As a rule I do not enter competitions. Let me tell you why.
1) I don’t need to have my work validated by anyone. If people like it, well, that’s fantastic, in fact, it’s a privilege. If they don’t, Oh well! That’s just too bad. I have a particular vision in mind, and selfish as it may seem, I want to pursue that vision, I photograph for me. It’s a deeply personal affair. Intimate even. It’s something in-built. I just have to do it. I need to express myself creatively. Always have done, always will. (Perhaps this paragraph should say ‘I’m not really good enough’).
2) For me, photography finishes as soon as the shutter button is pressed. It seems, for many, that’s where it begins. I would like to class myself as a photographer and not a photoshopper (please forgive the invented word). Now coming back to competitions, I was looking at the results of the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. What struck me was the amount of winning entries that are obviously photoshopped beyond the real. It seems more time is spent working on an image than was actually spent taking the bloody photo. The hours spent making these pseudo faux images is not photography. Now I have no objection to people producing imagery and calling it digital art (or whatever), I do object it being passed off as ‘photography’. Have a look at http://www.1x.com and see what I mean. It’s a land of make-believe and pseudo intellectualism.
Perhaps you don’t care!
Perhaps you don’t give a toss at seeing images that really don’t belong on this planet because they are so fake they could not possibly be taken on this planet. Perhaps you don’t care at seeing virtual, unreal images that really beggar belief (I’m still talking landscapes here).
I think that this is totally destructive to photography in the long term. I think this computer and gadget driven fetish will wear off one day. I think people will become sick of pretend imagery and sick being sold new gimmicks such as blink detection, smile detection etc. How about having a gimmick on your shiny new 20 mega pixel camera called ‘crap photo detection’. Now THAT will be worth having!
I just wonder what Photoshop CS 7 will offer YOU! and how Adobe will flog it to you. Instead of the ‘magic removal tool’ how about a ‘crap photo detection’ filter. Now THAT will be worth having! Cameras and Photoshop can only be developed to a finite degree. They must, at some time come to a point where they can not be developed further. This must give the R&D teams at Adobe and the camera companies sheer NIGHTMARES.
Do I photoshop my images. Yes I do. But I do so with restraint. Levels, contrast, sharpening, toning, exposure, de-spotting, dodging, burning and that is it. I am only prepared to spend 20 minutes on a picture. A bad picture is a bad picture is a bad picture regardless of relentless photoshopping. I would like to see an end to photography competitions that are also photoshop competitions. I would like to see an image judged on the basis of the RAW file as well as the finished picture. That way the photographer’s photoshop skills can be judged independently from his/her photography skills. The finished result should still look realistic – and that’s the point.
Now coming back to the original start point, one of the judges of the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition (UK) is Charlie Waite. I admire Mr. Waite’s work. I have a couple of his books. He is the standard to which I aspire. A man who shoots largely on film using 6×6 Hasselblads (I believe). I am quite shocked that he accepts the degree of photoshopped entries to the competition. Brilliant images they are, without doubt. Photographs they are not.
When is a Landscape not a Landscape? -When its not photoshopped into being unreal. It’s the extent to which Photoshop is used.