What's Expected at This Year's Awards?

13th Dec 2012

Live FB Q&A with Catherine Chermayeff

“It could be a campaign shot in Amsterdam for children’s socks or it could be some amazing image done in Gaza,” Catherine Chermayeff muses about this year’s overall winner.  As Honorary Jury Chair, Chermayeff holds the responsibility of deciding the L’iris d’Or – the Sony World Photography Awards’ coveted title for Photographer of the Year.

“I fully expect surprises,” she says. “It’s a period of change; it’s an interesting time.”

Having previously served as Picture Editor for Fortune Magazine, Director of Special Projects at Magnum, Inc., and Founder of i2i Photography, among a host of other professional accomplishments, Chermayeff is now heading up the Magnum Foundation, which supports longer format stories of a photojournalistic nature, in New York City.

And next month, she will lead the Honorary Jury to decide the winners for the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards.

“I don’t know yet who is submitting work,” she says. What does peak her interest, however, is how photography's changing landscape will effect the entry pool.

“The world is so now where it’s amazing what you can do with an iPhone,” she says. “I was on a walkthrough yesterday with 6-7 Magnum photographers and not one of them had anything more than an iPhone.”

Monetizing photographic projects in the media industry’s current state of flux complicates the business behind photography, but Chermayeff says she looks forward to seeing how these changes pan out. “Photos look fabulous on an iPad! It’s a fantastic way to look at photography, and in many cases better than a newspaper or magazine.” 

“Something dramatic happens and inevitably there’s someone with a cell phone camera that can get that image out, get it on the web,” she says. “The days of waiting for Life Magazine so you can see what goes on in the world are certainly gone.”

While the introduction of mobile imagery in this year’s Awards is yet to be seen, Chermayeff does anticipate viewing a powerhouse of journalistic imagery. 

“The person who goes out to, you know, Afghanistan, and spends weeks to tell the small story – you can’t let go of that,” she says. “In the various different categories, the journalistic stuff is going to be the most powerful.” 

But photojournalism may not be the only category holding such imagery; Chermayeff anticipates the lines between categories blurring.

“There is a whole world of advertising and studio images. It’s very, very competitive now,” she says. “You could see some fabulous story coming through that somebody’s been doing in Cairo in the past year and that could end up in a journalism and fine art category.”

Chermayeff says the changing financial structure of photography has photographers seeking new avenues to showcase their best work.  Photographers are now placing their work in an array of new locations in order to have their message heard, she says. “There are the people doing landscapes, still lifes, that certainly fall within [fine art]. I’m curious; I don’t know what the submissions will be.”

In addition to serving as Honorary Jury Chair, Chermayeff will sit on the judging group for Lifestyle, Fashion & Beauty, Campaign and Sport.

“I certainly expect to see within the lifestyle/advertising arenas a lot of photographs that tend to look ‘snapshotty’”, she says, “while they’re really simple but they’re really staged, but they have a really natural feel.”

“I feel like there’s a great desire within the advertising community for campaigns to reflect something that’s very comfortable for people.” Because professional photographers in the advertising industry, like so many others, are trying to find innovative ways to address constrained budgets, Chermayeff says she expects to see a lot of imagery that appears natural and relatable to consumers.

As Chermayeff’s career has spanned the realms of photojournalism and commercial, she holds a unique vantage point from which to preside. “Charting your own path has ups and downs,” she says of finding her way into photography. “I’ve accessed many roles, but you find surprises wherever you go.”

“There’s lots of people that are good!” she encourages entrants. This year's jury is looking for what is special and unique, she says. "You want to put your best work forward. It may have been some great big ad campaign or it may just be some little tiny thing that you created something great.”

With just weeks left to enter the competition, Catherine Chermayeff will join the World Photography Organisation in a live Facebook Q&A on 18th December to discuss this year’s trends, expectations and more. Join the conversation early by posting your questions here.

To enter the Competitions, please click here.



December 2012
Author: Kaley Sweeney