Sunday, February 6, 2011

Contests. Bah.

I didn't win the photo contest. Big surprise, eh? I'd love to say that I simply don't care, but that wouldn't be the truth.

I have always been against art contests even as simple as coloring contests for children.

I have asked my children, when they have wanted to enter such a contest, "If Michelangelo, DeVinci, Monet, Renoir, and all of the great artists were involved in an art contest, who'd win?

Art is highly subjective and very personal. The emotions art provokes draw on personal experiences and opinions. For example, no matter how great the Southwestern art may be, I will always choose a country scene with lots of trees and flowers over it. It is my personal preference. I love the sight of lush green much more than the sight of desert beauty. (Remind me why I live in Utah again?? ;)

So, knowing all of this on a logical level, why, oh why, oh why do I enter art contests? And why do I get my feelings hurt and get unsure of myself when I don't win??

Even when I am predicting the winner of an art contest I am never right. It always takes me by surprise that the picture that I like best doesn't even get an honorable mention, and that the winner is usually not one of my choices at all. I think that I must march to the beat of my own drummer.

And another thing: does what constitutes "good" photography (and perhaps good art in general) change with the times?

Steve and I were visiting a local art museum on Friday night, and they were featuring a photographer that was a contemporary and friend of Ansel Adams. I don't remember her name, but many of her photographs were featured in TIME magazine. The interesting thing was that most of her pictures' focal points were in direct center of the photograph. Now as a beginning photographer, such as I am, it is pounded into our heads over and over and over to *not* have the person's face or some other focal point be dead center. So what made this woman such a great photographer?? Do the rules change based on what is in vogue at the time? I'm still pondering....

So this is what I think I'm going to do: if I ever have the opportunity to put my photographs in a gallery, online or "real life", I won't hesitate to do so, but I am swearing off photo contest of all kinds forevermore. Nothing makes me question myself and my art more than *not* winning, even if I don't like the judge's choices anyhow.

Anyone know of any galleries to enter though? I haven't heard of any. I may need to search...


  1. I think you're referring to Dorothea Lange. It must have been breathtaking to see her images up close! She had a remarkable knack for creating iconic images like "Migrant Mother," and brought the plight of Dust Bowl and other marginalized Americans to the attention of the world. Her images are often centered, but they are also balanced. You'd also have noticed the incredible tonal range in her photographs - years of skill with the camera she used and careful processing to bring out the huge range of blacks, silvers, greys, and whites. It's difficult when working on location to make the appropriate compensation for light and to give it "direction." Shadows in the right places, but not so black that you lose detail. Especially with film, when you only get one chance and can't go back to immediately correct. A lot of these people weren't posing - they were placed in the picture for emotional impact because Ms. Lange moved the camera to the appropriate position. And the highlights - making the correct exposure to preserve detail in the bright areas of the photograph while not letting it get "blown out..." She was a Master of the craft. I can see why you went to visit her gallery. I only wish I could be there to see it myself. Seeing them in a book just isn't the same - the printed range of colors can't match a developed photograph.

    You do the most amazing things, Melody. Be true to the beauty you see. God shows us His creations in different ways and is pleased when we share it with others. You open my eyes to the beautiful things you see in nature and I often feel grateful for such a beautiful world when I see your photographs.

  2. I can see what you mean, Becca. The lighting in her pics was truly amazing. The exhibit was "Three Mormon Towns".

    I think with Ms. Lange's work, I was so surprised at the exactly-in-the-center photos that I didn't enjoy them as much as I should have.

    There was another exhibit there at the same time. It was artwork by Carl Bloch. The larger than life paintings of Christ were magnificent. As I walked through the exhibit, emotion and tears came easily and frequently.

    I wish that you lived closer so that you could enjoy these exhibits too! They really were amazing.

  3. And Becca, thanks for your kind words about my pictures. I appreciate that. I agree that each of us have different things to say through our art. I really enjoy seeing your photos; they are beautiful!

  4. Well, I always think your photos should be the winners. The 2 photos you sent me are taped on the back and onto my computer tower. Like 4 inches from my fingers as I type, lol. My computer is stuck in the corner of my ugly bedroom (needs to be completely redone). Ugly walls, ugly carpet, the works. So I have a few little items surrounding me to bring beauty to an otherwise horrid corner of my home. The blossoms, the cute bike in front of the store, and your name brighten up my life every time I'm on the computer. :) :) :)

  5. Awwww! You are very sweet Tammy! Thank you! :)