Change the judge, you change the winner.

Immediately after reaching home, with my shoes still on, I reached for my notepad and started clearing things up. I sent it to listeners in attendance whom I personally know. At 2AM I found myself wanting no confusion between what I truly believe in and what just happened. I wanted to explain further with gathered thoughts. I needed to clarify.

This morning, as I do almost everyday, I walk back and forth, back and forth thinking about things. But instead of concerning myself of personal matters, I have the judging scene playing in my head over and over again. I am still hearing the words being mentioned and thinking what could have I done better. What could have I done more.

Last nights judging of images left me somehow uneasy.

I applaud the participants in putting a part of themselves out there ready to be judged, specially knowing that the judges does not have a clue where they’re coming from. It takes a certain amount of courage to bare a part of yourself open for critique. It is not easy to hear things that finds you lacking but the experience, when handled wisely, can be a motivation to be more.

Our work  is a reflection of ourselves. And by the same token, the opinion of the judges are mirrors of their personal aesthetic, mindset and history.

If we truly believe that photography is an art, and this is key, then it should be about expression. Like in any other forms of art, it’s never about replication. It should be an interpretation. And to judge what is better only by technicalities is rather incomplete and somehow a path in the wrong direction. Governed by conventional do’s and dont’s, to the inexperienced, it is a slippery slope towards mediocrity.

Indeed a judge must be careful not to ‘box-in’ its listeners and allow creativity to nourish.

There is different approach, albeit not designed for competition, but a good ground for learning – a review. And a review can only be done with a dialogue with its creator. Only by knowing the aim of the photographer that we can assist in ways or methods that could be used to convey thoughts and emotions visually.

Truly that the art and the craft must come hand in hand – I have no doubts about it. But a technically masterful image without a soul would make one into a machine, while a soulful image without technical mastery risks the message of not getting across.  But should one be forced to choose, I hope that we choose the latter rather than the former.

As Ansel Adams once said “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

With personal definitions abound, I think we can all agree that art is not like a sport that a true winner can be gauged by speed, strength and height. Its true measure is our inner voice.

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