Recently, I have been witnessing a huge number of photography competitions being conducted online. Today I sat for many hours visiting all these photography competitions and was shocked. How low is the photography going? It seems that now some people come together, form a group and conduct photography competitions. Some of these are on a daily basis too!
(Photograph to fill the space and break the monotony of text.)
Some of the things that I noticed consistently in most of these photography competitions –
- The photographs entered are mediocre and sometimes terrible. I am not going to be subtle about it. The photographs are sometimes worse than what mobile-addicts and snapshooters capture. The photograph seems to be appealing due to excessive use of filters, plugins and so-called ‘effects’. Without the use of photo-editing, the subject and overall composition will not garner even a second look in such photographs.
- The people who judge the photographs are usually the ‘admins’ of these social media groups. I am yet to find judges here who actually understand art. For them, the purpose of the competition is to add members to their groups and thereby boost their own fan following (group members) and to have a market presence.
- The prize is usually a loud certificate, with the winning photograph, the photograph or name of the photographer and a ghastly frame around it. It usually looks like the handiwork of someone learning to use graphic designing programs. Lately, some of the social media groups have started being subtle in their ‘certificates’.
- The winning photographs in these certificates take up a small area and are mostly distorted. In fact, in one such certificate, I even saw the original photograph horizontally stretched across the ‘certificate’ distorting it completely. My first thoughts were – the person giving out the certificate does not even feel the pain when the photograph gets distorted.
- The so-called ‘winners’ also do not mind showcasing their certificates on their social media accounts hoping to win accolades and they do get many wows and congratulations… but on what? The same run of the mill, average photograph!
Why am I bothered about such competitions? My biggest grouch is that these competitions are letting the aspiring photographers feel that they have reached the zenith of their creativity and that is when they stop improving. The result – endless numbers of mediocre to below-average photographers who end up spending lots of money on photography equipment. (Who is a Photographer?)
The common cliches that the photographers seem to use in these online groups and competitions are –
- Excessive use of vignette.
- Selective coloring.
- Lowering the saturation or increasing the saturation (extremes).
- Converting to black and white (just for the sake of getting a monochrome image).
- Instagram like filters or old film effects.
I keep telling my readers to avoid these photo-editing traps. Do see this article – Top 10 Photo-editing Traps
It pains me to see hordes of such digitally altered images being touted as masterpieces and then winning those certificates. How easy it is to kill good talent! Just let a photographer know that there is nothing better left to learn now and at the very moment, the drive to excel ends.
No, I am not saying that all such groups are terrible. In fact, there are various large groups that post excellent photographs and the admins seem to know when they see a masterpiece. As I write this article, two big facebook groups (which I also follow) need to be mentioned – Club of Black and White Photography and The Universe of Colour Photography (links to the facebook pages open in a new tab). The photographs posted here mostly are works of art. Yes, many mediocre photographs also get posted but in general, the quality seems fine. There are many other such good groups too. However, most of the other social medial groups that hold these online photography competitions seem to be doing more harm than good.
This is just a random thought that I thought of writing down. I can’t hurt the feelings of the people who have been participating in such competitions and showing their average works with a sense of pride. So, I am not adding any screenshots to showcase what’s wrong.
(This also reminds me of a similar trend in professions. Award ceremonies seem to be happening every day, at someplace or the other. When I open my LinkedIn account, half of the updates are about people posting their awards which they got at some award ceremony, which somehow I have never heard of.)