Loading ...

Editor’s Column

While COVID-19’s societal impact continues to be documented in our latest Photography Annual, it is just one of many social issues explored among this year’s winning projects.
Go to Jurors Biographies

“I was pleasantly surprised to see how newsworthy topics were represented across multiple categories beyond editorial,” says juror Natalia Jimenez. “Important issues like climate change and the pandemic made their way into categories including advertising and institutional.”

“After being in the pandemic for the past two years, I was happy to see so many entries where people were out and about and living life,” juror Marcus Smith says. “The overall tone of the entries felt positive, and I appreciated that.”

“They were representative of the times we are living in—finding moments of escapism while dealing with the very harsh and challenging realities of living through a world pandemic,” says juror Adrienne Pao.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of COVID-related projects,” juror Nikki Ormerod says. “There were a few but not as many as [I] expected. Perhaps that’s because we all just want to forget about it.”

When asked for their overall impressions of the entries, several judges responded positively.

“There is so much talent out there and so much good work,” juror Márcia Minter says.

“Overall, I feel there was wonderful creativity being applied across a wide range of photographic media,” says Jimenez.

“Once I had filtered through the 600-[count] shortlist and revisited my selections, I was impressed,” juror Steve Wallington says.

“In all categories, it was possible to find unique projects,” says juror Luis Gatti. “Choosing the winners among so many incredible works was a very difficult task.”

“I had to revisit entries multiple times in order to select based on minor technical merits, something I haven’t faced in judging before,” Ormerod says. “The work is great. And it’s only going to get better. I should step up my game.”

Several judges also described some of the notable visual trends.

“I appreciated the trompe-l’œil technique applied to photography in ways I had not seen executed before,” says Jimenez.

“I noticed a few projects that were collage based or mixed media, which was refreshing,” Ormerod says.

“The cannabis magnifications captured by the biologist were surprisingly unique, curious and beautiful,” says Pao.

“I was surprised by the volume of industrial and commercial photographs and some impressive documentary-style photography,” Wallington says. “Also, I was expecting more CGI photos—and pleasantly surprised [to see] that there were not!”

“There was more of a blending of genres than I expected,” says juror Mike Davis. “Some editorial looked like advertising and vice versa, meaning that people are using approaches to image creation that are specific to what they’re saying and not just following the dictum of prescribed approaches.”

“Today, Instagram and its algorithms make it easy to think the diversity of photography styles has evaporated,” Smith says. “I was able to see that there are clearly still a lot of people trying all kinds of stuff that aren’t necessarily chasing today’s trends.”

Diverse representation was also noted by multiple judges.

“I think the field, at least the one that the general public sees, is finally opening up to the beauty and power of diversity,” says Minter. “This means more and more stories will not only be told, but legacies of the many talented photographers and videographers of color will be revealed. The world needs all of our stories and images.”

“Representation matters and it was apparent to me that photography is experiencing a great evolution regarding the level of diversity pictured,” Pao says.

“While it felt like there was a fair representation of racial diversity, I would have liked to see more range in the ages of subjects, and in particular the elderly,” says Jimenez.

I asked the jurors to share their biggest disappointments with the entries.

“Not belonging to the contemporary cultural zeitgeist,” juror David Roennfeldt says. “It didn't seem that the entries differed that much from what I can remember when looking at Communication Arts from the late ’80s through the early ’00s. The dialogue and outcomes in the images [appeared] very familiar to the past.”

“In some series projects, I felt a little inconsistency in quality,” says Gatti.

“In series, fewer people created a narrative or multiple image concepts than I expected,” Davis says. “Many of the series entries were simply similar photos on a topic.”

“I found there to be too many overhead drone images that began to look the same,” says Jimenez.

With the overall decline in commis-sioned work and lower royalties from stock photography, I asked the jurors what other profit centers are photographers exploring.

“There will always be an opportunity to use photography as art and using sites like EyeEm and Picter [for photographers] to advertise their work to hang on people’s walls,” Wallington says. 

“Today, it seems as if people have a renewed interest in prints and art for their home,” says Smith. “In addition to that, many artists [find] success within the NFT space selling digital versions of their work to a new breed of art collectors.”

“There is a definite new guard coming through photography and image making where, because of social media, a younger and less-well-known photographer has a chance to be noticed and to pick up com-missions,” Roennfeldt says. “It is also merging with the world of digital art, providing image makers and photographers with [the] opportunity to create their own work and reach their own audiences.”

“Successful photographers these days are able to create multiple income streams with their work,” says Davis. “They develop a specialization, initiate ideas and bodies of work based on that specialty, and connect with a range of entities that want to support that type of work. On top of that, they typically have some combination of strong outward presence that includes a compelling website, a defined social media presence, books, gallery shows, print sales, workshops [or] NFTs.”

Lastly, I asked the jurors for their thoughts on how the field of photography might evolve.

“Technology will increasingly support visual artistic expressions, and with this evolution, we will always see something new,” Gatti says.

“Those who succeed going forward will be storytellers: people who can create narratives and conceive and execute specific approaches to express those narratives,” says Davis.

“I think the advent of the camera phone, with [more than] 4 trillion images taken every year, has made it harder to make clients invest in photography,” Wallington says. “Everybody thinks they are photographers, but when you see the standard of [these] finalists, you realize they are not! I hope we go back to more traditional film values that are on the rise with more indie companies giving [opportunities to] film camera users.”

“Although I feel recent fads are stripped back and raw in terms of technical application, I’ve been seeing more artists honoring the craft lately and implementing techniques used by the masters who shaped the art form,” says Ormerod.

“Every year, we get barraged [with] how much technology is changing photography and making it more friendly for the average consumer to participate—effectively killing the use for a ‘professional,’” Smith says. “As with most things in life, simply participating is not the challenge but elevating the act into an artistic endeavor requires more than technological advancements.  Whether iPhone, 4×5 or a shiny new mirrorless camera, the skill still lies within the photog-rapher. With that said, I firmly believe photography is staying exactly where it’s always been.”

A minimum of seven out of ten votes was required for a project to be awarded in this year’s competition. Judges were not permitted to vote on projects with which they were directly involved; I voted in their stead. I would like to extend our grateful appreciation to our jurors for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 63rd Photography Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca

Jurors Biographies
Mike Davis
visual storytelling consultant/photo editor/educator/author

Mike Davis is a visual storytelling consultant, picture editor, educator and author. His first authored book about visual storytelling is due out late 2022. Davis directed the Alexia Grant for eight years while holding a chaired faculty position at Syracuse University. Before teaching, he was a visual leader at National Geographic, the White House and five visually strong US newspapers. Davis was twice named picture editor of the year. The National Press Photog-raphers Association honored Davis with the Sprague Award. He has edited more than 40 photo books and has taught and lectured in various settings. He hails from a small town in Nebraska.

Jennifer Dorn
photo director
Variety magazine

Jennifer Dorn is photo director of Variety magazine, based in Los Angeles, California. With degrees in art history and music and more than 25 years working in the photog-raphy editorial field, she understands producing high-quality imagery from concept to completion. Prior to joining Variety in 2018, Dorn was photo director of Los Angeles Magazine and deputy director of photography at Getty Images for ten years. Before Getty, she worked as a photo editor of numerous titles including Jump, Marie Claire, Newsweek and USA Weekend. She has photo direction awards from the Art Directors Club, Communication Arts and the One Show.

Luis Paulo Gatti
creative director/head of art

Luis Paulo Gatti is a creative director/head of art working in Stuttgart, Germany. With an advertising degree from Centro Universitário da Cidade and a digital design degree from Instituto Infnet, both located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Gatti began his career in Rio de Janeiro before relocating to São Paulo to work at Leo Burnett Tailor Made, NEOGAMA and Ogilvy Brasil. He then moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to work at Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Rubicam Group before moving to Germany. In 2021, he was named one of The Drum's most-awarded advertising art directors. Since 2015, he has been a teacher and coordi-nator at Miami Ad School LATAM.

Natalia Jimenez
picture editor
The Washington Post

Natalia Jimenez is a picture editor on the National desk at The Washington Post. Before joining the Post, she managed the photography team at NBC News where she also art directed and commissioned illustrations. Jimenez was on the faculty at the first Women Photograph workshop held in Latin America in 2019 and a mentor for its 2021 program. She has also served as a juror on multiple photography competitions. She was drawn to editing while assisting photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb. Though her career has focused on digital storytelling, she retains an appreciation for the tactile experience of photography books.

Márcia Minter
cofounder/executive director
Indigo Arts Alliance

Márcia Minter is the cofounder and executive director of Indigo Arts Alliance (IAA), a nonprofit, Black-led artist residency program providing Black and Brown artists from around the world a supportive environment in which to make new work, receive critical feedback and build lasting relationships across generations. IAA is a 2021 recipient of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Grant. Building on more than 30 years experience as an executive creative director for some of the world’s most iconic brands, Minter, in her curatorial work, focuses on photography, symposiums on the intersection of art and social practice, and exhibition planning and implementation.

Nikki Ormerod
Undivided Creative

Nikki Ormerod is a photographer, director and partner at Toronto, Canada–based Undivided Creative, a production company representing a diverse roster of artists. Ormerod has spent the majority of her career as a commercial photographer under the representation of Westside Studio. Wanting to also direct, she joined the roster at Toronto-based production company SPY Films but returned to Westside after it formed Westside Films. After four more years directing and photographing there, Ormerod left to cofound Undivided Creative with executive producer Scott Houghton, with whom she had worked with for several years at Westside Films.

Adrienne Pao

Adrienne Pao is a San Francisco Bay Area–based photographer who explores the confluence of fantasy and identity through photographic imagery. Pao’s work appears in museums, galleries, fashion and pop culture magazines, public campaigns and art journals around the world. Pao received her MFA from San Jose State University. She is director of the Academy of Art University School of Photography in San Francisco. Recently, Pao and artist Robin Lasser launched Your Actions Save Lives, a ten-billboard social impact photographic campaign for the California Governor’s Office in partnership with Vietnamese and Latinx communities in San Jose.

David Roennfeldt
cofounder/executive creative director
3 Deep

David Roennfeldt is cofounder and executive creative director of 3 Deep, a luxury branding and creative agency based in Melbourne, Australia. Through Roennfeldt’s global activity within the fashion, art, architecture, lifestyle and beauty sectors, he is passionate about aesthetic diversity, attention to detail, storytelling and compelling ideas. Roennfeldt has been recognized with more than 150 national and international creative awards of excellence, including a coveted Cannes Design Lion in 2010. He also sits on the advisory board of the National School of Design and is an active member of the Australian Graphic Design Association.

Marcus Smith

Marcus Smith is a photographer and director based in Chicago, Illinois. Whether he’s shooting an apparel campaign, a pro athlete or portraits of everyday change makers, Smith trains his focus on the human narrative. His clients have included Apple, Air Jordan, Asics, Athleta, BEATS by DRE, Chicago magazine, ESPN The Magazine, GQ, the New York Times, Nike, The North Face, Reebok and Women’s Health. Smith has been recognized by American Photography, Communication Arts and the International Photo Awards—winning first place in the Sports/Court Sports category for his portrait of Kobe Bryant—and he was named to PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers in 2014.

Steve Wallington
creative director/co-founder
The Photography Movement

Steve Wallington is a London, United Kingdom–based creative director who began his career in advertising working for Young & Rubicam and Leagas Shafron before establishing creative agency Point Blank, where he collaborated with brands including MTV and Levi Strauss Co. before becoming the head of brand for luxury fashion retailer Hackett. Recently, he established The Photography Movement, a collective that creates exhibitions and workshops to spark conversation around mental health and photography, and Show and Tell Photo, which educates and inspires young people to express their feelings through photography.


With a free Commarts account, you can enjoy 50% more free content
Create an Account
Get a subscription and have unlimited access
Already a subscriber or have a Commarts account?
Sign In

Get a subscription and have unlimited access
Already a subscriber?
Sign In