When comparing last year’s Photography Annual winning entries with this year’s, they look quite different. Last year’s dominant theme of illustrative, flat images with high-contrast shadows has been replaced with photojournalistic realism. This is especially noticeable in the Editorial and Institutional categories, with the latter registering a fourfold increase in the number of entries selected. Even the Multimedia category was dominated by short-form documentaries. That said, still life and studio portraiture are well represented among this year’s winners.
“The still life work was amongst the most exciting and fresh in the entries,” says juror Chris Buck. “Perhaps the need to distill ideas made these the most effective pairings of narrative and visual.”
“I was impressed by the volume and range of submissions,” says juror Carol Chu. “Several memorable advertising entries stood out, and so many were witty and eye-catching.”
“The Editorial submissions were, by far, my favorite,” juror Coni Kennedy says. “The images were incredibly powerful, and I found them to be the most effective, with simple, yet original concepts. I love knowing you can flip through this book many years later and clearly grasp the state of the world.”
“Honestly, I was impressed with everything,” says juror Anna Alexander. “A couple of entries were a bit over-Photoshopped and out of style, but they were most likely not in the Editorial category, which is my beat.”
Along with the praise came a fair amount of criticism.
“I was surprised by the lack of experimentation,” juror Jon Arnold says. “There were some beautiful photographs, but few brought a new point of view.”
“A handful of the entries were very impressive, but unfortunately, many were only capable, not surprising or exceptional in quality,” Buck says. “I would like to see more risk-taking in content and visual style.”
“Coming from the book publishing world, successful editorial images are built from equal parts concept, execution and composition,” Chu says. “I saw quite a few images where two of the three factors were there—but not the third.”
“I was surprised there weren’t more humorous pieces that stood out to me,” Kennedy says. “Everyone could use a little giggle.”
For the past several years, there has been discussion among the judges about the impact that smartphones and social media are having on the field of commercial photography. This year was no exception.
“Currently, there is much focus on the robust interaction between photography and the general public—think Instagram—but I don’t know what that means for professional photography in the future,” Buck says. “I doubt that it’s a serious threat to the longevity of commercial shooting.”
“Photography is such a part of our everyday life now, what with Instagram,” Arnold says. “But there’s still a need for professionals who bring a unique way to capture a story in a still image.”
And what about the impact of technology?
“I hope the field is going more toward creating techniques in camera and not in Photoshop!” Alexander says.
“Bring back traditional film,” Kennedy adds.
“My overall impression is that photography is a healthy and evolving field, reflective of our societies and cultures, and it’s headed hand-in-hand with technology into a brave new world,” Chu says.
A minimum of three out of five votes was required for a project to be awarded in this year’s competition. Judges were not permitted to vote on projects in which they were directly involved. I would like to extend our grateful appreciation to our jurors for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 58th Photography Annual. —Patrick Coyne, ca
Coni Kennedy is a partner and the creative director at L.A. Inc., a boutique agency in Toronto, Canada. With more than 30 years’ experience as a graphic designer, Kennedy has produced numerous award-winning brand and print campaigns. Among her creative credits are awards from the Advertising & Design Club of Canada, Applied Arts, Communication Arts, Coupe and Designedge Canada. She has also been honored by the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, DC, and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. Kennedy started her career with an honors degree in graphic design from George Brown College. She is a type enthusiast and mother of two.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Carol Chu is an award-winning creative director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. She has been nominated for Print’s annual New Visual Artists issue and the Art Directors Club Young Guns. Her designs have been shown in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and at the D&AD, the New England Book Show and the Puck Show, and they are included in the AIGA Design Archives and the Library of Congress’s permanent collection. She is a graduate of Pratt Institute. Chu has illustrated three books and coauthored two, on topics ranging from teenage rock stars to runway fashion to cats.
Chris Buck was born in Toronto, Canada. Since his father worked for Kodak, Buck went into the family business by becoming a photographer. He moved to New York in 1990 and established himself as an editorial and advertising photographer. In 2007, Buck became the first recipient of the Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture. His first book, Presence: The Invisible Portrait (2012), is a collection of celebrity photos in which the famous sitters are present, but not visible. Kathy Ryan, director of photography for the New York Times Magazine, called it a “crazy subversive book.” His latest, Uneasy: Chris Buck Portraits 1986–2016, was published in 2017.
senior vice president/executive creative director
Jon Arnold began his career in 1994 at TBWA Chiat/Day, St. Louis, Missouri, before spending eight years as art director at Core, helping to elevate its profile to become one of Graphis’s top ten most creative agencies in the world. Arnold subsequently worked at Mullen NC. He now resides in Nashville, where he is senior vice president/executive creative director at BOHAN Advertising, which was named 2014 Southeast Small Agency of the Year by Advertising Age. His work has garnered recognition from the ATHENA Awards, Communication Arts, The Drum, Graphis and Lürzer’s Archive. Arnold enjoys spending time with his wife and their eleven-year-old daughter.
director of photography
Anna Alexander is director of photography at WIRED magazine in San Francisco, California. She has been producing photo shoots and commissioning WIRED photographers for almost 20 years; she recently took a two-year hiatus from WIRED to serve as photo director at Dwell Media. Alexander is the recipient of several gold and silver Society of Publication Designers awards for photography, and artwork she has produced has appeared in both American Photography and Communication Arts. Alexander holds a BFA in photography from the University of Arizona. She resides in the Marin County city of Novato with her husband and two children.