Being the judge of SLPOTY

When you enter a photography competition there’s always lots of things that go through your mind. Are my images good enough? Are they what the judges are looking for? Could I Win? And so on. Well, these were the same thoughts that went through my mind when I first entered a competition, and for me at least, this was all part of the enjoyment. But like many photographers, I too suffered the pain of rejection when my entries didn’t make the shortlist.

Having experienced the rollercoaster of emotions for myself, it made me appreciate all the more how much it means to people when they enter a competition, and this had to be something I was mindful of when it came to the judging stages. This meant that I had a duty to be involved at every stage of the judging, for had I not been, it would have been disrespectful to all those who paid money to enter the competition. The other factor was that had I omitted myself from any of the judging stages, images I would have chosen may have been missed and I didn’t want this to happen. No matter if there were 100 or 100,000 images, each and every one deserved the same consideration from me and this will be the same for the 2015 competition.

Prior to all this, weighing over me was the fact that I’m not well known as a landscape photographer and my fear was that I might not be taken seriously as a judge. In the scheme of things however, this did not matter, because before the competition was launched, I asked a lot of photographers their reasons for entering a photography competition. Almost all said that to win or be commended would mean recognition for their work, and being published in a newspaper, a book or an exhibition would promote their work to a wider audience, so they were worth entering for that aspect alone. No one said it was because a famous photographer was the judge and this was both a surprise and a relief. It was a relief because it meant that a famous photographer might incur a fee, and there would be no money left over for other things.

It also weighed over me that my experience and style of work may come into question, so I had to see see how I measured up against well known photographers. For this, I went to libraries and book shops to research photographers. Whilst I found many books on Scottish landscape photography they were all written by only a handful of photographers, and only 2 or 3 them had spent their whole careers photographing Scotland. Whilst I haven’t published a book, I have spent equal time capturing the Scottish landscapes and I have a body of work spanning 30 years. I’ve developed all my own film for more than 30 years, I’m very skilled in the darkroom and I’ve taught photography for around 20 years so I considered these to be relevant qualifications for judging the competion.

But what of my style of work and would I appreciate the modern style of photography? Well, my style may not be to everybody’s liking and it may not be fashionable but this is my choosing. It does not mean that I can’t capture the fashionable styles of work or that I don’t like them. Suffice to say I’ve captured every iconic view of Scotland imaginable and I can even lay claim to a couple myself. So, this equated to the experience of a well known photographer, minus the fame of course.

So that’s a little about myself as the judge and I hope it goes some way to show that I have positive aims for the competition.

In my next post, I will write about how we, the judges came to choosing the winners so that it may give you confidence in your entries for the 2015 competition.

Thanks for reading,



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