The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Michelle Sank, IPA and the image that does no-one any favours

Here at the Long Lens blog, it’s not often I show other people’s photography, but I’m making an exception in Michelle Sank’s case. This is her photo of a man asleep in a park in Durban, South Africa.
Michelle Sank’s award-winning IPA image
It’s not that I particularly want to criticise Sank’s award-winning photograph or the International Photography Award’s judges who made it their single image winner.
I just feel that for photography as a whole, highlighting an image like this drives people away from the genre. 

And I’m talking specifically here about those who are not self-confessed photography fans, the people who our industry as a whole needs to attract.
If the photographic die-hards struggle to come to terms with an image like this, what chance do those who are not image-savvy have?
It’s these people who need to be invigorated by photography when they are exposed to it. Surely photography competitions are designed to generate interested in photography and encourage people to attended exhibitions and buy books.
This image of a sleeping man with loaf of bread adjacent to his head is about as inspiring as a warm, wet toilet seat.
Magnum London’s archive manager Nick Galvin was one of the IPA judges.
He defended the Sank’s image as having ‘subtle qualities’ and ‘does not give up an easy answer’.
But he also states that he is ‘not saying it is the best image in the world’ and ‘that ‘possibly it has nothing profound to say about the world beyond that the fact the photographer took a picture of a man who was using a bag of bread to shield his face as he slept
Mmmm. Makes me want to scream.
I do think I’m on dodgy ground criticising other people’s photographs, especially one that has won a major award (when my greatest achievement is being on the short-list for the Travel Photographer of the Year awards and interviewing Fred Phelps).
But surely all these judges, editors and curators have a responsibility to show off the work of this under-pressure industry at it’s very best. At all times.

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This entry was posted on November 14, 2010 by in ipa, michelle sank, photography awards, winner.
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