There are very few people who know what it feels like to win the prestigious 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest, and even fewer who know what it feels like to win and then be disqualified shortly afterward.
Harry Fisch entered his photograph ‘Preparing the prayers at the Ganges’ into the contest. He was thrilled to receive an email from National Geographic congratulating on his image being the winner of the Places category for 2012.
In his blog post, Fisch explains his emotions as the meaning of the email sunk in: disbelief at first, and then elation. He describes how all of the hours he had spent travelling to uncomfortable destinations in pursuit of his photography now seemed worthwhile in recognition of such a prestigious organisation, and was planning how to tell his friends and acquaintances.
But his rejoicing was short lived.
After sending the original digital photograph as requested by National Geographic, he received a second email from the publication the next day.
Instead of the further good news he was expecting, this email dealt him a devastating blow; the editor had written to tell him that his photograph had been disqualified from the competition. The reason? He had edited out a plastic bag to the far right of the image.
Almost more tragically, Fisch could have removed the bag from the image by simply cropping it out of the shot, which would not have been against the competition rules.
In an attempt to salvage his winning spot, he sent an email to editor Monica Corcoran, arguing that he could crop the image, and that it was unnecessary to remove anything digitally, and thus the photograph would fall in line with National Geographic’s contest rules.
The response he received, although sympathetic, explained that cropping the bag out, or leaving it in shot would have had ‘no impact either way’. Understandably, this makes the whole situation all the more frustrating for Fisch!
Although he was unable to salvage his winning place, he can at least take solace in the fact that his image was chosen as a winning shot by National Geographic, even though it wasn’t to last.
Fisch admits that he hadn’t read the rules properly, and has resolved to enter the contest again, reading the rules very thoroughly next time…
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