Photography is what I do. More specifically landscape photography is what folk know me for, and yes, it is my favourite type (genre?) of photography.
When I started off I followed every book that Charlie Waite wrote on the subject, avidly, and I have to say I learned a hell of a lot. One of these aspects was/is composition. The ‘guideline’ of thirds (I try to avoid the use of the word ‘rule’) was an enormous help in my honing my compositional skills. The use of key elements to pull the eye in and around, the careful use of colour, the use of creating a triangle out of three key elements (a house, a tree and a rock, perhaps)……………….on and on the list went.
Allied closely to composition came technique. This was the PS after the composition had been worked out. Charlie would spend an age composing the shot he saw as being optimal and then check and sometimes recheck the science. Was the depth of field appropriate to that scene, was there colour harmony/simplicity, was there an obvious reason or ‘pull’ into the shot that really captured the mind?
Then, fortuitously, I met the man himself when working as a tutor for Light & Land Photographic Holidays. This served to cement into place all I had learned, namely that composition comes first every time and technique second – albeit a close second.
Where is all this leading to? Well…………in my role as a landscape (and other outdoor) photographer I come across lots of comments on social media, in camera clubs/photo societies etc seeking to judge photographs. The range from the ‘Nice Capture’, ‘Awesome’, ‘Nice, what camera did you use’ brigade to ‘not really my cup of tea’ – the latter from judges brought in to judge competitions!!!
So, how many judges do we need for us to be sure we are on the right track? I suggest ONE – the taker of the shot. For sure, hike it around social media to get soundings, such as ‘is it better in colour or black and white?’, ‘I wasn’t sure about how much sky/land I needed’, ‘is it too dark?’, etc etc. But for me, the absolute final arbiter of my work is, can only be, and should only be me. So, next time you enter your work into a competition and it doesn’t win, you have been subjected to a judge’s (or several judges) opinion(s), and not a view cast in concrete. If you like it then in the final analysis that is enough.
Don’t (ever) be put off or forced to veer away from your passion. Stick with what YOU love and make it flourish the way YOU want.
Are YOU pleased with the composition – does it please YOUR eye?
Does it need maybe a little under exposure, less sky, more foreground interest etc? Then do it – there and then in camera.
YOU are now the judge and the end result is in your hands – listen to advice, decide what is good from not so good and then, and only then, be pleased with what you saw and closely what you took resembles that or represents it in a way which pleases YOU – the Number One judge.
Check out my gallery on the Freespirit Images Website – these have never won competitions or contests. Am I pleased with them? YES!!