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About the Challenge
#1
I am grateful to Matthew for the effort he volunteers to run the challenge and judging. I know it takes less effort than it seems. I am also grateful to Julian for making an effort to find donors for the prizes. Much appreciated and I am waiting with excitement for the arrival of mine - thank you Julian. I suspect it is a hassle for you to organize and I know you have a job and young family.

For me, the turnout is a bit disappointing, especially knowing that some of the best photographers on Shuttertalk are sitting these things out. It kind of takes some of the fun out of it. It is a way of us getting to know each other better and perhaps to chase all of us out to take new photos.

Matthew and Julian, I know you are involved in running the challenge, but since the judging is done by independent judges, I would be quite comfortable if you participated. You certainly both have my trust.

Perhaps after the challenge, we could open the topic challenge and any/all entries for discussion? Just some thoughts

Pavel
Please see my photos at http://mullerpavel.smugmug.com (fewer, better image quality, not updated lately)
or at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pavel_photophile2008/ (all photos)
#2
I agree that there's a lot to talk about – I'd certainly like to see more participation, and am open to any and all ideas, all the way down to the fundamentals.

But:

Julian is on vacation right now.

These are good things to think about, and I appreciate your ongoing support. But I do think that this is a conversation that needs to include him from the very beginning.
matthewpiers.com • @matthewpiers | robertsonphoto.blogspot.com | @thewsreviews • thewsreviews.com
#3
Hi Pavel, thanks for your input - I appreciate the thought you've put into it. I'm back now so I'm keen to get this on the table for discussion.

Yes, I do wish there was more participation - not just in the challenges but across the forum in general. I think the two are closely related - i.e. if we don't have active forum members then we probably won't have participants in the challenges as well. That being said, I thought the 2nd challenge was pretty well, and was heading in the right direction. Additionally, I think the challenges are a great way in which to attract outsiders to our site as the prizes do give people some incentives to participate. I have been trying to promote the challenges with limited success via Facebook and twitter, but again I think the momentum is still yet to build and I feel it needs a bit of an extra push.

(By the way I apologise profusely for the third one though - I had a cracker of a prize lined up but my contact said she was busy on something else and didn't respond for two weeks.)

So yes I am completely open to ideas - let's get the discussions going. It's evident that everything I have tried so far is not quite enough so if you have any radical ideas - let's discuss and implement them. Perhaps we can get a working committee going - I was surprised to hear that EnglishBob actually organises competitions (amongst other things) for his various camera clubs - his experience would be invaluable as to what works and what doesn't.
#4
Pavel, I like the idea of participating more directly in the challenge, and I'm thinking that will be a change for the August challenge. July's pretty much ready to go, so that gives us a month to improve the format and make them better.

Something I would like feedback on is the selection of the themes. What's best: something specific or open-ended, things or ideas, ______________ or ______________ ? What's interesting? What will motivate people to get out and take photos, or at least look back for something from their archives?

How important is judging?
Do prizes matter?

What should the submission and participation rules be?

What do people want from the challenges that isn't being met?

I'm going to think about this myself, and try to come up with my own answers as well, but mine isn't the voice that really matters in this discussion. Please be honest about my role as well, because I know I haven't been able to commit the time and energy that it deserves, and having a capable administrator and enthusiastic advocate is vitally important right now.
matthewpiers.com • @matthewpiers | robertsonphoto.blogspot.com | @thewsreviews • thewsreviews.com
#5
Mathew,
I think you are doing fine and low turnout reflects a relatively small pool of people to draw on, slow summer season and apparently low level of interest in challenges among the existing members. I have been drawing on my pool of photos for challenges and not taking anything new either and unless some topic really grabs me, I probably will not. That reflects the limit of my interest.

As you know, for me the photographs are not about capturing reality, but about giving the photographer a chance for self-expression. I there fore like challenges that are trying to convey a story, usually of emotive nature (contemplation, sadness, happiness, tension etc.) Other topics along those lines need not be emotive (something in nature that reminds us of letters in alphabet). Another series of topics are those that train our eyes to notice things in our environment that we see all the time and yet we miss (photographing reflections not in windows or water).

Judging is important. Participants should have a feeling that the judging is done competently and predictably. Inconsistent and eccentric judging will derail challenges, even if you do not participate for the prize or honors. The prizes are a nice sweetener. I have no problem with the rules.

I would like challenges that make us think or learn about what we do, notice and feel (see suggestions above) and challenges that teach us about photography (for example back to back 2 topics: 1) Use of light and shadow as a primary compositional tool and 2) Use of light and shadow to convey emotions)

On a separate matter, I received no response to my E-mail to you. Did you get it?

P
Please see my photos at http://mullerpavel.smugmug.com (fewer, better image quality, not updated lately)
or at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pavel_photophile2008/ (all photos)
  


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