Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog


leave a comment »


Most photographers and commentators of photography discuss endlessly the biggest and the ‘best’ photo competitions around the country. It would appear that competitions are considered a most important aspect of the genre. But photo competitions come in many forms, some of which come in under the radar. Recently I judged the Allora Show Society’s Section “P” Photography, and the experience connected me with the grass roots of the world of photo competitions.

At the Allora Show photography stands alongside a diverse collection of arts, crafts and skills from needlework, baking, woodworking and scrapbooking, to painting, big pumpkin growing and cut flowers. My task was to work through the submitted entries in the 27 categories and select the winners. But first, on Vicky’s and my arrival we took a moment to take tea with the stewards, Kate Gordon, Judy Acason and Margaret Phelan. The tea was made from hot water brought in a thermos by Judy and was accompanied by home-baked fruit slice and butter and mini-lamingtons. Conversations over tea discussed the pros and cons of organising and presenting photographic competitions. Whether we were talking about the event we were about to participate in, or the big capital city extravaganzas of the AIPP Professional Photography Awards, the concerns and issues are the same.

We began the judging of class 1 – First and Second prizes were awarded as well as appropriate Highly Commendeds. Then the next, and the next category – working our way through the adult sections to the Junior sections. I was taken by the nature of the community document that the photographs represented. The ‘quality’, if you can call it that, was uneven at times, but the purpose and the honesty of each image as an authentic representation of an experience encountered and recorded is no different to those of the major national competitions.

Allora Show Photography judging - Landscape Section

Subject matter included; flowers, pets, family portraits, bugs, birds, frogs, lots of sunsets, people doing stuff, pictorial landscapes, sporting moments and vignettes of rural life. And the number of categories enabled specialist areas a chance to have comparisons between similar works. An interesting category was one in which a set of images were required to tell a story.

In the end a Champion Photograph of the show was chosen and for me the task was at an end. Vicky and I wandered off to view equestrian events, other displays of competitive work and lunch. When we returned the volunteer steward team was hard at it hand annotating the 80 or so award cards that had been made. I felt that maybe I should have held back on some of the Highly Commendeds. Participating in this event was just as important to me as any other I have had the honour to judge.


Stewards; Judy, Margaret, Kate and judge Doug

Words: Doug      Photos: Vicky + Doug


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: