Thursday, February 8, 2007


woman on Calle Del Sol (v2) (by ~ fernando)

«woman on Calle Del Sol (v2)»

I seem to be meandering with many topics initiated in these entries, but they have been in my head, without outlet, for so long. In addition to this dam of questions, there is the little reminders that will come up in daily interactions over at flickr.

I was recently added by someone that seems to blog a lot of images, has some good images of his own -- if not with a very narrowed interest -- that he liked my images and wanted me to participate in his pool (named after himself, as these vanity pools seem to be spreading quite fast). I did join, and notice that one had to vote by plastering some icon of his design for images to stay in the pool, or whatever. I observed and left, and also removed him from my contacts, because after a while, I notice the pattern (no pun intended on his graphical images) of his talent, and there is no much more to entice me: the idea of photography for my appreciation is for my imagination to wander, and sometimes, wonder.

These actions were met with a lengthy (form) email about not joining/leaving. I responded kindly that I am not interested in competitions of the kind, and it got me thinking whether other art forms have such a competitive streak. I thought of paintings, and there could be something of a competition about students learning, and certainly there was a famous one that gave us the beginning of the impressionist movement. It seems that the impressionists were not obeying rules that made the judgement a bit harder, and so they were not admitted (to summarize rather crudely).

I also thought of dog competitions. Aside from watching, and enjoying, the movie Best in Show I have only caught a glimpse of it on TV. However, it has intrigued me how among such different kinds of dogs in every aspect, one is chosen. How can there be an objective way to judge a dog across breeds? I will remain ignorant. However, I think this has a good parallel to photo competitions -- by jury or by popular vote: how is blurry photo compared to a "decisive moment" compared to an architecture photo compared to a heavily manipulated photo?

The fascinating part is not how to judge a photo competition, but why is it such a popular thing to do in photography? Is it because the gearheads dominate such a push, and since the camera can be used to demonstrate technical prowess, then contests can be held often? (to increase the odds of getting a ribbon to list with the gear.) Is this mainly a U.S. phenomenon? (Where competition and forget-who-came-in-second is so prominent.) I think the meaning of winning a competition has no significance in absolute terms, and the relative value may not be assessed except by those attending the contest: so what is the point to others? If I am going to list a ribbon for a won competition, why give the competition the publicity? I can just as well (in the same web space) show a photo -- this gives more information to the viewer.

I will admit that I enter one competition in a flickr pool. The photos are posted to a discussion topic and the top three go into the pool. The photos can be re-entered at another time. However, this is one approach for to me gauge how people view photos because it is a popular vote, so I do not see it as the idea of entering a competition, and all the aspects of it that I dislike.

It will be the case that I shall never enter a contest, actually, I am even having a hard time envisioning printing my photos, except for friends and relatives. I like to think of a way that the web can be used to better have people be happy to have just a digital copy of it, but then again, I am digging into another topic for the future.

The image posted, to me, signifies the best example of why not to enter a contest. Some people get the image, but I will always feel that what I see in this image is so far from what others will see, more so the strict-technical kind, that it would be such a disillusionment to enter a contest. This is the dichotomy of a contest: If I exhibit an image, I am intrigued by how a person can view the image and celebrate the confluence of differences, while in a competition, that difference is a futile collision of two opinions. How does the latter further any artistic purpose?