Recently I entered my first proper photography competition, held by Magnum and LensCulture.
What I recieved back surprised me.
Honestly I don’t recall where I saw this or how I came across it, but Magnum and LensCulture are holding a World Photography Awards this year and I decided to enter.
I didn’t really have any thoughts of winning anything. What I did like though was that any series that was submitted (of up to ten images) would be ‘reviewed,’ by an industry expert.
That was pretty interesting.
Then I saw a sample review.
Ten minutes later my bank account was about $60 lighter and Magnum/Lensculture had a carefully selected top ten of my ‘Tokyo, Blind,’ series, which you can read more about HERE and HERE, sent to them.
The first bit of good news came a few days after I entered, when I recieved an email to say my series had been selected by the editors for inclusion in a curated gallery of some of the best submissions. Good start.
In around ten days or so the final results will be announced, and being as it’s Magnum and the jury is headed up by Martin Parr, whoever is lucky enough to win a prize will recieve some pretty fantastic press I’m sure.
But before all that, they sent out the series reviews. I recieved mine a few days ago, and while I expected it to be nice and complimentary (I did give them $60) I was surprised at not only how specific it was, but also the effort they went to give me some recomended work, reading and artists to look at.
Before this I had entered one or two competitions (and won one, a small one run by a local paper for music photography years and years ago) but this has certainly made me think twice now about ignoring any future competitions I may see.
The entire review is below, including the recomendations they sent me. I’ve also included the images I submitted, in the order they were submitted.
So don’t hesitate. Put your stuff out there. You never know what sort of a boost you’ll get.
And even if you don’t win, maybe you’ll end up with a reading list as long as your arm too!
Ryan, I really enjoy your images. They have several wonderful qualities, especially the extruded time you show in images No.’s 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10. The way the shutter is slowed to capture movement works well with the high-grain of low light situations, and you understand well what pushing/pulling film can/will do.
In a few instances, I suggested square crops; these are only suggestions.
Image No. 3 is quite successful, and I suggested a square crop to accentuate the abstract light you provide.
Image No. 4 also is successful. The placement of the figure against the negative space is well balanced, and the use of a very bright exposure in the center assists in sharpening the frame.
A less successful thing going on in some images is some artifacts of the film process, and I think there are some hairs and dust in some images. If they are not hair, then they are little blobs of light that distract attention. If your intentions are fine art, go ahead and remove distractions even if they are factual. If your intentions are documentary, you’ll have to be very careful about doing that.
The bio statement indicates you are shooting in a documentary/fine art style. I would recommend reading the short book Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barrett, because his work on determining the intentions of a photographer’s work (in order to understand it), is helpful in creating your own mental models and working intentions – fine keys to creating the work you want to create.
You should continue this sort of work; it suits you and I think you have a way of communicating narrative and mood in the same photographs (images No.’s 1, 2 and 6).
Keep up the good work!
Recommended Books & Photographers
- Here is a good article on things to think about when creating a photo essay.
- Walker Evans polaroids
- Photography After Frank — you might like this because it surveys a type of photograph that continues to be shown throughout a long arc of documentary photography in the 20th century. It helps set and calibrate the photographer’s taste buds.
- American surfaces, by Stephen Shore
- The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dyer
- Joel Meyerowitz, The nature of cities
- Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barrett
- Uncommon Places: The Complete Works Photographs by Stephen Shore
- American Places by Stephen Shore
Portfolio Reviews & Festivals
Recommendations for Gaining Exposure
- ISSP Master Classes
- Noor Foundation Educational Workshops
- Conscientious Photography Magazine
- Klavdij Sluban Editorial workshops
- Stephen Shore
- Lee Friedlander
- Garry Winogrand
- Abelardo Morell
- Garry Winogrand
- Look at the work of Walker Evans