What is an EC?
The Editor's Choice Award, EC, is given to any photographs that the editor, Peter Bargh, thinks are worthy.
Pete explains; "We had been working on the idea of a 'gallery of excellence' for a while. Taking on board members' views, it was agreed that my choice may not be to everyone's taste and what I thought was excellent may be average to someone else. For this reason we decided to call the gallery "Editor's choice" rather than a 'Gallery of Excellence'.".
Why have an EC?
When we first started ePHOTOzine it was my intention that any photograph uploaded would be accepted and displayed, unlike the magazines I'd edited before. Their gallery sections would comprise two pages of maybe six to ten photographs. I was dismayed at all the photographs submitted that never saw the light of day. The owners got a rejection letter and had no idea how to improve or the quality of work they were up against. They continued to waste money, time and effort submitting pictures again and again. My thought was that by showcasing everyone's work we would encourage improvement and allow people to share their work, regardless of their experience.
The trouble with this was that some of the more competent photographers started to become disillusioned by the overall quality of our gallery and I agreed. There was a lot of material that I would have rejected had I still worked on the magazines, even if I had all the space in the world to print.
The idea of the EC, therefore, was to provide a selection of superb images that would inspire and encourage development, but most of all it's a showcase for brilliant photography.
If a picture appears in the EC gallery it's likely that it would also have appeared in print if I was still editing magazines.
How are ECs picked?
I look through every gallery photo uploaded, usually daily, and select the pictures that I think stand out for one or more of several reasons, comprising objective and subjective viewpoint.
- Technical excellence
Includes photographs that are razor sharp, perfectly exposed, superbly composed, fantastically edited.
Includes photographs that are original, not run of the mill, different than the norm. Ones that make me think 'wow never seen that before!'
- Treatment of the subject matter
The way a particular subject is approached, shallow depth-of-field for a wild flower may do better than a front to back sharp meadow. A side profile of a fox may do better than a head on shot, a racing car panned is likely to work better than one that looks as though it's stood still etc.
Includes photographs that break rules, stand out for odd colours, interesting compositions, selective focus etc.
- Personal appeal to me for one reason or another.
Yes I do have a liking of certain styles. I think paintings by Salvador Dali and surrealists like him are fascinating. I find Bob Carlos Clarke's pictures highly erotic, I love the infrared work of Simon Marsden, I enjoy the still lifes of Irvin Penn, I admire the landscapes of Ansel Adams. As a youth I was often engrossed in books of birds of prey by Eric Hoskins. I could go on, and on, and on.
A badly framed or titled photo may lose mental points and a perfectly presented photo may gain points, but essentially it's the centre that counts.
Do I have favourite styles?
I do have favourite styles of photography, as explained above. This can only be expected, but my selection is certainly not weighted toward these.
Do I pick ECs randomly?
Not at all. I spend about two hours each day going through each gallery photo.
Do I chose the ECs anonymously?
I've been accused of lying when I say I DO look at pictures not knowing who they are by. My first view, when I'm making my decision, is without knowing who took the photo. I may then look to see so I can comment more accurately. It's impossible to view with total anonymity though because of many members' styles comes through in their photo uploads, so it's sometimes obvious who a photo is by and impossible to judge blindfolded.
Do I have favourite members who I give ECs to?
There are members I admire, members who I'm pleased to see on the site, members who I'd love to meet up and go for a drink with and members who I enjoy email contact with but I don't favour anyone when awarding ECs, despite being accused of this regularly.
Why is the choice quite random?
It's not, if it appears random it's th nature of the uploads. For example we have seasons where puffins, bluebells or fungi are uploaded. We also have members who shoot on meets and upload similar material for a few weeks. If the picture is (in my eyes) high quality it will get an award. If several high quality similar pictures are uploaded they will get awards.
How can you be sure to get an EC?
Here are various suggestions submitted by members... and my response.
- Use B&W, low key, sepia toning, salmon coloured evening scenes.
Look through the EC selection - this sort of photo isn't high in numbers compared with any other image.
- Add black borders top and bottom
I do like a well framed shot, but the photograph in the middle has to be good too!
- Slave for hours in Photoshop.
You could spend two seconds in Photoshop or three days, I really don't care. For reference, the prize is awarded without reading comments or knowing who the photographer is so there's no bias there either.
- Study old winners and emulate them.
Originality is very important, but that doesn't mean I won't award the EC for two similar style of shots if they are exceptional.
- Limit yourself to the subjects Pete likes: flowers, birds in the sky, surfing, lonely figures, English landscapes.
If you have a look at the whole mix of pics uploaded in the gallery you'll find the subjects mentioned feature highly, so it's inevitable that in the balance more of these pics could receive awards if they are very good. Surfing? If members send exceptional car pics, bikes, athletics, skydiving - whatever sport - they'll get awards too.
- Sleep with him
You can try although no one has been successful so far.
- Bribe him
Jokes about used £5s in a phone box have been left in the comments, although I sometimes wonder if some people believe it!
- Go on a members' meeting
Actually this isn't as daft as it sounds. Members chat about ideas, share techniques, share viewpoints, share subjects, share equipment and, because of digital, share results there and then so they can adapt and shoot better. It also means the gallery, for a short while, will be flooded with similar pics and the EC section may appear to become a touch biased. As I write, this week it's foxes, last week it might have been kingfishers, next week it may be lighthouses. Oh and I've been on two meetings but the lovely people I met are not favoured and given ECs.
Do I have an agenda?
Despite being accused of this regularly I do not have a hidden agenda. I favour no single member when awarding ECs.
I do not give them to call in favours, encourage new members, get some deal out of someone, entice them to join e2. I do not give ECs on request when someone gets upset that they haven't had one. I do not give them to keep people happy or calm down eccentric behaviour. I do not give them as a business decision to encourage growth in numbers. I really do just click the pics I like - it's honestly that simple. It frustrates me that I'm constantly being criticised for the way I do things. I have a view, and it may not be the same as the next person!
And to get over the fact some people don't agree with my view, we introduced the Reader's Choice (RC) - your view and, more recently the Guest Editor GE and User Awards UA. If you don't like my view, ignore the EC and enjoy the RC, GE or UA options. The members can't be wrong - well that's another can of worms!
I'm not sure where this thinking comes from as I've always given out ECs totally independently of the level of membership. It makes no difference to my choice whatsoever. I can only assume the thinking comes from when I give ECs to newcomers. Ocasionally we have some great photographer turn up who posts hit after hit, and gets ECs or HCs...and then, coincidentally, becomes e2.
Will the EC awards continue?
I have so many times thought sod it, I'll do what every other editor does and create the product and use the "the judges decision is final, no correspondence will be entered into" line, but I care too much. I love photography and helping people improve. It's something I've been doing for the last 30 years. I think if disgruntled members accept that the EC is just a choice, my choice, it would help. If I was working on a magazine, you'd be proud and in print and you wouldn't know how the few upset, jealous types felt, because their letters would be thrown in the bin and never aired. In my view the EC is something to be proud of, but not something that should make you ill, jealous, envious, hateful, aggressive or deperate. If you fall into any of these categories get a grip or go see a doctor!)
I hope that this lengthy explanation makes it clear what ECs are really about. Enjoy the site.