“I always enjoy the effort and consideration in choosing a surface that best supports a photograph,” said juror Frank Dattalo. “However, there is no denying the quality, cost and efficiency of a digital image.”
“What surprised me was not how few physical entries there were, but what a difference in impression each medium—prints vs. projected images—could give viewers,” said juror Mine Suda.
When looking over the work, juror Matt Rollins was amazed at how obviously the great work stood out. “There were thousands of beautiful images, but some just reached out and grabbed me with their depth, their energy, their humanity and their narrative,” he said. “I found the variety of work and ideas to be fascinating,” said juror David Griffin. “The level of post-production polish on many of the best images was impressive. That said, there were still quite a large number of muddled concepts and images that seemed to be thought up by committee.”
Several jurors cited a departure from what they traditionally thought of as photography. “Many images seemed to be more like illustrations that utilize photography as a tool, rather than images composed inside a camera,” juror Diana Koenigsberg said. “I come from a strictly documentary world, so I am not used to seeing so much fabricated work,” added Griffin.
“I think the best advertising work had greater impact when it skirted closer to documentary because it built off of the viewer’s sense that the image ‘might’ be real.” —David Griffin
When asked about their disappointments, Suda also cited indiscriminate digital manipulation. “Where appropriate it can produce great work, but many people can’t seem to tell where to stop,” she said. “I was a bit disappointed in how little experimentation there seemed to be,” Rollins said. “Sure, there were Photoshop fireworks, but it didn’t seem that many photographers were asking, ‘What if I tried this?’”
As the field continues to evolve, several jurors remain optimistic about photography’s future. “I think we will continue to be inspired by beautiful images,” Dattalo said. “The great photographers stay relevant by embracing technology to help them create inspiring photographs.” Koenigsberg added, “Regardless of the photographic methods people choose to employ now and in the future, what will remain the same is that authenticity and originality make compelling images.”
This year’s jurying began on Sunday morning, April 19. 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 field of photography is undergoing a period of dramatic technical change that alters the creative and professional experience for all who practice the craft.” —Diana Koenigsberg
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 sub-mitted. The judges alternated between viewing a session of projected digital files and then a set-up of print entries. Any juror could place a photograph 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.
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 50th Annual Exhibition. —Patrick Coyne ca