Why Compete?


Every Sunday the Washington Post Magazine has a visual puzzle in which the reader is invited to examine two photographs and find the 12 differences between the two.  Much like reading our children “Where’s Waldo?” books, this exercise in visual acuity can be fun, or frustrating.  I now invite you to find the differences between the two photographs in this article.
Study them hard, and see if you can find the differences.  Having a tough time?

Mullen compete Mullen compete

Well, the two judges who looked at this photograph had no trouble distinguishing between them… the photograph on the left was tossed during the first round of competition, while the photograph on the right won a first place ribbon.  The difference? The person looking at the photograph.

All this is by way of encouraging every SSCC photographer to  enter competitions and not to get discouraged.  This is far from my only image to be battered by one judge, only to be admired by another.  Your own reaction to photographs in the Cable Release newsletters will tell you all you need to know… “I like that one, I don’t think much of this one.”

Our friends and relatives always love our work. The value for me in competition is not in the winning of ribbons but in the feedback from judges.

Yes, we may need a thick skin some months, but listen to the judge and consider her or his comments.

These are not pronouncements from the Gods on high, but are the reaction of a fresh set of eyes upon our work.  The comments by a judge may cause us to tweak or completely reinterpret our photograph, or we may decide that we don’t think much of what the judge had to say but like the photograph just the way it is.  In either case, our eyes will have become a bit more discriminating and thoughtful in both the shooting and processing of our work.

I always leave Competition Nights having thought more carefully about my work, whether or not I have a ribbon to show for my efforts.

Isn’t that one of the reasons we joined SSCC?