Ahhh judging. Like it or love it in any artistic endeavour people will judge your work.
With photography though we actually ask people to do this. So a couple of perspectives from past elders wiser than ourselves.
It can be somewhat humbling to have that photograph that you so love put as grist to the mill. But grist to the mill it is.
For those not familiar with the saying grist is the corn that is taken to the mill and turned into flour. And so it is with judging.
You take your photo to the judge who views it from their own perspective and turns it into something else.
What you do with the resulting (flour) is up to you. There’s endless possibilities. You can throw it in the air, or you can bake a cake, you can say I still prefer the corn I bought here originally, you can add some water to it and make a sticky paste.
Whatever you do your photo will never be the same again.
Judge not, that ye be not judged. —Matthew 7:1
This is a not well understood quote from Jesus. Taken in isolation it suggests judging is not a good thing and that you should excuse bad photography in others lest you have bad photos of your own.
This lack of understanding is mainly because the context of the next verse is missing.
Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. — Matthew 7:1-2
Now this is a much more positive affirmation of judging that says you must judge with care and diligence but also maintain personal standards.
This I guess is where the judges, whether I like the feedback or not, do a very good job. Their judging is backed up by comments that give you an insight into the standards they are judging on.
So what have I learned from the judging of some of my photos.
1. I have a strong emotional attachment to my own work. This may be because of who is in it, the circumstances in which I took it, the skills I developed in taking it or editing it.
The judges have none of that. The emotion for the judges must come solely from the photo itself.
BTW you can’t separate emotion from decision-making – there’s no such thing as pure objectivity. That’s a topic for another day.
2. The set subject must be the main subject in the photo.
This I think is a good example of missing this fundamental point. The set subject was white and my photo had lots of white. The judges comment was that “it is not really white.” Told a good story apparently, but not really white.
Set subject “White”
My initial reaction was “What do you mean it’s not white?”
Took me a while to get over this. Surprisingly it was the same judge’s comment on another entry that made the penny drop.
The judge said that that person had made the effort to create a photo in which the subject was white.
I got it. If I’m going to enter something in the set subject category I need to make sure that the main subject of the photo is the set subject. This gets a little harder when the topic is an adjective, verb or adverb. Much easier to do when it is a noun .
3. Not everyone sees what you see.
I think we all know this deep down. We have a commonality in photography that brings us together but each of us has a uniqueness that allows us to create our own art. The diversity on show in our club is delightful and wonderful and any other superlative you wish to use.
A judge cannot have all of our own unique perspectives. It’s obvious when we look at each others pictures that we as individuals don’t always get someone else’s picture. This one of mine illustrates how you can see something obvious that isn’t so.
This to me is so obviously a macro of a mushroom with the photographic title a play on the term “meat of a mushroom”. I’d grown up with this term. Wikipedia confirms it wasn’t just a family tradition.
“Though neither meat nor vegetable, mushrooms are known as the “meat” of the vegetable world.”
So I tick off my checklist:
nice macro – check
Interesting concept – check
clever clogs title – check
All is go.
Judge thought it was a technical demonstration and that the title simply stated what the subject was.
My initial reaction was the “What do you mean it’s not white?” reaction.
I’ve since talked to several others in the society and few of them could tell what it was either.
I’m not upset at them and I can’t be upset at the judge either. That peer feedback was most useful for me. I learned to get more perspectives and to trust the feedback.
So yeah I’m getting to love the judging cause it gives me opportunities to think about my photography and how I can improve what I present up for judging.
We’ve got good judges and you should read the comments, not only on your own photos but on others as well. Seek peer feedback if you’re still uncertain. Someone else may be able to give you a good steer.