Interesting choice of words - I think I heard that before in my researchEd,
A few thoughts from an architectural photographer who teaches at two architecture schools. I think Susan is exactly right in her assessment of the limitations of most design competitions, but who is responsible for those “pretty pictures” being submitted. The images I make for a client, such as an architect, have to serve many functions, including design competitions (documentary) and advertising (hyperbole). These are many times mutually exclusive in terms of how far I take the processing of the files. If the client thinks that the hyperbole is inappropriate for the veracity demanded by a design competition they could certainly ask for a “straighter” set of files-BUT NONE EVER HAVE! They are responsible for what kind of images ultimately get submitted for a given purpose. Design competitions are seen as a form of marketing and handled by the marketing department of most firms. More importantly, most design competitions are conceptualized by designers who have bought into the idea that design competitions are a form of marketing.
I doubt that your average AIA design competition will change much. It is simply much easier and cheaper to email a PowerPoint submission to a judge 3 states away.