Judging Photographs (NSFW)

Once in a while, since few years ago I’m invited to judge photo contests. Sometimes we only need to select, other times to make a comment on why we select it, or why we think that a specific photograph deserves the prize or award and not any other one.

Usually these contests have a theme to which the submitted photograph must stick, so this is probably the first issue to have in mind. And here there’s not much difference on being a photograph curator like I am on the spotlighted YCP on tumblr. The other items to have in mind are quality, creativity or differentness and interestingness along with aesthetic and composition. On this I already gave some tips in different articles:

The Conspiracy of the Brain
What Makes a Good Photograph? part I
What Makes a Good Photograph? part II
The Conspiracy of the Triangle (NSFW)

and due to sometimes lack of criteria, information, knowledge or simply artist blindness, some photographers more experient use to do the so called Portfolio Reviews.

While some of the online photo contests give exposure or online exhibitions, some others give also awards and prizes.

Recently I was asked by ViewBug to be judge on few of their contests, so they made online now an interview to introduce me to their public. Here it is:

– A conversation with photographer Gonzalo Benard –

CAT Triptych #1, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

CAT Triptych #1, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

CAT Triptych #3, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

CAT Triptych #3, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

VB – Hi Gonzalo, when did you start taking photos?
GB – At very young age, I remember with 13yo, carrying my father’s gear, I asked him a camera for me, so he gave me a job (painting the walls of the patio) to be paid with a camera. The first roll that I developed had a photo that I send to a contest and I won the 1st prize with it. With the prize money I took a summer course of photography.

VB – Is a photographer born with the creativity and photographic eye or do you learn during the years?
GB -You do learn with experience, the more you shoot the more you educate your eyes. But once again I was lucky to have a father who was curator of the National Ancient Art Museum, so I spent lots of time there, including taking naps in front of Hieronymous Bosch paintings, and this is the best way to learn: with the great masters of painting. You can learn a lot about composition, light, etc. I then followed fine arts and history of arts and have been an artist/creator all my life, so photography for me has been a mean of expression. On my blog 2HeadS (gbenard.wordpress.com) where I write about photography, I often do references to great masters in painting to give examples and some inspiration tips.

VB – Have you ever been at risk when taking a photo? Tell us the story:
GB – What would be life without taking risks? I recall in Africa where I decided to jump the fences of an airport do take a shot of an air force jet from bellow as I always loved air force planes… but I was so focused on the best angle that I didn’t realise that it was ready to fly… In Tibet I broke my leg on a cliff, in one of those fantastic bridges made with bamboo to be able to shoot the cliff from above. Needless to say that I did the whole bridge afterwards lay down over it like a white leech without breathing. The camera lies at the bottom of the cliff now.
But maybe the most terrifying experience was when I took a 2 seats glass bubble helicopter to fly across Himalayas, 2 hours with a crazy young pilot who decided to test it… and me. I will never forget his eyes’ gaze as of a crazy-happy-hallucinated-high-on-LSD. He was just having a natural blast though, really enjoying the “toy”. All ended up well, but I guess I needed couple weeks to feel my blood again. In fact, what I remember the most in this trip, is his face expressions and the feeling of the glass bubble touching/scratching all the rocks and tops of the mountains.

VB – What photographers inspire you?
GB – Mostly those who did break the rules in creative photography, from Man Ray to Roger Ballen, Joel-Peter Witkin, Hans Bellmer, Erwin Olaf, Gilbert & George. But also the ones whose work has been always more sociological as a “voyeur” (observer), like Sebastiao Salgado, Mario Cravo Neto (staged/conceptual), Cristina García Rodero or Alberto Garcia-Alix.

This first contest in which I’ll be judge for ViewBug is “Looking Up“. Good luck on that.

text by ©Gonzalo Bénard for 2HeadS
March, 2013
@GBenard on twitter – FacebookPortfolio Reviews

For any other contact about 2HeadS or my Photographic Work, from Art Galleries, Curators, Art Collectors, etc, please use the GBénard/2HeadS email. Thank you.

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