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The Pros and Cons of Photo Competitions

Dawlish & Teignmouth Photography Club’s very own Ken Holland gave an illustrated talk to both Club members and to guest club members from Torbay Photographic Society on the pros and cons of photographic competitions.

The Red Arrows © Ken Holland
The Red Arrows © Ken Holland

Ken, who has been a member of Dawlish & Teignmouth Club for 37 years, is also a very accomplished photographer having achieved his Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society – and he is also a photographic Judge. He was therefore able to give a well- balanced, and, at times, humorous view on the highs and lows of having your work judged by others.


Ken began his talk by asking why people enter competitions in the first place – the likely answers included - to win a prize; to receive feedback from a ‘good’ photographer; to learn and improve. Having won numerous competitions, Ken knows the joy of having his work recognised and appreciated, but was keen to point out that there are so many other benefits - being able to compare your work with other photographers; developing your creative eye; learning new skills; and showcasing your best work.

However, he was also able to recount several instances when his images have not been understood or well-received, giving some witty anecdotes to the photos in question. He could certainly empathise with members who have faced that same disappointment and frustration when the judge either played it safe by selecting images that followed the rules, or let their personal preferences dictate. It was actually a trite comment about ‘not liking aeroplanes’ given by a judge on Ken’s technically-brilliant photo of the Red Arrows over Sidmouth which led to Ken deciding he could do a better job and became a judge himself.


Ken had earlier quoted photographer Bill Brandt who said “Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried”. With these motivational words he encouraged club members not to get discouraged, or to be a slave to the opinions of others and finished by saying that winning a club competition is unlikely to change your life, so just have fun!

If you have an interest in photography and would like to meet like-minded people, come along to Holcombe Village Hall on Wednesday evenings.


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