Q&A with IPA Lucie Awards 2009 competition director Sarah Cho

Entering competitions can be a costly and time consuming activity. The judging process is often kept under wraps, though it does seem that competition organisers are increasingly more willing to give entrants an insight into the machinations of the process. As promised, IPA Lucie Awards competition director Sarah Cho has kindly got back to me with her responses to questions I sent her, by email, about the awards.

How many people entered the competition? And how does this compare to last year?
We receive thousands of submissions from all over the world. It’s always exciting to see unsuspecting countries submitting work and is a delight to know that photography is truly a medium practiced internationally. This year was no exception and we had received nearly 18,000 submissions. Last year we received over 22,000 entries. With the current economic downturn, we saw more submissions from professionals who really understand the value of winning the IPA, from a marketing and PR standpoint. For non-professionals and hobbyists who have less discretionary income, we saw less submissions.

Could you let me know a bit more about the judging process:

How many rounds of judging are there in total? Who are the judges for each of the preliminary rounds and later ones? Are they the same for final ones?
There are three rounds of jurying. The first round is a vetting round where internal Lucie staff review each submission. All those that advance the first round are included in the second round. We ask several jurors from our panel to participate in this second round to select which entries should advance to the last and final round. All those that advance into the third and final round are Honorable Mention recipients and are competing to place 1st, 2nd or 3rd or remain an Honorable Mention and are reviewed by all the Jurors on our selection committee.

What were the problems with the judging this year? Were there glitches in the system which delayed things?
With our international panel of jurors, there are always unforeseen obstacles amongst the obvious ones of time differences, communication and deadlines. There were no problems out of the ordinary or problems that we could not solve. Some glitches we did experience involved the delay of our auto-emailing and notification system.

What does it mean to have an Honorable mention and how many of these are given out?
Receiving an Honorable Mention is no small feat to say the least. It means that the photographer has reached the highest tier in the jurying process and is in the running to compete for 1st, 2nd, 3rd in any subcategory and ultimately a finalist. Out of nearly 18,000 submissions, there were 5,430 Honorable Mentions. As you can see, we receive phenomenal work and those that advance in to the third and final round are under fierce competition to place. You can review the work of Honorable Mention recipients at the Photo Awards gallery.

Now, that I have these answers, I’ll be getting back in touch with Cho to ask further questions.


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