I was on the Tube heading home after a particularly dull and long workday recently, when I received an email from the AOP with that always aggravating subject line - 'Top Tips for Entering Awards & Competitions'. "Fuck them," I said. "Delete. DELETE!" No one on the Tube paid any heed, as usual. Earlier that day a friend expressed an interest in photographing something that really didn't interest me - city landscapes - specifically at dusk - during the 'golden hour', and then on into the night for 'night photography'. "I'm more accomplished now," I said, "Fuck you"! Fuck that guy (not really).
These things, the latter in an unapologetic manner I can best describe as 'scoffing-superiority', the former, in a kind of 'I'm-on-to-you-you-false-idol-fuckbags' - they're beyond me now. They represent both the self-aggrandizing cash cow industry of photography awards, and the likely conceptual ability of the audience dumb enough to consider submitting works to them. The cynical email and pretend-'tips' espoused by the said 'awards' people only give false hope encouraging the poor approval-seeking suckers to pay hard-earned money from their own god damned pocket for the 'privilege'. Leaving aside the concerns of your shit photography for a moment, the subjectivity into what is 'worthy' of an award means there is no factual or authoritative basis for said image winning said award. There is only subjectivity and opinion. The opinion of others. Fuck those fuckbags. You're better than that.
But ... is what constitutes 'good' photography really subjective? Fuck no. Well, yes, obviously, but fuck no.— me, this article, obviously. 2020.
Is it the judge who works in fashion photography who gives blessing for the works by mere mortals like you to make the cut? Is it the one who writes about photography but can't practice the artform for their own flaccid shortcomings? Is it the cleaner's brother's cat sitter weirdo neighbour who gives the nod? He likes cats!?! What a wet fish... Huh? Oh yeh... Who in the 1-second(s) these 'judges' might spend on each image (again, leaving your shit photography for later) before dismissing it and moving on to the next - who can garner insight into the value of the concept, the execution, the method, the background, the skill required of the particular photographic sub-medium used? "Who!?" I demand! None. No one. And rightly so. Why? Because subjectivity is par for the course with visual arts, and due to its mass-saturation, photography especially so, right? And that goes for all art forms for that matter - especially so when it comes to the vulgarity of the masses!
And so ... it goes without saying that this is the case for photography awards and competitions. They're money-making ventures and the images that win will be those of a highly polished, tac-sharp, digital nature, with all the artistic skill of a technician, that appeals to the uninitiated, the fickle, the short-attention-spanned. They're for those unable and/or unwilling to look, really look, and appreciate a work in all its artistry. The judges are the masses. The awards audience are the masses! Both are non-discerning serfs who like the shiny-shiny - overly enhanced images that are a product of the digital-darkroom rather than of photographic seeing. They're always 'of' something (utterly shit) and not the 'essence' of something. What modern audience or awards judging panel would appreciate Henri Cartier Bresson's 'A man jumps from a wooden ladder' c.1932 today? Think that shit would survive the first cut let alone receive more than 1/2 a second's glance? Fuck off it would... Pleb.
But ... is what constitutes 'good' photography really subjective? Fuck no. Well, yes, obviously, but fuck no. If there is thought behind the work, and intention in the work, then it's 'good' and massed vulgarity could authoritatively say otherwise. If they were to say otherwise, you could be safe in the knowledge that they're some kind of fuck.
I'll bet good fucking money that the vast majority of photographs submitted to these competitions and awards are utter shit. I'll bet even more money that the majority of judges on these panels, themselves, could not produce better.— me, this article, obviously. 2020.
When we talk of real thought and real intention, we don't mean "oh look, the light trail of cars going through Tower Bridge is pretty n' stuff". Why? Because that stuff is shit. This 'shit' photography is the preserve of the many technically inclined photographers - the sort who read photography magazines on how to photograph X or Y. The kind concerned more with gear than of seeing. With their filters and tripods and auto-eye-tracking crap. The sort who get about London's tourist hellholes with their ungainly camera bags strapped to their backs looking like dickhead out-of-towners, or Islamo-bang-bang suicide bombers. They're people with cameras who call themselves 'photographers'. "Fuck them," I say. These are the people who enter photographic awards and competitions, the unaccomplished, convinced their picture of that-thing-that-every-other-dickhead-has-photographed is the one, rather than the thoughtless generic shit it actually is.
I'll bet good fucking money that the vast majority of photographs submitted to these competitions and awards are utter shit. I'll bet even more money that the majority of judges on these panels, themselves, could not produce better. And as for those awards judges ... there is only subjectivity and opinion. And no one worth a damn gives a fuck what you think.