Photo Shows are for Losers

It’s that time of year again.  My turn to come up empty at the Ojai Art Center Photo Show.  I’m beginning to feel like the Cubs.

Sweetie had her 70th birthday in May and we celebrated by visiting the jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Pretty heady stuff.  The thought of submitting a prize winning photo rattled around in my head during the trip.  Couldn’t even concentrate on the otter feeding frenzy while I pondered what to do for this year’s show themed Eat.

Back home again, I thought what better way to showcase my ample talents, while at the same time celebrating Sweetie’s  birthday than to photograph her with her signature cookies.  A sure winner.  Who could resist that combination?  Luscious cookies, a beautiful woman, careful attention to composition, obeying the rule-of-thirds, leading the viewer to the principal point of interest, immaculate printing, and careful attention to framing would reveal the holy grail I had been seeking for years.  Recognition and reward lay ahead.  For sure.

So what happens?  Same old thing.  I arrive at the Sunday reception expecting praise and congratulations while humbly accepting a fat check.  My gaze is directed like a lazer beam at my photo hung in an enviable spot on the wall.  Where’s the blue ribbon?  Nada.  Not even an honorable mention.  Depression.  Devastation.  Defeat.

How could this be?  Three big money prizes and six honorable mentions.  Nearly the entire show and I’m left out in the cold.  That perennial fancy-pants Susan Magness gets first prize with her pears.  Just because it’s perfect, eye-catching, brilliant and unique shouldn’t have been enough to overshadow my cookies.  Tiny Myrna Cambianica earns second spot with a twisty-turny thing that focuses the viewer’s mind on the scarcity of food in the third world.  What a sneaky, thoughtful thing to do.  And finally, the ultimate insult.  Another guy named Fred, Fred Magness, wins the last money slot  with his infrared composition that draws the viewer right into the scene and refuses to let go.  The creep.

And so my friends, I wash my hands of the whole thing.  No next year.  No more disappointments.  No more heartaches.  I’m finished…unless the theme is depression.

Meanwhile, you can visit the show until July 7.  And I wish you would.  Go ahead.  Take it all in and then see if you don’t agree that I shoulda won.  I await your judgment.  But keep any negative thoughts to yourself.

13 Responses to “Photo Shows are for Losers”

  1. 1 Jim Klausen June 8, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Hi Fred And Ila:
    I’ve just started on that adventure. So far I’ve been in 2 shows, at G2 gallery in Venice Beach (a charity auction) and at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The SBMNH show was their first. They expected about 50 entries and got 700. I couldn’t find out if mine were accepted as I was in NY and they weren’t answering emails. I guess they were inundated, but my 2 images were accepted and shown.

    I have a exhibit next Jan. at the Ojai City Hall where you have exhibited. Thanks to your encouragement, I’m seeing what my images will do. However I expect to be disappointed, but I will persist. I’m doing this for fun first and recognition second.


  2. 2 Mackay June 8, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Fred, I was wondering what happened to you… I’m sorry you didn’t win one of the big prizes for your photo but don’t give up!


  3. 3 John June 8, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Hi Fred,

    please don’t give up. the next shot you take may be the winner. I recently acquired a new camera and was so confused about how to operate it that I handed it to my wife and forgot about shooting photos. A few days went by and I resolved that I would try again. I remember what my photo 1 teacher said.
    You have to take lots of shots to get the right one. Of course this was back in the film days but he explained it by pointing out that the National Geographic photographers got those shots because they had a big film budget.


  4. 4 karen evenden June 8, 2010 at 10:30 am

    i think it is a great photo!


  5. 5 Harry Levin June 8, 2010 at 11:38 am

    If you wanted a sure winner your should had had Ila in focus and the cookies out of focus!


  6. 6 Andrew June 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Hello Fred:

    Next time just bring the cookies,

    all the best,



  7. 7 Maureen C June 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    No kidding Fred, as I was taking my usual morning walk around my neighborhood here in Newbury Park, my mind wandering all around, suddenly I thought “gee, it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a blog entry from Fred Rothenberg”. I come home and long onto my e mail and there’s a notice about your latest entry! Wow, ESP again. I am sorry to find out you didn’t win a ribbon at the show, but I liked your photo and I wish Ila a very happy 70th. That was reward enough I hope.


  8. 8 Shari Guilfoyle June 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Great Photo Fred. Happy Birthday to Ila.
    I have missed your blog, glad to see you back at it.


  9. 9 steveshot June 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    if that’s the only reason you took the photo, you shouldn’t expect to win. besides, great shit often goes unnoticed, unrecognized, and unappreciated – which is a damn shame.

    how were the cookies ?


  10. 10 judie June 9, 2010 at 6:43 am

    I thought the picture was very artistic, but what do I know? I’m sure the cookies were fabulous. I don’t agree with Jim though. If there’s a prize to be won, even if the process to get there is fun, the bottom line is to win the prize. If at first (or second or third) you don’t succeed, try, try again!
    Ila, welcome to the 8th decade. Glad we’re all in it together. Love to you both, Judie


  11. 11 leila kleiman June 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Welcome to the art world.
    Remember, judging is personal. You can be ignored in one show and win first place for the same work in another show.
    Try Santa Barbara show next with Ila and the cookies. I think it is great but then we know how much I like cookies.
    Love ya both


  12. 12 Aryna June 9, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I too was very happy to get a blog notice from you. And I like the photo and will try to see the show. There is a bit much going on here in Ojai right now, wouldn’t you say? See you at the Music Festival ( I hope- we’ll be on the lawn eating–those cookies look really good for our picnic, hint hint)


  13. 13 Phil Caruthers June 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    (1) Put photography on the back burner. Package and sell Ila’s cookies – they look delicious!
    (2) Given your track record, it is clear that THEY are out to get you.
    (3) But don’t give up – City Hall always needs stuff for their wall.


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