by Jane Conner-ziser Published 01/06/2015
The Societies host 11 monthly competitions that are judged via the internet by individual, international judges. Images that receive Gold standards are printed in their magazine, Professional Imagemaker which is published six times per year. Images that receive Silver are reviewed every three months with the potential of being upgraded to Gold. Every December, all Gold images are judged by a live panel of judges, with discussion between judges acceptable in order to select and agree upon the top awards in all categories that are presented during their annual Convention each January.
When it's all said and done, your images receive the scores that the judges feel they deserve. Most of the time it's pretty accurate but there are times that an image may score too low - or too high - because image competitions partly rely upon the feelings of individual human beings. In that way they are somewhat subjective. If you believe that your image was cheated, try to corner a judge for a critique. Consider what input has merit, and what doesn't in your opinion, revise and perhaps enter it in a different competition. I've seen images that scored in the mid-70s at state win top awards at the national level - and top award winners at state not even receiving a merit at regional.
Judges try to leave competitions feeling that they have given each image the highest score and each maker the best benefit of the doubt possible while putting the image where it belongs for emotional, artistic and technical expertise. Don't believe people who say that judges are partial, don't know what they're talking about, or don't want to give anyone a high score - I have never met one like that and I've been in this business for many MANY years! Sometimes a judge leaves a competition thinking of a particular image that they feel didn't get its due. Perhaps they think they should have challenged a score but didn't, were not eloquent enough to force up a score during a challenge, or should have gone with the pack when they were the only hold out, but that's the exception rather than the rule.
SO, that's my experience with image competitions! I love them because it gives imagemakers the opportunity to show off their finest work, see how their work compares to that of their peers, have some fun creating new and experimental images that they don't get to do every day, and learn from each other in order to achieve better quality of work as a body of artists moving our industry to new and higher levels of excellence.
I encourage you to enter! Just give it your full best because you're going up against people who really love winning and work very hard to do it! Please don't get discouraged if you're not getting the rewards you want and need; get determined to find out how you can do a better job next time. Your continuing education and participation will eventually reward you with the degrees and recognition you deserve as a professional imagemaker!
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