To judge in the most correct and accurate way possible, I dedicated two full days to the whole process. Firstly I selected the photos that I thought deserving of being chosen, looking at them carefully one by one, then I made a second round after a certain time. In the second phase I reviewed the choices I made to be 100% sure. I decided to write a few words hoping that this can help in the future choosing the photos to be sent to the contests.
Technically correct photos
It seems trivial and obvious but sometimes it may not be. In some of the photos I saw, I found errors in cutting and framing. If the scene and the moment represented can be interesting but, for example, a foot, a hand or sometimes even the head are cut from the edge of the frame incorrectly, the photo immediately loses its value and strength. A judge is very attentive to these compositional elements. During the shooting phase, a back or a side step can make the difference.
Humor and fun
The photos that I was called to judge belonged, as already mentioned, to the “Fun” category. In some cases I found a little obvious humor or that tells nothing of what was happening at that time. What is fun for the photographers who took the picture may not be understandable for those not directly involved. In my opinion what makes photo of this type strong, is the contrast of situations between two or more elements, something unexpected that can involve and tell the viewer a little story. Often the most beautiful photo can be the one made a moment before or a moment later to the chosen one.
I have absolutely nothing against posed photos, studied or built but when they are realized, they have to be perfect. Having almost total control of the situation, there must be no technical errors or disturbing elements that could penalize it in a contest. I have sometimes found “stretches” to make a picture more characteristic or different from the others: we must be very careful not to overdo it, less is more. One thing that I do not like is when I find photos clearly copied by “famous” shots by other colleagues. Copying to learn a technique or understand the realization of a shot that we like, can help to grow as a professional photographer, but sending a photo copied to a contest for me it’s a mistake. Often, if not always, the judges know the photos previously awarded and therefore will not take into account a shot already seen.
Try and try again
A not awarded photo could be deemed to be an awardable photo in the future. Each judge judges based on his taste and the sensations that a certain shot convey. If you believe in a photo, my advice is to try to send it again, it could find the favor of the judges in a subsequent contest. In order not to be too influenced by the subjective value that sometimes we attribute to a photo, confronting with other colleagues could help a lot. Collaborating is fundamental in our work and even in this case, a sincere opinion by a colleague could make us understand what works or not in a shoot. In general there are some photos that can be beautiful and interesting, but because they lack of something more, they are not suitable for the contests.
Obviously, everything written above is nothing more than personal opinions, dictated by my way of conceiving wedding photography, my experiences and my taste. I only hope they can be of some use to those who approach the contests world for the first time or who are curious to know how a judge might think.
* the photos of this article have been awarded in past fearless collections
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