Photo Challenges - Do they help you improve?

Started Mar 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
tko Forum Pro • Posts: 12,690
very good

One of the value of entering contests is understanding your own work. Not only is my photography getting better, but my ability to do self-assessment and view my photographs objectively is improving.

It's like singing in the shower always sounds great to the singer, but few want to subject their singing to a music critique. Writing, painting, singing, dancing. The hardest thing to do is to view your own work and see what needs to be improved.

But yeah. I've had a photograph I've loved for many year, convinced it is best in class, very hard to take, yet it has done poorly in every independent review. Go figure.

I never was good at competitions because I find it very difficult to judge my work: I see nothing but flaws, find it difficult to select an image, and when I try to operate on my gut instinct it often falls flat. As much as possible, I let someone else do the deciding for me.

This is so true. One day everything looks brilliant, the next, everything is terrible.

However, I learned a lot by hosting competitions. I tried to have a clear subject and rules, open it up to lots of entries (which unfortunately, voters hate), and in most cases the few top ranking entries are very good if not excellent, although understandably the quality tends to drop quickly with rank. The entries at the bottom are almost always good negative examples.

Thank you, host!

From my experience, irregularities in voting only changes the ranking a bit — and so don’t just look at the winner, but also the runner-ups. Also, even if there are lots of entries and few people vote on all of the images, the cream still tends to rise towards the top — more entries usually means more voters, and the top ranking images will tend to have wider appeal.

Considering the contests are just for fun, I have no complaints. Yes, I'm sure there is some cheating, bias and other stuff but jeez, it's not life or death.

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