Competition #4 – The 2011 New York State Fair Photography Contest

This is the tough part for me.  Waiting.  Just waiting.  It wasn’t this hard when Tom Petty sang about it.

The Photography Competition at the New York State Fair changed their submission rules a smidge, and whether it’s a benefit or a detriment to my entries – I just don’t know.

In previous years, I would send in my entry fee, they would send me back the necessary hang tags for the artworks, then I would have the artworks printed, dry-mounted and foam-boarded – and then it’s a road trip to Syracuse to drop the artworks off.  Then, I would wait for the postcards for each artwork to return to my mailbox.

But this year, I was presented with the option of sending – with my $21 entry fee for six images – a compact disc with the  graphics included.  Essentially, my work was going to get pre-judged before it got judged.

So after much consideration and thought, these were the six choices I sent for the New York State Fair photography competition:


(Kodachrome technique)

This was taken during a Kodachrome photo shoot along the Albany County Rail Trail.  I saw the weed as it poked through a rotted railroad tie, and I couldn’t resist the imagery.

PHOTO INFO: Nikkormat FTn, 50mm f/1.4 lens, Kodachrome 64 film.  Photographed in Voorheesville, New York, August 2010.


(black and white night shot technique)

This picture is just magic. I know it has to win something.

PHOTO INFO: Nikon F100, Kiev MIR-20H fisheye lens, f/8 at 30 seconds, efke 25 film. Photographed in Albany, New York, April 2011.


(Still Life technique)

This is a last-minute entry into the competition; I had originally considered sending the competition a redscale array using this picnic setup, but I liked the test photo so much that I decided to send that one instead.

PHOTO INFO: Nikon F100 camera, Kodak 400 film.  Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.  Photographed in Green Island, New York, July 2011.


(alternative photo color technique)

If I can get something special out of this PolaBlue film, then golly gosh I’m going to try like anything.

PHOTO INFO: Nikon F100 camera, 28mm E series lens.  Polaroid PolaBlue film, ISO 10.  Photographed in Albany, New York, June 2011.


(“Swiss Roll” layered film technique)

After much trial and error, I finally got the shot I want with the imagery that I want. Yes.

PHOTO INFO: Agfa Chief camera, Agfa Vista 35mm 200 film AND Ansco All Weather Pan 616 film. Photographed in Albany, New York, May 2011.


(9/11 Anniversary category)

This took climbing up on top of the roof of an Albany office building – just to get this shot.

PHOTO INFO: Nikon F100 camera, Kodak Elite Chrome 100 film.  Photo taken June 2011.  Photographed in Albany, New York, June 2011.

So a couple of weeks ago, I sent my CD, along with my $21 entry fee, to Syracuse.  At some point this week, I should receive word from the Fair as to which – if any – of my pictures have been accepted for judging.  Not accepted as winners – just accepted for judging.

I can see why the New York State Fair would want to do this – not only does it reduce the expense for us photographers in terms of preparation and shipping, it also reduces the piles and piles of printed and produced photographs that are perniciously punted from public purview.

If I send six images and three get accepted for judging, that means I don’t have to spend beaucoup d’argent printing and foam-boarding six artworks.  And since I don’t think the New York State Fair offers any Salon des Refusés for the rejected artworks, the ones that get selected in the first round are the ones that I’m going to make sure are presented in the best light possible.

Of course, now I’m thinking that I send in six entries and all six get bounced, it’s going to hurt.  And I’m not talking “hurt” as in toe-stubbing hurt.  Hurt as in “Chuck you’re a big fat failure” hurt.

Was sending the CD a bad idea?  In hindsight, I could have spent a ton of money foam-boarding the images and received six postcards back, with all six postcards having rejection stamps and me being out hundreds of dollars.  With the CD, they can already pre-judge which ones they don’t want to accept, and I only have to spend money creating and foam-boarding the images that pass the first round of auditions.

On the other hand, there’s still that theory of “strength in numbers,” and maybe if I had sent the images WITHOUT the CD, bringing six images to the Fair on August 13 – drop-off day – then it’s possible one or more of my images could have impressed ONE set of judges, rather than trying to please TWO sets of judges.

There’s also another concerning issue.  My works will get judged twice, while some other works will only be judged once.  Of course, that means for me – two opportunities to get my stuff rejected.  I don’t know how fair that process is.  But again, that’s just me.

Damn it, I hate when the self-doubt and second-guessing kicks in.  I hate it.

Okay, let’s say you’re a judge.  There are six entries up there.  If you could pick a maximum of three – which three would you like to see at the Fair?  And of those, which one do you think has the best chance of winning a ribbon?

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