“This was a diverse collection of images, from highly technical to low-resolution,” juror Laurie Frankel said. “But a great idea comes through no matter what the execution may be.
“I was really impressed with the editorial work,” said juror Jimmy Bonner. “Some of the photographs of human injustices and tragedies were difficult to look at, but they speak such truth about the world in which we live, they had to be included in the Annual.”
“I tended to respond to simpler, more daring approaches for the commercial work,” juror Tim Hartford said. “Photography can be a tool for carving out a unique, ownable brand vision and voice.”
As with any large body of submissions, themes tended to emerge that didn’t necessarily please the jurors.
“In many ways, it felt like there was a lot of repetition of the same themes,” Frankel said. “I was hoping to see more completely new, out-of-the-box ideas.”
“Most of the images were technically proficient, but I was disappointed with some of the trite solutions,” juror Henry Yee said. “But once we edited them down, the entries we were left with were all winners.”
“I was surprised by how much the lines between photography and illustration continue to blur,” Hartford said. “There was a lot of digital manipulation and some post-production gimmickry evident. That kind of futzing doesn’t necessarily make a bad idea better. With all these options comes more responsibility to exercise some restraint.”
“There were some powerful, honest, authentic moments in the editorial work. Some of the best were extremely moving.” —Tim Hartford
One of the most notable themes this year was not in content but in choice of platform.
“There seemed to be a large amount of camera phone–generated imagery,” Yee said. “They were very good but it was hard for them to transcend the limitations of the medium when compared to images taken with higher-end equipment. Soft images, flatness and lack of specific focus made the majority of them skippable. I believe that the equipment doesn’t matter as long as the image produced is special. But I really didn’t see anything created with a camera phone that went beyond looking like a snapshot.”
“Like the desktop computer, which enabled millions to become ‘designers,’ the cell phone camera and color-correcting apps are turning rookies into pros,” Bonner said. “However, not everyone who points and shoots can capture an image that will be forever enshrined in the pages of a CA Photography Annual.”
I asked the jurors what future directions photography might take.
“Photo-illustration and a lot of filters,” Frankel said.
“Perhaps with the rise of the iPhone, photos will have a greater sense of immediacy, looseness and implied journalistic realness, and rely less on elaborate studio or location setups,” Yee said.
“I imagine the video buttons on digital SLR cameras are making directors twitch,” Bonner said.
“The end results were very impressive. In each category, from documentary to conceptual, I looked for images that would stand up years from now.” —Jimmy Bonner
“More still photographers are getting into motion, with all the additional considerations for editing and sound that implies,” Hartford said. “But I don’t think discerning clients and audiences will lose sight of the tactile advantages of print. Look at the resurgence of vinyl records: there’s something reassuring about a physical object in a time when so much of our lives has gone digital.”
This year’s jurors worked in two groups of three (I was the sixth judge) during the screening round. All categories had been divided so each team screened half of the entries submitted. The judges alternated between viewing multiple sessions of projected digital files and a setup of print entries. Any juror could place a photograph in the finals by handing a printed piece to a member of our staff. Digital files were screened by checking the “in” or “out” column on prepared scoring sheets.
All five jurors worked together in the final round. Print entries were again spread out on the tables. Two paper cups, one white for “in,” the other red for “out,” with slots cut in the bottom, were placed upside down to the right of the pieces. The jurors voted by putting a different colored tile into the bottom of the appropriate cup. The different colored tiles allowed us to make sure that every entry was voted on by every judge. Final-round selections that were submitted as digital files were again voted on by each juror checking “in” or “out” on scoring sheets. Four “in” votes were required for acceptance.
Judges were not permitted to vote on projects they were directly involved in creating. When a judge’s piece was in the finals, either Jean Coyne, our executive editor, or I would cast the fifth vote.
I would like to thank each of the judges for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 55th Photography Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca
group creative director
Jimmy Bonner is a group creative director and art director at The Richards Group in Dallas, Texas. Bonner grew up in New Orleans, where he watched his father hone his craft in graphic design. Bonner began his career at The Richards Group after graduating from Portfolio Center in Atlanta. He then worked for Riddell Advertising in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Cole Henderson Drake in Atlanta, Georgia, before opening his own agency, Garage, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. After returning to his wife’s hometown, Dallas, he rejoined The Richards Group. His work has been featured in Communication Arts, Graphis, the One Show and Luerzer’s Archive, where he is ranked among the top 20 art directors in the U.S.
Laurie Frankel Photography
Laurie Frankel is an award-winning still life, interiors, food and children’s photographer based in San Francisco. She has been known to tromp through swamps, bribe giraffes and hang precariously from ceilings in order to capture the right image. Frankel’s experience as a creative director continues to shape both her graphic sensibilities and her approach to photography. Her imagery has been recognized by Communication Arts, Graphis, Luerzer’s Archive, the International Photography Awards, and American Photography, among others.
Tim Hartford is the principal of Hartford Design, a Chicago-based graphic design and visual branding practice. He founded the company in 1991, and Hartford Design has served clients such as Abbott Laboratories, Bank of America, Jones Lang LaSalle, Genzyme and OfficeMax. Prior to founding his own company, Hartford worked as a designer at Crosby Associates and VSA Partners in Chicago. His work has been recognized by the AIGA, New York Art Directors Club, the Society of Typographic Arts, the Type Directors Club and several major design publications. He is a 1983 graduate of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
director of photography
Catriona Ni Aolain is the director of photography at Men’s Journal magazine. Her prior experience includes positions at ESPN The Magazine, Esquire and Premiere. Ni Aolain’s work has been recognized by American Photography, The Society of Publication Designers, New York Art Directors Club and American Society of Magazine Editors.
Picador and Flatiron Books
Henry Sene Yee is creative director of Picador and Flatiron Books in New York. A graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, Yee started his career in editorial design freelancing at Condé Nast and Rolling Stone magazine, where he worked with art director Fred Woodward. He got his first job in book publishing working as a junior designer for Louise Fili, at that time art director at Pantheon Books/Random House. He left to work for St. Martin’s Press as a senior designer and then moved to Picador. His design work has won awards from AIGA, New York Art Directors Club, the New York Book Show, the Society of Illustrators and the Type Directors Club, as well as Communication Arts, Graphis and Print magazines.