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.