The 2018 Ipswich Enviroplan Photographic Competition is over for another year, so I would like to do a short review of the competition entries this year.
At the awards night when the winners were announced there seems to have been some disappointed entrants, who felt they should have won a prize. Hopefully, this article will clear the air about the judging and why many excellent entries were not selected for an award.
To put some context to the process of judging the entries, I want to point out that I am not a professional judge of photographic competitions. I was asked to judge the merits of the entrants photos from the perspective of a professional nature photographer as to the best photo which portrayed the essence of the natural history in the Ipswich area, within the guidelines of the competition. The guidelines which are written by the organisers of the competition, I being the judge have no decision making of those guidelines. It should also be remembered that this is a amateur competition not a professionals competition, although semi or pro photographers are welcome to enter.
This year there is well over a thousand entries across all the categories. Among these entries there were some outstanding photos submitted, which ultimately were not selected for awards. So why were they not selected? Well firstly, one has to realise there could only be six winners, one for each category and the overall winner is selected from the six category winners. Special Mentions, were made to some of those that were shortlisted, as encouragement awards, with a limit of four.
Through the judging process, some compensation was given to the categories of “kids 12 or younger” and “teens” for their age, lack of experience and lack of technical execution but the photo still had to fulfil the basic criteria of the category.
This brings me to my understanding of what is the overall criteria for the Ipswich Enviroplan Photographic Competition.
The competition is to highlight the natural spaces through photography within the Ipswich area and to encourage people to explore and experience these areas, which the council has made available to the public. It’s isn’t necessarily about having the technically perfect image. One of the main judging criteria was, does the photo convey to the viewer? “I want to go there and explore that place for myself”.
The photos were also judged by whether it met the category criteria. There were a number of photo which were technical well made, but were clearly not conveying the message of the category. So it is important to read the category description and if in doubt contact the council for clarification. As an example, in the “Native Animal” category there were a number of entries showing horses, cows and even a domestic cat, these definitely are not native animals. When captioning the photo, check what is the subject you photographed. If you are unsure, ask someone if they can identify the animal or plant accurately for you. Google it if you need to. Captioning a photo with the wrong identity doesn’t automatically disqualify you, but it shows to the judge a lack of attention to detail.
In conclusion, this year there were many photos that were outstanding in their photographic execution and portrayal of the natural areas of Ipswich and I commend these photographers but ultimately there could only be six awards given. Those that didn’t win shouldn’t feel “cheated” but look at it as being a part of spreading the message for people to get out and experience Ipswich’s natural areas. If you take on board my comments above and enter in next year’s competition, then you will be increasing your chances of perhaps being awarded a prize in coming years.
And finally, I would like to thank the council and organisers for all the hard work they put into making this competition available. Also a big thank you to the participants of the free workshops provided during the competition and all the photographers that entered photos to the competition. I personally enjoyed the whole experience.