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PRESS PHOTO CONTEST AWARDS

February 25th, 2011

This year’s photo contests, at least the major press photography ones, are wrapping up and I wanted to share some of my favorites. Definitely, there is a lot of strong stuff, and definitely, there are a lot of similarities to previous years and styles. One criticism I heard, and can’t really argue with, is that there must be a dead body in the image for it to win. While there are a lot of dead bodies, I do think it’s both gratuitous and representative of a reality, and necessary to show.

You could certainly spend a good chunk of time this weekend looking at the winning images and multimedia at World Press Photo and Pictures of the Year International.

There was also some discussion around the use of cell phone images, and the “apps” used to process the images; another discussion was about the unorthodox use of images captured by that Google mapping car–you know, the one with the cameras on top that creates the “Street View” images we use in Google maps?

Read about it here in the British Journal of Photography and view it here on the World Press Photo website.

This image was the World Press Photo of the Year. When it was first published in Time Magazine, on the cover no less, the publication felt it must defend its choice for what it thought a challenging image. Time wrote: “Aisha posed for the picture and says she wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years.” Much discussion ensued.

In an article from The British Journal of Photography, Jodie Bieber writes:
“Personally, I was never unclear about the photograph. The only time I had doubts was after I photographed it. I thought I had failed. Aisha had been photographed before – but I photographed her in a way that she has strength, she’s showing power, not venurability (sic). And I thought that maybe people would expect more from the photograph. I think you’re not taken aback by what happened to her at first. You look at her first as a woman and then you see what happened to her. So, I was at first a little worried because it wasn’t a traditional way of taking that photograph.”

There was more controversy over Damon Winter’s use of the iPhone and Hipstamatic App. Read about it at Poynter.org.

And from the NY Times Lens Blog: “Through My Eye Not Hipstamatic’s

Said Winter:

“We are being naïve if we think aesthetics do not play an important role in the way photojournalists tell a story. We are not walking photocopiers. We are storytellers.  We observe, we chose moments, we frame little slices of our world with our viewfinders, we even decide how much or how little light will illuminate our subjects, and — yes — we choose what equipment to use. Through all of these decisions, we shape the way a story is told.”

“People may have the impression that it is easy to make interesting images with a camera app like this, but it is not the case. At the heart of every solid image are the same fundamentals: composition, information, moment, emotion, connection.  If people think that this is a magic tool, they are wrong. Of hundreds of images taken with the phone over those six days in Nahr-i-Sufi, only a handful were worth reproducing.”

This 18 year collection of Darcy Padilla’s work on one story impressed me. Not only by the image quality, but if you click through to her project website you can see just how much she committed to this story.

Here she reflects on the work on her site and, where they posted about the project, on the New York Times. She spent 18 years documenting this woman’s life. And, while I congratulate her on her devotion and commitment and the quality of her work…I couldn’t help but wonder, with all that effort, what will it achieve? Will it make a difference in how we, as a society, address poverty, education, drug abuse and HIV? Will this body of work, and this woman’s life, stand as a testament that moves us to act? Is it meant to?

On a somewhat more lighthearted note is this story about the car enthusiasts in Mexico. Why do I like it? Simply for the images. Beautiful, gauzy, interpretive, conceptual. Fun.

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