I’ve just come back from my local camera club (‘York photographic society’) where we had an ‘exhibition’ – actually a couple of CD-roms of prizewinning entries to a couple of competitions. The first was the FIAP: ” FIAP 23rd Colour Slide Biennial 2004″. Now, Ok, this is a few years old now but I thought it might be interesting.
Well, kind of wrong. During a 34 minute show, with each image being on the screen for 4-5 seconds, I think that there were two photographs which I considered good. The rest were bog standard postcard images, or just plain bad (i.e. horizons which were 3 degrees out of level, verticals which weren’t etc. Y’know, basic technical stuff).
It was interesting only because of the – to my mind – staggeringly low-quality.
Then there was the something like ‘the tropical photographic competition’ – run out of Florida apparently. This time the show was 30 minutes of ‘creative photography’ from 2007.
You know when you first play with Photoshop? You load in a picture and apply the ‘watercolour’ filter? Or perhaps the ‘posterize’ filter. Perhaps you’re really avant-garde and use edge-detect. You look, and say ‘hey wow’, and then you get over it?
Apparently not. I reckon about 80% of the pictures had been posterized, or watercoloured, or had edge detection applied (or turned into an oil painting). Of those that weren’t, the rest had had a really neat ‘page turn’ effect added. Cool! Or perhaps ‘selective colouring’ had been used. Woo! Way to go. For those photographers with more time on their hands, why not motion blur the background?
In short, I was not impressed.
I had a discussion with another member of the club afterward and he basically said that if you enter competitions, you enter to win; and to win you submit pictures which you know the judges will like. And that means you look at what has done well in the past, and recreate it.
So, it seems to be ‘a renowned prize-winning photographer’ you need to lose all shreds of creativity, and just follow the herd.
That’s not for me. I’ll still enter the competitions, but I won’t be upset when I don’t win – who knows, maybe one day I might even get some useful feedback.
This is identical to the stuff which has annoyed me about music creation over the past few years; everyone seems to think that slapping a fistful of samples together over a beat which sounds kind-of-like-something-that’s-in-the-charts constitutes writing a track. Worse still, this gets perpetuated and soon all of the creativity has been squeezed out of music (the same applies to so-called manufactured bands – a couple of safe covers, a number one single and then it’s back to the dole queue for you my lad).
If it’s any consolation I now feel sufficiently fired up that I might even start doing some more music (that, of course, no-one will like).
Sorry about the rant 😉
ps: with regard to photoshop. I have no problem with it per se, but it does annoy me when people print out their latest abomination and cheerfully remark that they wouldn’t be able to repeat the picture since they ‘were just messing about’. That’s not art, that’s mindless button-pushing. A monkey could do that (an infinite number of monkeys would be able to do rather better I fear)