Friday, 22 November 2013

An Opinion - Tony Middleton

If you picked up a copy of the Photography News at last night's meeting I urge you to read John Gravett's excellent article on page 17. He's saying what some of us have been saying for years but in the club world there are too many who think winning competitions etc proves something. All  it proves is you shoot to 'the rules' as outlined by Ann Miles on page 11. Her comments on quality are interesting. It's your choice self-expression and doing your own thing or using a formula to win which is fine if it gives you pleasure.
40+ years ago I was doing quite well on the club circuit, got the distinctions etc but eventually you come to realise that you are repeating the same style of image in different places and that there really are no rules in any art form so why try to impose some? Admittedly going full time pro 25/30 odd years ago reinforced that viewpoint. I've attached half a dozen images I was going to enter in this year's merits and then thought, 'What's the point'? You may well think that about some of the images.
Enjoy your photography which ever way you go.

Bed, No Breakfast, Budapest
Gents Outfitters

Koln Station

Prague Station
Rush Hour in Koln
Turkish Workers Protest Rally, Vienna

 Tony Middleton


  1. All the images are of interest to me and I particularly like the Rush Hour image.
    I think there is room for all viewpoints regarding photography in a club - it is what makes the hobby so stimulating. I enjoy most street photography as I think people are always fascinating.

    At the same time I would really miss competition nights. I don't always enter and when I do it is not because I am anxious to win. I just want someone else's point of view about my images - whether I agree or not - it is more informative than, "It's alright." which is the response I get from family.

    We are lucky in the club to have such a wide range of skills and experience amongst our members. As a novice I need some guidelines. I haven't improved at a tremendous rate but listening to others at the club who have been willing to look at my efforts has helped me enjoy the hobby more.

    1. Agree Joy, to a point. merit nights can be interesting as you see what fellow members are doing but some of the judges are appalling, it's not easy to do that job speaking from 30 years of doing it but some are so negative or worse still patronising. There are several members of the club who don't enter competitions due to comments made by a judge. I'm in several so called independent groups were members show their images and talk about the background to the images then the group and occasionally a visiting speaker discuss, not judge, them. We've had a couple of such evenings at APS and they went down well.
      As for your photography I find it interesting and fresh mainly because I think you are not producing formula pictures to please a third party but, from what I've seen, you record what interests you and therefore there is a depth to the work. You are a novice only because the competition rules have made you one. Producing work that's in fashion to get awards is no different to a pro following an art directors brief except one gets a cup and an ego boost, the other gets paid and food on the table!

    2. Hi Tony The discussion meetings you mention sound great for the more experienced and confident photographers. I like the anonymity of merit nights - few people know an image is mine if my name doesn't get mentioned but I have had at least one person's feedback.

  2. Actually Joy discussion groups develop confidence in two ways, first you start to think more about your work as you usually have to talk about it for a few minutes. Not technically but what motivated you, is it a single image or part of a body of work etc. The content is all-important, modern cameras pretty well remove the need for in-depth technical knowledge. You also gain confidence in talking about other’s work again not from a technical viewpoint. As Ann Miles rightly says when you enter a competition there are ‘rules’ in these discussion groups there are no rules so you find out what others feel about your image from a subjective viewpoint not the objective one that club judges virtually have to adopt.