My First Photo Contest
In January, I quit the garden club and joined the photography club. I figured my thumb wasn’t going to get any greener, so I traded in my gardening gloves for a new camera and got to work.
My first assignment: to prepare two photographs for the monthly contest. This was not as easy as it sounds. First, I had to find two photos that weren’t too embarrassingly amateur. These photos had to be in focus, composed well and on topic. The March topic was perspective.
To my surprise, I found three photographs that fit the description. Next, I had to print. I sent the photos off to Snapfish to print as 8 x 10’s in matte finish. That all went well and my prints arrived in time. Then, I had to survey everyone in the house to see which two prints they liked the best. Of course, everyone here had a different opinion, but all agreed on two and those were the ones I mounted.
Mounting the prints was the next hurdle. To do that correctly, I had to pour over the club’s website and nail down the regulation dimensions of the print and matting and the backboard: “The mounting and overlay, if used must be the same color. The combined thickness of mount and print shall not exceed 1/4 inch.”
Yikes! I realized that I had one print mounted on white cardboard that was covered by black matting. For the other print I resorted to recycling an old science project poster. The back wasn’t pretty, but it was time to fish or cut bait. I had to take my chances on both of these mounts as it was now 5:30 pm and I had to leave in 15 minutes! I grabbed both mounted photos, stuffed them in a brown paper bag and ran out the door.
Thankfully, there wasn’t a train stuck on the tracks and I made it on time. Already, people were signing in at the contest desk. I overheard a couple of “old pro’s” sitting in the back of the room chatting about lenses and f-stops. A long table was laden with beautifully mounted images.
I took a deep breath and walked in the door.
A fellow club mate, Chandler, helped me fill out my contest paperwork. “NOVICE”, I clearly labeled on the back of my print.
Another offered me a water bottle. Perhaps he sensed my nervousness.
“A competition shall be held when there are at least three entries from at least two members,” the rules state. The place was packed so I knew the games were on.
Two spotlights were placed at the front of the brightly lit room. These two lights faced a single black easel. Then, a judge was announced. This judge owned a local art gallery and introduced himself by saying he’s been in the art industry for 45 years! “Oh boy! I’m in trouble,” I thought.
The first competition was for Standard competitors, members who have progressed beyond Novice by placing in multiple contests. Then, they called for the Novice competition.
I took another breath. Here goes.
First, all of the mounted photos were placed neatly on a long table so that they were clearly visible by the judge and the members. Next, all the members paraded slowly by the entries to observe and get a first impression of all the photographs.
Then, the most exciting and terrifying part. Each photograph went onto the easel in the spotlights and the judge briefly evaluated every piece. The judge was relaxed, making comments, jokes and apologies. This wasn’t his first rodeo.
“If you don’t like the way I’m judging, we can step outside after the contest,” he joked. And, “I’m not crazy about photographs that are out of focus, but that’s just me.”
So, everyone was both nervous and excited and it lightened up when the judge said, “I like this photograph, but I don’t know if this would sell in my gallery.”
When my print came up for review, the judge said, “This reminds me of when I was a kid and we used to run around inside empty pools and make bets as to who would be the last to fall into the nasty water at the bottom.”
“Okay,” I thought. “I least my image is bringing back a fun childhood memory.”
After the judge went through every print, he deliberated and rubbed his chin and selected five images: first, second and third place and two honorable mentions.
Shockingly, my print, submitted on the recycled science project poster board was awarded first honorable mention! How could this be? I’m still scratching my head. I think it didn’t hurt that my image brought back some good memories for the judge.
After the contest, I got a few congratulatory salutations and a lot of smiles. I was the new kid on the block after all!
“See you next month,” they said as I left with my brown bag plus one gold ribbon. The topic next month: Reflections.