by Tom Lee Published 01/04/2014
Without consulting each other, Tom Lee and I both started to write up a commentary on the print quality we had seen at both the 16x20 judging and the qualifications boards at the 2014 Convention. Both of us had been saddened by some of the quality we had seen. I had already decided to write on the subject and had also put forward a proposal to teach a Superclass at the 2015 Convention on Fine Art Printing (which is now official btw; we are hoping to have sponsorship from Epson and will have some interesting goodies to hand out as well!). Tom Lee's comments are set out unedited and so there is inevitably some overlap of comment but we share a feeling that it is unpleasant to have to fail a panel or reject an otherwise winning print on technical grounds, which should, by rights, be flawless - it is also deeply saddening some times for some people bounce back stronger from a rejection, others never get around to reapplying. This in itself indicates the strength of feeling engendered by a rejection; it takes a certain level of courage to expose your work to the highly critical gaze of your peers and have it dissected in public. The moral of the story on technical and presentation matters is 'get it right first time'. Do not forget, the applicant is the final arbiter of what is presented to the panel regardless of where the prints were made.
Another thing to remember is this: by conferring a qualification, the Societies is endorsing the work quality of a professional photographer, in other words somebody who can expect to sell their work for significant amounts of money. If you take a simple thing such as window mount squareness; if this was not straight and true you would rightly ask a shop to correct the problem - qualifications expect the same level of presentation, flawless is flawless!
Technical quality and presentation are different to other criteria used to adjudicate a panel or competition entry. There is usually very little subjective assessment to make; a print is either flat on the mount or it is not; a window mount is either dead straight or it is not, a print is either cockled or it is perfectly flat; shadows and highlights are either blocked/burned out or not. There is nowhere to hide if such matters are poorly executed. With all the advice that is available, why do people fail to comply with the most basic of requirements?
Here are some of the inexcusable offences that people commit - inexcusable because no mentor worth their salt would allow an applicant to proceed!
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