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

David_Titlow

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 and 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 ratrace. 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 Portrait
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 reasos 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 competitions and 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 involves 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 crowd funding 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 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 , 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 peice 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 their 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

6_Hadimba

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.

12_terraces

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.

1_shoe_makers_CN

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

s&jhip

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.

s&sfantasy

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

Photo Competition – Final call for aspiring music photographers in Hear To Be Heard 2014

HTBH_Photographer
If you’re a music lover and a passionate photographer then you may be interested in Relentless Energy Drink’s ‘one shot’ photography competition with a deadline of this Sunday 12 October.

This year, as well as working together with DJ and presenter Zane Lowe to give a platform to the nation’s DJs and bands, the competition is also looking to springboard the career of aspiring gig photographers and music bloggers. The Relentless judges will be “looking for music enthusiasts that have the right drive and upmost passion to get their style known above the rest. They are looking for high energy, commitment and passion to Be Relentless”.

I gave a talk on photo competitions a couple of weeks ago at Photofusion in London and we discussed photo competitions and the Terms and Conditions including how important it is to read the small print. I have not seen the T&Cs so cannot comment on them for this competition.

Look out for a report (coming soon) from the evening talk by recent photo graduate Jess Morris who I asked to cover the evening event. If you have any comments, please do so below.

PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE
The chosen photographer will win the chance to have their own photo gallery on nme.com and have their work showcased at Relentless @ No5 on Denmark Street London as well as earn commissions for Relentless throughout the year to shoot various events.

JUDGES
Include the well-known music photographer Dean Chalkley, who is responsible for some of the world’s most iconic album artwork and has been featured on this blog . See post, Music and portrait photographer Dean Chalkley debuts new short film.

The judges will select five finalists and then thee winner will be chosen from these five by public vote.

TO SUBMIT
Enter ‘one shot’ that you have taken that captures the passion, commitment and emotion of a gig. Attach as JPEG.

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS
Why are you passionate about music photography?
Share an example where you have demonstrated getting your work noticed
Which photographer inspires you and why?

Follow the link HERE to read more and to submit online.

Other industry experts include:
Matt Wilkinson – NME’s new music section Editor for Radar
Jon Mclldowie – Head music booker for Reading and Leeds Festivals
Sam Grant – Head of Relentless Energy Brand Marketing
Zane Lowe – DJ and presenter.

https://twitter.com/relentlessdrink
https://www.facebook.com/RelentlessEnergy

Moroccan stylist and photographer Hassan Hajjaj goes pop in The Future of Fashion Show Holland

Khadija Lagnawia, 2013
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Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 52.5 x 37 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles

Summer may be on the wane but these bold bright portraits should cheer you up. Thanks to record producer and DJ Mark Moore for pointing me to this recent article on The Huffington Post about 53-year-old multidisciplinary artist Hassan Hajjaj who was born in Morocco and “moved to London in his teens, at the height of the punk craze”.

“For the last 15 years, he’s joined the two cultures, splitting his time between Marrakech and London as he turns out densely textured portrait photography that plays well in the West but requires North African artistry to even exist at all… His subjects are his current friends, who pose and dress in ways that translate into arresting hybrid art.” The Huffington Post

His flamboyant Pop-Up Pop-Art portraits combine elements of the traditional studio portrait with African-inspired textiles and props made from domestic and recycled bottles, tins and packets of food. Hajjaj is a self-taught artist, influenced by hip-hop, reggae and the club scene.

V.B.F., 2013
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Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 35.5 x 25.5 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles

His work can be seen in the upcoming The Future of Fashion is Now exhibition on show from 11 October 2014 to 18 January 2015 at Museum Boijman Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “The exhibition examines the critical stance that young fashion designers worldwide are adopting with regard to ‘the fashion system’ and the role of clothes in contemporary society. Designers with non-Western backgrounds and designers from countries bordering Europe, where until recently there was little or no tradition of fashion, are actively seeking to transform the fashion system.” From Taymour Grahne Gallery website

Mr J. James, 2013
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Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 36.5 x 25 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles.