Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Am Proud, and Apparently Derivative

B&W+COLOR Magazine, 2011

I always feel a little funny about photography competitions. There are some that have obvious and acknowledged integrity and a lot that I'm not convinced aren't based mostly on whether your entry fee check clears. I go in spurts with these things, in one year entering lots of competitions where I think my work might be a good fit and have a fighting chance, and in other years not enter a single one.
Lately I haven't been entering any. There are three reasons for this:  Im not working to their level; they're not discerning enough; and the cost doesn't justify the potential end.
But every now and then there's work I think has merit. A few years ago the people who publish B&W magazine introduced COLOR magazine for the rest of us. After watching it for a few months, I thought I might be a good fit for this magazine.
But wouldn't you know it? Just as they get COLOR up and running, the recession hits and the magazine advertising market tanks. COLOR closes as a freestanding publication and resurfaces as an occasional section in B&W.
The frustrating thing about COLOR was that I saw a lot of work featured that I felt was as good as, or at least no better than mine. So when I happened to notice that B&W+COLOR was having its annual color portfolio contest, I thought my 2010 At The Beach series might be worth entering. I put some samples on a disk and sent it off to the magazine.
The next thing I knew, a nice young lady from B&W+COLOR contacted me to let me know that my work had been accepted for the Color Special Issue of B&W+COLOR, which came out a few weeks ago.
At first, I was very proud to find my work in a national magazine, though this is not the first time my work has been in a national magazine. Then I started looking at the other work that was featured in the issue and noticed that every third seriesnot really, but it seems that waywas done in a vaguely and sometimes more specifically similar style. Given the rich array of photography available for viewing every day, it does make you wonder what we all saw that inspired us all to go play with such similar techniques.
It's not like I thought I'd created anything all that groundbreaking. But it wasn't entirely unoriginal, ether. But there you have it, a number of people using similar tools and techniques to explore the world around them. What I've learned mostly from this experience is that once the magazine comes out the thrill is over, your interest is sated and you move on to something else. I suppose that's the best part of this creative exploration. We get to explore new ideas every day, whether we thought of them ourselves, or not.


  1. Oh, I loved that series you did of beach umbrellas etc! Congratulations! I still think it's a big deal. Wow--you being published, and Grace, too! You guys are famous.

  2. Still! I agree with "A Brush with Color" -- it IS a big deal and I too loved that series. Congratulations are definitely in order!!