Words of Wisdom - Peter English

Simon Galbally discusses some of the key comments made by Peter English whilst judging images in the April 2009 MCC Print Competition.


  1. "Finding something different"- His point was disarmingly simple and true - landscapes, seascapes and the like are very popular among photographers - making those genres a very crowded "market" of often excellent images. It is obviously hard to make good photos of this genre stand out and capture judges' and other viewers' attention!
  2. "The picture is inconclusive" - This comment was in reference to a waterscape with a pier as the main subject and tool for leading the eye through the photo. But, while some wondered why the image was not as impressive as it could have been, the point was that it lacked a "point of focus" - the eye was lead nowhere in particular!
  3. "We're putting three dimensions into two dimensions" - This is the single most significant issue for all photographers. The lack of a third dimension makes it a challenge to best communicate what it is in the scene that is so compelling. It is here that the mix of all techniques must be used well to make a great image - composition, depth-of-field, light, etcetera.
  4. "Don't sacrifice too much of the bottom of a scene in an attempt to get more of the top in it" - While this comment was directed at architectural images, it was equally critical to people, landscapes and most genres. Here his comment explained why at first we find an architectural image captivating only to begin to feel something is missing. His comment: "you need the base because it is what supports the rest of the scene", was so logical.
  5. "Humour is a very difficult subject" - No, he was not simply stating the obvious. The value in this comment is akin to the saying: "The message received may not be the same as the message sent"! In general, we need to consider if what we capture is not only what we are seeing as worthy of capture, but that the key to the image is clear to others. If not, the image may just be another photo of... Subtleties of juxtapositions, for example, require care and skill to help ensure that the image has its desired impact. It is like the written word, if we need to explain it to the reader, then it is most likely not well written!



Ultimately, April 9th's print competition highlighted the most important value of having our work "judged" or reviewed by others - value adding comments that help us better capture what we saw in a way that satisfies us (first) and appeals to others (second)!