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Why so Competitive?

DOGSBODY 9 1.4k 30 England
29 Mar 2012 8:57AM
Why is photography such a competitive hobby?

Camera clubs, in particular, fill their programmes with no end of competitions. Why can't they just have nights with set themes so that members can show their pictures and get feedback without the need for winners and losers?

And why do people become judges - do they see themselves as being better than others? Do they believe that their opinion is more valid than Joe Soaps? Some of the most experienced photographers that I know are not judges but they will offer advice, when it is sought, to anyone.

I don't include competitions run by the likes of EPZ in my comments as they are a totally different kettle of fish and usually have decent prizes for the winners.

Is it just photography or do artists' clubs feel the same need for competition, and if so, how do they judge a Rembrandt style picture against a Picasso?

Perhaps you enjoy competitions and will tell us why or are you like me and find them irrelevant.

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digicammad 14 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
29 Mar 2012 9:22AM
In general, people improve through competition and human nature itself is competitive, so camera clubs are really only giving people what they want.

As to people becoming judges, I bet a lot of them go through the "I don't agree with him/her, I bet I could do a better job" thought process. Smile
Big Bri 17 16.3k United Kingdom
29 Mar 2012 9:22AM
My camera club has a "competition season" which seems to be one after the other, then it quietens down and we have lots of non competitive stuff.
We have some people who are very competitive indeed (they called me Mr Competitive when I joined and proceeded to win most of the competitions, although I am less so now).

We recently joined the Southern Federation and in our first season we have come top of the league and are moving up. It was organised by one guy (not our competitions secretary) who just took the images he thought would win, rather than the usual democratic process we use to select images for inter-club competitions. He is very very keen, and he has come up with some formula for selecting the best images.

At the other end, we have people who never enter competitions, those who enter just to support the club, people who enter but just for fun......

I decided a while back that I would enter for fun, because I liked the opportunity to show some of my best work, and because you do get some very useful feedback sometimes. However, I don't take it seriously any more, for this reason:
In our exhibition in 2010, none of my photos were given awards by the visiting judge. Not even a highly commended. This was my worst result since joining the club. About 2 month later, we had a club competition with a different judge. I submitted three photos, two of which had been in the exhibition, and scored 29/30 (2 10's and 1 9). Another member of the club submitted two photos from the exhibition, one of which came third overall and one of which got a highly commended. On this occasion, the judge scored them both at 7.

So, I do it for fun, smile when I win, grumble about the judge afterwards in the pub when I don't Wink
Big Bri 17 16.3k United Kingdom
29 Mar 2012 9:24AM
After saying that, we've had some really good judges, but most tend to err on one side or other of the following scale:
"is it in focus, printed well, tells a story, classic composition.." "Oh a cat, I like cats. TEN!"
Big Bri 17 16.3k United Kingdom
29 Mar 2012 9:25AM
(I did add some arrows to that last post, but I forgot it looked like HTML, so won't get displayed Wink )
Miles Herbert Plus
15 1.9k 4 United Kingdom
29 Mar 2012 9:29AM
Horses for courses ... some people love the competitive nature of club photography, some people hate it. Personally I am a member of a local club and although I enjoy the social side I'm not really bothered about the competitions although I will pick and choose which ones to enter and don't really take it seriously. Having said that there are members who take things very seriously indeed, have their note books poised ready and waiting for every pearl of wisdom dropped by the judge and worry about it for weeks when their photo gets a poor score or worse, a "lesser" photo wins the comp. I enjoy the club, and they enjoy the club ... just in different ways.

Judges ... again, some take it very seriously and are VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE ... some have a laugh and a joke, apologise for their bad judgement and eat all the biscuits. So far I have only met one who was convinced that he was the best photographer ever ... and several who came to raid the biscuits so I guess that most are merely mortal while a chosen few have photographic super-powers. You find it every where ... the more people who you can convince of your importance, the more important you are.

Oh ... and Rembrandt every time ... Grin
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
29 Mar 2012 10:03AM
I think competition is basic to the human condition, despite the attempts in the 70s/80s of loony-left local authorities to designate it as politically incorrect in schools.

Virtually all sports and hobbies have a competitive element. One of the nice things about a few of them, like photography and trainspotting, is that there is still scope for those of a less-competitive bent to participate.

Our camera club has 5 competition nights each year. Most of the weekly meetings are taken up with guest speakers, members' nights, practical sessions, etc., so I think the balance is about right.

I guess people become judges because there is a demand for them. Don't know anyone who set out to become a judge; most seem to have had their arms twisted to take that role.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
29 Mar 2012 10:22AM
go to any country show and they compete for best jam, onion, flowers, sheep, cow..... you name it!
DOGSBODY 9 1.4k 30 England
29 Mar 2012 10:22AM
Don't you find that the same people tend to win the competitions on a regular basis and that they promote a certain type of image that you know the judge will like which is hardly conducive to being truly creative and different.

I don't see how you can compare a creative hobby like photography with sport. Sport is mostly about winning whereas photography is a creative pastime.

I have seen quite a few people leave camera clubs because they never get a look in at the competitions or their work has been slated by some judge.

Do you really need to have winners and losers why not have discussion nights that everyone can participate in without the competitive element?
sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
29 Mar 2012 10:40AM
Whilst some definately have a competetive nature, I think we are all nutured to be competeitive - to varying degree's. It can take time to let go of this competetive instinct, and its easy to fall back into the trap - and competition - especially in aspects of our lives where it isnt needed. I believe that this can be damaging.

Some time ago I came to believe that I needed to learn to be less competetive in certian aspects of my life: photography was one of them. E.g. I used to be pre-occupied with the votes on here, winning camera club competitions etc... Now I thinik "how important is it?" I can see that the enjoyment I gain from this hobby is not soley dependant on the reactions of others - although I do still like sharing my work and gaining praise I am not in direct competition with others unless I choose to be.
NEWDIGIT 7 401 United Kingdom
29 Mar 2012 10:44AM
competion is a human trait, but taken to far and to serious can be oppressive.
I quit our local club simply because they had become obssessed with competions every week, week in week out, there was a competion.
Week 1 landscapes (slides), Week 2 landscapes (prints), Week 3 landscapes (monocrome),Week 4 landscapes (HDR)
I had entered some and had good judgements even winning a few but for heavens sake isnt photography about actually taking the photo.
I suggested outings, studio sessions (not really my bag) guest speakers etc all to no avail.
anyone know a club in the Leicester/Nuneaton area that is ACTIVE in getting out and about?
JohnParminter 11 1.3k 14 England
29 Mar 2012 10:48AM

Quote:Perhaps you enjoy competitions and will tell us why

Because I have won thousands of pounds and an appreciation and recognition of my efforts.


Big Bri 17 16.3k United Kingdom
29 Mar 2012 10:49AM
I was criticised for putting in work to one competition based on my knowledge of the judge (an ex-member of the club). The thing is, if you are going to enter, you might as well try and win. This particular judge always marks people down for poorly printed and mounted work. (He runs the local framing company). Everyone knows this, so why put in photos that are pixellated, have a white line along one edge, etc ?

He knocked one of my shots down last time because I used a narrow DOF to focus on a particular rock on the top of Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons, with Pen y fan out of focus in the background. In his opinion, a "landscape shot" should be sharp front to back. He even went as far as to recommend how I could achieve this (by using a tripod), despite the fact that it was so sunny I had to shoot as ISO 50 and 1/2000 to get the aperture wide enough for the DOF I wanted to use. Smile

Next time, I'll remember this....
Techno Plus
9 2.7k 8 England
29 Mar 2012 10:50AM
Personally I really enjoy the competitions but quite frequently sit there bemused with the judges views on what we have just seen, I sat in front of an advisory panel recently with a selection of my images and started on a learning curve not even my club nights could have prepared me for, I think after I have digested the input from these eminent photographers I may become a better tog for it, well I can hope cant I!

My conclusions, keep the yearly club competitions but, introduce an evening of discussions as already mentioned this imho would be a worthwhile addition to my clubs calendar.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
29 Mar 2012 10:53AM
I know Welshot's not a "club" as such, but they have a thriving community of photographers now, and competitions are effectively banned - it's all about sharing, learning and enjoying... it can work!

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