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Thread: Competitions, good thing or not?

  1. #1
    Formerly user: Arzuhl
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    Competitions, good thing or not?

    Just wanted to put this out there to get the communities views on this subject.
    I would love to get a little banner under my signature saying "Photo of the week Winner" but as yet it has eluded me, even though I finished in the top 4 a couple of times and I generally enter any comp that comes up. So what does this say to anyone that has been in a similar situation about our Photography, do we just accept the fact that maybe our photography is not up to competition standard and move on, do we get depressed about it or do we get obsessed about winning and focus (excuse the pun) on producing award winning shots. If we subscribe to the latter view, then does that not take away an element of the enjoyment of Photography, always looking for "The" shot instead of enjoying the moment?
    Interested in your thoughts.
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    Member Cris's Avatar
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    Interesting topic and I can certainly empathise with you, however I think there are so many variables and to win competitions you also need to get good CC so you can at least start to understand what improvements you may need to make. It is also unfortunate as sometimes when you look at the top 4 entries one week if they had been a week earlier/later they most likely would have won. Photography is like most things in life in that practice makes perfect- that also means that you the time to develop skills (something which eludes me since returning to work). Chasing that elusive shot isn't a bad thing, it just shows that you do have passion and do want to learn- nothing wrong with that The main thing is don't get hung up on it and as you said don't let the enjoyment lessen because you are worried about a competition.

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    I just take my normal shots and try to enjoy Photography, If there's a goodie I post it in the forums for reactions, If it does good ,Wait 30,60, days or so and if the theme comes up enter it , Try all different genre , I've only won with 2 landscapes , A bloody heap of seconds though , But Graham it's not my thought of taking an award winner , I shoot between 40-60 shots a day (Single shots) of different things , I have plenty to choose from, Guess it's the law of averages that I snag a goodie sometime
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  4. #4
    It's all about the Light!
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    Comps are supposed to be fun and another way to set an improvement goal.
    It's not like sheep stations on on the line.

    Same deal at a Camera Club. The judge's feedback is the main issue, not winning.
    As both a Camera Club member and recently qualified SAPF judge I can say the main goal of comps and judging is to help the entrants learn.
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
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    Nice question Graham. I really only enter the comps on here as a pre curser to see how I am going. In intermediate I have never got in the top 4-5 I think. But I'm not worried at all.
    Sometimes I'll enter a pic that I think is fantastic, and should take it out. But it will only get around good to average.

    I don't get disheartened, and why should I. I'm here to learn and enjoy my hobby. I've said this many times.... There is not much difference between Beginner & Advanced in the images that I see in the comps.

    Sometimes I think many members under/over estimate their abilities. I've seen some threads back when the layered system started, were some top notch photographers say that they were not good enough for intermediate. When in fact in my opinion they should have been in advanced. Then again I think some are competition junkies, and start low so they can win a few.

    So don't be worried. It's all a learning thing. And if you do worry, maybe it's becoming more than a hobby, and becoming a chore.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    firstly, winning a competition on AP is not easy. The site has been running for almost 6 years and we are up to just over potw300, so that is only 300 POTW winners, we have 12 monthly comps a year.

    Since we introduced the AP competition system about 18 months ago, we have had over 10,000 competition entries. So in the last 18 months we have had about 80 POTW winners and 18 POTM winners, out of over 10,000 entries.

    Winning is not easy.

    However, If you try to hard, you are losing the enjoyment for photographer, relax, enjoy, take the shots you like taking. Then enter your best ones, and one day you might just be lucky enough to win.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    It's all about the Light!
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Then enter your best ones, and one day you might just be lucky enough to win.
    That is part of it for sure. Judging is subjective.
    I've won at the camera club with images I did not expect to do as well as others.

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day Graham + others

    Back 2000 years ago - well in the 60s, 70s & 80s when I was mad-keen in various camera clubs, I started as a "B" grader and worked my way up to "A" grade. At first I said to myself that "I would never be as good as..." and after a while, I started to get the odd 3rd, then 2nd then started to get 1st's. ie- it takes time, it takes effort BUT as Rick says "If you try too hard, you are [risking] losing the enjoyment for photography"

    Also during the 70s & 80s I was heavily involved with a number of APS "National Exhibitions" - and to hear a panel of judges debate the various merits of the top few images before voting for a 'winner' ... well any of 3-4-5-6 could have got the final 'gong', but only one actually did. It's a bugga for the 4th-5th-6th who get a Highly-Commended but could have been a 1st but only if something was 1% different

    Regards, Phil
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamS View Post
    Interested in your thoughts.
    Well, since you asked... :-)

    Personally, I am not interested in competitions any more.

    I've been there and done that. I did the camera club thing. My particular club was (and probably still is) heavily focused on competitions, with two nights out of the four per month being dedicated to competitions.

    I got tired of getting nowhere, and seeing the same people with the same kinds of images always get the awards. I also saw some strange judging in my time. Some judges were very good and offered insightful commentary; others were just plain terrible and made bad choices.

    Over time I became very jaded and disinterested, and eventually walked away from the club scene, as well as competitions in general.

    I'm not interested in playing whatever silly games it takes to win competitions. The rules (ie, what it takes to succeed) are very random -- moving goal posts. Judges ultimately have biases and inconsistencies. Judges are simply people who make decisions based on their opinions -- some informed, and some decidedly not.

    The ultimate judge of my images is me, and I don't need someone else to stick an award on them (or not) to validate my images.

    I enjoy my creative processes, and when I produce an image that is pleasing to my eyes, then I've already won the ultimate award.

    It never ceases to amuse me that I could land an image on the cover of a major Australian photography magazine, yet never do well at finnicky camera club competitions.

    An image that wins a competition isn't necessarily a great image; and conversely, an image that doesn't win a competition isn't necessarily a bad image.

    To those who like competitions, want to win them, etc., I say go for it, and enjoy yourself. It's just not for me. It was a destructive experience, and at the end of the day, my photography isn't about competitions.
    Last edited by Xenedis; 12-04-2012 at 8:40pm.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamS View Post
    .......do we just accept the fact that maybe our photography is not up to competition standard and move on, .....
    No, I accept the fact that:-
    - I entered it in an AP comp., so it must be comp. standard ,
    - simply because my fellow AP voters don't think it was the best that week doesn't change what I think of my image (there's the CC forums for that),
    - there's some bloody good photos, so why do anything but aspire, and
    - although we all like to win every comp., really it's a bit of fun that is reward in itself.

    If expectations are kept low, they'll usually be exceeded (but don't quote my on that)!
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
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    Hello Graham and everyone. I just really think competitions are there to enjoy other peoples efforts and what they think is good and to promote photography. i feel it is a bit like art competitions in that you enter with something you think is good but realise everyone including judges see things as they prefer them or whatever and so I never expect to be top choice but I like to be "out there"!! I enter a few here to participate and like to see afterwards how I and others I recognise scored in the first round vote. I am always pleased if the final picture that I voted for wins. There are so many styles and also varying degreees of post processing - all enjoyable. It is part of the site. Gotta love it!!!
    Kathy

    Using a Nikon D90 and 18-200mm VR lens

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    I try my best everytime i have my camera in hand, i still think my images are way off comp std though.
    Last edited by MiniFighter; 12-04-2012 at 10:04pm.




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    Hi All,

    As a newbie and having never been a member of a camera club the AP comps are a novelty for me. I just like to enter because the theme each week gives me something to focus on (oops sorry for the pun). To me it's an enjoyable challenge. The recent "dark side" theme made me think and got me out there with my camera and saw me wandering around gravestones at sunset. That didn't work so experimented with photographing in the dark which I had never done before and resulted in an entry I was really pleased with. Didn't make the final vote but who cares. It's the process that's important and if you just happen to win, hey, it's a bonus

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    Quote Originally Posted by HelenClaire View Post
    Hi All,

    As a newbie and having never been a member of a camera club the AP comps are a novelty for me. I just like to enter because the theme each week gives me something to focus on (oops sorry for the pun). To me it's an enjoyable challenge. The recent "dark side" theme made me think and got me out there with my camera and saw me wandering around gravestones at sunset. That didn't work so experimented with photographing in the dark which I had never done before and resulted in an entry I was really pleased with. Didn't make the final vote but who cares. It's the process that's important and if you just happen to win, hey, it's a bonus
    Love your thinking and attitude.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Well, since you asked... :-)

    Personally, I am not interested in competitions any more.

    I've been there and done that. I did the camera club thing. My particular club was (and probably still is) heavily focused on competitions, with two nights out of the four per month being dedicated to competitions.

    I got tired of getting nowhere, and seeing the same people with the same kinds of images always get the awards. I also saw some strange judging in my time. Some judges were very good and offered insightful commentary; others were just plain terrible and made bad choices.

    Over time I became very jaded and disinterested, and eventually walked away from the club scene, as well as competitions in general.

    I'm not interested in playing whatever silly games it takes to win competitions. The rules (ie, what it takes to succeed) are very random -- moving goal posts. Judges ultimately have biases and inconsistencies. Judges are simply people who make decisions based on their opinions -- some informed, and some decidedly not.

    The ultimate judge of my images is me, and I don't need someone else to stick an award on them (or not) to validate my images.

    I enjoy my creative processes, and when I produce an image that is pleasing to my eyes, then I've already won the ultimate award.

    It never ceases to amuse me that I could land an image on the cover of a major Australian photography magazine, yet never do well at finnicky camera club competitions.

    An image that wins a competition isn't necessarily a great image; and conversely, an image that doesn't win a competition isn't necessarily a bad image.

    To those who like competitions, want to win them, etc., I say go for it, and enjoy yourself. It's just not for me. It was a destructive experience, and at the end of the day, my photography isn't about competitions.
    I hear you and totally understand. For people like me though it is really nice to have that banner at our level of experience / expertise. I fully accept that it is a luck of the draw thing...but that is ok. This site challenges me with its quality, the previous site I was on did not. There is another site I aspire to but it is out of my league for now. It is nice to have stepping stones in confidence and this site is superb IMO at doing that having comps and awards at 3 levels.

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    Slightly off topic, but on topic of competitions, what is the ratio of entries to voters? (is it possible to determine)?

    Are there more people who vote then those who enter, other way round or somewhat even?

  17. #17
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ranvens View Post
    Slightly off topic, but on topic of competitions, what is the ratio of entries to voters? (is it possible to determine)?

    Are there more people who vote then those who enter, other way round or somewhat even?
    Once a competition is over, you can see the voting, and how many voted.

  18. #18
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Well, since you asked... :-)

    Personally, I am not interested in competitions any more.

    I've been there and done that. I did the camera club thing. My particular club was (and probably still is) heavily focused on competitions, with two nights out of the four per month being dedicated to competitions.

    I got tired of getting nowhere, and seeing the same people with the same kinds of images always get the awards. I also saw some strange judging in my time. Some judges were very good and offered insightful commentary; others were just plain terrible and made bad choices.

    Over time I became very jaded and disinterested, and eventually walked away from the club scene, as well as competitions in general.

    I'm not interested in playing whatever silly games it takes to win competitions. The rules (ie, what it takes to succeed) are very random -- moving goal posts. Judges ultimately have biases and inconsistencies. Judges are simply people who make decisions based on their opinions -- some informed, and some decidedly not.

    The ultimate judge of my images is me, and I don't need someone else to stick an award on them (or not) to validate my images.

    I enjoy my creative processes, and when I produce an image that is pleasing to my eyes, then I've already won the ultimate award.

    It never ceases to amuse me that I could land an image on the cover of a major Australian photography magazine, yet never do well at finnicky camera club competitions.

    An image that wins a competition isn't necessarily a great image; and conversely, an image that doesn't win a competition isn't necessarily a bad image.

    To those who like competitions, want to win them, etc., I say go for it, and enjoy yourself. It's just not for me. It was a destructive experience, and at the end of the day, my photography isn't about competitions.
    Sums it up pretty well.

    That's why I am not a fan of unasked for critiquing, either.

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    I think they are a fun motivator and that is it!

    Never been in a camera club...........never will!

    There is so much emphasis on winning, money, awards and degrees these days that it sucks the fun right out of the activity at times.


    Expand your boundaries, find the fun and enjoy what you do because at the end of the day that is all it is about! FUN
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  20. #20
    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Comps are good - for a time. They are a challenge for you do do well at a particular type of photography - depending on what comp it is. When I was starting to learn I used comps quite a bit, but it soon became apparent that I would only learn what the comp wanted. This isn't a bad thing as long as you recognise it, but it can impede you if you think that "comp winner" = "best photo". I entered some international comps one year, and they were quite good in their selection of winners, but they were a lot of work and I didn't bother in later years.

    I still enter comps occasionally, but I never take a photo with a comp in mind (though I may process one with that thought). I suppose I do it just to show myself that I can still win if I want, but I have to be very selective about what type of photo I post. I try never to fall into the trap of posting what I love. I try to post on what others love - ie from feedback of others who don't know any of the photo's context. You have to be very dispassionate about your photos to do well in comps, and try not to be disappointed if you don't do well. There is a lot of luck involved in most comps and what might win one week will come nowhere the next.

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