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Her Fortune Depends on You

The Saga of the 'Picture Suitable for a Charity Poster': In my camera club in the early '70s, two of the competitions each year were 'Set Subject'. In other words, we were asked to shoot pictures relating in some way to a specific subject (like pros do every day). The benefit is that it makes you think about the photos rather than rummaging though the holiday snaps and hoping to find a good one.

The disadvantages are that whoever thinks up the subject has to pick a good one; not too challenging or people won't bother to enter, but not too broad or it will be too easy. And most important, the judge has to be switched on, prepared, and capable of judging the thing sensibly. This was one of my two entries for 'A Picture Suitable for a Charity Poster'. The old lady's face is superimposed (in the darkroom) on an image of a Victorian teacup containing some carefully placed tealeaves – in retrospect perhaps not at all suitable for a charity poster, but a good quality print on a very nice smooth matt paper.

The judge didn't understand. I didn't mind that much, although I'd worked quite hard on the 16 x 12in prints and looking at them now they weren't bad for the Beginners section. But the judge didn't understand the competition at all. Towards the end of the evening he uttered the immortal line, "Help the Aged, isn't that some sort of charity?" And from that moment on I was happy to ignore the comments of any judge who seemed to be living on a different planet...

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