Awards & Competitions

I've just read that a photographer has won his own photography competition, and not just the main prize but in various categories within the same competition.

My first thought was, well, he made the rules and just so happened to exclude the rule that if you have a vested interest in the competition then entries would not be accepted. (note to self, check other competitions rules before parting with money..)

You would think that was pretty basic stuff, especially as the competition is open to all levels and you pay to upfront for each image entered. He gets the money. He keeps the money.

I entered LPOTY two years in a row. First year I received a polite :"thanks but no thanks" email, second year I was shortlisted. I haven't decided if I feel like entering this year yet.

LPOTY - Landscape Photographer of the Year - is run by Charlie Waite.

If you know of Charlie Waite, there is no way he would ever consider entering his own competition as a possibility. Speaks volumes doesn't it.

Which competition, if you were ever going to enter one, would you prefer to enter?

What does it tell you about the mindset of the person who created the competition.

Their ethics. Their values. Their story.

This also opens up another can of worms...Do I don't I believe in entering photo competitions?

I can happily sit on the fence with this one as I can see both sides, and it really does depend on a few things.

1. Entering LPOTY the first time 2 years ago helped me be more organised with storing my work and deleting the images I didn't like rather than keeping them all...just in case..

2. Understanding the criteria and how far reaching it can be. This means, be yourself. You are the only one who puts yourself into a box. You can let yourself play outside of those lines if you choose to do so. Abstract is a far reaching category. So is landscape. The categories are interesting, when you see the final images, how each person has interpreted them. This tells a subconscious story of self esteem, thoughts, feelings, emotions, peer pressure, parents, siblings. How free are you in your creativity, is it for you, or to please someone else?

3. Let go of the fear of judgement from others. This will hold you back, keep you small and reduce your voice , mainly from fear of being criticised or being ignored. If you feel that fear, then others feel it to. Recognise it, acknowledge it, you are only human after all, then choose to either listen to it and procrastinate, feeling frustrated , stuck and blaming others, or just go for it..accept that there will be judgements, and move on. Judgements can come from keyboard warriors. Create your life, don't allow others comments to create it for you.

4. Motivation. On a dark cold morning under a warm duvet...stay in bed or go out...when the opportunities of shooting a spectacular sunrise, the insects starting to wake up with the droplets of dew on their wings, the flowers unfurling, the morning mist lingering on the lake, the feeling that the world belongs to you. Stronger wake up call than any double espresso Ive ever had, and I've had quite a few in my time when I worked in London! So motivation as theres  deadline, much like most professions. A deadline for a competition is of course, mandatory, so when you sign up to enter, don't complain that its stifling your style as you are running out of time, you knew the deadline, thats one of the first things you checked, so it up to you to take responsibility for your own life, we all have 24 hours a day, so be more organised, create your day and space, or don't enter, theres always next year, its not the end of the world. The competitions really helped me have more focus and take more opportunities. Going out with the camera with no intention of taking an image, but just being there, slowing down, and seeing, rather than looking.

5.  Appreciation. Appreciating the work of other photographers. Ideas, inspiration, angles, light, composition, trends. What works and what doesn't. When I entered the first time and got absolutely nowhere, I saw this as a learning curve, I studied the winners, the commended images, the shortlisted images, I studied their websites and bought some books. Part of the learning curve. I do feel looking back, as hindsight is a brilliant thing, bloody useless, but brilliant all the same, that I learned, well, not a lot really. I might disagree with that in number 6...

6. Finally..Contradicting number 5, a little, is that I did learn that there are very popular locations that get visited time and time again. As a photographer, they can be treated with a "..not again...groan". However, as a client who may not have seen all of those images taken by loads of other photographers, as they don't follow loads of photographers on social media or in competitions, it could be the first time they have ever laid eyes on such an image. So don't be ashamed to take another shot of a honeypot location.

You will be seeing it through different eyes, unless of course you are copying someone else and you don't feel any connection to your final image, thats a topic for another blog...This has taught me to see things differently as the everyday shot leaves me feeling cold and a disconnect. Thats ok, I embrace that now. I used to fight it, I should be taking sweeping landscape mountain shots I thought, but now I've accepted that I'm not a landscape photographer, but more of an abstract and a macro girl, Ive even embraced the iPhone camera..thats also for another blog too..

Don't box yourself into being one thing. If you want to play, then play. Of course this is a way of discovering your own style, liberating yourself from others images, connection and change. Learning to listen to your own voice, which may just b telling you theres no need to enter a competition, and yes, I can understand that too.

You don't need judges to justify your work as being good enough. Because you are good enough.

Sounds cheesy, but you are where you are supposed to be right now. To wish to be someone or somewhere else is not accepting where or who you are.  Where or who you are right now is as a consequence of your choices, so you are just blaming yourself, chasing your tail, going nowhere.

That leads to frustration, boredom, anger and lack of clarity. I don't think that they are endearing qualities when you are out taking images..

Realise that there are no rules, apart from the ones you write for yourself.

Obviously, because if you write them you play by them, just like the guy who won his own competition..

Mel Collie

Melanie Collie