Photo Competition: Visual artist Lucia Pizzani and filmmaker David Jackson win Hotshoe Photofusion Award 2014

Now in its fifth year, I was delighted to announce the winners of the Hotshoe Photofusion Award 2014 at the gallery last week (11 December) with a short comment on the work, which I have reproduced below. The winners are:

LuciaPizanni
Lucia Pizzani for her Impronta series 2013 of ink-jet prints derived from the wet-plate collodion process. The work is a hybrid of sculpture, performance and photography and engages with the idea of the chrysalis on a number of levels, including its physical form through the use of specially-made chrysalis costumes. This series of delicate and slightly bizarre black-and-white images recalls the style of 19th-century Victorian ethnographic portraiture and suggest women on the verge of emerging, as well as ideas of metamorphosis and transformation. (photo above © Lucia Pizzani)

Film Still_04 Film Still_03 Film Still_02
David Jackson, This Is Not My House is a short film of 14 minutes shot in Malta and centred on the filmmaker’s widowed father. Gentle and beautifully crafted, the film avoids the usual clichés and instead offers a series of tenderly stitched vignettes that give a sense of the now increasingly solitary life of his ageing father. At one point in the film there is a short exchange between father and son, who also share the same first name, that conveys so much about their relationship and a growing similarity in mannerism, posture and even dress. (film stills above © David Jackson)

The winner/s receive a feature (in this case I have interviewed the winners for a post next week) on http://www.hotshoeinternational.com, and a free annual magazine subscription. Previous winners received a feature in the magazine but since it has changed to a quarterly frequency, this is no longer the case.

Since I started judging the selection in 2010, there have also been changes in the way the award is organised. For the first two years, I judged the winner from a shortlisted selection of six photographers and visual artists on show at the gallery. Since 2012, Photofusion has organised a salon-style hang showing single images from its members and this year for Photofusion SALON/14 there were over 1200 images from 140 artists.

People often ask me about judging photo competitions and in an early post, Discovering Your Competitive Side, I talked about how I select work. This year, as in previous years, I asked Photofusion to send me a folder with all the entries stripped of the photographer’s name so that I only have a number for each entry, plus an artist statement and CV with the names removed. In my line of work, there is, inevitably, work that I may recognize, but that is the nature of photo competitions so I try to maintain as much parity in judging the work as I can.

I like to look at the work first, reflect on it, return to it, and see which images stay in my mind over a couple of days. I also read the artist statement once I have looked at the images, not before, as they can help anchor the work, point to conceptual aspects that may not be gleaned solely by looking at the work, and suggest points of investigation by the photographer. Lastly I look at the CV, although in most cases I do not refer to this at all. I am only interested in the work submitted and supporting statements or captions, it makes no difference to me whether someone studied at the Royal College of Art, or a lesser-known institution or whether the entrant is self-taught. For me, it is about the work, not the perceived pedigree.

I then whittled 100 folders of single images down to a longlist of around 20, for which I requested any further images by the photographer who was, at this stage, named. For those of you who are interested here is the longlist:

Wendy Aldiss; Valerie Bennett; Tom Broadbent; James Clark; Scarlett Crawford; CJ Everard;  Gabriella Fabrowska; Keith Greenouth; Robert Hackman; Grace Hardy; Esme Horne; Aron Klein-Barge; Lucy Levene; Emilia Moisio; Vincenzo Sassu; Heather Shuker; Emma Evelyn Speight; Nai Wen Hsu; Remy Whitling

Help Kickstart Pierfranceso Celada’s book Hitoride, or By Yourself, Alone

After a five-year journey, I am very glad to present the project Hitoride in book form. You can make it a reality by pre-ordering your copy, or getting one of the limited edition offerings.
Pierfranceso Celada

cover

I get news of a fair few crowdfunding campaigns, some of which are by lesser-known photographers who need support in pushing out their campaigns further. Pierfrancesco Celada‘s Kickstarter is one such campaign. I first came across the project a couple of years ago at a Brighton-based Slideluck event and singled out his work as one of my favourite multimedia pieces in the selection. See previous post about his film Japan I wish I knew your name

Now you can help him produce the book for which he has just eight more days to reach his target. You can make a pledge and/or circulate news of his campaign to others. Follow this link to the Kickstarter campaign page HITORIDE. The book will be printed and distributed from Italy. For this project to receive its funding it must raise at least £12,000 by 9 Dec 2014 18:41. To date he has raised £4,513, so a big push is needed.

japan, I wish I knew your name
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japan, I wish I knew your name

HITORIDE (Literally: By Yourself, Alone) is a photographic book by the Italian photographer and is based on his award-winning project Japan I wish I knew your name. The project reflects on miscommunication and isolation in Japan, one of the most populated countries in the world.

The book will cost £24, plus shipping costs. A selection of five limited edition prints from the project will be available for backers to choose from and will be available in three different sizes.

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Pierfrancesco Celada (b.1979, Italy), after completing a PhD in Biomechanics is now concentrating his attention on a long-term project on life in Modern Megalopolis.In 2011 he won the Ideastap and Magnum Photo Photographic Award and interned at Magnum Photo.  His work has been exhibited internationally and his projects published on Newsweek, Times Lightbox, Amica, D-LaRepubblica among others. He is currently working on the second chapter of Modern Megalopolis: “People Mountain People Sea” exploring life in Chinese Megacities. For enquiries: photo@pierfrancescocelada.com

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The Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka Megalopolis, also called Taiheiyō Belt is a unique example of urban agglomeration with an estimated population of over 80 million people. Despite this incredibly high number of chances to interact, it seems that society is moving in the opposite direction.

If, in small societies, people have more of an active social role, with multiple connections and greater effect on the community [Eriksen, 2001]; in a larger society some people struggle to communicate with each other, or tend to maintain close contact with only a small number of the closest friends or family members. Some people tend to privilege other communicative systems offered by modern media and communication tools; others have an even more extreme approach.

“Nobody is ‘together’ in his work.” Ueyama Kazuki

Hikikomori (“pulling away, being confined”) is an acute social withdrawal phenomenon; a Japanese term that defines reclusive people who have decided to socially isolate themselves for periods longer then six month; often these time periods can be counted in years or even decades. It is estimated that 1% of the Japanese population may be Hikikomori. The young people portrayed in this project are all members of Newstart, a NPO working with Hikikomori and NEET (people not in education, employment or training) with the purpose of helping them to re-enter society.

japan, I wish I knew your name

All photos © Pierfrancesco Celada.

Photo competitions report from Miranda Gavin’s talk at Photofusion Brixton

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David Titlow’s winning portrait, Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow, for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014

Today’s post focuses on entering photography competitions and is a report by photography graduate Jess Morris from my recent talk, Discovering Your Competitive Side, which took place at Photofusion in Brixton.

In keeping with the theme of the talk, this post opens with David Titlow’s winning portrait (Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow) from the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 which was announced last week. His portrait Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow was captured the morning after a large midsummer party in Rataryd, Sweden. It shows his baby son being introduced to a dog. He says: ‘Everyone was a bit hazy from the previous day′s excess – my girlfriend passed our son to the subdued revellers on the sofa – the composition and back light was so perfect that I had to capture the moment’.

This year the competition attracted over 4,000 submissions in the form of editorial, advertising and fine art prints; an exhibition of sixty shortlisted photographs including the four prize winners as well as the work of the winner of the John Kobal New Work Award, Hana Knizova (Portrait of Olivia Colman) can be seen until 22 February 2015.

David Titlow (b. 1963) is a London-based photographer working in fashion and advertising. He has exhibited widely and has been commissioned by numerous magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, Vice and Vanity Fair. Originally a musician from Halesworth in Suffolk, Titlow switched to photography in the early nineties and has since worked in the industry.

NPG x139974; Olivia Colman by Hana Knizova

Hana Knizova, Portrait of Olivia Colman. C-type colour print, 16 October 2014. 16 1/2 in. x 23 1/4 in. (418 mm x 592 mm) image size Commissioned, 2014

Miranda Gavin – Discovering your Competitive Side
Tuesday 16 September, Photofusion – Brixton

Jess Morris reports from the event and from her perspective as one of the audience.

As well as being a well-respected name in the photography world, Miranda Gavin, who is editor-at-large for Hotshoe, editor of Frame & Reference and The Roaming Eye, also has personal experience of being on the judging panel of photographic competitions.

This makes her an invaluable asset to the circle of freelance up-and-coming photographers trying their hand at entering the unknown, and often unfair, world of competitions. Brixton’s Photofusion invited her along to share her knowledge and advice with its members.

Miranda opened the talk with a quiz to spark audience participation, not to mention wake everyone up after a long day in the rat race. We split into small groups and chose one person to take note of our answers. Listed here are the questions she asked us, along with a selection of answers from around the room:

Why bother entering competitions?
E x p o s u r e
To raise your profile/Publicity/Elevation/cutting corners
Gives you a project/Target/Challenge/Makes you finish it
Contacts/Gain experience/Feedback
Tutoring
M o n e y £££££!

How do you find out about them?
Online/Mailing Lists/Repeat notifications from previous competitions
Word of mouth/Networking/University Alumni
Advertisements/Posters/Flyers/TV

Name the ones you have heard of/entered (in order of popularity):
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
British Journal of Photography photo prizes
Photofusion’s AMPS annual photo prize
Terry O’Neill Photographic prize
Prix Pictet
Portrait Salon
Nikon competitions
World Press Photo
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Sony World Photography Award
Landscape Photographer of the Year
Association of Photographers prizes
TRIBE

As well as listing some of the reasons for entering photography competitions, Miranda also urged us to note down the negative aspects and the flaws. The general consensus was as follows:

Work goes into the ether – with no explanation of where it has gone or who has seen it.

Costs – some competitions are charging an extortionate rate per photo for entering without any guarantee of the photograph being returned or properly looked after.

Lack of feedback – If you don’t get through to the final rounds or win, you at least want feedback from the judging panel on whether they liked certain aspects of your work, or what you could have improved on. If no reasons are given the disappointment is far greater.

No communication after payment is taken – This truly leaves a bitter taste and gets you thinking that they were only after your money in the first place, plus WHERE does the money in entry fees go?

Lack of clarity in criteria – You can’t be judged harshly for not ticking invisible boxes! It is not always clear.

Unfair judging – Often the judges have no artistic background whatsoever and are merely there because of sponsoring or circumstance; for example, the Taylor Wessing prize includes a member on the judging panel from the law firm sponsoring the prize.

Celebrity/already established winners – Seeing the same names, or same circles of winners, is neither promising or inspiring for prospective entrants.

The second half of the talk focused on an interesting topic, that of crowd funding, a platform many photographers are now using to get their work out there, as well as to fund work. Crowdfunding is the funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people via the Internet. One woman in the audience made the point that she tried raising £2,000 through crowdfunding to make a video. However, she found it problematic because she ended up having to put her own money in to reach the full amount which was misleading and defeated the object entirely. Some platforms only give you the money if you reach your full target.

The same woman also noted a positive aspect that it’s not just about the money, it’s also about raising awareness and appreciation of work or projects with followers and contributors, of whom she had gained plenty. Miranda brought up an example of a project that was crowdfunded successfully and managed to raise awareness of autism and in turn allowed the photographer to self publish a book. There were certainly pros and cons involved in equal measures, however, generally the feeling was that crowdfunding was an alternative method to entering competitions in terms of offering elevation, money, experience and networking, however, it required a lot more effort and time to achieve it.

Crowdfunding requires full time dedication during the campaign period (often of 90 days). However, as Miranda pointed out, TIME is a huge factor. It may be a more tangible way of achieving a goal with a clear objective, but photographers have to commit to it. For those who cannot dedicate themselves and the necessary time to crowdfunding, competitions are still an option.

It was time for the audience to turn the questions on Miranda, eager to find out about her personal judging experience of being on a panel and what information she could divulge about the dialogue that goes on behind the scenes. Miranda said that when judging work herself she prefers it if the names of entrants are stripped off the work, as well as from CVs and personal statements. This is so that she cannot be influenced by someone’s history, education or presence in the art world already. Anonymity is crucial.

In terms of information, Miranda explained how she likes to read any statements or  descriptions after looking at the image, and to test herself on how well she can read its meaning without one, however, in some cases the statement may be vital and a necessary component of the work. In terms of writing statements to accompany entries, Miranda said that a concise statement, or around 200 words, is enough and to bear in mind the audience reading the statement, so nothing too theoretically heavy or filled with jargon. If a theory is being referred to, or a quote is used, she likes to see the photographer demonstrate how it relates to the work, otherwise it is decoration.

LESS IS MORE: This is crucial to remember when choosing your final selection. Only submit your best shots.

BELIEVE IN YOUR WORK: The work you submit should also be work that you feel strongly about, perhaps a recent body of work that you are still passionate about and connected to as this will come across to the judging panel.

FIT THE CRITERIA: Make sure your work meets the criteria.

CHECK TERMS & CONDITIONS: Read the small print and beware of rights grabs.

LABELLING IS VITAL: The order of your series is important and how it is viewed by judges.

VARIETY OF SCREENS: Check your images on a range of screens if you are sending in an online file, find a balance that will work on most screens.

RESEARCH competitions and previous finalists and winners to see a range of styles and formats that are being accepted. This is not to copy them but to merely get an idea of whether your work could stand alongside some of them.

MOVING IMAGE WORK
Miranda also talked about the complications of submitting different mediums of work. Moving image artists need to be aware of lazy curation or lack of appropriate funds/space to show it. The whole piece can be mistranslated if it’s not shown appropriately and with the necessary settings. You have to be in control of how your work is shown otherwise it is almost pointless. How can you take control? The only way really is to always include guidelines on how you want it to be viewed and hope that they are suitably followed.

By the end of the talk and after giving a summary of the key areas covered, the audience seemed more enlightened on the subject and, possibly, more realistic about what they’re really getting when entering a photography competition. That’s not to say people were put off from doing so, but instead they were a little wiser about the process and better informed about the negative aspects. For the people who may enter their work after attending this talk, it’s fair to say that they would be doing so with somewhat of a better chance of succeeding than before, or at least better informed.

Photo Show: Christina Noble exhibits black and white photographs from her archive in recent show Kullu Perceived

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Photo © Christina Noble. Outside the Hadimba temple in the Dunghri forest above Manali. A sheep has been sacrificed to propitiate the Devi for the potential manifestation of her gaur oracle. The Brahmin cooks attend the fire while villagers come and go. 1976

“Kullu is a very special place. Once you arrive, you are captivated. It’s fascinating to see how three very different artists have responded to one region – be it the monumental oils of Catherine Goodman, the intricate pencil drawings of temples by John Nankivell or the clarity of the light captured by Christina Noble’s photographs”
Shehani Fernando, curator of the exhibition

The show Kullu Perceived: Images of a Himalayan Valley explored the region through the eyes of three artists who have kept returning there to make work. The exhibition at The Prince’s Drawing School space in east London brought together rarely seen images from over 40 years of her archive, a selection of which I have posted here for those who were unable to see the exhibition but who may still be interested in Christina’s work.

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Photo © Christina Noble. This photograph of temple and terraces was taken with a telephoto from the opposite side of the valley. It depicts exactly the same view featured in Lights and Shades of Indian Hill life 1895 by Frederick St. John Gore, which lead Christina Noble to Kullu in the first place. 1971

 

Christina Noble first went to Kullu in 1969 to trek from Shimla to Kashmir and ended up founding a Himalayan walking holiday business. Having lived in Kullu for the majority of the 70’s and 80’s and armed with her Nikon, her photographs reveal the relationship between the Pahari people and their dramatic surroundings.

Christina set up an artist residency programme and creative retreat, Prini Ropa in Kullu. Visiting artists, including painter Catherine Goodman, have been drawn to the Kullu Valley for over a century – attracted to the grandeur of the landscape and the culture of the Pahari people.

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Photo © Christina Noble. On a bank just below the Jalori Pass 10,000 ft (3,120 metres), the girls are resting while gathering fodder for cattle to be carried home in their large baskets. Resting and chatting, they are making shoes out of hemp (charas) straw, the leaves and seeds having been saved to smoke during the long boring winter. 1971

Photo Show – The Age of Anti-Ageing by Stewart Home and Chris Dorley-Brown at The Function Room London

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Becoming (M)other, Photo Chris Dorley-Brown

In a culture obsessed with the aesthetic rather than the fitness results of exercise, Anti-Ageing is more effectively achieved via digital manipulation than beauty products! From the press release

Stewart Home and Chris Dorley-Brown bring the past and the present together in The Age of Anti-Ageing which opens tonight and runs until 6 November in The Function Room. The Function Room hosts exhibitions and events in an upstairs room as the guests of the landlady of The Cock Tavern, and is run by Anthony Auerbach and Marlene Haring, with Dunya Kalantery. The latest exhibition comprises of two sets of digitally-manipulated composite family portraits merging mother and son, then and now, fiction and fact.

Becoming (M)other (set of 8 photographs, pigment giclée prints, each 584 × 690 mm)
“In 1966 Carla Hopkins took a series of fashion photographs of Julia Callan-Thompson, a club hostess who was hoping to become a model and movie actress. Julia landed a bit of film extra work and did press ads for products such as Max Factor lipstick but was soon devoting herself to a full time exploration of alternative realities in the company of such luminaries as Alex Trocchi, William Burroughs and Marianne Faithfull. In 2004, Julia’s son Stewart Home was photographed by Chris Dorley Brown imitating the poses from his mother’s 1966 modelling portfolio. A selection of the two sets of photographs were then morphed together to create a composite image of Julia at the age of twenty-two and her son Stewart aged 42.

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The Age of Anti-Ageing. Photo Chris Dorley-Brown

“The Age of Anti-Ageing, 2014 (set of 8 photographs, pigment giclée prints, each 584 × 690 mm)
In 2004 Stewart Home was photographed by Chris Dorley Brown imitating poses from photographs in his mother’s 1966 modelling portfolio. More recently, after noticing books with titles such as The Green Pharmacy: Anti-Ageing Prescriptions and The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible lying around in the flats of friends, Stewart Home and Chris Dorley Brown decided to repose their 2004 restaged photographs a decade on. The photographs from 2004 and 2014 were then morphed together.

“Rationally the result should have been Stewart Home as he would have looked in 2005, but instead of this the morphs conjure up a timeless Stewart Home. Anti-Ageing books and products have become big business among the baby-boomer generation, but photographic manipulation makes them superfluous. In a culture obsessed with the aesthetic rather than the fitness results of exercise, Anti-Ageing is more effectively achieved via digital manipulation than beauty products!” From the press release

The show is curated by Clare Carolin

Upstairs at The Cock Tavern,
23 Phoenix Road,
London NW1 1HB
open: when the pub is open
admission: free