I love panel judging…to have the opportunity to look at hundreds of images in a day or a weekend, from all over the world, is my idea of having a good time. To do this and to mix with friendly people of different nationalities and enjoy the wonderful hospitality and regional food of the French and I am in seventh heaven! So this is where I was last weekend. I had flown in to Basel-Mulhouse Airport on Friday morning and was met by JYL, my contact from the beginning. JYL drove me to my hotel and introduced me to one of the Swiss judges. I meant to say that we were 6 women judges from 4 European countries, England, France, Belgium and Switzerland for this FIAP International Exhibition of Photography, Salon Photo de Riedisheim.
Susannah and I, the first judges to arrive, discovered the patisserie just next door to our hotel in Mulhouse and got to know each other over a coffee and a tarte au chocolat before exploring the town. But Mulhouse is not a pretty town and, in temperatures of down to minus 15 degrees as the sun set, we soon scuttled back to the warmth of our hotel to get ready for dinner. Then, at 8 pm, we assembled in the foyer and were taken to the top of a nearby multi-storey building, where we were treated to a 3 course meal and lots of fine local wine in a rotating rooftop restaurant. Here we met the other judges, salon chairmen and the rest of the organising team. I was able to practice my French, as many of the French helpers didn’t speak English, but I was pleased that the Swiss judges were able and willing to converse with me in English too, as was Thierry, our host and co-chairman.
The next morning we were taken to the little town of Riedisheim for the judging, which was to start at 8:30. My body was telling me that it was only 7:30 am, as I was still biologically on English time and had hardly slept all night, but nevertheless, I tried to look awake! The judging took place in a 16th century restored “Hansel and Gretel” style building and, in spite of temperature of -18 degrees during the night, the heating wasn’t on! This was soon remedied with a call to the Town Hall and we warmed ourselves meanwhile with coffee, brioche and fresh croissants.
The day’s judging was broken up with a long lunch break, preceded by an aperitif of Crémant d’Alsace, the local champagne style wine, coffee and a large slice of Gugelhopf (Kugelhopf) followed by a 3 course meal in a local restaurant, during which I discovered an amazing co-incidence that Susannah is, like me, an Orthoptist. The profession of orthoptics is rather rare in England and in Switzerland too, so the chance of this happening must have been around the odds of winning the lottery…then we discovered that the son one of the French judges, Brigitte, has been treated by an Orthoptist. Perhaps, though, it’s not so surprising that someone in a profession concerned with lenses and eyesight might take up photography as a creative outlet.
We finished the afternoon judging session around 6:30 pm and were taken to an Auberge style restaurant for another 3 course meal! WOW was I not used to this amount of food???
Sunday followed a similar pattern, but was broken at 3 pm by the arrival of part of the Salon organising team hotfoot from Paris, where they had gone the day before to be presented with the FIAP World Cup, which they (Photo Club Peugeot in Mulhouse) had entered almost on a whim at the last minute and won, beating close contenders Dundalk (Irish Rep) and Wigan 10 (England) to second and third places. The World Cup was held aloft to much excitement, which even eclipsed the salon for a while.
Because my own Projected Image judging had finished at lunch time, I was able to watch the judging of some of the prints before being taken back to my hotel by my new Swiss friends, Erica and Marcus. Most of the judges had now set off for home, but I had to wait till the next day for my flight back to Manchester. That evening, expecting to eat alone on my last night in Mulhouse, I asked directions to a local restaurant and when I arrived I found one of the judges there with her friends, so they invited me to join them. There I enjoyed two hours of French conversation in the company of Celine, the Belgian judge and a lovely couple from Lille in France who were with her, called Dominique and Christian. I was also served with my favourite dish “Magret de Canard”.
The next morning, after breakfast with Dominique and Christian, I was taken back to the airport for my flight home, with so much to think about and so many new friendships made. The panel of images that I submitted as my judge’s panel for the exhibition is shown below. Thank you Jean Yves, Michel and Thierry for a wonderful time! I can’t wait to see the exhibition catalogue.
Below is the panel layout of the images I used in the Judges’ section of the Exhibition.