|'Innocence of Eye' a new book by Pete Davis|
You only have to look at the ridiculous divisions, sub divisions and sub, sub divisions of the typical camera club competition list to see that they are existing in a photographic world that, thankfully, passed on in the real world generations ago. 'Best large monochrome pictorial print - with impact'. Yes, they still talk about 'monochrome' and 'pictorial' and what on earth is 'impact?'. Come to think of it, what's a 'pictorial' photograph? The opposite of a non pictorial photograph I suppose. The very term is a throwback to victorian terminologies that have long since been extinct in the real world of photography but they linger on in the Jurassic wildernesses of the British amateur camera club. Presumably then you have the 'Best small monochrome pictorial print - with impact'. and the 'Best large monochrome pictorial print - without impact' etc. etc. At least that way I suppose everyone wins a prize - usually a much coveted (by camera club members) but extremely silly and meaningless tiny silver cup. Well, not real silver of course.
|Narberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2019|
We also need to examine the folks who sit in judgement in these competitions, who are they are what are there credentials? Even if we think, and we don't, that there is any value in them. Sadly, some are just opinionated older camera club members who have self-appointed themselves to this role. Their notions of 'good' photography hark back to traditions that died out in the real photography world aeons ago ago but they still waffle on about things like 'pictorial' and 'composition'. Possibly worse are those who, having bought a few worthless, so-called 'distinctions' from the RPS actually believe in their authority.
|Leon, Spain, 2018|
The saddest part of all this is not necessarily the pointless antics themselves but the long-term effects. These have been the smothering of any spark or glimmer of hope that anyone in a UK camera club might produce any work of merit within the contemporary photographic world. This would have been stifled by the outdated, narrow and now irrelevant ideas that linger on in British camera clubs. The embarrassing and irrelevant competition culture only serves to perpetuate this sad state of affairs.