” And Prizes Valued At…”

Writing up the advertising copy for a photographic contest, I came upon the prize list that was to be divided amongst the amateur entrants. They had been given four broad and several fine categories of subject or treatment in which they could compete and by now there must be some decision resting in envelopes in the judge’s safe. I suspect most of the entries would have been submitted in some digital form, though part of the treatment the winners get is to be printed put in fine-art form by a leading Perth lab and also included in a commemorative book sponsored by the Australian division of the Canon company. All good stuff.

As I wrote, I looked at the prize list and was astounded that so much money would be given for so little economic return. You can say ” exposure ” to most amateurs to get them to do things for free, but you can’t do that to pros…and in this case the pros are the ones providing $ 28,000 worth of prizes. To say that they are getting advertising may be true, but the people who will see that advertising are just the same little coterie who compete in the photo contests – and they buy the goods and services anyway.

I am not put off by it all. Indeed it is a chance to write for half an hour and get paid for it without having to sit in a drafty hall watching slides on a screen. And as I won’t need to be there to participate in photowalks about the city streets or get up at 5:00 AM to see the sunrise over the fish market, I count it a win.

The real winners will be the ones who get tired early and head back to the cafe or the hotel. There is a better chance of finding out something new, meeting a useful contact, or creating deathless art, in the saloon bar of the Esplanade Hotel than there is walking around looking at drunks in the gutter and seagulls perched on the roof. I will suspend judgement as to whether the country visitors will get more out of the weekend than the city folk but at least they get away from the hay baler for a bit.

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