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And the Winner is ... Controversy


(Leica D-Lux 5)

Seldom has it been that winning works cherry-picked for a competition are free of controversy, surely save ourselves being the winner. How many times we have seen the winning works in a photo contest too amateurish, off the mark or exceedingly post-processed is anybody’s guess.

Now, there are two new fodders for the photography community to carry on the relay of mockery. This guy and this guy won the inaugural WYNG Masters Award for Photography on the theme of poverty for a prize of HK$125,000 each or, in a common international photography language, roughly two Leica M Monochroms (Well I wonder if the "s" can be suffixed this way).

You could be thinking, well, lots of street photographers out there are way better than the first one and, wait a minute; did the other winner set up a CCTV for the eerie peeking shots?

First, there is a thing called committee effect which is forever present in an adjudicator panel and shall be blamed for an always balanced conclusion, too balanced that it is neither agreeable to many or repulsive to many; hence the controversy.

Then, there is the cultural effect which is why some non-local adjudicators may vote for something that leans towards commonplace and boring to anyone familiar with the city.

Lastly, there is the factor of luck.

But if we were one of the winners, we would have willingly believed that the awards are placed in the right hand.  The reason probably lies in the emotion we attached to the moment of capture and the efforts during the entire process of coming up with the series. We may have looked at our own work and secretly ooh and ahh at our brilliance. For the above two winners, and any winners for that matter, I would say that hindsight is always obvious. It may be until we can honestly ask ourselves whether we could have ended up with comparable works that the reply of mockery will begin to subside.

Congratulations to the winners and the WYNG people for putting up such a good chance to nurture local photography talents. (Okay, the shots are not the best among the finalists but anyhow they won.)


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