I skimmed the nearly 1,800 entries to the Photography Book Now contest Blurb is sponsoring. These are just the ones online. I do not know how many hard copy entries that were submitted. This contest has been mentioned in other blogs out there. My initial response is that the photograph is far from dead. Digital is keeping it alive with the advent of book publishers like Blurb. Thank goodness.
There are a lot of people taking pictures out there. Some good, most OK, and more than a few people are taking pictures of naked women.
I did not look at all of the entries. I am guessing that a third of the entries are really worthwhile and of that about 100 are the best. Here are some that caught my eye. By that I mean: I had heard of the photographer before, the cover was interesting, the title was interesting, there was no image on the cover or I just thought, let’s take a look.
I know that if I entered mine would not be in the worthwhile category, so please stick with me. I do not think that just portfolio books were the spirit of the competition.
After a while I could guess at the pictures. There were some covers that proved to be the best picture in the first 15 pages. (Blurb lets you browse the first 15 pages.) There is a lot of Alex Soth inspired landscape work being done. A lot of three-quarter length portraits. There is nothing wrong with that, but I could tell what I would see from the cover image.
If I had to choose one, from all of what I saw, I would easily say Olivier Pin-Fat. No question his work was the most unique, in my opinion, from what what I saw. He is pushing photography to its limits more than most of the people who entered the contest. I could just say go look at his book and you will see the best one, but I am probably wrong about that since I did not look at every book and did not see the hard copies.
Having witnessed a few contests being judged, I would say getting down to 100 will be more about editing out the obvious for one reason or another. From the top third. I will take time. Probably getting down to 10 or 20 will be more difficult. It will take a consensus. Picking a winner from 10 or 20 will be the real work, but, if they are all doing it together in one place, my guess is that as a group, they will have a an idea of what they want and don’t want.
I did not enter this contest. I really felt like I do not have enough right now to put together to make a book. I hope the contest will continue. In time, I hope I have enough pictures to make a book.
There are other books that are worth buying. I do not know how it is priced, but some are expensive. I tend to be populist and would want a smaller and cheaper book out there so people would buy it. Then again, I do march to the beat of a different drummer. I should not forget to mention Paho Mann’s book.