The only type of competition I have ever enjoyed is two-wheeled racing; I have raced motorbikes and mountain bikes in the past (and I will probably continue to do so once this daddy thing wears off).
In this sort of competition there is no subjectivity; if you go faster than everybody else, you finish first. If you are slow, if you make mistakes, you finish last1. I have always been a middle-pack kind of guy. But I still enjoyed racing even after finishing behind elders and youngsters, males or females — if somebody is faster than me that is pretty darn objective and I respect that.
Photographic competitions on the other hand — they are not for me. I mean how can you judge in any sort of objective way photographs? I’m not even able to judge my own photos and decide which one gets one star or five. One day picture “A” looks amazing, the next day I wish I’ve never taken it.
The idea of having somebody else judging photographs and decide which one’s a winner? That’s the worst idea ever. But there is an entire ecosystem around photoclubs and amateurs, and I have discovered that many people get excited by this, and they seem to make photographs only to “win” something (be it an award, or social networks’ “likes”).
Despite all of that, last year I decided to take part to the contest organized by my local photoclub. Partly out of respect for the group, partly because I believe in the need to feed the life of these clubs otherwise they would be dead and people would stay home watching football.
I have decided to show here the photographs I have chosen for the 2013-2014 contest. The idea behind last year’s contest was to show small ‘portfolios’ (3 pictures each) following certain themes assigned beforehand.
The decision to use prints was certainly good, since the current trend in the photographic world is to avoid printing altogether. And there is so much you can discover of your own photos after you print them out; some that have hit you with their sparkles and beautiful colours may look just dull and missing a strong subject when they are transferred from the transmissive lighting of a screen to the reflective lighting of a print.
And how did I fare? Not very good: all of my portfolios were pretty much ignored. And did I happen to respect or admire the photos of the many other photographers who ended up above me? Or simply understand why they were collectively judged “better” than mine? I’m afraid I did not.
What happens now is that I am back on the same ship, awaiting for even more frustration. And yes, last Thursday there was the first instalment of the 2014-2015 contest, and I placed second from last, which is my worst result ever. But that’s a story for another time.
For now, enjoy my very unsuccessful 2013-2014 photographs.
november 2013: “viaggiando” (traveling)
january 2014: “gente che mangia” (people who eat)
february 2014: “la mia città sotto la neve” (my town under the snow)
march 2014: “dall’alto” (from above)
april 2014: “lavori pesanti” (manual labor/heavy work)
i still like some of them
I particulary like the “traveling” and the “from above” series.
The first was shot one morning at the Stazione Centrale in Milano, and I had to find these images in just an hour or so while wife and daughter were waiting for me at a cafè nearby. What I was looking for was images to convey the sense of traveling.
The second series was also shot on purpose and I intentionally wanted to get as far as possible from the conventional interpretation of the theme (e.g.: shooting high from a building, from an airplane, etc). But this one was even less well received than the others.
Snow and eating were just collected from my archive because I simply could not find the time to go out and shoot.
The last one, about heavy duty workers, was challenging because I could not find a good idea and I simply walked right into this construction site, all fenced up, and had to find images that would fit the them. I like the pictures, not sure about how strong is their presence as a whole.
Just to be clear, I have never won anything, nor I have ever finished last. ↩