A while ago we mused about creative ‘artistic’ interpretation in photography. We’re starting the New Year going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The question is: is photography a sport?
I suspect that most members will hrrumph “of course not”.
However, like many other photography and camera clubs, we have competitions and points and winners. What’s that about?
I see the value of inviting a judge to critique our photographs as an opportunity to learn from their considered commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of the images. Shouldn’t a judge’s commentary prompt us to think about whether, or how, the points made by the judge apply to our own photographs, and to think about how our own photography might be improved?
Last year we changed our scoring system for monthly competitions on the basis that, by allocating points to various criteria, judges would be able to document the perceived strengths and weaknesses in the photographs. In other words, the scoring system was supposed to provide a record that would help people learn something about their photography.
I invited all of our judges last year to tell us how they found our judging scheme. Some were positive: they felt it helped them. Some were non-committal. One very experienced judge was quite critical: he felt the scoring approach was reductionist and images should be judged as a whole: how well does the image express the idea it is trying to convey?
A couple of us went to a judging course run by PSNZ at the end of last year. What we discovered, essentially, is that PSNZ judging is not about teaching or learning, but rather about selecting the best among very good photographs for high profile exhibitions, or top awards.
Awarding an image “Honours” or “Acceptance” on the basis of a very well informed opinion of how well the image works makes sense in that context. But is it helpful at club level where people are trying to learn and improve their skills?
Nevertheless, the committee is not sure how well last year’s score system worked. We’re looking yet again at the judging scheme. Options range from retaining last year’s scheme, to abandoning scores altogether and simply asking judges to be usefully specific in their comments.
We want to continue with scores for each criterion (idea, composition, technique, etc) only if members find them useful. If members do not find them useful we should go to something simpler because they do create extra work for judges and for our competition secretary.
We would like some indication from members as to what you think. To help the committee, I’d be grateful if you would click on ‘Leave a Reply’ and let us know:
- if you often (or ever) looked in detail at the points a judge gave your image for, say, composition, or ‘idea’, and if so whether you think the points gave you helpful feedback; or
- if you have any other suggestions re ‘scoring’?
I look forward to your responses and seeing everyone at the first meeting of the year.