IPA International Photography Awards 2013: Adam Marelli
Honorable Mention: 4 Categories
Why I am excited about Honorable Mention?
This week one of my One on One students wrote to congratulate me about winning Honorable Mention for the IPA International Photography Awards with my series “Lost Ceremony.” Apparently there was an announcement email, but I did not see it. Either way, I was pleased to learn that the series I started last year in Japan is already garnering recognition.
But wait, you might ask, “Isn’t honorable mention a fancy way of saying you did not win?” Not really and here is why. In the course of an artists life, we will apply for many things from universities to grants and competitions. We will not get everything we apply for and should not be discouraged by not winning. Failing is part of the process. Its not a big deal, it doesn’t mean you are a loser and your work is no good, it simply means you did not win. Which is why you should not take it to heart. Ask anyone who has won a big award in the art world weather they applied more than once. I won’t name names, but two very good artist friends of mine who are held in major museums both applied to the same program in New York City. They were both rejected, one was rejected three times and the other was rejected twice. They did not give up. They kept at the application, taking time to refine their work and hone their applications. In the end, they got in.
The truth is that any of the final candidates for a program or an award could win. There are more qualified candidates then there are slots available. Some years the cards fall in your favor others they may not. At the very top it is a bit of a crap shoot. How do I know? I have friends who are on major judging panels every year from the Guggenheim Fellowship to the Eugene Smith Award. They have all encouraged me to apply, but cautioned that it may take a few times to win.
Who cares about second place?
When it comes to the IPA Awards, I have applied three times and this is the first recognition I received. It pleases me for two main reasons. First, the work was selected in four very different categories. When I conceived the series “Lost Ceremony,” I had discussed with someone that it could go a few different directions. It could be a series that might be classified as a portrait series or it could be a cultural series. Honestly, I did not know how it would look until I took a few shots.
Back in NYC, the series grew more than I had expected. From my catalog of images, I felt like it could have been a stand alone Still Life series while I also had enough images for a Portrait series. It was surprising. I used the competition as a barometer to see how other people (outside of social media) responded to the work. The fact that it registered successfully in four categories seems to indicate that the depth of the series shows. And I don’t say that to toot my own horn, but to illustrate that if the subject matter of your series has enough depth and you are well trained to deal with a number of conditions…you can succeed in a number of facets within photography.
The second reason why I am pleased is that “Lost Ceremony” is not even complete. Effectively it was recognized while being a work in progress. My plan is to return this November and in 2014 to complete the work. The IPA Honorable mention is a good indicator that I am headed in the right direction and a reminder not to be complacent. This series will not make itself. The balance of the images will take a continued effort if I expect them to round out as a winners.
Failure hurts less than you think
Between the many set backs I have experienced in my life I can assure you that artistic failure hurst a lot less than other failings. This is not like the first crush who broke your heart. That one hurst a lot more (or at least mine did.)
Artistic failure is like coming off a playing field with some cuts and bruises. You own the blood…you earned it and someone else has got some on them too. Failure can be a fear or it can be a tool. It is a great teacher because every lesson comes with a free dose of humility. My time in Japan so far has been incredible. No matter how the series turns out, I learned a tremendous amount from the people I photographed, got a chance to spend time with my first National Treasure, and forged relationships that will last for years to come.
On Friday I am off to Italy for the Venice Verona Workshops and will be posted some updates from the road. In the meantime I have some packing to do, but stay tuned for my upcoming interview on NPR Los Angeles on the Ethics of Street Photography.