Shooting for Yourself – Not Judges (or Viewers)

Summary – It’s time for one of my favorite sermons. If you want to enjoy your photography, to make art even, shoot for yourself and no one else. Tomorrow – shooting for judges? Are you sure?


Here’s a quote that’s new to me

When it comes to shooting for yourself

It says it all

8-27-2013 9-11-49 AM


I competed for three years (& I’m hyper-competitive)

Each year I won almost everything and advanced

However, with each new set of awards

I grew more & more frustrated

My competitive nature wouldn’t permit me to

Not do my best, to lose

Unfortunately, “best” in this case meant

Catering to “rules” as seen by judges

Following these “rules-for-good-images”

Didn’t allow me to shoot for myself

I had to shoot for the judge

(if I wanted to win)

After three years, frustration trumped winning

I quit on top & have never looked back

Yes, I miss the opportunity to show my work

But – that’s why you’re here 😉


If you shoot for yourself and you shoot abstracts

My photography mentor  has an

Alternative definition for an abstract photo

An image guaranteed to be

Thrown out in a camera club competition

If you don’t shoot for yourself you’re doomed to

Copy the work that’s gone before you

That’s what the rules are based on

Heaven forbid that you should try something new


Here’s a fun mental exercise –

Imagine you’re watching an art critique circa 1873

The media is painting, not photos

Along come this painter named Monet

His painting violated every rule in the books

At best it was an impression of a harbor sunrise

Judges had a field day

His work was subjected to ridicule for not “following the rules”

Fortunately he kept at it – He painted for himself

And now, much later, we’re all richer for it

8-27-2013 9-47-24 AM

“Impression, Sunrise”, Claude Monet 1873, oil on canvas 48 x 63 cm


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2 thoughts on “Shooting for Yourself – Not Judges (or Viewers)

  1. Good for you Ed. Never a truer word has been written about camera club competition.Like you I now shoot only for myself.
    By the way, I was an accredited judge with our State Federation. Not any more, I’ve seen the light as the saying goes.
    Hoo roo from the Land Down Under.

    • Thanks. I too tried the accredited judge route after I quit competing and, again like you, after two years I saw the light and had myself removed from the judge’s list.

      I’ll be interested in what you think about tomorrow’s post.

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