Judges seek unique, inspired images
The judges for this year’s Slice of Campus Life photo contest at Concordia have spoken! They’ve revealed what inspires their work! They’ve divulged some of their closely held secrets for taking a great picture! But most important, they’ve hinted at what may just make your submissions grab and hold their attention.
Artistic and fashion photographer Damián Siqueiros says his work is inspired by the search for beauty outside of what society normally considers beautiful. “It’s finding the beauty in things that we usually don’t see,” he explains, adding that his social conscience also plays a role in what he tries to capture with his lens. “I’m always working towards a better understanding of gender diversity, and why gender equality is so important.”
Photojournalist Phil Carpenter says he’s driven by the need to tell people’s stories. He never knows what to expect when he goes out in search of a photograph; he says it depends entirely on how the story presents itself. “If I’m shooting a business story or a sports story, it’s completely different from a breaking news story, that’s completely different from a photo essay/documentary piece, that’s also different from a portrait.”
What is returning judge and veteran fine-art photographer Linda Rutenberg looking for in a winning photograph? “Something that goes beyond the obvious,” she says. “Something unusual that talks about this place, and this kind of life … It could be an amalgamation of images, it could be several exposures put into one, it could be the same place photographed at different times of day. Maybe they’re not happy here, and how do you express that? Maybe it’s the confusion, the traffic, the noise.”
For commercial photographer Val Simmons, it’s the ability to capture that magic moment when everything comes together to express perfectly what you’re trying to convey with a photograph. “That’s what’s going to be important in this competition,” she says.
“It’s somebody who manages to capture a moment that amplifies how they felt when they saw that particular person or action at Concordia that really represents what it’s like to be a student (or staff or faculty member) here.”
When engineer-turned-photographer Benjamin Von Wong takes a photograph, he is trying to create an alternate reality. To do so, he puts a lot of work into his mise en scènes. Although it’s not a criterion for the competition, Von Wong says he hopes to see submissions “where you create the shot yourself, direct them and actually place people, rather than just simple documentary shots.”
There are no standard rules for what makes a great picture. Even among our distinguished panel of judges, there is a broad range of tastes and preferences. One thing that seems important to all of them, though, is that some amount of thought and effort has gone into a submission, even if it’s not technically brilliant. “I’ve seen works that are technically not perfect but that are striking because of their content, because of the story underneath,” Von Wong says.
Every image tells a story, Siqueiros adds. What’s important is whether or not that story helps reveal something to us. “I want an image that makes me think, or that makes me feel something, that touches a part of me, and especially makes sense of the world,” he says.
For more secrets of photography, check out our judges’ video: