2010 Center Awards

Issue 13

From the Director: The contemporary reader is very skilled at receiving and processing information. Images offer precisely what the modern reader wants, an understanding and awareness in a short amount of time. As such, photography has positioned itself at the forefront of the evolution of language and its vocabulary is constantly changing.

During the 2010 Center Awards we had the pleasure of viewing many talented and gifted communicators. The photographic zeitgeist have shown that image-makers are becoming more conscious and responsive to the increasing needs of hungry eyes and higher levels of visual acuity. It is exciting to see photography offering content in deeper, richer, and more intriguing ways. The submissions to the 2010 Awards were indicators of this current vocabulary and the response to our lives at this moment.

RECURRING THEMES: Aging/Dying Birds Chernobyl 25th Anniversary Childbirth Childhood memories Cuba Empty Billboards/Advertising Energy Forestry Food Found Photos Indigenous Cultures Ironic Landscape * Masculinity New Docugraphics * Night Photography People in Their Underwear Photo Therapy * Psychogeography ("the study of the laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.") Typology Uganda * phrasing provided by Review Santa Fe selection committee member Denise Wolff, Aperture

In terms of current photographic practice, there is reoccurring evidence of success when photographers choose description over depiction of their subjects. In the case of description, the images act as a catalyst or sparkplug that leads to an understanding. The best work includes description via exquisite story-telling techniques with many layers, unfolding as the viewers mind engages into the tableaus. The engaged viewer can ask questions and search for answers. Viewers want to be invited to exercise their own intellectual and emotional capacities to fill in the details of the story and interpolate the photographer’s message. That’s how the sparkplug - the image, starts an engine.

As the contemporary viewers are ‘reading’ and processing information at higher levels they need to be challenged at increasingly higher levels. Viewers crave an understanding that elicits an authentic response of caring about the subject. Why should I care? This question precipitates the work and is answered by award winning projects.

Although we call those who select for the awards ‘jurors,’ their task is not to “judge” the work. Personal, meaningful projects are invaluable and without measure. In the final rounds of selections, the conversations are not about if one body of work is better than the other, but rather is this body of work the most relevant, and the most representative of art, culture, and language? The jurors role is to contextualize the work. These questions are asked also during Review Santa Fe selections. Where does this go? How is this relevant? Is this an interesting and modern use of the medium? Criteria for evaluation includes the timeliness of the work, the vocabulary and how it adds to contemporary dialogues across the world.

There are many talented communicators among the 2010 Center award winners and Review Santa Fe photographers. The viewer can’t help but be intrigued and moved by their projects. The work bridges the gaps between cultures, communities and generations. That is one of the greatest accomplishments a photographer can achieve - to inspire empathy and compassion in our fellow humans. If you can inspire someone to care you have succeeded.

- Laura Pressley, Executive Director