co-worker playing golf entitled “Shadow at Play” I won $300 in photo finishing from McBain Camera and $175 in Gift Certificates for more courses at Metro. Needless to say I felt very honored to have been selected. It was a nice to receive some confirmation that I had learned something in the past couple of years and that perhaps I do have a good eye for this stuff. Even though many people have told me that I do, often I am my own worst critic and allow self-doubt to get in the way sometimes.
Probably the best part of the evening was the hour or so we got to spend having the judges critiquing images and giving us some insight into what they were looking for and why the scored the images they way they did. It was a valuable learning experience and I definitely picked up a few things that I will try to incorporate into my next shoot.