A little while ago, I joined the Guild of Photographers, a network of photography enthusiasts and professionals. Aside from being a great source of information, support, and insight, the Guild also offers mentoring schemes and prestigious qualifications in a number of areas of photography. They also run a monthly “Image of the Month” (IOM) competition where members can measure their skills against each other, as well as receive general feedback on their entries.
Last month I entered the IOM for the very first time. As usual, I was in a rush to tick off a few photography related things in my lunch break, so I was admittedly being a little slack. As a result (for which I’m seriously kicking myself), I accidentally entered a photo which carried my signature in the watermark. A big no-no in a competition that’s strictly anonymous. I’m such an idiot. Unsurprisingly, this particular image was disqualified.
Another photo I entered in July was one of my favourites I’d taken on the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland earlier in the year. You might have seen the one, if you’re following me on Instagram or Facebook, or visit my website every now and then. It’s the deep yellow and orange sunset over the ocean, which I took almost as an afterthought while starting to pack up my stuff. I was quite pleased with how it came out, although, I do know that it’s not as perfect as it could be.
Well, the Master Craftsmen have spoken, and the judges merely marked this entry as “classified”, commenting that while it is a high quality photograph, as it stands, it is not yet good enough to do well in national competitions. With some minor tweaks, so they said, it could have placed much higher.
So I guess I’ll spend some time looking at this again when I have a chance, and I might even re-enter it at a later stage.
The third image I entered in July was my favourite sunrise photo over Buttermere in the Lake District. I love this one so much, I had it printed on a giant sheet of aluminium a few months ago, and it currently adorns my living room wall (aka the only wall in the house big enough to fit this one..). Another one I had high hopes for.
So after weeks of waiting, the results were finally announced yesterday.
Embarrassingly, it took me a while to work out that the results are always, without fail, announced on the 21st of a month, and that you do not get an email notification, but you have to find your way back to your personal page on the IOM secure website instead. So once I eventually worked out where everyone else got their results from, as posts on the Guild Facebook page started to flood in, I worked my way into my own results page. And there it was.
Once I was over the initial annoyance with myself for entering the watermarked photo, and not having made the Giant’s Causeway shot more worthy of a badge, I came round to the fact that, all things considered, it’s actually pretty damn cool to have been given a Bronze Award for the Buttermere Sunrise shot! I should be super happy with this, and I should tell everyone about it (which is pretty much why I’m writing this blog entry).
Initially I felt a bit deflated about the whole experience, but having slept on it, I’m geared up and ready to work on improving my photography game! Bring it on!
As a result, I requested an initial mentoring session with a Master Craftsman, to get some feedback, some ideas, and to generally point me in the right direction. Once I’ve done this, I will enter the next round of IOMs, to see if I’m any good at taking and processing professional advice 😉 And to see, yet again, how I measure up against the competition.
There are some truly amazing photographers out there, and I would urge you to take some time to appreciate their art on social media and elsewhere. Photography isn’t just “point and shoot and hope for the best”. It’s about luck, and timing, and the right amount of creative and technical skill. But most of all, a good photo should look like the person who took it felt it at the time.