To photography competition entrants

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“…we who are about to die, salute you!”

Whoops, wrong scene, wrong side of the dock.

I’ve been on the judging panel for a few competitions this year – and on discussion with fellow judges, found we were encountering the same things across not only different competitions, but different geographies. Today’s post is intended to be a little behind the scenes guidance on what makes an image stand out to a jury, and hopefully win you a prize. It is of course impossible to turn this into a formula: the very nature of competition means that the benchmarks shift every year, and so does the whole idea of ‘different’. There’s so little QC these days it’s almost easier to judge competitions by people who don’t mess up than those who excel; that said, there are fortunately still a few who manage to surprise us. Read on for the breakdown.

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OpEd: The career you really want

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Virtual banking, from The Idea Of Man series

A couple of weeks ago, I had dinner with some friends. One of them was in a senior role at a traditionally well-paid and respectable firm. He was contemplating a move to a new firm and a new position, with more responsibility, a bigger title and presumably also more pay. But the hesitation was palpable. In an unsolicited attempt to be helpful, I asked a slightly pointy question: what is it you really want to do? What would you do with your time and life if you had no other responsibilities or financial commitments? There was a pause, and then: ‘be a jazz bassist’. Changing firms in a similar role is already difficult enough at the best of times; changing industries is harder; doing a 180 degree turn out of finance into music is something else entirely. As somebody who’d done something similar, I felt it my moral duty to offer my completely unsolicited advice.

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Thoughts and advice for those considering a career in photography

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Advance warning and disclaimer: I do not by any means claim to be an expert or old hand here, just offering my two cents (severely depreciated after foreign exchange fees and post-subprime recession currency devaluation) for those aspiring professional photographers. And by professional, I mean ‘makes most or all of their income for photography or photography related activities’.

Rather, I speak from the point of view of somebody whose professional aspirations started years ago, went through a series of abrupt attempts, starts and stops and encountered much frustration along the way. My regular readers will know that I’ve only managed to make this work since about a year ago; my position in the industry still feels rather tenuous at times, and I’ll be the first to admit that there are still occasional moments of doubt where I wonder if a) this is sustainable, and b) where it’s going in the long term. Perhaps the definition of success is when one stops having self-doubt (or perhaps that’s a sign of losing touch with reality and running the risk of losing it altogether).

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