I’m not one for entering photo competitions. And I’ll tell you why. I have a strong inferiority complex about my work. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my work. I have a very loyal band of ‘fans’ in the physical and virtual world who give me regular ego boosts about my photos. I have no problem with taking pictures. I may not be tech savvy or into ‘kit’ like a lot of my peers but over 40 years I’ve developed a strong ‘feel’ for good images.
But when it comes to entering competitions I immediately give in to the old saws that echo up out of the dark depths of childhood, “You’re no good.” “You can never get the attention of real photographers.” “Your stuff is derivative and shallow.” And on and on.
A couple months ago though I did take a punt on submitting a few pictures to the Lensculture 2016 Portrait Competition. LensCulture was offering a free review of each submission that included 5 or more images. That’s what really caught my eye and got me to open my wallet. I had a bunch of portraits I’d taken 30 years ago in Pakistan and really wanted to know what a panel of ‘professionals’ and ‘experts’ would have to say about them.
As an after thought I included several recent iPhone portraits I’d made between 2013-15 when I lived in Kuala Lumpur.
Today I was notified by email that the results were in and I was NOT a winner. However, the writer went on to say,
We do have good news for you! Your submission was among the top-rated entries in the Portrait Awards 2016 competition. This is an impressive accomplishment given the record number of submissions we received. We’ve upgraded your LensCulture account to a Portfolio Account so you can now upload an unlimited number of photo projects, link to your photo books and add your profile info. Portfolio Accounts are free to photographers we invite, forever. It’s free to publish new work — all of which our editors will see and our global audience can appreciate.
And the panel of experts had some nice things to say about several of my entries which really made my day.
I include the 4 that particularly caught their eye.
This is one of the old set of Pakistani portraits. A farmer from the hinterlands of Islamabad, in town for the Sunday market. I have always loved the replicated texture of his turban in the tree behind him. The panel did too.
The panel’s comment:
“Tourist” is very good because of the main subject’s anonymized face – pretty symbolic – which I can’t help connecting with the Mao’s portrait; this connection tells much about the condition of individuals in a totalitarian system.
This is a photo I had never paid much attention to until I was searching for something to submit to the competition. It sprang out at me in an instant. The panel:
The shape and the expression of the “Korean women” is a sort of contemporary pictorial portrait which reminds the aesthetics of early photography.
I’ve always like this portrait of Chinese man selling specs in a Kuala Lumpur market. Like most of my iPhone pics it was a passing grab.
The panel said:
In “Spectacular” the composition is very intriguing since we see dozens of sunglasses but not the eyes of the shopkeeper.
Though I use almost exclusively my iPhone for my photography, I suffer sometimes from the perceived stigma that ‘mobile photography’ is not REAL photography. So I was really pleased with the judges comment you “use your IPhone in a very creative way. Hipstamatic’s aesthetics may appear sometimes baroque, but you are surely able to use it as a plus and not as a mere visual effect, since the content is always prevailing in your pictures.”
I am very pleased to take the ‘Portfolio Upgrade’ and run!