I have been going through my work from the past year in preparation for the SCNPA (South Carolina News Photographers Association) Pictures of the Year Contest and enjoying the exercise. Self-critique is important and it is always a good practice to have your recent best ready.
My five-year-old artistic director has been helping. Her advice is enormously helpful. One shot was cut because she thought, “it is boring without people in it.” She is right on par with my first photojournalism professor.
However, I chose to keep the one that was, “just weird puppets,” because I really like it (even though I suspect she is right about that one, too.)
The best advice I have for preparing artistic work to be reviewed goes a little something like this (and I try to apply this to resumes, competitions, critiques, etc.):
- If it speaks to you, listen. Pick the work you like the best. Don’t think about what someone else may want to see. Your point of view is what you have to offer. The photos of mine that are the most well-received are almost always the ones I doubted. I doubt them because they are the most unique and personal; because they don’t look like everything else.
- Don’t take criticism personally. A collegue I deeply respect told me recently that rejection is a big part of being an artist, a “cruel joke” played on us sensitive types. “Get used to it,” he told me. There are a myriad of reasons why a judge may or may not choose your work. Enter as many types of competitions as you can. Learn from critiques. If they don’t give them, ask! Take the initiative and use this as an opportunity to grow. At the very least, you will become a part of the creative community and have cool, talented friends.
- Show what you want to shoot. This is gospel. If you don’t want to take event photos, don’t show people awesome event photos. They will want you to take more event photos.
Students and professional can enter the SCNPA contest. There are prizes! And snacks! Contest deadline is March 15th so get on it! There is no entry fee; just a membership with SCNPA, which is thirty-five bones. For more info, email Grace at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
Here is the rough package I am preparing. At this time, they represent my favorite work this year. While they don’t seem POY worthy, I can see I have grown and I have taken more risks this year. I can also articulate my vision better and sometimes even express it. That’s exciting! Critique away.