With just under 8,500 entries, this year’s photography competition was slightly smaller than last year and, as usual, was a compelling visual depiction of the past year’s events.
“The war, the economy, the social and political issues that we face as a nation and as a world provided the most interesting content,” said juror Travis Olson.
“There were a lot of abstract images, some with experimentation that you typically only see in fine-art photography,” said juror Kwaku Alston. “It was refreshing to see so much black-and-white work within the editorial submissions and the number of photographers utilizing ‘print-on-demand’ technology to submit work in the books category,” added juror Mary Virginia Swanson. “I’m pleased to see so many professional photographers spending some of their time exploring personal work and alternative and historical photographic processes—the history of photography is a great source of inspiration!”
“In general I found the work to be less inventive than I had hoped,” juror Amy Koblenzer bemoaned. “Much of the work was heavily Photoshopped, confusing photography with illustration.” “One of the consequences of moving to a digital world is the ease with which someone can duplicate a process or look,” Olson added. “So a trend picks up speed, and a lot of photographers move in that direction. We saw a lot of derivatives.”
When asked about the future, Alston felt photography will encompass more multimedia. “All imagery is going to end up on a small handheld device and will have to capture attention using sound and video,” he said.
What other sources of income could photographers explore? “Whether by owning property to use as a location/studio, teaming up with other photographers to share equipment and resources, applying for grants to do specific personal projects in defined areas of study—the options are limitless,” Alston said. “I am excited to see photographs used in high-end décor, from corporate to hospitality, where savvy art consultants play a hand in placements. Fortunately, these opportunities are on the rise,” Swanson concluded.
This year’s jurying began on Sunday morning, April 27. We worked in two large conference halls, each equipped with projectors for digital entries and six rows of tables for tear sheets and proofs.
The jurors worked in two groups of three; I was the sixth judge during the screening process. All categories had been divided so each team screened half of the entries submitted. The judges alternated between viewing a session of projected digital files and then a set-up of print entries. Any juror could place an illustration in the finals by handing a printed piece to a member of the CA crew. Digital files were screened by checking the “in” or “out” column on prepared scoring sheets.
“Photography is our global language, a tool for understanding and a tool for expression.” —Mary Virginia Swanson
The final voting took place on Monday with all five jurors working together. 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. Finalists submitted as digital files were again voted on by each juror checking “in” or “out” on scoring sheets. A simple majority was 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 or I would cast the fifth vote.
I would like to thank each of the judges for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 49th Annual Exhibition. —Patrick Coyne ca
Photographer Kwaku Alston graduated from RIT School of Photographic Arts and Sciences and has been working with a diverse roster of commercial clients for the past fifteen years. After several years in New York shooting for The New York Times Magazine, Sony Music, Rolling Stone and Miramax, Alston moved west to Venice, California, and opened his own studio. He has a passion for social documentary photography and is inspired to capture truth and honor, whether in his portraits, landscapes or still lifes. His current direction and vision is to document human inter-action and our role in the natural world land-scape. Career high-lights include photographing Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey’s Legends. Creating historical images of accomplished and inspiring individuals is an opportunity that Alston takes seriously and hopes to continue throughout his career.
principal and senior designer
Thomas Hull is principal and senior designer with Rigsby Hull, a Houston, Texas-based communications consultancy. Born into a designer family, Hull was raised around Rubylith and press checks. Educated at Brigham Young University, Hull has developed a passion for clear communication and helping all kinds of organizations better compete by finding and expressing their own unique stories. He is active in the design community and teaches and lectures for organizations and universities around the country. He is a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ Houston Chapter and the Art Directors Club of Houston.
Amy Koblenzer is the photo editor of the New York-based magazine Gourmet and has worked in magazine photography for more than twenty years. Before coming to Gourmet, Koblenzer worked at The New York Times Magazine’s special issues as well as Expedia Travels, Departures, Town & Country, Connoisseur, Self and GQ. She was the photo editor at Gourmet when the magazine won the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) Award for Photography in 2004 and again for 2007. Along with creative director Richard Ferretti and art director Erika Oliveira, Koblenzer was included in the honor of the design team for 2006, awarded by AdWeek. She is a regular guest lecturer at Inter-national Center of Photography. Ms. Koblenzer lives in New York City.
Travis Olson is the design director at mono, a creative advertising agency in Minneapolis. Minnesota. A graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, Minnesota, Olson’s work has been recognized by AIGA, Communication Arts, Creativity, Graphis, ID, Print and The One Show. His experience has ranged from Harley-Davidson to Apple, Herman Miller to the Science Channel. If he’s not at mono, you can find him covered in grease from his two vintage bikes, with his two French bulldogs (Taco and Ferdinand) or covered with “Kahs!” from his summer softball team, the Weaselhawks: “Design wanks by day, softball studs by night. If we were as familiar with softball rules as we are with the Pantone books, we’d be dangerous.”
Mary Virginia Swanson
marketing consultant and educator
Mary Virginia Swanson is a marketing consultant and educator based in Tucson, Arizona. Swanson aspires to help photographers find the strengths in their work and identify appreciative audiences for their imagery and creativity. She has a diverse professional background, coordinating educational, publication and exhibition programs for a wide range of institutions and businesses in the field of photography, and is considered an expert in the area of marketing and licensing fine art. In 1991, she founded Swanstock, an innovative agency managing licensing rights for fine-art photographers. Her lectures on opportunities in emerging multiple markets have proven of great value to photographers in reaching a broader audience. Today, Swanson lectures at educational and public institutions, and consults privately with photographers.