© topknots_topjoke-1

The PDN’s topknots contest for 2010 was nothing short of a JOKE this year !!!

Follow this link to the winners:





Ok . . .

I am very aware that this will probably get sent around to many people who will adamantly disagree with what I am about to say here. When I first saw the results of this contest this year, I honestly thought this was a huge joke due to it being April Fools day. I had to put it down and walk away for awhile, as I seriously didn’t believe what I was seeing.

I have followed many, many photography contests for the last 30 years or so. Back then, I very clearly remember opening up a magazine and seeing “jaw dropping” images on almost every page. These were the images which got me to “want to be a better photographer.” I couldn’t wait until the next contest, just to see who and what image won in each of the categories. Back in those days, I agreed with 99% of the selection of winners and top images which were the “chosen ones.”

As the years have gone on, it seems that the basis of what “photography” is all about, has been completely thrown out the window. What ever happened to the three basic things that every image should be judged on first and foremost. This would be COMPOSITION – IMACT – TECHNICAL. Have we completely forgotten what the masters have taught us through the years? Do these things mean nothing anymore?

I mean SERIOUSLY . . .

Now let me be clear. I do see about a dozen images in this contest that are what I would consider as worthy of being in the end result of this competition. In fact, there are a few that truly deserve to have taken first place, rather than what was chosen. To these photographers, I have a huge amount of respect for and wish that I would have been on the judging board to push these through to where they rightfully deserved to be.

I am even further frustrated, due to the chosen judges for this year. THESE PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSE TO REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, ARE THEY NOT? I wish that I could meet with each of these judges and have a “one on one” with them. I would take a few of these first place winners and place a large print of them down right under their nose and say, “Seriously? This image beat out the thousands of other images that were sent in for this category? REALLY?” I would further ask them to point out the details in each of these images and reflect on many factors, including composition, impact and technical against many hundreds of others that would simply blow these chosen winners away. I do not believe for one second that these were the best in each of these categories. Are we really going to entertain the old saying of “its not WHAT you know, but WHO you know?” That sounds horrible and is something that I don’t even want to believe that this organization would do.

Am I wrong here? Does the world (including other qualified judges), really believe that THESE are the cream of the crop? Sorry guys – I call “Bullshit.”

Now before any of you start going crazy and saying that I am only doing this because I myself enter every year and this is the basis for the reason I am mad, due to mine not being chosen. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH HERE. Yes, many of our photographers have entered many times over the years. And yes. many times we have opened the results of the winners and said, “good God, ours was better than that one.” But we are also very aware (since many of us actually do photography judging from time to time), that there are many subjective things that go into doing this. Are we disappointed when we don’t win? Well sure, Who wouldn’t be. But when we see pages and pages of images that don’t come anywhere close to what we, and obviously hundreds if not thousands of other photographers have entered, this is where we draw the line.

So I have a challenge that hopefully someone will forward out to the top people at  PDN / Top Knots.

I will bet PDN / Top Knots $1000 that what I entered against the winners in two of these categories can win a national vote, with millions of people voting. Why don’t we get a hold of a really well known person who has the ability to show the true colors of this. Someone like Oprah Winfey would be perfect and I would be willing to bet that she would gladly do this for us. I would have her show both the “chosen winners” and what I entered. Do not let the world know which is which and have them vote, right there, right then, on what they think the best images are. I am by no means saying that my images are hands down the best in this contest. I can however say, that a few that I sent in are better than what was chosen as the winners. And if you are going to say that the people voting in this way are nowhere near as qualified as the “selected judges” I have no way to debate this and in some ways, I agree. It is a fact however that these millions of people would comprise a really good cross section of your reader audience.

Sound like a crazy idea? Lets do it and see who is right. If PDN / Top Knots is, I will shut my mouth and walk away. If however, I am . . . I hope that people will start to speak up and do things the right way in an honest and forthright manner. We are suppose to see the winners and say, WOW!!! Everyone that I have talked to said, “What the heck?”

Bring it on PDN / Top Knots

Deke Cloyd
C.E.O. & Founder
On the edge Weddings



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