For photographers, image-makers, storytellers, artists, business owners or employees sometimes something happens that is so damn good that you just need to tell everyone. Shouting out the joy of success, taking advantage, clambering up the pile for rightful recognition. When acclaim is the reward, so acclaim must be the intention. So for the reward to have value, then it must have it’s own unique strength, it must stand out, it must relate somehow to those whom you seek acclamation from. Unfortunately the currency of acclamation is being devalued on a daily basis. You may need a lot more brilliance to achieve today, what you did yesterday. In the business of photography, acclaim is primarily recognition from peers that can somehow be leveraged into some sort of ‘commercial’ value by your potential clients. The value of that recognition is dependent on how your client perceives the context of your success, and any subsequent leverage which they can take from it, or perhaps some tangible benefit they can derive from it. Acclaim, however, may result in that warm feeling you get when something planned or something practiced – or something fluked – comes up smelling of roses.
Issue 38 | November 2014
The competition, to find the best of, to gather points for qualification, to win tangible prizes such as cash, cameras and travel; has tended to shape the fame and drive participation and currently threatens the real value. It is almost possible for everyone to claim to be ‘award winning’ for sometimes the humblest of images and the loosest, most overgenerous judging, in turn motivated by the most commercial ambition. Sadly, everyone participating benefits for the most cynical of reasons. The loser is the devaluation of the value or currency of these ‘awards’ through the confusion of myriad claims. In about 1987, the late Terry O’Connor and I won a Gold for a multi projector slide show we produced and submitted to the US based Association for Multi-Image International. Does that mean it is quite legitimate for me to still claim status as an ‘award winning multimedia producer/director’? I think not – the technology has changed, the association is defunct and probably the production edit is now so ‘old fashioned’ as to be corny. Yet it seems some ‘award winner’ claims people make are just about as relevant, or should I say equally irrelevant?