I’m going to have to stop going to the Wilmington International Exhibition of Photography. It seems this show is turning into an annual rant for me. It does nothing but get me worked up for days about what people like to see in photographs today. I’m not a professional photographer – I’m not even a very good amateur – but does the picture above look like any bass that God might have created? This won a silver medal and made the cover of the program!
Ninety percent of the photographs on display (and 99% of the winners) use some combination of over saturation, over sharpening, montage or high-dynamic range (HDR) gone wild. To quote one of my favorite photography bloggers, it’s “The motto of Photoshop Excess: Anything that can be done, can be overdone.” He wrote a very entertaining column on this a few years back. To judge by this exhibition, things may be getting worse, at least as far as camera clubs go.
The photographs weren’t all bad – there were two or three that I quite liked. But for the most part, the over-the-top photographs depend on their flash and glitz to make an impression. Many display little in the way of interesting composition or nuanced expression and gesture. Take away the special effects and you’re looking at a well photographed but non-descript fish. For the ones I liked, removing the gaudy trappings would have produced truly exceptional pictures.
I think I will get better as a photographer if I take lots of pictures and view lots of good photographs taken by others. If people like this excessively photoshopped sort of thing then the pictures will keep being taken and winning competitions. But I don’t have to look at them, especially since there are many skilled professionals, amateurs and family members showing their work on the web.