Giovanni Cocco, PhotoPhilanthrophy
Giovanni Cocco, PhotoPhilanthrophy

Alexa Dilworth on judging the Activist’s Awards

Alexa Dilworth, Publishing Director and Senior Editor at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS), was one of the judges at PhotoPhilanthrophy’s Activist’s Awards live judging here at The Image Flow in January. She has written an honest and thought provoking blog for PhotoPhilanthropy about her experience as a judge and some of the challenges she encountered.

How does a photographer create a body of work that viewers can really see, take in with an awakened sensibility, and be engaged enough with to act, to answer a call to action?

This past weekend I participated as a judge, along with Margaret Aguirre, Phil Borges, John Isaac, and Denise Wolff, for Photo Philanthropy’s 2012 Activist Awards. Photo Philanthropy champions “social change, one photo at a time.” As judges we were looking for “photo essays that visually articulate the mission of a nonprofit organization in a compelling manner” in three categories: student, amateur, and professional.

What makes for a successful series of images that represent the interests of an NGO, the agent, as well as a photographer, the artist?

While the range of the essays, in content and style, was incredibly varied, and the pressing, of-this-very-moment, work of the NGOs represented in vital and evocative ways, I sometimes found it hard to stay emotionally available, awake to images, engaged with subjects, when looking at 12 student, 27 amateur, and 42 professional bodies of work within the broader context of being barraged by media representations of disaster (poverty, famine, war, climate change), as we all are, and of making a living as an editor and reviewer of documentary photographs.

I started to wonder about the essays that pulled me out of the (seemingly) simple act of regarding photographs and into a more emotional and reflective engagement with the people and environments pictured.

Click here for the full article at PhotoPhilanthrophy.

And More…

Liz Hingley Wins $15,000 PhotoPhilanthropy Prize, a PDN Pulse article, includes an interview with the winner in the professional category, Liz Hingley.

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