I don't take part in photo competitions. No single reason why and I'm not against them. I don't seek them out and when I spot one I can't think of a good photo to submit straight away. And also the obvious thought that my photos are not good enough for competitions. All that being said, I'm taking part in a photo competition this year!
The town closest to me has a local photo club. I am not part of it and only know that it exists. One day I'll enquire more. In any case, I do follow them in the book of faces. I also follow the same town's tourism account. It's a good source of local events that are often interesting. They have joined forces and created a photo competition that runs for the whole year. It sounded interesting and I thought that it might spark some new creative avenues in me so I decided to take part.
The concept is simple. You get a theme for each month and you have that whole month to take photos that you submit at the end of said month. The themes are announced for the whole year so you can plan way ahead. Picture taking needs to happen during the month though so you can't blast all year worth of photos in a single day. You can submit up to two photos each month. You can win some prizes and some photos will be selected for a calendar. Presumably a calendar for 2023.
The way the winner is chosen is also quite interesting. It's split between judge ratings and ratings by the people taking part in the competition. There might be more to it but I don't read the fine print. I like the idea of rating other photos. Because I'm evil. You have to pick your top-10 photos and sort them from 1 to 10. 10th place gets 1 point and 1st place gets 10 points. You also can't choose your own photos. If you don't rate photos in time then all photos apart from your own get maximum amount of points which is evil and fair.
That's the gist for the competition. My plan is to take part every month. That means 12 different themes. I will also write a short retrospective after each month finishes. Technically I can't publish my submitted photos before the winners are announced. First I thought I would break this rule for the sake of this website. Then I thought that it might be fun to publish all my contest photos at the end of the whole competition. At the end of each month I will focus on writing words and will provide images that didn't make the cut.
Everything clear? If not drop a comment below and in the meantime I'll write about the first months theme — City, Village In Winter.
City, Village In Winter
It's a fitting theme for a January month. January is typically one of the most wintery months of the winter season. At least where I live. That's not to say that it's the only winter month but it's the most stable winter month with much snow and such cold. In that sense it should be easy to get at least one photo for the competition, right?
Sadly January has not been a great month from a photographic or free time perspective. I've already written that I'm in a bit of a photographic slump at the moment. And finding time to go out and focus on taking, at least decent, photos has proven hard. Weather also didn't cooperate with me. When I had some spare time I could use to take photos, the weather said: "Haha! Enjoy this grey and dull weather loser!". With me being down on photography already, taking photos in boring light was not helping me.
I also found out something that I had forgotten. I suck at taking photos for a specific theme. I have quite a few photos that are OK and that fit the theme of "City, Village In Winter" but when I have to go out and take photos with this theme in mind I block up. At least on photos that would fit the theme. I work best when I don't have conceptual limits imposed on what I should or shouldn't take. Physical limits like shooting a specific camera, lens, film or whatever is fine but a specific theme breaks me.
In any case I did manage to go out two times with the goal of taking photos for this competition. And I didn't use any of the photos I took as the competition photos. Instead I used two photos I took when out and taking pictures of nothing specific.
The final two photos are from two separate days. Both taken in the morning when it was particularly cold and sunny. On both occasions I had 1 - 2 hours of free time before work so I used it to jump outside and take in the fresh air. Together with a few cameras. I don't live in a big city ( or small city...or any city ) so few photos would fit the theme but two did and they were decent enough.
I'm not too fanatical about the photos I submitted but I feel better about them after viewing and rating the other photos. I'm not trying to be a dick but there were many photos that didn't fit the theme at all ( in my opinion at least ). For example a generic field or road with not a house in sight doesn't sing "winter in city" to me. There were also quite a few "boring" or "casual" photos. Not trying to be a dick again but they didn't feel like someone spending time thinking about what to capture. Not that I spend loads of time...I can't even take a single good photo for a theme when trying to. My two photos were not the best but they are better than most. Facts because I said so.
I could've played a strategic game when rating photos and given the best scores to the worst photos but that would be silly. Instead I gave the top scores to a photo that looks to be taken with a film camera. A medium format 6x6 camera if my gear-oriented eye doesn't lie. Of course it could be a very good post-process on a high-resolution digital file but I have doubts. It's a black and white photo of a church in a city covered in snow. It's a good photo and I didn't pick it only because it seems to be the only other photo taken with film. Oh yeah, my two photos were taken with film as well. One with Pentax MV1, 50mm f1.7 and Fuji Pro 400H and other with Rolleicord and Lomography Color Negative 800. There might have been one other film photo in the submission list but it's a bit more ify and also wasn't as good of a photo.
Second place was for a street-like shot when dark, with a woman walking. It had nice colors and it definitely fit the theme. It had some composition issues so I didn't give it first place.
That's the first theme done. 11 more to go. Next theme should be better for me. That could not bode well with me. Knowing me I will devolve into someone who doesn't know anything about photography after I go out and try to actually take some photos for this theme. You will learn about it after a month or so. In the meantime I will leave you with some of my photos that didn't make the cut for one reason or another.