Controversial Grand Prize Winner Withdraws From ‘Outdoor Photographer’ Competition


Outdoor Photographer awarded the grand prize of their “Great Outdoors 2021” to a composite picture that violates the foundations of the competitors as said on the official web site. This controversy offers rise to an moral query concerning images competitions that fail to implement their very own guidelines. 

The picture in query, in accordance with the photographer’s personal description on social media, is a composite mix of a number of pictures “shot by the transition from post-sunset to pitch darkish and blended in better of the environment of the night.” This model of processing has grown in reputation in recent times. It incorporates images strategies and digital post-processing strategies that permit the artist to maximise the visible impression of the ultimate picture. As you may see from the grand-prize profitable picture beneath, these strategies are fairly efficient. The result’s a formidable picture that pulls the viewer in instantly.

These strategies, although considerably controversial, will not be the difficulty at hand, at the least by way of their photographic legitimacy. Many competitions permit the usage of such strategies. This competitors, nevertheless, doesn’t. The picture was awarded the grand prize (a $2,000 USD money prize and an array of substances value practically the identical) even though the foundations of the competitors bar the usage of such strategies. See beneath for the precise verbiage, straight from the official Outdoor Photographer web site.

We reached out to the photographer, who knowledgeable us that on the time of submission, they didn’t have a transparent understanding of the foundations of the competitors. After receiving notification that their picture can be a finalist, however previous to being awarded the grand prize, they tried to achieve out to the directors to withdraw the submission from consideration, admitting totally that the picture didn’t qualify. At the time of our correspondence, that they had acquired no response or acknowledgement of the try to withdraw.

We additionally reached out to Outdoor Photographer for remark. See their assertion beneath.

The photographer, Shashank Khanna, did certainly try to contact us to advise us of this previous to the ultimate judging and announcement of the competition winners. Unfortunately, his electronic mail was misfiled by our customer support crew and this info was not obtainable to our judges. We have since been in communication with Mr. Khanna, and within the curiosity of equity to all our contest entrants, he has provided to withdraw his submission. We settle for his withdrawal. We remorse any embarrassment this has triggered Mr. Khanna and commend him for his honesty and transparency. Accordingly, we’re elevating the Second Prize and Third Prize winners to First Prize and Second Prize respectively and awarding the Third Prize to photographer George Garcia for his picture, “Barren Valley Sunset.”

While their response appears honest sufficient, the difficulty doesn’t relaxation right here. There is a larger moral difficulty at hand concerning the administration of images competitions. We have been in correspondence with many different photographers who have been upset that the end result of this competitors and who made makes an attempt to achieve out to the administration, but acquired no response. The majority of entrants presumably submitted pictures that fall throughout the established guidelines of the competitors, and so they paid the submission charges underneath the idea that the competitors directors would make an inexpensive try to implement the foundations. The competitors web site even suggests as a lot.

As a part of the judging course of, our judges at their discretion might request the unique RAW file or JPEG seize for evaluate.

Putting apart the truth that most skilled panorama photographers will instantly acknowledge the profitable picture as a composite, we now have to ask why Outdoor Photographer made no try to implement their very own guidelines or confirm the authenticity of the prize profitable submissions. This can be the naked minimal after we take into account the moral calls for of regulating a paid-entry images competitors. Ideally, nevertheless, verification will happen as early as attainable within the judging course of to make sure that non-qualifying pictures will not be being in comparison with pictures that abide by the foundations.  When something goes, it’s a lot simpler to create a visually impactful picture. It is obvious that verification is a vital step, nevertheless it’s also a resource-intensive (i.e. costly) course of. We must ask whether or not any competitors selecting to omit this course of has accomplished so merely with a purpose to scale back overhead prices. Considering the comparatively excessive price of entry, the comparatively low worth of prizes and the truth that limitless entries are allowed, presumably they’ve the finances to pay somebody to confirm submissions. There are many images competitions, reminiscent of Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Natural Landscape Photography Awards with even stricter submission pointers, but nonetheless do an intensive job implementing guidelines and verifying pictures.

In addition to those moral issues, Outdoor Photographer’s “Great Outdoors Photo Contest” doesn’t place any kind of restrict on amount of submissions. This implies that these with larger monetary means can submit a vast quantity of pictures, affording themselves a transparent benefit. This is much less of an moral concern and extra a difficulty of normal equity, which the neighborhood expects these kind of competitions to attempt for.

When we take into account the info of this story, we start to achieve an understanding of the moral points at hand with images competitions. We encourage our readers to learn the foundations carefully previous to giving cash to any competitors, even when they’re organized by established and trusted establishments. The judgement course of is commonly as not as honest as it might seem. Luckily, there are some questions we will ask ourselves earlier than we enter into any competitors to make sure it’s administered pretty:

  • What degree of post-processing do they permit?
  • Do they implement these guidelines through uncooked file verification?
  • How early within the judgement course of does this verification happen?
  • Do they restrict amount of submissions?
  • Is the administration conscious of questions and e-mails?

Photography competitions are an essential establishment within the images neighborhood. They drive the event of the artwork kind, and when administered pretty, they’re a spot the place the neighborhood can come collectively and revel in each other’s work. This makes it all of the extra essential that we place a requirement on the organizations that administer these competitions to take action with equity, transparency and accountability.


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