This really pertains to judging.
Is it better that a contestant use the image in an ingenuousness way or better that the image becomes one with the story?
But, I think the question becomes: Should the judges critique the use of the image in a meta-fashion, meaning, within the frame of reference of the contest?
Should the judges only look at the piece of work and see if the images chosen reflect the work properly?
I ask this because I had always assumed the best way to understand CDM was to read the story...and then think of what images would be displayed in a printed version of it...if they match the contest images we have a very successful story. If not...less successful.
But. There is a significant argument pertaining to the merit of how an image is used through the contextualization of it in the contest...like watching a brilliant move in a chess match.
What do you guys think? Does one outweigh the other?
A good example was my last round with the queen chess piece. While I could see it in an illustrated version of my story I would find it difficult in SteelDraco's version (admittedly because of the dreamlike quality). But, SteelDraco's use of the image far surpassed mine in terms of ingenuity. In fact as I read his story I said out load 'good work!' because I was thinking, as a fellow participant, how well he incorporated the idea.
I think it all comes down to the individual judge, and how well and creatively the writer performed one style of use or the other. I don't know that either is intrinsically better, though I personally get better initial enjoyment out of creative use I think (sometimes on a second, critical read it turns out that the image did not integrate into the story so well). So I enjoy reading creativity more (as long as it is at least reasonably integrated), as a general rule, but judge on integration fairly harshly. If that makes sense!
one thing that I always used in judging Iron DM's was the idea that each ingredient to an entry, HAD TO BE that ingredient.
not to be critical, but in FickleGM's "Heart of a Kiwi", it really seemed to me that he had an idea for a story and then worked the pictures into them. his picture use was actuallly irrelevant, and in fact if you check his comments before posting his entry, this seemed to be his method of writing.
if the lady's hand had shook as she held the candelabra,
if the ruins in the background had been a waterfall instead,
if the Kiwi had been a Yorkshire Terrier instead (Heart of a Yorkie?),
if the bad guy had driven away in his jeep instead,
FGM's story would have been the same, virtually unchanged in any way.
this was/is a test that I have always tried to use in judging: is the image really so critical that the story won't hold up if it's changed. for example, Charon in his boat could not be an image of a man in a jeep. so therefore the boatman image held up. the other images I used, maybe not so well but I trust you see the distinction.