This was the first year I submitted images to the PPOC National Image competition. While I not completely satisfied with the results, it was a learning experience that should help me out with future competitions. It was nice though, to have at least one image accepted. Jay Maisel says that as long as you enjoy the taking of photographs more than the actual photographs, you will never be disappointed, but it is still nice to know you are achieving a certain level of proficiency.
One thing it did confirm for me is that when the subject is art, the idea of an accepted standard is pretty much an abstract concept. Yes, there are things like exposure, or sharpness that can arguably be seen as good or bad, but there is so much else that doesn't really allow itself to be judged in the same way. As I listened to the judges discussing many of the images that were submitted, I wondered how, when we each can see things just a bit differently from each other, how it is possible, without bias to judge what is good and what is not. If I look at an image and say that it has no clear point of focus, does that mean that one does not exist, or that I, not being the person who captured the image, just don't see it?
Joe McNally stresses in his workshops that your viewer will probably not know what what you know about the images you create because they obviously were not there with you. Your image must tell a story.
But what happens when the story they receive was not the story you were trying to tell? Which story is correct?
Maybe, in the long run, Maisel is correct: take your satisfaction from the taking of the image, not from what it produces. You, after all, are the only one who can actually say with certainty what you were looking at when you depressed the shutter release. Anything beyond that is mere interpretation