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The winnable competition


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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The winnable competition

19 Sep 2020 11:49AM   Views : 461 Unique : 288


One of the things that differentiates photographers is what makes them tick. Some shoot for art, some to record beautiful, memorable or important things. Others are in it to win it…

I don’t like compiling lists of the ten best pop songs EVER. I’d rather have a list of thirty that I like a lot. Similarly, it seems perverse to run a competition in which the first place wins £1,000, and nobody else gets anything. There are a lot of competitions like this, and adding insult to injury, you have to pay to enter many of them – the competition is actually a moneymaking concern for the ‘sponsor’ (or will be if enough people enter enough pictures).

But that’s how they usually work these days. I want to offer a suggestion to competition organisers – try a wider, more equal spread of goodies.

Many years ago, I won a place in a book. The competition was for images taken in mid-Wales during a specific month of a particular year, and as I was on holiday there for a week, I entered. It was called the John Claridge Monochrome Challenge (I like black and white), and there were two top prizes, for the single best image, and the best print. They were engraved slates. But all 50 selected images were printed in a book, given to all who won a place, along with a book of Claridge images.


Best of all, the prizes were distributed at an Ilford place near Oxford Street, with John Claridge in attendance. (If you don’t know who he is, look him up, and have a look at the work on his website!)

That was a singularly ‘winnable’ competition. It didn’t one big prize, and it encouraged a lot of us whose work appeared in the book. Similarly, around 1990, JCB sponsored a competition called ‘The Spirit of Staffordshire’ for three years – pictures taken in Staffordshire or with a strong Staffordshire connection were eligible. Attractive for a Staffordshire lad like me, living just over the border in the West Midlands.
Possibly the best competition of all was more of a learning experience. Run by Roger Maile as part of his Creative Monochrome publishing venture, it ran for twelve years as an annual publication, Best of Friends. I entered several times, and got a couple of images published towards the end. A proud achievement to rub shoulders with people like Tim Rudman and Tudr Tudr, whose environmental nudes set a benchmark that I still aspire to.

So – what do you like? Are you competitive, ready to wade to victory through the broken camera and bodies of the rest of us to a new Nikon, or would you rather join in with a big cooperative venture?


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pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 450
19 Sep 2020 1:43PM
I think you can tell with certain accuracy which I would have preferred... Grin
PaulCox Avatar
19 Sep 2020 3:07PM
Congratulations on Image 1, and your inclusion in the book, the image is simply stunning. Just looked up John Claridge Amazing work I have seen some of the images before but I had no idea who they were by thank you for suggesting looking him up. Paul.
rontear Avatar
rontear Plus
20 23 9 England
19 Sep 2020 3:09PM
Hi John,
You have always had style, to aspire to !! your knowledge of lighting second to none !! Knowing and working with some of the best models the UK has, an honour to be on shoots with you SmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmile I too had a few acceptances in Creative Monochrome ( got the whole set !!) Always been competitive too and in Mono !!!!! Take care and stay safe, all the best to family and Janet. Regards Ron
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
19 Sep 2020 9:58PM
Now, I'd not realised that, Ron!

I shall go back and look through my set... Of course, CM predated us knowing each other.

Similarly, all my best to you and Maggie.
Robert51 Avatar
Robert51 14 12 147 United Kingdom
25 Sep 2020 10:15PM
I understand that your blog is about the spread of the rewards thus the title. The strange thing is in art is there any winners ? Unlike sport which proves who is the best, this does not apply to art. Everybody has a different idea about what they are looking for and that goes for the judges.

So for me "The winnable competition" is what we get out of images that please us.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
26 Sep 2020 11:54AM
Quite right, Robert! A broader spread: winner takes all is a poor system, just as 'first past the post' elections are.

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