I can't figure out judging, and by judging I'm talking first about judging in photography, specifically having my images judged. Herein lies a dilemma. I have people tell me that my photos are good, that I'm a talented photographer. And these compliments and encouragements are not just from my family. Not that I don't appreciate their compliments, but they're my family. They love me so their opinion of my art (or anything else I do), is affected by their feelings for me.
And these compliments are not just from fans of my photography. There are people out there, friends and acquaintances, who like my images. They don't have training in photographic technique, and they're not qualified to assess the technical aspects of my photography.
I'm getting compliments from more than these two groups of people. There are really talented photographers (much more talented than I), who think highly of what I do. I trust that their opinion is not based on their feelings for me, neither is it an untrained opinion.
And yet (the other side of the dilemma), when I submit images for judging, or enter a contest - my images are judged as mediocre, average, ordinary. Sometimes the images are determined to be slightly above average, but they are never exceptional. The images never live up to the compliments that I get. I submit what I consider some of the best work I've ever done, and the judges tell me that I've submitted an unexceptional, boring picture.
So who do I listen to? The judges? Or the people?
I much prefer listening to the people. My friends and family may be untrained, and unable to assess the technical aspects of an image, but I find much more satisfaction in their opinion than the opinion of a judge.
For a time, I quit submitting altogether. I told myself it was because I didn't need the feedback. Then I submitted for a time, but submitted without a score, telling myself that the score didn't matter. Then, after encouragement from some talented photographers, I started submitting (for score) and entering some contests.
Once again, I'm tired of being judged. I don't care about the score and don't care about the accolades. Or do I? I'm finding it difficult to answer that issue. Do I care or don't I? It's a good issue for self-reflection, and I think until I determine the answer, I won't be submitting images. I will be showing my work, to friends and family. Maybe I'll just be deceiving myself by not accepting critique from "expert" photographers/judges, but I don't mind living with a little self-delusion.