Monday, November 1, 2010

Judging of the Moran Prize

I was a bit disappointed to hear that a photographer recently blogged on his site about the outcome of the 2010 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize.  The Moran is said to be the highest prize money for a photo competition at $80,000. Yes, very cool if you win.

Dean Sewell was the winner and Stephen Dupont the judge. Of course, both very accomplished photographers. Dean actually has won it two years in a row.

Unfortunately, there's been a bit too much talk about the Photographer and the judge knowing each other quite well. Some other photographers have blogged about it and, well, making suggestions it "may" not be legit.

My problem with this isn't debate about how something should be judged, it's the fact that one photograher, Joseph Feil,  made the comment on his blog about it. This is a pretty photographer and made it to the semi finals of this prestigous contest. Fact is, he didn't actually say the words, he said

"... unfortunately (there are) some murmurings about the winner and the judge knowing each other pretty well."
"Dean was also the winner of this prize in 2009 when it was judged by Andrew Quilty, a member of the well known and tight photographic collective Oculi which Dean is also a member of. Whilst I have no doubt that both judges performed their tasks without favour, it is important for independence to be seen to be present and the structure of the judging of the Moran seems to leave this open to criticism."

Sorry, but there is one thing that I have come across in every photographic competition I’ve seen, entered or critiqued. Everyone thinks they could have taken a better photo.

Happens ALL the time in art paintings; “my 4 year old could have painted that”.

Some of what you Joseph says about judging is correct. Maybe they could review the system. But in this case, why? Because someone didn’t win when they thought they should (which would be every photographer apart from the winning one).

This unfortunately is more sour grapes than anything else. I’ve never posted on my blog that I entered a competition, didn’t win, and asked the question (or posed backhanded accusations) about “was the competition legit?”

As was pointed out by the blogging photograher on his site, everyone knows everyone in the Australian photographic industry. On the otherhand, there have been situations that even if the winner was legit, they shouldn’t have won, regardless. It simply looks wrong. That can also mean that legitimate photographs and photographers don't win because of how it might look.

For instance, if I was judging a competition and my partner took a great photo, no matter how good it was, she couldn't win the prize.

I don’t think that is the case here though. Personally, I don’t like the photo ( I find it a boring happy snap), but I stand behind Stephen DuPont in his choice. Because, … it’s his choice. He likes it, and that’s it really.

I don't like the way some of these things are judged. BUT, if you want to make a criticism about something like the judging of photographic award for instance, don't enter the compeition. Do the criticising from arms length. Otherwise, it may look like your trying to influence the judging results yourself. Or, it might look like your a poor looser.

You can read about the Moran on the website.