Photo comp a going concern

The inaugural International Landscape Photographer of the Year has been judged, with the top 101 images announced and major prize-winners to be revealed next week.

International Landscape Photograph of the Year, by Craig Parry, Australia.

This image by Craig Parry, Australia,  is in  the Top 101 in the International Landscape Photographer of the Year collection

The $5000 prize for Landscape Photographer of the Year will be announced next week, along with the $2000 prize for Landscape Photograph of the Year and minor place-getters.

The formidable judging panel included Tony Hewitt, Jackie Ranken, David Ward, David Burnett and Jim Goldstein.

International Landscape Photographer of the Year is an initiative of IC12 Pty Ltd and AIPP Master, Peter Eastway,

The competition attracted 2233 entries from 519 entrants. Entry fee was US$25 per image or US$80 for four, with no limit to the number of images entered. Total prize money amounted to US$10,000, and the top 101 images are to be presented in a high quality photo book produced by sponsor Momento. The co-sponsor is printing/framing business Created For Life.

Defining ‘landscape’…

The competition provoked a social media debate about the role of post-production, and especially Photoshop skills, in contemporary digital photography, as rules on image editing were extremely liberal – post-production was unrestricted as long as the editor and the photographer were the same person:
– The Entries…must be photographic in origin (taken with a camera), but there are no restrictions on post-production except that any post-production must be the work of the entrant. You cannot have someone else edit or work on the image for you. We consider this part of the art of landscape photography.

Noted landscape photographer Joshua Holko argued on his blog that it’s not fair for ‘purist’ landscape photographers to have their work judged alongside largely digital creations: ‘My issue with this new competition and these “anything goes rules”,’ he wrote, ‘is it pits what might be purist photography that a photographer worked incredibly hard to achieve in the field against the skills of the photographer in Photoshop to create something that did not exist…There is just no way for any judge, no matter how experienced, to accurately compare the photographic skill of the entrants when the parameters are so broad.’

On the other side of the debate, Peter Eastway renowned for his advanced Photoshop skills and sumptuous, somewhat surrealist landscapes, doesn’t see why the comparison needs to be made: ‘So, does an imaginary photograph have an advantage over a photograph of a real landscape? Not to my mind.’ he wrote.

‘I really don’t care how an image is created.’ he later explained. ‘All I care about is the end result. To me a great landscape is a great landscape no matter how it was created.’

When asked why there wasn’t a section for ‘purist’ landscapes (where photographers might perhaps be required to supply the original RAW file for comparison with their entry) and a separate one where ‘anything goes’ in the new competition, Peter Eastway responded: ‘I guess I didn’t really see it as an issue. In many ways I thought the debate had passed.’

He did, however, concede that in a nature photography competition a landscape photograph would need to abide by stricter rules regarding what could be described as the integrity of the content.

The Top 101 selection represents both purist images – for instance Craig Parry’s entry featured above –  and heavily post-produced work.

Entrepreneurial spirit

The competition also highlights a new trend of photo competitions being run not necessarily by photographers associations with sponsor support, but as stand-alone, self-sustaining businesses. It responds to a demand by the emerging group of semi-professional and enthusiast photographers (who the AIPP is also targetting), for affirmation, acceptance and feedback.

IC12 Pty Ltd has launched a variety of photographic industry projects in recent years. It established a foothold in photography by developing the judging software and then managing the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards and some of the state AIPP awards. It has also launched Creative Asia, a pro/’prosumer’ photographic exhibition/conference in Hong Kong. Then for something completely different, principal Nathan Oxley, a keen photographer, created the LED Light Cube (ledlightcube.com) successfully crowdfunding on Indiegogo.com, to raise US$132,000. This result placed it in the top five Australian Indiegogo campaigns. The Light Cube is currently in production,according to the website. (Shipments were in initially planned for June.)

IC12 has previously launched (in 2008) the International Loupe Awards (also known as the International Aperture Awards) which last year attracted almost 5000 entries at $35 per image, which would have grossed well over $150,000.

Another IC12 venture is Pro-Feedback.com, which offers a photo critiquing service for a fee or for free, depending on the terms of the participating assessor, most of whom are professional photographers.

 


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