The joy (sarcasm) of judging a photo contest
I'm generally not a big fan of photo contests to begin with as in my opinion most have very little to do with photography, but last month I was asked to be a guest judge on a pretty popular photo site that is known for contests.
The contest is about food and runs for 45 days.
As it is nearing the end for submissions, I decided to go through the images and start weeding through the obvious.
There are a little over 1500 entries so far and there is not one single image that I would in good conscience vote for, not one.
I've been on this site before and there are many fine photographers who use it. Mostly landscape and portrait of course, so maybe I was expecting too much in terms of quality for this particular contest.
However, even if I stretched the meaning of food to ridiculous proportions, about 1/3 of the entries have no business being in the contest. I know that for some people the four letters in food are too much to comprehend, but submitting an image of the moon is a bit of a struggle for me to grasp.
There are so many landscapes, cityscapes, bridges, portraits, automobiles, etc that I thought my brain would explode.
I now know why so many contests require an entry fee. At least that way you get paid for the stupidity of others.
Even getting to the actual food shots, 90% or maybe a little more are simply very poor phone shots.
So I contact the admins and suggested that they simply let me off the hook for judging and explained why in great detail.
Their response was very telling. "Don't get too caught up in the theme of the contest, just choose the prettiest image."
I wasn't thrilled with the response and then they forwarded to me an example of one of the most prestigious food photography contests in the world where a portrait was among the "best" shots to emphasize that they are not alone in ignoring the theme of a contest.
Ignoring the theme to me seems to be against the purpose of having a contest so I bowed out of judging this one and suggested that they not bother asking me again.