Sunday, January 18, 2015

I've Got Your Award-Winning Photographer Right Here

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I guess I'm about to go off on something of a rant... again.  This time, the focus of my curmudgeonly words are directed at award-winning photographers. (Apparently, the older I become the more curmudgeonly I become-- like that's unusual for humans, camera-shooting humans or otherwise.)

It seems as if every time I see an advert for a workshop, seminar, or just about any sort of photography training and education program, it's being led by an award-winning photographer I've never heard of.  (Okay. That's not entirely true but it's true for probably 90% or so of the award-winning photographers I see being touted-- most of them being young or young-ish photographers of, more often than not, the wunderkind kind... or so the adverts would have me, and you, believe.)

That got me to thinking about award-winning photographers in general, i.e., how many of them must be out there shooting their wunderkind, award-winning, photographs and teaching others to shoot photos as good as their photos. My conclusion?  There's a shit-load many, many of them. Too many to count. So many that it almost seems like any photographer of almost any level of skill who isn't an award-winning photographer must be a truly a pathetic loser amongst camera-shooting human beings.

Now don't get me wrong, there are awards and there are awards. Some awards are quite prestigious. The winners certainly deserve recognition for their work which is likely to be outstanding. But here's the deal: If you are, say, a filmmaker winning an Academy Award, it isn't the same as winning
at the Podunk Film Fest or receiving the dubious honor Best Porno at the Porno Awards Show.

You see, one thing I've noticed that seems to be missing from many of those lauded, award-winning, photographers in the adverts for learning programs are specifics regarding what awards they've won and/or who bestowed those awards. None of that is to say those program leaders advertised aren't qualified to lead a training program. What do I know? I've usually never heard of them so I can't say with any degree of knowledge whether they're qualified or not. But here's what I do know: Simply labeling someone as an  "award-winning photographer," leastwise these days with more contests and awards handed-out than probably any time in photography's history, isn't too meaningful. In other words, saying someone is an award-winning photographer doesn't, for the most part, mean jack shit to me in terms of their qualifications as a teacher or training program leader or simply a photographer for that matter.

I was born and raised in New Jersey. North Jersey to be more specific. My Jersey Boy buddies and I, in a variety of situations or in response to many things, would often grab our crotches with one hand and proclaim, "I've got your (whatever) right here."  That's how I feel about the importance of many of these award-winning photographers, leastwise in terms of their worth as a photography training leader. In my mind, it means zilch. (Or something approaching zilch.) Certainly, when there's not much more, if any, validation given than simply saying someone is award-winning. Yep. Whenever I see or hear those words, my knee-jerk response is to grab my crotch and say, "I've got your award-winning photographer right here!"

The pretty girl pic at the top is a Brazilian model whose name I've forgotten. Just like becoming more and more curmudgeonly as one gets older, forgetfulness is another symptom of it and I've got both those symptoms in spades. Getting. Old. Sucks! (Like that's the first time you've heard that.)   


Anonymous said...

Excellent comment. Also, just because you happen to be an excellent photographer doesn't make you an equally wonderful teacher. (How many winning coaches could fill a position on the field?) IMHO, the two are not related.

jimmyd said...

100% agree, Anonymous commenter.

Winston Cooper said...

I have often wondered about that "award winning" designation my self. What award, from whom and when, and what they did..???

I just kinda like to look at the work the "award winner" has done and judge for myself.