“There was an impressive range of submissions from highly produced advertising campaigns to playful portraiture and gut-wrenching photojournalism,” says juror Liz Sullivan. “After so many years in the business, it’s always such a pleasant surprise to see new ways of seeing.”
“I was surprised at the range of material that was entered into the competition from students and hobbyists to top professionals in the industry,” juror Keith Grieger says.
“In many entries, I saw a willingness to push boundaries in defining what a photograph is,” says juror Danielle A. Scruggs.
“The video section was very strong!” juror Beatrice Heydiri says. “Good storylines with intriguing images—great compositions with the right sound and cuts.”
“Overall, the entries were of a consistently good standard,” says juror James Day.
“In years past, the CA Annual would highlight aesthetic trends in the commercial arts,” juror Susan Lakin says. “While judging this year’s [competition], the work was more diverse. I read this as a positive movement to representing broader voices today. I saw a shift from more conventional visual representation to more authentic storytelling. This included multiple projects that explored and exposed important women’s issues, as well as social issues from mental health to the war in Ukraine. I particularly loved a nonbinary portrait series and a conceptual piece that portrayed the connectiveness of humanity’s uniqueness.”
I asked the jurors what intrigued them when judging the entries.
“The broad representation of work, [including] the use of a simple Holga camera to highly manipulated imagery and a variety of voices from 22 different countries,” says Lakin.
“The number of entries!” Sullivan says. “Are there usually so many? The winning work stood out, but it meant that most submissions were nixed.”
“I was surprised at just how many pictures of horses there were—so many horses!” says Grieger. “Lots of the material had a quiet distance to them—perhaps a result of the COVID world we’ve been living in. Things felt more voyeuristic than intimate.”
“I’ve seen many images depicting the devastation of war during my career,” says Sullivan. “Many photo editors tend to develop a type of mental block as a coping mechanism when seeing imagery of death and mortal injuries. It’s not a conscious decision but a mental response to seeing so much bodily harm without the ability to right any wrongs. But I remain haunted by the work of Carol Guzy, whose Ukraine: Unbroken series bypassed my own mental blocks by framing the gut-wrenching imagery of war deaths in entirely new yet eerily familiar ways.”
In the interest of constructive criticism, I asked the jurors to describe their biggest disappointments with the entries.
“I was missing strong storytelling in the series entries,” Heydiri says. “Two images do not make a series for me. I saw a lot of two or three images submitted as a series that did not really tell a story. There is a lot of room for improvement there.”
“There were a lot of entries that had very poor digital compositing,” says Grieger. “Besides some of them feeling out of date and looking like the same compositing that was hot at the time I was in college—2005-ish—there was very little innovation in this area. Some were just poorly executed and did not look very realistic.”
“I would have liked to see more experimental images in the student category,” Heydiri says. “The next generation should push borders and not play it safe.”
“The move away from overly post-produced work is continuing, which actually means that there is now an abundance of the slightly samey-looking ‘film’ feel to a lot of the work—particularly in the landscape genre,” says Day. “Stylistically, it felt a little lacking in trying to push boundaries and find new aesthetics. However, the work that did win felt fresher and more eye-catching! When you’re judging such a large volume of work, it’s always the stuff that feels different and new that stands out.”
Lastly, I asked the jurors where they think the field of photography is going.
“I think the field of photography is going where the people are going,” Scruggs says. “Given the global political climate that we’re all living in—COVID-19, climate change, war, battles over policy and legislation—photography will continue to be a reflection of that climate and how people are processing and grappling with it.”
“It feels like the industry is shrinking a bit,” says Grieger. “I’m in the entertainment world, so within my realm, it certainly is. Budgets are constantly being cut, which means productions are becoming smaller and smaller. With the constant barrage of imagery [shown] to the general public on a daily basis, it feels like there’s a lack of understanding what it takes to make great pictures.”
“It’s very hard to say, although there is a lot of fantastic work being done at the moment that I didn’t see represented here,” Day says. “Some of the new younger photographers don’t seem to be that interested in entering award shows like this. For me, CA was always the gold standard for seeing exciting new work.”
“The highest concentration of beautiful images was in the video category,” says Heydiri. “I think most young talent is moving into motion pictures.”
“Photography has been moving toward video and computer-generated imaging for [more than] a decade and, as we saw in some of the work this year, AI is beginning to be utilized for image creation,” Lakin says. “We are seeing in-world photography in gaming and now the metaverse. It is an exciting time!”
“Our business is in a weird place right now with the growing AI industry,” says juror Melchior Lamy. “Where do we go? I don’t know, but it’s more scary than exciting. With Photoshop and AI, photography has another meaning. It’s totally different than what we grew up with.”
“I am curious to see how a disruptive yet revolutionary new technology like AI will impact photography,” Sullivan says. “I imagine that it could be used for more conceptual commercial work, but it’s impossible to know at this point.”
“Photographers who diversify their services to include moving media, 3-D asset creation and design, including interaction and immersive technology, will be more in demand,” says Lakin. “Staying on top of evolving technology will open up new markets and opportunities.”
A minimum of six out of nine 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 64th Photography Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca
David M. Barreda is a senior photo editor at National Geographic and a core team member of Diversify Photo, a community of BIPOC and non-western photographers. Based in Oakland, California, Barreda previously was a photo editor at nonprofit organization Earth-justice, a founding editor of nonprofit media organization First Look Media’s Topic and a founding editor for ChinaFile, where he launched the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in documentary photography in collaboration with the Magnum Foundation. Prior to editing, he worked as a staff photojournalist at the Rocky Mountain News, the San Jose Mercury News, the Tallahassee Democrat and the Valley News.
James Day, a London-based photographer and director, works extensively in the fields of editorial and advertising. His editorial clients include British GQ, New York magazine, the New York Times, TIME, Vanity Fair, Wallpaper* and WIRED. His long list of clients includes adidas, Audi, British Airways, Canon, Carlsberg, Chevrolet, Ford, Heineken, Land Rover, Harvey Nichols, Nikon, Sony, Timberland, Volkswagen and Volvo, among many others. He has garnered numerous photography awards, including Gold Lions at Cannes, silver D&AD pencils and a Grand Clio, among many others. In 2002, he won the John Kobal Photographic Portrait Prize at The National Portrait Gallery.
Keith Grieger is the director, still photography at Warner Bros. Discovery in Atlanta. He began his nineteen-year photography career at Vogue and Teen Vogue magazines, clocking endless hours researching in the Condé Nast Library. At Warner Bros. Discovery, he leads a team of photo editors and photographers and collaborates with celebrity, editorial, portrait, event and unit photographers to create visual materials for Adult Swim, CNN, TBS, TCM, TNT and truTV marketing campaigns. Grieger received his BFA in photography from Parsons School of Design. He was once convinced after a photo shoot that Nicole Kidman gave him the flu. She hadn’t.
Beatrice Heydiri is a German-born photographer commuting between Hamburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Heydiri has been recognized and awarded at photographic awards such as ADC Germany, AOP, Communication Arts, IPA, Lens Culture, LICC, Monochrome Awards and Photo District News. She has worked for clients such as Azzaro, Bayer, Christophorus magazine, Collezioni, Dove, Escada Kids, Fila, G-SHOCK, Isla, Lenor, M&S, Mercedes Benz Classic magazine, Nivea, NUK, Pampers, Persil, Ravensburger, Sony, Vogue Bambini, Xplora and YouTube. She studied graphic design and photography at ArtCenter College of Design and has worked as a commer-cial photographer worldwide ever since.
Susan Lakin is a professor in the school of photographic arts and sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology and director of Frameless Labs, a collective to advance research, innovation and artistic creation in fields of virtual and augmented reality. She has a BFA in photography from ArtCenter College of Design and an MFA in studio arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to her academic career, she worked commercially in Los Angeles and Australia. Currently, she works across disciplines in her creative and academic practices and explores extended reality as a new form of storytelling.
Melchior Lamy is an accomplished creative director in the entertainment industry and founder of Leroy & Rose, an award-winning ad agency known for its innovative and impactful campaigns. Lamy’s passion for storytelling and his ability to connect with audiences has led to the agency’s success. Under his leadership, Leroy & Rose has helped some of the biggest names in entertainment and media to achieve their marketing and advertising goals. With more than two decades of experience and with the talented Leroy & Rose staff, Lamy continues to push the boundaries of creativity and deliver impactful results for all of his agency’s clients.
Danielle A. Scruggs (she/her) is a photo editor at the Wall Street Journal and a freelance photographer. Prior to joining the Wall Street Journal, Scruggs spent fifteen years as a photo editor and photographer for notable publications and organizations such as ESPN, Getty Images, Southern Foodways Alliance, The Washington Post and Vox Media. She is also the founder and editor of Black Women Directors, a digital library celebrating the work of Black women and nonbinary filmmakers. Scruggs has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Howard University and a master’s degree in digital art from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Marguerite Schropp Lucarelli has spent her entire 29-year career as a Sports Illustrated picture editor. For the past seven years, she has served as Sports Illustrated’s director of photography. Schropp Lucarelli oversees the photography for Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Kids, Sports Illustrated Presents and si.com. She leads the photography edit of every major sporting event and works closely with the creative team to produce memorable portraits. Schropp Lucarelli and her team of picture editors created SIFullframe, a print, digital and social presence showcasing original content and serving as a voice for their photographers.
Liz Sullivan is deputy editor of visuals at The Globe and Mail in Toronto, where she oversees photography and video; conceives visual features; and collaborates with photographers, art directors and designers. Previously, she spent fourteen years at Maclean’s magazine as director of photography, where she earned multiple Gold National Magazine Awards and National Pictures of the Year Awards from the News Photographers Association of Canada. She is active within the photographic community as an advisory board member at Loyalist College’s photojournalism program, mentor with the BIPOC Photography Mentorship Program, and a guest speaker at university and college classes.