After nearly a week of looking through some 3,000 entrants from 147 countries submitted more than 50,000 still images, some would think that judging the Best of Photojournalism for the second consecutive year would be mind numbing, but it was truly a pleasure. Not only did I get to soak in some of the best work by the top photojournalist around the globe, but I also had the chance to debate over what we thought were the best images, and in the process learn more about photography and expand my own horizons. It was nothing short of inspirational. Meeting people like Dr. Vme Edom Smith, who is the sharpest 81 years I have seen, brought to tears when telling us of her father’s (Cliff Edom) legacy, while she sat through two days of judging. Many of the photographs I judged left an indelible impression on me like Barbara Davidson’s of the Los Angeles Times picture of U.S. Army Sgt. Major Leroy Walker crying at Fort Hood, or Charles Ommanney’s striking set of photos of President Barack H. Obama’s inaguration, or Rina Castelnuovo’s frame of the Jewish settler throwing wine on the Palestinian woman. If they are not already, years from now they will all be viewed as iconic images from this era. In the current despondent state of the photographic industry, seeing such beautiful imagery being produced with limited means in harsh conditions, gave me hope that we are all doing the right thing and we are still headed in the right direction. It reminded me that giving freely of your time for the betterment of others around you, and taking in and listening to what people are trying to communicate in words and photos, can really change who you are and is better than any monetary compensation.
Special thanks again to Harry Walker, Lyntha and Terry Eiler, Kenny Irby, Clyde Mueller, Regina Combs, Thomas Kenniff and all the rest of the BOP Committee Members and Poynter staff for inviting me back and being such great hosts. Thanks to the other still judges Sandy Ciric, Sherman Williams, and Monte Trammer for being open with themselves and listening to what I had to say even if I was a broken record at times. Big recognition should go to Martin Gisborne of Apple, who supplied all the computers and software to make this happen, with the assistance of Keri Wiginton and Will Vragovic, who volunteered their time away from the St. Petersburg Times to help drive the competition. Also a special shout out the multimedia judges Mike Stocker, Alex Garcia, John Kaplan, Phaedra Singelis, Theresa Collington, and Vidisha Priyanka; it was a pleasure to meet you all and hang out.
The Still and Multimedia Judges shot on an overexposed frame on my G-11 before the battery died (L-R): Sherman Williams, Donald Miralle, Theresa Collington, Alexandra Garcia, Mike Stocker, Phaedra Singelis, Sandy Ciric, John Kaplan, Monte Trammer, Vidisha Priyanka.
Make sure to check out all the winners at http://bop.nppa.org/2010/ and all the judges comments at http://www.nppa.org/. I’ll leave you with an short unedited and very candid video conversation with Dr. Vme Edom Smith on her thoughts on the selection of Los Angeles Time’s Barbara Davidson’s portfolio winning the Cliff Edom “New America Award”.