A little while back I decided to throw my hat into the ring for the Magnum / Lensculture Photography Awards competition. I thought it would be good to submit a range of photos for an expert critique with the hope that some of the feedback would help me develop going forward. I did of course recognise that my chances of winning were incredibly slim as some of the other photographers are seasoned professionals.
Below I have posted my five submissions which the reviewer had rearranged in order of preference. Below my submissions is the review, completely unedited including any typos.
"Hello Clifford, and thanks for taking the time to share your work with us.
When I am looking at single photograph or project series I'm always looking for the two ingredients that transcend the image from its ordinary status into something unique. Those ingredients, together with the blending of other elements, depart from the mere representation of facts by means of aesthetic and conceptual choices and at times the incorporation of the emotional/psychological component. Does the photograph deliver a particular emotion to the viewer as a result of the photographer's intuitive connection with the subject, and does it become an experience? Not all images and subject matter offers or possesses those qualities but it's imperative for the photographer to strive and incorporate them into their work.
I enjoyed looking at your images and I have rearranged the order of some photos starting with the ones I find to be the strongest ones. You have some good work here and considering you have not done this before I am delighted to say that you are on the right track. All images work in their own ways but where I see your strength is in your ability to immerse yourself in the moment and reflect with a diverse set of tools, ranging from the emotional and descriptive as is the case in the first image. What makes this image unique is its ability to blend the descriptive with the emotional, you not only showing us how things look but also how things feel. Great light, patterns and the relationship between foreground and background is interesting, with the two figures in the background completing the frame. The second image shows me how well you anticipate for the moment but also how well in control you are in regards to the frame. The man and the woman to the back of the frame are interesting but what makes this images more powerful is the way you have incorporated all the other people and have used the edge of the frame; well done.
The third image has good use of color, one that is balanced well and making us feel the neighborhood in a more intimate way. The window shop to the right of the frame makes all the different and becomes the element that creates some sort of a dialogue with the other parts in the picture. You are looking for the details in your work and how those entities work independently and as a whole and that makes all the difference. Your connection with the moment is evident in the following image has a nice transition from left to right works well. The interaction between the people as well as the background information maintain our attention to the frame, they don't let us escape. Keep photographing in the way you do put push the frame more, get closer, pay more attention to the light, shadows, and transformation of space due to your aesthetic sensibility and your work will become a lot stronger.
I am wishing you the best in your endeavors and I look forward to seeing more of your work in future competitions.