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Someone with a keen interest in photography, and a keen interest in learning to take better images.

Win a photo competition: don’t take photos!

I was reading in British Journal of Photography (March 2011) about the World Press Photo Awards.  One of the prize winners – honourable mention in the Contemporary Issues category – had submitted images trawled from Google’s Streetview: Michael Wolf for “A series of Unfortunate Events”.

“It’s such a conceptual leap for the World Press jury to award a prize to someone that photographs virtually..”

Something doesn’t feel right.  There’s artistic merit in conceptualising and executing the idea – and it’s a clever one, granted.  But winning a competition by submitting someone else’s images?  Actually, not even someone else’s as these are taken automatically by a machine, without thought or consideration.  It’s not even “photography virtually”: how can something physical like an image be virtual?  It’s “…award a prize to someone who spends hours sifting through someone else’s material…”

I’m not denigrating his work – I love “Architecture of Density” – and the idea is fascinating.  But no, virtual photography feels wrong: where does it end?  I’d be really interested in the judges’ reasoning on this – and happy to be persuaded otherwise.

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