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Thursday, 05 September 2013


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Mike, you'll be telling us how to vote soon, I suppose
For the moment, thanks for 'producing' this contest, I'm looking forward to more of these.
While I'm at the keyboards (oh memories of concert introductions... "at the keyboards..."), my two pennies in the hat:
- out of contex(s)t, Sherrie's barber, for her Saul Leiteresque colors and composition, but
- this being a contest about Work, then Peter's Dahyana, because it's strong, daring, and socially relevant: the only female worker in the selection, and guess what, she's not a lawyer or dentist or lab researcher. It's dissonance at the extreme when compared to the rest of the set with jackhammers and wheelbarrows... reminds us that the world is a tough place, and not because it requires muscles and sweat. Plus, I like the way the image is framed and the light.

Congratulations to all of the semi-finalists.

It's really interesting how we see images. My criteria (in the limited time that was available to me) in the three previous batches was quite intuitive - an emotional response to what I was seeing. Of course that includes my built-in bias and pre-conditioned thinking.

What I keep thinking when reading the judge's comments of the semi-finalists is - "how did I miss that?". I guess I don't have the same developed visual language as the Judge - and that in itself is a object lesson - editing is hard!

I'm not sure if we are supposed to "vote" on these photographs, but I'm going to say the barber's shop is the one that I pick, mostly for the reasons stated but also because it's the one I could imagine that if on my wall it would give me the most "dialog" with myself in repeated viewing.

The Finalists are down to six; at 3 apiece, either B&W or Color photographs have equal chances of being the winner!

My take-away from this is that color photos aren't harder to evaluate than B&W when an expert judge is doing the formal evaluation.

Is it more difficult to make color photos though (for screen presentation at a given size and monitor color calibration)?

Congratulations to all six finalists!

Thank you very much for the lesson in photographic seeing! It makes me look more carefully at these photos and to appreciate features that I hurried over at first.

I was especially pleased to see the Dahiana photo among the finalists. It is, as the judge says, 'tough stuff'. And it echoes another photo of a woman, taken by August Sander. In that case it was a beggar woman, filed by Sander under 'people who came to my door'. The woman is fully clothed in her shabby street coat and hat. She, too, is standing against a wall, facing the camera, hands folded nervously together. The tell-tale detail is her left foot, whose heel is raised slightly, suggesting the tension of being called from the front door to pose for a photograph. (Sorry, couldn't find it online to illustrate.) As photos they illustrate different situations, but they both speak eloquently to a condition up against the wall.

Well Mike, anonymous or not, my compliments to the judge! To me, these photographs are not only excellent picks to illustrate the concept, but each also includes an expert interpretation, excellent description and rare critique from which I think there is as much to learn as from the image itself.

It's not often - or at least for me anyway - that we get to hear such considered words about a photograph, let alone six of them. I'd just be disappointed to see all the value in those words be overshadowed by the contest itself, that's all...

Very nice, indeed. Interesting, perceptive and well-written. Thank you, whoever!

My own favorite picture didn't make the finals, even though I was collaborating with the judge in making the decisions. Wanted to say that I don't agree with William Barnett-Lewis that the barbershop shot would work as well in black and white. The way the color works in that picture is part of what makes it for me, and if you didn't have color you'd miss the nice mirroring of the stripes on the door and the stripes on the barber's shirt, which is a nice touch that I wouldn't want to give up about that picture.


Excellent selections, all of them. My personal favorite (Serge Millois' steel mill) didn't make it, and even after reading the judge's comments, I would still include it in the running, but the judge's comments were enlightening. I wish more people could write about how to appreciate photographs in such an unpretentious manner.
As good as turkey man is, I would choose the Vincent Manna photo, somewhat to my surprise. I don't know if it's because I prefer color to b&w (turkey man is my second choice).

My vote for color photos is for Dahiana, and for bw, Turkey Man. For the overall contest, I vote for Dahiana, for the simple and elegant, at the same time sad, quality of the composition. Turkey Man is close behind, but in the end its composition is too formally symmetrical. Dahiana's formal appeal is like that of the dancing cohorts from the cave paintings of Ajanta.

I'll be interested to see which image wins. To me it mostly comes down to whether people vote for what they would most like to see in a photo book, in a gallery, or on a wall in their home. For example, the "working girl" photo would look great in a photo book or a gallery, but mounted on a wall in my home, not so much.

[Just to be clear, it's not up to a vote. The judge will determine the winners. --Mike]

Thanks for the consideration.

The judge comes across as being perceptive and thoughtful. His comments are instructive.

Your judge may prefer to be anonymous, but the remark about what the barber may be saying tends to provide a hint - assuming that the judge is someone who has appeared here in the past.

- Tom -

This is quite good practical/observational commentary presented by "the judge". Such thoughtful analyses are always healthy for both the photographer and the commenter.

As an aside, art world analyses tend to be loaded with self-important bullshit intended mainly to make a statement about the commenter. (See Aperture magazine, any issue.) That ain't what this is. THIS is "practical observation"...worth its weight in ___________ .

The only thing wrong with "Turkey Man" is that it is the wrong perspective to be used as a screensaver :)

Great photos, and great commentary by the judge. I'd love it if this site did more of this kind of thing, where insightful commentary accompanied images. It helps me see my own work in a clearer light.

I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this contest. It's been gratifying to read the comments of the readers and of the judge, and to have my pic shown with others that I like a lot, particularly Vincent Manna and Turkey Man.

This is the series (still an ongoing project) that the Dahiana pic is from.

(I'm not sure if Mike wants stuff like this posted at this point. If not, I understand.)

Thanks again.

Turkey man is by far my first choice, followed by the two drillers.
I don't at all agree that it is a menial and nasty job as the judge implies. It did immediately remind me of the Krupp portrait, but it is by no means a copy or imitation, just similar lighting, by chance, and somewhat similar dark mood.

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