Mobile Photography Awards

Last Wednesday, the results from the Mobile Photography Awards (MPAs) were announced. This was my second time entering the competition. Last year, I did not place. This year, I got two honourable mentions for the photographs below. This is a competition I really like. It is exceptionally well-organised and there is so much quality in the winning images and those which received honourable mentions. Mobile photography is innovative and has real momentum. There is a thriving mobile photography community and some extraordinary people driving it forward with passion. Daniel K. Berman, the founder of the Mobile Photography Awards, is one of these people. The MPAs, I believe are helping photographers to emerge and to gain recognition. And also, the competition is inspiring photographers to learn, to experiment, to innovate and to have fun.

Photography is a hobby for me. I remember reading something from Eric Kim (I tried to find the quote, but couldn’t) where he said that as a hobby photographers bring more passion to it than professionals whose income depends on it. Eric Kim talks a lot of sense and his Street Photography blog is, for me, one of the very best blogs on the net. I have learnt so much there.

And you know, he is right. As a hobby, it is about fun. And a lot of fun involves competition. By nature, we are competitive. We contrast what we can do and how we do it with the things others do and their methods on a constant basis. Photography is a fine example of this. I have learnt more from the photography of others than from my own photographic practice. Viewing and studying the images of others’ feeds and informs my evolution in what I want to see and how I want to see and present it. This learning can be considered a derivative  of competition. When I see and admire photographs, I want to be able to shoot like that, but I want to put my own stamp on it. I aspire to get to the level of expression these photographers have. It motivates and inspires me. It gets me competing if you want, and the process of imitate, assimilate and innovate begins. 

I do not agree with those who are against competition in life; those who say it is not good to foster a competitive spirit in children. I don’t agree. We need to learn to compete, to learn to win and more importantly to learn how to lose. Along the way, we can discover the fun, the enjoyment, the satisfaction that comes from pushing ourselves, from wanting to realise potential.

I have entered a few photography competitions now, about 5 in total. In hindsight, the hardest part is selecting the images to enter. I have learnt that it is best to trust my instinct on this. A hard thing to do. In submitting images, I find I am trying to second guess the judges and I try to enter images that I hope they would like. Then when the results are revealed and I learn I did not win, I tend to feel guilty and regret putting in images that I connected with.

And there is the thing. If you enter a competition, you want to win. You want all others to come after you. There is no other motivation. When you don’t win, you can feel despondent. You examine your work. You hold it up to that of the winners. You cast an overly-critical eye on it and wonder where the hell you are going in your photographic journey. But, this feeling passes. And it passes because the endeavour, the hobby, the passion you have for it cannot be diminished by the choices of a judge or judges. No, the passion, the desire to show what you see and to show how you see it surfaces and you get out and you shoot again. And you enjoy it. You get back to looking at others’ photos and they inspire you and the whole things kicks off again. You want to learn. You want to sharpen and sensitise that eye to see better. And you begin to dream that next time will be your time. You’ll win.

What a hobby photography is. What a community has sprung up in the past decade. Am I right to think that before photography might have been an often- lonely and solitary pursuit? Now, with all the social media sites for photography, there is a vibrant community sharing and learning.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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A new week

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16 responses to “Mobile Photography Awards

  1. Hi Brendan,
    Really like these shots and have admired your work on flickr for some time. You have been an inspiration to me in my own photographic development.

  2. Brendan, I’ve been reading your article, and agreeing with every single word! This is exactly, but exactly how I’ve felt before, during and after the MPA results.
    The excitement, the anticipation, the disappointment, the regret etc. Your words have encouraged me and lifted my spirit 🙂 I guess I’ll be entering some more competitions in the future 🙂
    (on a different note: It’s very hard to read small white text on a black background, it all gets a bit blurry after a paragraph or two…)

    Eitan

  3. Absolutely spot on post. Agree with absolutely everything mentioned. From the excellence of the MPA’s, the quality of work, Dan Berman’s great organising to the nature of competition and it’s benefits to ones own work. Congratulations on your two honourable mentions! I too entered last year and didn’t place. Felt glum for a bit and then got on with it. Adopt, adapt and improve. Learnt from my peers, read sites like Eric Kim’s and practiced over and over. This year I got an honourable mention too. Next year I might win the whole damn thing of get nothing. It doesn’t really matter as long as I enjoy myself.

  4. Nice one Brendan

    I admit to being one of those folks who rarely enter competitions because I beat myself up if I don’t get recognised 🙂 Your take on the MPAs is wonderful, and inspiring! Nice one.

    • Thanks Andy. Competitions are a risk. Feels great when you are acknowledged and shit when not. But it is not about that – it is about enjoying photography. Nothing can stop that.

  5. Good points. definitely motivating to work harder . It is challenging knowing what to submit.
    The judges have a large responsibility being objective in their assessments.

    I personally think it sad that those who cannot financially submit to these competitions are less fortunate then those who have the means.
    Honorable mentions therefore are not cannot be definitive representations mobile artist. Such left living as cliches.

  6. maybe social media with the likes, comments and shares are a new kind of competition. though I wish for more discussion around pictures. more would benefit in joining communities where they meet like minded people.
    i’ve asked older gents and they say that they’ve never seen photography as solitary as it is now. because in their days, people would join in clubs to meet others with the same interest and exchange experiences. now we upload our photos to instagram, facebook and other sites.

  7. Congratulations, Brendan! I love reading your posts as much as looking at your photos. Thoughtful, honest and spot-on reflections on photography…and other life matters. And it’s true – part of my nature that I don’t want to give up, competition has both inspired and humbled me.

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