Contests in the arts are weird things. In a football game, you pretty much know which team scored the most touchdowns. In soccer, it is usually cut and dry about who scored the most goals. In a drag race, it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.
But how can you really judge who has the “best” piece of art?
Don’t get me wrong, there is a strong history of artwork being judged. Funny enough, it was a specific show of works deemed not good enough that ended up setting the art world, and most of the rest of the world on fire. And where would the world be if the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts had been a little less judgmental to a young applicant from Austria?
As I’ve written many times before, I come from a fine art background, and so this concept of judging and, more importantly, ranking artwork is not new to me. But that’s never stopped it being an odd concept to ponder.
While the nuance of artistic contests can be considered and debated for a long time, the practical result of entering artwork into a competition are pretty straightforward: exposure. Other people get to see your art. Hopefully, many people. Much more than would normally see your work. And exposure, usually, is a good thing.
And God knows I’m all about getting more exposure.
What bothered me about this specific contest, however, was not the idea of “Art As Competition”. No, the concern comes from the fine print of the Official Rules. Specifically, the clause which states
Entrant grants an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide non-exclusive license to NVPR, and its related companies to reproduce, distribute, and/or display the Submission 1) in connection with the Contest and promotion of the Contest, including, but not limited to print publishing, terrestrial broadcasts, web, and any other platform now known or later developed, 2) in connection with NVPR/DESERT COMPANION and promotion of NVPR/DESERT COMPANION, including, but not limited to print publishing, terrestrial broadcasts, web, and any other platform now known or later developed. No additional consideration or approval is required for any such use. Further, as a condition of accepting the prize, the winner of the contest will be required to assign to NVPR/DESERT COMPANION exclusive rights to the Submission for a period of one-hundred-eighty (180) days following the date of its selection as winner.
d. The Winner will be required to assign to NVPR/DESERT COMPANION all rights to the Submission as a condition of winning the prize.
So, basically, if I win, I lose all rights to my photo for 180 days. Even by entering, I am agreeing that they can use my photos however they want, without notifying me at all, from here on out. Word like “irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide” license freak me out.
But, to be fair, they state very clearly, “If you do not agree to these terms, please do not use the web site or enter the Contest.” Fair enough.
The bottom line is that I weighed the pros and cons, and then entered five photos into this years competition. Did I enter by best I’ve got? Absolutely not, I’m not giving up my rights that easy. But I didn’t enter dogs either. I mean, I literally didn’t enter pictures of dogs. Or kittens, which I’m sure would win any contest known to man. But, also, figuratively I didn’t enter any dogs. Or purposely bad photos. I tried to choose pictures that would be good enough to compete, but not so good I’ll miss them when they’re gone. It’s a tightrope, Spud.
Grand prize is a Sony Alpha a7 camera with FE 28-70mm Lens. B&H lists that combo at $1,598.00. Not too shabby. Plus, everyone I know who shoots the a7 loves it.
That said, I seriously doubt I’ll win the big prize. Past that, there are five different categories, and I certainly wouldn’t mind either first ($250 gift card to B&C camera) or second ($125 gift card) prize in any category. I could always use more gear.
But, as I said before, this is mostly about getting exposure. I believe it’s worth the contractual commitment.
I entered the above pic, Suburban Mailbox. Man, I love that shot. So many great shapes and lines. Plus, it’s just another testament to how great my new Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens is. If I was single, I would marry this lens, I love it so much. It could make an honest woman out of me.
I think the above pic might have a shot. Who knows? There are two other pics that also should be in the running. And one that, hot damn, if it doesn’t win something, anything, then I’m going to walk down to NPR with a baseball bat and personally teach them some art appreciation.
And the 5th pic I threw in just for fun. I have no expectations for that shot.
Which means, obviously, that’ll be the one that wins something.