How to win journalistic, artsy photo competitions and beat out the pretentious kids

Day 1:

So I was waiting for this meeting about the photo contest to start, sitting in a room with 50-plus photographers from different colleges, and I couldn’t help but overhear one conversation going on next to me: a photographer was mad at his sports editor. She had asked for photos immediately following the game he covered. How dare she?

His comments, and I’m paraphrasing, went something like this: I shouldn’t have to come back and get you the photos right away, you don’t lay out your paper until tomorrow, anyway. It’s 9 p.m., so I’m going to go home and go to sleep, and I’ll get you the photos tomorrow.

So that’s cool. I wanted to say something—it’s you obnoxious artsy photographers that make life a living hell for editors—but I withheld that thought. Instead, I watched the group. They were a mix of these kind of artsy kids, the kind that are talking about F-stops, lenses and the abilities of the newest version of Photoshop (all conversations I did hear), and kids that were more photojournalism types, though these weren’t as loud, they were fairly reserved.

And I realized, in entering this competition, I want to destroy this contest. I want to make these the best photos I’ve ever taken because these guys with their half-shaved heads and three cameras thrown over their shoulders and knowledge about what kind of ISO is the best for any particular position of the sun (the first two are real examples), they don’t know any more about telling a story than I do. I’ve got the rule of thirds, my shutter speed and the knowledge of what evokes emotion.

So the assignment: Street photography. Go explore Louisville and find something cool to take pictures of. Well, um, I think I’m okay with that. If anyone tells me to go walk around a city I’ve never been to, I will gladly take them up on that offer. Looking at the streets of Louisville through a camera lens is just a plus.

So what I have to do is find photos that are taking place on the street. My two feet don’t necessarily have to be, but I have to figure out how to tell a story visually here. I have to find a photo that portrays an emotion, that evokes feeling. It has to be in photojournalism style, candid and effectively portraying a story, but it also needs to have the artistry of street photography. I have to explore Louisville and find what it has to offer.

So, about to embark on this mission, here’s to hopefully well-framed and important photography. I’ll see if my lack of any photography classes will render me incapable of winning this competition, or if those obnoxious artsy photographers can be beaten at their own game.

–jack

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