Reflections on Photomarathon by Mathew Talfan
09 / 08 / 2012
A few weeks ago, the judges at Photomarathon spent several days poring over thousands of images in search of this year’s winners. It was an enjoyable, yet arduous task. The twelve topics lead those taking part on fantastic journeys of creativity, imagination and inventiveness, and the task of selecting winners to showcase at the annual exhibition generated much debate, discussion and, naturally with a panel of judges, some disagreement.
However, this process also revealed the real joy of an event like Photomarathon. The challenge of creative interpretation – one person’s take on a given word or phrase – and a judge’s response to that moment. Whether it’s personal, public, abstract, simple, complex, immediate, discovered, constructed or entirely random – each photograph is one person’s view of the world at that particular time.
While we set the task of twelve topics in twelve hours – that’s the ‘marathon’ part of the event – the Democracy in Action photography competition could be seen as a slightly simpler challenge. But at its heart are the same fundamental tasks; interpretation, idea, execution.
Significantly, it’s also a topic that should have particular resonance for photographers of all abilities. The one fact we’ve constantly reminded of since bringing Photomarathon to Cardiff in 2004, is that photography is one of the most democratic of art forms. Today, most of us carry a camera of some sort. Through it we can partake, contribute and have our say. We can create art, document, interpret and share. We can be serious or irreverent, personal or private. But whatever our approach, we do so through one of the most accessible of all art forms.
Our Photomarathon experience has highlighted the passion that people have for photography. Not just for technique and technology, but for the creativity and the combined acts of sharing and comparing ideas. So, if photography is truly democratic, then what simpler topic that one based on democracy to test it out. Think you’ve got a good idea? We’d love to see it.
Mathew Talfan is a Director of Photomarathon UK. He is also Head of External Relations at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and was formerly managing director at Cardiff based creative agency 6721.