Thursday, October 13, 2011

Visit Dublin

Dublin Tourism are running a very interesting photo competition for the last year or so. They are operating through Flickr. You enter a photo by posting it to their group on Flickr. You can enter up to 5 photos per month and the increment to the pool is adjudicated every 2 months. The only condition is that the photo is relevant to Dublin.

I have been entering 5 photos a month for some time now and I currently have 79 photos in the pool.

I have noticed sometimes that the pool only picks up say 3 of my 5 submitted photos and have put the omissions down to software defects. Usually, when I resubmit the missed photos they eventually appear in the pool.

Last month, however, I have come up against what I think is a downright refusal. So far, the photos have been if anything flattering to the city, but the one (above) passed over last month is less than flattering, though I think it is a good photo. There is nothing in the conditions to say that the photos have to be flattering nor is there anything limiting the adjudicators in their absolute discretion in awarding prizes.

In an attempt to be sure that something was going on, I resubmitted the above photo this month (having resubmitted it twice last month) and also included some less flattering photos in this month's batch.

So far, the photo above has not been accepted nor has the one below, representing the end of the party from earlier this year.

My own view is that this is a disgrace. It is fine to limit prizes to flattering photos for the Dublin Tourism calendar, but it is an unjustifiable form of censorship and propaganda to refuse to accept unflattering photos into the pool. I would warrant that the batch I have submitted to date are more than flattering to the city and that there is even a fair risk that any tourist whose expectations are based on them would be seriously disappointed at the actual state of much of the place.

As a sign of my good faith, I have so far held myself back from submitting the photo below.


  1. The rules should be followed.

    If a photo is rejected, the photographer should be told how it has been in breach of the rules.

    Arbitrary rejection is not acceptable and is not practiced by any reputable photo site ( I submit to quite a few).

  2. Thank you Vivion for your support.

    I suspect they didn't think this thing through when they set up the competition. They were thinking Tourism and Calendar.

    It was originally set up for only one year (last year) but when I realised they were likely to terminate it I made a case to them as to why it was in their own interest to continue it. Which they have done.

    I do think it is a great idea and a form of cheap and effective publicity for Dublin Tourism and the city.

    I think, however, that they have yet to learn the difference between just flattery and a good photograph.

    Leaving aside any of my own, they have got some really high standard fantastic photos and some awful crap. But it is a good and dynamic concept and I hope they keep it up.

    As you say, it would also be a help if they played by their own rules.

    Anyone for "dear old dirty Dublin" or the "rare oul times"?

  3. With a bit of imagination, gritty documentary street photos like yours could conceivably be used, in contrast with more flattering photos, in a 'before and after' or 'then and now' scenario.

    Just an idea ...

  4. You have my support too.
    Vivlon is right on both counts - they should state the rules and having done so, then stick to them.
    And also that gritty photos may be work in the calendar as a counterpoint - or simply because they're good.
    Though - as you say - it would be understandable for them to take a more upbeat approach for the calendar.
    Getting back to the flickr competition and pool - fine if they want to ask for positive images (though the interpretation of that term could be interesting too) - but what you describe is consistent with people pretending they're cooler, more open than they really are.
    Wonder whether one of the newspapers or - say - HotPress would be interested in the story of the airbrushing of Dublin - and the airbrushing out of "unacceptable" types of people.
    Just a thought.

  5. @blackwatertown

    Thanks, Paul, for the support.

    You have put that well.

    Regarding the newspapers etc. I'll keep it in the back of my mind. For the moment I have an exquisitely easy and slow escalation in mind.

  6. It looks to me like the photos are chosen at the whim of the Moderators of the group. I love that top photo, the colour really ads to the composition. Dublin has always had beggers on the streets, at least these days they are more colourful.

  7. @Grannymar

    Thanks for the support.

    It struck me the whimsy might be explained by different moderators at different times but I suspect the competition is only a sideline activity for the one member of staff.

    It is not only the choice of photos but the irregularity with which the pool is inspected and cleared which makes me feel it is way down their list of priorities.

    I think this is foolish as it is a potential goldmine in tourism payback. It would be even better if they left open the discussion on the pool page, but that being closed is probably an indication of something in itself.

    Enjoyed your latest post on Behan and the canal. Don't they make a difference to a city.

  8. competion aside, your picture with the lady in the red coat is every bit as good as something in National Geographic, for both the photo and the story it tells. You have a real talent.

  9. Thanks, Seán Patrick, for the encouragement. I have always had an interest in photography.

    I'm hoping to turn this thread into a cudgel to beat Dublin Tourism with (American papers please copy).

    I'm not really surprised they closed off the discussion section of the Group. It doesn't appear to sit easy with their mindset.

    Like your site and the proactive interviews.

    Has Paul shamed you out of the hat or are you running parallel avatars?

  10. Polo, nah, re: the hat. It was time for a change. Paul's cool, although it took me a while to get familiar with his sense of humor. very nice and interesting people hanging around his place.

  11. We are now at the 20th of the month and the two "refused" photos are still listed as "pending moderator approval".

    This means that one of two things.

    They have not been back to see that the two photos are still knocking on the door, and this seems to be the case, which in itself is a statement of the low priority they give the competition.

    And/or, they will just leave the two shots pending in perpetuity, which would mean that as long as I leave them there I will be down to effectively entering only three photos per month (including in this month).

    If they end up doing the latter, it will just draw attention to the fact that their subtle skills would be better employed drumming up more tourists than obliquely attempting to whitewash the capital.

    As I said before, we are simply talking of entries into the pool. Much as I would love the prize I have no illusions about making the calendar.

    Mentioning the calendar sent me searching for last year's production. I can't find it and there is no mention of the calendar in this year's rules. I assume it was the calendar that originally determined the two-monthly adjudication schedule.

    In passing I also notice the latest results posted are for May/June 2011.

  12. Change of Tack

    My two outstanding shots for October, one of which was also outstanding for September, are still outstanding. Officially they are pending clearance by the moderator, and, going by the current form, they will still be pending over the end of the month.

    If this turns out to be the case I will operate on the basis of Ian Fleming's dictum on the flyleaf of one of the Bond books.
    Once = happenstance
    Twice = coincidence
    Thrice = enemy action

    I am not usually one for records, though I currently have the highest contribution to the pool. But if thrice comes at me I will be aiming for a second record. A full five refusals for the month of November.

    You can get a preview here. Checkout the last four shots and the beggar lady.


  13. You need to go to page 2 in that last link. Unfortunately the link is intermittent.

    The five shots for next month would then be:

    Beggar lady (Gilt by association)
    Bin of cans (Party's over)
    Dead dog (Dead dog)
    Glass Bottle Co. (Bottled)
    Nut & Bold (Reclining Nudes).

  14. THRICE - Enemy Action Confirmed

    Today the Moderator visited the pending pool and accepted 36 new entries.

    The two I had pending were specifically refused by being unpended.

    I have resubmitted them for the record.

    The prospects of achieving five refusals next month is now looking increasingly achievable.

    Fingers crossed.

  15. Can the Moderator be asked (a) to publicly set out the rules and criteria under which photographs submitted are accepted or rejected; (b) to state under which rule or criterion the two photographs under discussion here were rejected; (c) if the Moderator will not agree to (a) and (b), can he/she be asked why not?

    Photographers have a right to know why their work is rejected.

  16. Realtime

    We're almost into realtime here. The moderator has now visited the pool for the second day running (mirabile facto) and has today again unpended my two previously refused photos.

    I now look on track for my November record unless I've misjudged the situation.

    Looks like they might have actually read this post and comments, at which I pointed them via Twitter.

  17. Deep Waters

    There is clearly more to Dublin begging than meets the eye. A change in the law has brought out the nastier side of organised exploitative begging.

    Whatever about what was going on behind the scenes this lady was neither aggressive nor was she sitting under a cash machine.

    She might just have been sitting on top of a natural resource but she was not impeding the flow of the sniffy Liffey below.

    Now that I think of it, I have some low tide shots of the Liffey at Kingsbridge somewhere. Must fish them out for the photo competition.

    If I keep this up I will be able to start a separate set of Flickr photos with my rejects. Suggestions for a title welcome.

  18. Red October

    This is beginning to remind me of the film The Hunt for Red October.

    The moderator has been back to the pool and explicitly refused three of my shots

    The Beggarwoman
    Dead Dog

    and left two in suspension

    Wheelie with cans
    Glass Bottle Co

    I am trying to decode this very obscure message.

    By the way, I have opened a new set on my Flickr page entitled Banned to house the rejects.

  19. Your Move

    The moderator has again visited the pool and appears to be getting the message.

    In an apparent attempt to deny me the distinction of having all my five entries for November refused, the moderator has accepted the Glass Bottle Co and left the other 4 in a state of suspended appendment.

    As I can now legitimately claim these 4 as refusals I have substituted another 4 as follows:

    Framed (bicycle frames from which everything detachable has been stolen)

    Locked (southside wheelie bins with built in locks)

    Sandbagged (Clontarf flood defences earlier in the year)

    Reclining Nudes (nut and bolt sculpture in Sandyford)

    These can be viewed as the last 4 in my Dublin Tourism set.

  20. The psychology gets deeper.

    Of the four entries listed in my previous comment the moderator has accepted the last three and refused Framed, so I've withdrawn that and put it in my Banned set.

    I have replaced it with another photo called Climate Change which you can see as the final photo in my Flickr Dublin Tourism set.

    It is getting very confusing waging war on two fronts in the same competition.

    If this keeps up I will have to do a blog post on Pavlov's Dogs.

    These Tourism people are very cunning.

  21. Don't know if the moderator is reading these comments, looking at my Banned set and hoping it doesn't grow too much, or just coming to an appreciation of how much Dublin is in my bones.

    But, I have now got a full five entries accepted this month.

    Here's to next month's corrida.

  22. December 2011

    The fun continues. I submitted five titles this month. Two of these were graffiti which were immediately rejected by the moderator. I replaced them with an Easter Island type statue in Clontarf, and an interesting configuration of cherryblossom flowers which the wind had blown into the shape of a new map of the world. While it could have been anywhere, it was specified in the commentary as being in front of St. Brigid's RC Church in Killester. I already have a night shot of that church in the pool.

    Easter Island was accepted and the cherryblossoms rejected.

    I have replaced the cherryblossoms with a humorous Still Life taken in Killester and specified as such.

    Let's wait and see. Anyway my banned set is shaping up nicely.

    You can check out the banned and Dublin Tourism sets on my Flickr page.

  23. Still Life was rejected and has joined the Banned set.

    I have replaced it with some Hot Air Baloons above Leinster House and this has been accepted.

    End of December episode.

    More to follow in January.

    My contribution to date as shown on the Visit Dublin pool set.


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