Monthly Archives: May 2012

Judging the Competition

From the beginning of my photography education, I was encouraged to participate in photography competitions. While attendingCarteretCommunity College, I entered and won ribbons in several local juried exhibitions throughoutEastern North Carolina. After transferring to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), entering competitions seemed to be even more important for both gaining experience and for my resume.  I continued to have success and even was in the final pool for “Best in Show” for the undergraduate Senior Show. Once I graduated and began my career as a photojournalist, I only participated in competitions when the newspaper entered my work. I did not have the quick success I experienced in college. Instead I was competing against some of the best newspaper photographers in the state ofGeorgia. It took time, but I began winning awards. Over the past few years, I have been fortunate to win multiple awards each year from both the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Associated Press. This year, I received 5 awards between the two competitions.

You see, the tough thing about judging contests is the process is subjective. I recently judged a competition for the Hilton Head Camera Club with a subject of “photojournalism.” It can be very difficult to judge the work of others without allowing personal biases to creep into the process. I always try to judge on the technical quality of the image, as well as the subject, and composition. I have found that sticking to technique as much as possible makes the process a bit easier.

While I do not put a lot of emphasis on my success in competitions, due to the subjective nature of the judging, I do believe it is important to hold yourself to high standards. I also know that photography is very competitive and our egos can get in the way.  We like to see how we stack up against the competition. Soon after I judged the Hilton Head competition, a friend reminded me of the Biblical saying “judge not lest, ye be judged yourself.” Soon after I found myself entering a “Tri-Club competition” from the beginning selections the judges were making I realized my image was not going to fair well. In fact I was surprised to even score double digits from them.

The lesson to take home:  If you are a photographer, whether amateur or professional; always try to remember in competitions, to not take the results personally.  While it is nice to say “I am an award-winning photographer,” really, I am just happy to say that I am a successful working photographer.

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Our First Anniversary in America’s First City

What can I say?  I love history and I especially enjoy historical places.  My wife and I fell in love with St. Augustine the first time we visited.  We have tried to make a yearly trip to the oldest city in America on a yearly basis since we began dating.  So, when it came time to plan the destination for the celebration of our first anniversary it, was a no brainer.  I made reservations for our favorite Bed and Breakfast, the Southern Wind Inn. We arrived early in the afternoon, parked at the Inn and made a beeline for my wife’s favorite lunch spot, The Spanish Bakery for empanadas and lemon cookies.  After a nice stroll around town, we returned to the Inn to check in.  We relaxed for a while, and then went out for dinner at Pizzalley’s, where we had a nice filling dinner of classic spaghetti and meatballs.  I returned to the room for my tripod, and we walked around the waterfront taking a few night pictures around Castillo de San Marcos.  It was the night before the “super moon” so there was beautiful scenery all around.

On Saturday, we got up for an early morning walk and some photos before having breakfast at the Southern Wind Inn.  While eating on the porch enjoying the weather, a carriage tour passed by and my wife suggested we take a ride.  So after breakfast, we walked to Castillo Drive, where we found colorful St. Augustine character, “Roosevelt” and his trusty horse “Rufus”, who tried to bite us as we pet him.  We chatted with Roosevelt a minute and decided to take a tour.  He took us around to some sites we had not visited during previous trips.  While I feel the tour was a bit pricey, it was definitely a worthwhile experience.  After some shopping and a short nap, it was time for lunch at the Columbia, where we enjoyed black beans and a Cuban sandwich.  Our meal was followed by more walking and picture-taking. For our anniversary dinner, we went to Harry’s, our favorite spot anywhere for shrimp and grits.  Since it was the night of the “super moon” my patient and loving wife helped me locate a good spot where I could capture an image of the moon that reflected the city.  After a bit of searching, I settled on the Ponce de Leon statue.  It took some work, but I was able to get an image I was very satisfied with, and a memorable story to accompany our first anniversary.

Following breakfast on Sunday, it was unfortunately time to pack up and head back to Savannah and our normal lives.  We took one more opportunity stroll around the historic streets, and take a few more pictures before saying goodbye.  While we both love living in Savannah, and working in historic cities- me in Savannah and she in Beaufort, we always relish our visits to St. Augustine.  Now all I need to do is find more reasons to be able to visit the beautiful ancient city, and take pictures.

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I Swear I Didn’t Shoot Him!

I have realized over the years that photographers have a vocabulary all to their own.  I can often be overheard making comments like; “I’m going to shoot a baby” or “I just shot a nice couple in Forsyth Park”.  Remarks like these can draw some quizzical looks from folks in the checkout line while I’m on the phone.  I have found that in certain situations it is best shy away from words like “shoot” or “shot”.

Last week I had the opportunity to be a part of the White House Media Pool for the President’s visit to Fort Stewart.  It was the second time I had been selected to be the “local pool Photographer” for such an event.  So leading up to it I was excited, and of course as we do these days I wanted to share it on social media, but I was very careful with my words.  Instead of my usual “I’m going to shoot this event” I instead said things like: “I’m going to photograph the President”, “cover the President’s visit”, or “capture photos of the President”.  I may be a bit over cautious here but I didn’t want to take any chances on a black SUV pulling up outside and dragging me off to some undisclosed location for interrogation.

So as the day came and went without a hitch, much better than my previous experience which you can read about here, I continued to watch my words.  Though this past week I may have been busy “shooting a groom at his wedding” or “shooting so many people at events that I didn’t have time to post this Blog”, last Friday I was “taking pictures of President Barack Obama and the First Lady”.

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