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The Photographers’ Choice Award:

A Draft Proposal For A Supplemental Award For Festivals Judged By “Old School Art Snobs”

Old-school art snobs are highly educated and trained art professionals who, among other things, believe that if it wasn’t around by the end of the nineteenth century, “can it really be called ‘Art’?”

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Although I’ve hesitated to discuss things like art, for which I’ve taken no recent classes, I did feel compelled to discuss the opinions of some old-school art snobs on the use of canvas by photographersblog. I should also point out, once again, that the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of management.

Many of the finer art festivals hire art experts as judges to award prizes to their artists/vendors to attract the best art available to their show. Sometimes these organizers wind up with the local old-school art snobs in those positions. When that happens, virtually all of the awards will go to painters or sculptors. If the judges at a particular art festival have a history of fighting between the judges picking painters and those preferring sculptors, they will break the awards into two categories: 2-D Art and 3-D Art so both painters and sculptors can win an award. It is not at all uncommon, after a Saturday evening award dinner, for me to turn to Nancy and say “congratulations, you are again tied for first place among the photographers” because not a single photographer won an award.

Before you say “just admit it, Bruce, Nancy sucks as an artist”, let me point out a couple of things. First, I haven’t been shy about pointing out our failuresexample. Yet, on a level playing field, Nancy manages to do OKawards. Second, jewelers are the most common ‘artist’ represented at these art festivals. Photographers are usually second, with about half as many as there are jewelers, and then come all of the ‘real artists’ according to the old-school art snobs. There could be more than twenty photographers at a large art festival, all selected to be invited to this festival from among many others by another jury. And on the nights that I congratulated Nancy, just like so many Saturday nights before and after, not a single photographer was selected for a single award. Sure, there are exceptions, but it’s been said “exceptio probat regulam” (Cicero (106–43 BCE) – the exception proves the rule. I’m sure those old-school art snobs must know something about that.

Nonetheless, I’ve come up with a remedy. Actually, the kernel of this idea came from another photographer, whom I will not name (unless they give me permission), in a discussion at another art festival.

The Plan

Voting

Every photographer participating in a particular art festival will be asked to vote on his/her choice for the best artist(s) at that festival in the following manner:

  1. Write down the name and booth number of the best photographer in the show. One may not vote for themselves. Put your name and booth number on the back of the ballot for administration purposes. Step 1 is the only step that is actually required; the others may be completed as your valuable time permits.
  2. Below that name, put the name and booth number of any other notable photographers, ranked in the order of their talent, as you see fit. You may include as many or as few photographers as you like.
  3. If you don’t think the best photographer is the best artist in the show, place the name and booth number of the better artist(s) above that of the best photographer. Make this list as complete as you can, as your time permits. Do not mention any pre-photographer (or non-photographer) that is NOT as good as the best photographer.
  4. Return your list to me, or whoever else may be administering this prize.

In summary, each photographer will prepare a list with at least one name on the front; that of the best photographer in the show. There may be other photographer names below it and there may be non-photographer names above it. Here is how I will come up with a score:

Scoring

  1. The best photographer will receive one point for every photographer that s/he beat. If there were 10 photographers out of the 50 artists, your candidate for the best photographer will receive nine points.
  2. If you mentioned other photographers, the next one listed will get eight points; the one under that will get seven, etc. Obviously, the other photographers not on your list will get no points.
  3. Now the non-photographer above your nominee for the best photographer will receive one more point than your best-photographer nominee received, namely ten points in this case. The name above that will receive 11 points in this case, etc. In addition, the artist at the top of your list, whether a photographer or not, will receive ½ bonus point.
  4. We just count the points from all ballots and list the candidates for Best Artist by the number of votes they received.

Selecting

Keep in mind, this is a supplemental award, not a competing award. Consider it an extension of the regular awards designed to make sure photographers get a fair shake. Just as in the regular awards, where the winner of Best-In-Show would not then also win Best 2-D Artist, if the top candidate for the Photographers’ Choice Award already has an award, we will move on to the next candidate (unless the selectee would rather have ours, in which case they would turn down their other award and all associated prize money. As of now, our award includes no monetary prize, nor a traditional ribbon. We may have a nice certificate, stating:

(This artist) has been selected by a vote of the photographers participating in this festival to be the best artist in this event.

We might even be able to supply a nice frame in which to display your certificate (but we might need to get the frame back at the end of the show). These sorts of details we still need to work out.

As stated above, this is the first draft of this proposal. As you see, there is still plenty of work to do. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to add them in the comment section below. If you would prefer to be anonymous to my readers, click on the “Private Blog Comment” link” at the top of this page. Thanks for your help.

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