I participated in a Japanese photo contest and got selected as the winner of a category. I felt like I was in 1996 and I loved it.
My experience in Japan dates back to 2006, and over time, my observations often make me think of certain sections of a novel written by Amélie Nothomb. It makes me laugh.
Here, photography is serious and official. It's well known, in Japan everything has to be done the right way. Stupidity and jokes are only good for the television show, the rest needs to be nice and clean, but also well done and within the rule.
If you've been following me on any social media, you know that I live in a small town called Nikko. A fantastic and beautiful area of Japan where millions of tourist come every year to visit a unique and spiritual area registered as a World Heritage but also for its outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, skiing and more. All this together makes Nikko a remarkable destination for photo enthusiast and for that reason, the city created an annual photo contest.
The first thing I found cool, was the method used to send your subscription; A4 prints. I drove to the local photo lab in Imaichi and got five different prints. I am one of those who thinks we don't print enough pictures, so I was ok with that. Everyone is carrying thousands of photo in their cell phone neglecting that if they drop their device in the toilet, everything will disappear. I also found that submitting a printed picture to a photo contest was straight forward and logic. I'd rather have the judge look at a print of my artwork instead of looking at the photo from a screen.
A few weeks passed when I received an email announcing I was the winner of a category. Great! Then they asked me to send the digital file in full resolution, on a CD-R! Lol! I thought they were kidding when they said CD-R...
It was not a joke; we're not on TV here...
Honestly, I do not remember the last computer I had who reads CD (I'm a MAC guy). In 2019, asking for a CD-R is almost like buying the latest Bruno Mars album on tape. The only thing I could do was using my "gaijin card" (a non-written rule that stipulates you can do what you want when you are a foreigner living in Japan) and send the picture on a USB key without asking if it was right or not. The reason why they wanted a CD-R was for their archives. Of course, they gave me a call once they realize I didn't send a CD-R, but I offered them to keep the USB key, and they accepted the deal.
Gary Vee would have been proud of me!
Yes, there was a ceremony where every winning photographer received something which looked like a diploma, an official piece of paper confirming who won in which category. This contest is true as f*ck! I appreciated this part the most, even more than the 30 000¥ I got for my picture. Just so you know, for this Japanese Photo Contest I had to send a printed subscription in person to the City Hall, then send a CD-R for their archive, but my 300$ price was deposit directly in my bank account... Giving us a cheque instead would have been more appropriate right?
All the winning pictures will be exhibited in Nikko next July. I am pleased with my first experience in a Japanese photo contest. I felt like it was very official, a lot more serious than most of the contest you find online right now.
I'll write another post once I have more information about the photo exhibition in Nikko.
Thanks for reading.
From my phone to an exhibition at the London Leica Café in UK
In August 2017, I won my first photo contest ever. Nothing very glamour, a simple monthly contest from the excellent street photography blog StreetHunters.com. If you're not familiar with them, they put out a new friendly competition every month. The winners get some sort of visibility on their platform (Instagram, blog, etc.), fair enough!
That month, the theme was quite simple: the color yellow. I wanted to give the contest a try, so I started looking in my archives to find a photograph where the color was dominant enough. After going through most of my pictures, I found one from my wedding trip in Japan (2011), a photo that I had never published before. Not even once! I sent it.
The photo was the result of a quick snap from my iPhone 4, and for that reason, I had never considered it as an excellent picture. At that time, I thought those excellent photographers only used cameras, not smartphones. A few weeks later, I received an email from one of the StreetHunters' authors announcing that my picture made it to the top 3. Another week then, a second email came with another good news: I had won the contest!
Gosh! Why the hell did I hide that picture for 6 years!!! I said to myself! From that moment, I started caring more about the content of my images and less about the tool used. I had the proof I was wrong.
Last year, I decided to send the same picture to another contest, the 2018 SPi Award (Street Photography International Award). Again the image was chosen, I made it to the Top 20 finalists, and later it was part of an exhibition at the London Leica Café in the UK. Second proof I was wrong.
As I am writing this blog post, the picture is still published on one the London Leica Café's websites, next to the winning image.
I know that you've heard it before, but I am going to repeat it one more time... Chase Jarvis once said: "the best camera is the one that's with you," and that's fucking true.
Thank you for reading!