A few months ago I had the honour of being invited to be one of three judges to select The 20th Shrewsbury UK National Photography Exhibition. I was graced a few weeks ago with the company of Mrs Sue Moore FRPS MPAGB FIPF and Mr Bob Moore Hon FRPS Hon PAGB MPAGB FIPF as the other two judges entrusted to select the exhibition from over 3400 entries.
The exhibition is a member of The British Photography Exhibition organisation, and acceptances into the exhibition count towards qualifications for the photographers under the awards scheme. The exhibition carries the prestegious PAGB patronage. There were four categories to judge, Open, Nature, Monochrome and Landscape. There was a natural overlap between some of the work we saw, for example, some Landscape work was entered into a different section than Landscape.
The exhibition was open to residents of The UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and British Posted Forces overseas. The support for the exhibition was really strong with over 3400 entries, with a good mix of styles and genres represented.
The pictures were projected from a calibrated system to reproduce colour, brightness and contrast accurately. The images were then scored on an electronic numeric scoring pad numbered 2 to 5 by each judge. If the judge considered the image was of standard and should be in the exhibition, it would receive a score of 4, if all 3 judges voted with a 4 score, the image would score 12 and generally be accepted, depending on the entry number and standard of work on the day. If a judge considered that the image was worthy of an award, they would score an image 5, and if the image scored a total of 13 or over, it would generally be looked at again at the end of the section judging along with other high scoring pictures to see if it was worthy of an award. If so appropriate awards were made. If the judge considered the image was not of standard to be in the exhibition, then a score of 2 would be made, if a judge was undecided then they would score the image 3. Three judges are used to average out any bias in the scoring and to give an overall fair and neutral score.
The scoring produced a natural acceptance rate in the approx range of 20% to 25% and a super set of pictures to be considered for awards. After some time considering the pictures for awards, the final selections are made with mutual agreement of the three judges, then a personal award is made by each judge to the image they select individually. This process is repeated for each section of images.
Finally after many hours of scoring and deliberations, the exhibition was selected, and we were all very pleased with the final results. Around 1 in 5 pictures from the entry were accepted, and from the accepted entry approx 6% received awards. To have had images accepted into this exhibition was a major achievement, and the people that went on to win awards, even more so.
People that received acceptances into the exhibition are then able to claim points which they can use towards achieving awards from The BPE.
ABPE.…………..… further 100 acceptances and 20 Awards since BPE5*
FBPE..…………..… further 100 acceptances and 30 Awards since ABPE
I always encourage photographers to enter exhibitions, and actively seek good critique when they can. It is a fantastic way to develop your photography and if embraced can bring many benefits. Its a tough road to follow sometimes, but photographers very quickly learn if their work is of standard or not, and drives and inspires many photographers to develop their craft to a higher level.
Although exhibitions can be considered competitions, because of the competitive nature of them, the only real competitor an entrant has is with themselves. And that challenge is to improve their own photography and learning what images are stronger than others and why.
The Shrewsbury Open Photography Exhibition Awards Presentation takes place on 3rd November at The Gateway Education & Arts Centre, Shrewsbury. There are further showings of the exhibition, some detailed on the website link below.
A massive thank you goes out to The exhibition Chair, Judy Mainwaring and all the exhibition team for running a smooth, professional selection process, and for the hospitality given throughout the day.