August 30, 2010 by N@
As part of this years competition I’ve decided to conduct a series of interviews with our judging team. First up we have our Head Judge and AIPP Grand Master of Photography Peter Eastway.
Peter Eastway is an Australian professional photographer who works in landscape, travel, portrait and advertising. He is also the publisher of Better Photography magazine and co-publisher of Better Digital Camera and Better Photoshop Techniques magazine. He has won the AIPP Australian Professional Photographer of the Year Award twice and many national and international awards. He is also an international photography judge.
How long have you been picking up a camera?
I first picked up a camera to take photos of my friends surfing when I was at school – couldn’t really understand why anyone would take photos of anything other than surfing either! However, I have broadened my tastes a little since then!
Did you always know that you wanted to be a photographer?
No, I wanted to be a fireman! I was bitten by photography at school and it’s a passion that has never left me.
What is your speciality as a photographer?
I guess I’m known best for my landscape and travel photography, but I shoot a broad range of subjects from advertising and sport to family portraiture. I’m in a lucky position that I can cherry-pick the jobs I shoot which keeps me fresh and passionate about what I do.
When you’re not shooting for clients, what kind of images do you like to shoot?
I like to produce images that have a twist to them, but not in an obvious or montage way – I am interested in creating images with mood, atmosphere and a sense of beauty. I am very comfortable using Photoshop, but I like to think it is ‘invisible’ in terms of technique, even though most photographers would have a good idea of what I have done. However, I also appreciate the art of in-camera capture – photography is a language and we can use it in many different ways to express ourselves.
You have been an international judge for many years now, how did you first get into judging?
I began judging in Australia around 20 years ago with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. It was a bit intimidating the first few times, especially when you had to justify your scores to the other judges in a challenge debate. However, it has been an incredible learning exercise as well. It teaches you so much about photography, about ideas, philosophies and approaches – it’s a great honour to be asked to judge, but it’s also a great responsibility. I think to be a judge you also need to be an entrant from time to time so you remember what it’s like to submit your work to the view of a panel of judges. I know when I put my photographs into a competition they are all ‘Golds’, but often they don’t come back that way!
Do you think there are extra considerations to be made when entering an International versus Local competition?
An international competition is the same, but different! The philosophy is the same, but the subject matter and approaches might have different weights. For instance, I remember showing two series of images in lectures many years ago, one of Italian hill towns, the other of Australia’s flat landscapes. In Australia, the audience responded best to the hill towns; when I gave the presentations in Italy, they loved the Australian landscapes more. There’s no doubt that an international competition introduces more variables, and that’s why we are at pains at the International Aperture Awards to have a range of judges from different countries so we also have a range of views and interpretations.
It’s been said many times that entering a competition is more than just winning. What do you take out of a competition when you enter?
It is more than just winning, although winning is great of course! However, there can only be one winner per category and to some extent that can be a matter of luck. While you can control how good your photos are, you have no control over how good another photographer’s work might be or the personal preferences of the judges. For me, entering a competition is a matter of reaching a standard. For instance, you might begin by aiming to get at least four Bronze Awards, then in later years four Silver Awards. I’m still trying to get four Gold awards!
What are the first 3 things you look at in your images when you enter a competition?
In my images? I look first for photographs that I love! I can’t second guess the judges, so I don’t try. However, once I’ve picked my favourites, I’ll short list the entries to those that are simple and striking. Judges don’t have a lot of time to look at a photograph, so generally speaking you need images that have impact. Of course, there are always exceptions, but I guess my three things are passion, simplicity and impact.
What advice would you offer photographers entering a competition for the first time?
Entering the competition is just the beginning. When you get your results back, put them away for a few weeks and then sit down and critically look at your work and see if you agree with the judges. I can remember a favourite image of mine being given a low score one year and being bitterly disappointed. Then four or five years later when clearing out the studio, I saw this print again and thought it was terrible! The judge was right and I had been too close to the image to judge it objectively. This isn’t always the case, but if you approach competitions with a long term view to improving your photography, there’s no better assessment than the honest appraisal given by respected judges.
Entries to the 2010 International Aperture Awards are open until the end of October. The judging will be carried out through November with the winners announced in December.