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Thread: Critiquing the 2010 Moran Prize Winner in Contemporary Photography

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    Critiquing the 2010 Moran Prize Winner in Contemporary Photography

    Hi all!

    Considering that May is the month of critique madness on AP I thought it might be an interesting exercise for us to critique a photo that has won a national prize, in this case the Moran Photography competition (http://www.moranprizes.com.au).

    I remember seeing the winning image and thinking to myself that it didn't immediately stand out as a prize wining photo. I'm not saying that it's not worthy, but it just didn't 'speak' to me. What about you? What can you see in the image that makes it a worthy winner amongst what must have been dozens, if not hundreds, of entries from around Australia??

    The photo is titled "Cockatoo Island Ferry" and is by Dean Sewell. I found it difficult to link to the Moran website due to the flash content, but here is a link to the photo on the ABC website:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/photos/20...10/2978725.htm

    Andrew.
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    I am by no means a judge but I honestly cannot see it as a prize winning photo unless there was a specific theme in mind?
    The positives I can dig for : it has two honest looking couples with no pretence of affection - just a natural lean on each other. The blown out sky kind of works as a dreamy background
    What didn't work for me : framing seems bad? (half cut off face, neither here nor there with ceiling), small size image but it actually seems slightly motion blurred? grain also seems neither here nor there (almost like it was grainy but an incomplete noise reduction done on it?)

    Mind you, you really have to bear in mind I'm coming at this from a completely different genre but I do agree with you Andrew. I'd love to see what the other images were.

    ps. it reminds me of that huge thread on flickr about the picture by cartier-bresson "Mario's Bike". We could call it art, or we could point out all of the technical flaws -it all depends on your point of view.
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    You know I must be a really good prize winning photographer too, but I must not recognise my own talent... because when I get a shot just like that I always go for the the delete button! Honestly it does nothing for me. Its a worry when I personally thing 99% of the photos posted here on AP are much more worthy!

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    It's all about the Light!
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    It does not rock my boat, but neither does HCB's Behind the Gare St. Lazare. Curry's Afghan Girl on the other hand is tops.
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
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    I looked and I tried to see the worthiness of a Prize this big but I too can't see it.

    I do like the shot, quite a bit actually. It certainly has that raw feeling about it and the processing (b&w and grain) adds to that feeling. I like the two people in the front with the guy leaning in onto her - his sleeping expression (and her bland one) is unique plus the two people in the back mimic their pose.

    I can't help but wonder if all the other entries were utter *&^% to make this a winner though. But this is 'contemporary' and not traditional, so I guess anything goes!

    I know if I posted something like this, I certainly wouldn't get too many people oohing and aahing over my image!
    Monika
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    I can see the appeal in this photo...it's natural and innocence! Study it for a while and you see before PP. I think often times PP spoils the natural beauty of a scene!
    DON - Teachable, always learning, always experimenting, just want to know everything I can about photography!

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    its a snapshot in time, if you look at it you see peoples live as they lived it for that moment. - but as a prize winner? i take plenty of these shots when bored and i have a camera in my hand
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    It is an interesting photo. For me the stand out is that although everyone is on a ferry together, they are isolated at the same time. Either singly or in pairs they have positioned themselves to be apart from all the other ferry travellers. It has a timeless feel about it, in that it would be hard to say when the photo was taken. I kinda like it, but should it have won, well that is something for the judge to decide. I am glad I am not asked to judge this competition.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    I don't mind it actually. It speaks immediately to me about how separated, lonley and mundane some peoples lives are even when they are with another person.
    Everyone in this shot, even the couples, have a despair or detachment about them. Technically I don't see a lot going on; moreso this is just a snapshot in time that evokes a very lonely feel. That's just my perception though.
    Attitude is everything!

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    Member achee's Avatar
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    IMHO one of the many approaches to measuring the appeal a photo has to me is to ask the question 'would I consider printing that and hanging that on my wall?' In this case - no, I wouldn't.

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    Some really interesting perspectives on the photo!!

    I don't necessarily dislike the photo. I really like how the photographer has captured the various couples all in their own individual microcosms. You can tell that each has their own story to tell, and yet by necessity they are all sharing the common experience of the ferry.

    The expression and positioning of the guy in the foreground is great as well. The intimate lean into his partner speaks volumes for the the bond between the two, particularly in such a public and exposed environment.

    As for the negatives, I know it's a candid but I really don't like the distractions down the left hand border of the image. Sometimes it works in prompting you to question what's actually going on outside the frame, but in this case it just appears messy to me.

    Is there motion blur? I'm not sure. Regardless, there's a distinct lack of clarity to the image. The grain contributes somewhat to this and it would be interesting to hear the photographers perspective on what he was trying to achieve inthe use of noise in that way. For me it's neither here nor there (kind of like my feeling for the shot in general!). It's not a typically gritty locale, so why use so much grain? Perhaps it's to enhance/contrast the dreamlike light streaming through the windows...?

    So overall I don't dislike the image, but after browsing through the other entrants I can definitely say that there would have been quite a number of other shots that I would have ranked much higher, due primarily to their greater ability to tell a story and for the way in which the photographer has painted with light.

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