Nature Photography - Contests and Awards

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Nature Photography - Contests and Awards

Postby Ganesh H Shankar » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:31 pm

A note to our young members

While we share our happiness and congratulate our winning CNPians, especially very young members like Vidyun, I would like to share a few words with our young CNPians. Considering the very large number of entries some of these well known contests attract it is obvious that odds of winning is very very low. This note is to let you know, how not to get disappointed when you don't win!

During past a few months it is nice to know Nevil and team have enrolled many very talented new young members into CNP. I am not advocating this from an elevated position, I just want to ensure that we all will continue to enjoy and continue to wonder about nature as before, when our entries don't figure in the list of winners. Let the love for ourselves not take over the joy of wondering about the nature. The former is short lived while the latter is eternal. That may sound philosophical. However, some of us with grey hairs (or no hairs) are morally obligated to share this larger perspective with our young members who may have a tendency to get very disappointed when they don't win.

I have gone through this myself many years ago - I felt very unhappy, questioned juries, shot mails to organising committee etc. Later, I also sat on the other side as a member of juries in many contests. Juries will always be questioned at the end -

"Why that image did not make it, compared to this image?"

It is important to understand a point - juries don't owe an explanation to the contestants. They just owe an explanation to themselves, with all honesty. At the end, it will be very much a subjective decision. Often, juries may share their perspectives while announcing the awards. It may or may not appear convincing at all. Needless to say we need to move on, reminding ourselves the larger purpose behind why we do what we do, rather than getting frustrated and giving it up altogether.

What to enrol?

Let me share my perspective on why Vidyun's image below deserved a top spot in the prestigious WPY contest 2020.

image_id: 17824

About 15 years ago I made many images of the signature spiders like this and this. What are the odds of these two winning a prize? I think it is perfect zero. However, If I post any of these images in Facebook/Instagram I may find a few replying "Oh!". The reason why these images will not move a jury member is, I have not shared anything that a jury member would not know. I have not made a jury member sit back and think.

Now, why Vidyun's image is special? It is not because there is a signature spider in the frame, it is because the image has out of focus high rise buildings as the background!! Of course there are a few other aesthetics like visible strands against black backdrop, high key background, which I guess were not a determining factor. The image makes a jury member sit back and think about many things - how/why life forms in nature thrive amidst adversities? First of all it reminds us this fact which we otherwise have taken it for granted, without our knowledge. You may keep this thumb rule, 50% (or less) is visual and the rest is emotional/intellectual. That said, rules may have exceptions!

Interestingly it also depends on who is looking! If you post this winning image on your Instagram/Facebook profile, you may get very disappointed. General audience may look for some drama/lighting which they might not have seen earlier to give you an "Oh!” feedback. The ‘distracting’ building may be a strict no! The issue is, typically the members of jury panel would have seen ten thousand signature spider images. They will not be moved by the two of my own images above. That said, at times you may think your image is very unique, but it may still not win. In that case just give benefit of doubt to the panel of jury members. A few years ago I had once enrolled this signature spider image hoping it would stand a chance. It did not go beyond the final round.

So, what am I saying?

Enrol, win, which may help you build your career in Photography, if you choose to. We are here to encourage and celebrate your victory!! We may help you win more by giving you some constructive criticism on your images.

More importantly, when you don't win we are here to remind you that the joy of being in nature, wondering about how it all happened is bigger than the joy of winning the awards!!

Take care and good luck!

Friends, please feel free to add..
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

Fine Art Nature Photography
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Ganesh H Shankar
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Re: Nature Photography - Contests and Awards

Postby Raviprakash S S » Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:17 pm

Thank you for for this Masterclass, Ganesh. I got goosebumps reading through. My wife conveys 1000 Pranamas to you and she says Vidyun is lucky to have such a great mentor.

While we are trying our best not to get carried away with this achievement, this write up completely puts things into perspective.

I relate to Ganesh's comment about disappointment. After winning the award in 2014, I was dejected not to make good progress in subsequent year. It took time to understand the reality. Luckily I continued to enjoy being in nature and shooting mother earth. This is the time when I firmly believe that I have taken my photography to next level(and not won an award).
However, I continue to work on two of my pet projects - till now I have shared with only handful of my mentors/friends. But they are extremely close to me, So much so that I hardly able to find any other subjects!

We are showcasing this award as a peck among infinite opportunites that lie ahead of him. Making him understand how "effort" and "enjoying putting that effort" is passion.

I am sure this forum will keep Vidyun and all of us grounded.
Raviprakash S S
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Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:24 pm

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