AP, PDN, and APE

My Picture of Ellen Page in AP 24 © Emily Shur 2009

Over on APE there is a great post today on photo competitions, reviews, and how this might just be the biggest scam in all of photography.  Having worked in numerous magazine photo departments myself, I concur with Rob’s comments on American Photography and the PDN Photo Annual being the two big contests to which almost everyone in the photo industry pays close attention.  As far as design goes, the ADC and SPD awards are big deals as well.  I first became aware of American Photography when I worked at Rolling Stone under then art director Fred Woodward.  We would spend weeks on our entries to AP, SPD, and the ADC competitions.  This was back before uploading files on the internet, and it was my job to very very carefully tape magazine spreads together to send off.  (This was also before the PDN Photo Annual contest existed.)

After I left Rolling Stone in 1999, I entered American Photography almost every year until I finally got 2 images of actor Adam Brody into AP 22.  Last year, I got one picture of actress Ellen Page into AP 24 which just showed up on my doorstep last week.  The book really does look beautiful, and having it in my hands reinforced the reasons behind spending hundreds of dollars entering the contest.  This is one contest that is worth spending your money on.  Yesterday I entered some work into AP 25.  We’ll see what happens.

I always check out the PDN Photo Annual, and there is always very good work in it, but in my opinion, PDN has been going a bit off the deep end lately in terms of the number of contests that are now in effect over there.  I think the abundance of PDN contests is diluting the specialness of all of them.  I mean, how many contests do you need – there’s The Photo Annual, Top Knots Wedding Photography Contest, PIX Digital Imaging Awards, PDN/Nikon Self Promotion, World In Focus, PDN’s Faces, Year In Music Moment Photography Contest, PDN/Billboard Summer Music Moment, The Great Outdoors – I might be missing some, but you get the point.  I also get that PDN has bills to pay as well, and this is a way for them to make money and showcase photographers’ work at the same time.  That makes sense, but to be frank, the whole thing still smells a bit like day old sushi to me.  

Oh, and they don’t seem too pleased about APE’s post.  Read here.

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