A Fotoguru.cz award + What's my attitude on photo contests...?
I received the award "Landscape photos of the year 2021" from Fotoguru.cz server by the well-known Czech photography guru Honza Rybar. Thank you very much Honza! And at the same time, as a still relatively newcomer to the photography industry and I feel almost out of place on that list :) https://www.fotoguru.cz/fotoguru-roku-2021/
Recently I have won other prizes, some of which have also gained a bit of publicity in the Czech Republic... And so I'll tell you how I approach awards from even bigger international photo contests and this whole contest business. The awards are quite useful in some ways, but I don't get too crazy about it. If I get recognized at a contest - and usually you have to submit your portfolio there yourself and it's not cheap - I see it as an investment in getting my work known by more people. I want people to have access to what I see in the world. Not exactly for the otherwise important reason that I also sell prints, but also because I'm long past being a high schooler creating tattered teenage art to be hidden from everyone. One of my reasons to create are people's reactions to my work, as this helps me connect with them or better understand myself or what I saw in this or that photo. In short, I need to show my creations to others and thus, in a way, continue the creative process that I started with capturing the landscape with my drone. Some reactions to my work are 100 times more valuable to me than the price tag on a printed canvas. That's why I'm happy when my photos get in front of more eyes and competitions help that. Some of them because people are watching the contest itself and find me through it, but it's far more common that someone will get a glimpse of me, notice that a contest rewarded me, and decide to give me their deeper attention too.
Well, with all this, the important thing is to be down to earth about it. A photo contest is practically a lottery. There are so many great photographers and photos that there is virtually no chance for the jurors to give each photo the attention it deserves. Sometimes I'm amazed that a particular photo of mine wins something and the other day I don't understand why another one completely fails. Some contests are small, but at least you get a closer attention from the judges, and that's usually a good thing. Some contests give out more certificates and awards for all sorts of crazy categories, almost more than there are photographers entered. (I do list my honorable mentions and nominations, which are given out by quite a lot at contests, but in a separate category than placements.) With the exception of two or three really important contests, you have to take placing in a contest as a work of luck. Fine, let your ego run wild for those five minutes, but then relax again.
And most importantly, I don't care that much what some judge thinks of my work anyway. What matters most is how I see and experience them, then my loved ones, then you. And at the same time, you are the most important piece here -- by connecting with me through my art, we can share a perspective, a story, an emotion, even without knowing each other.
Jurors, curators and critics are an important voice, but on a whole different level of emotional significance.
So yes, I will still occasionally enter some competitions, but the most important thing for me is still to hear directly from you what my word does do to you.