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Editor’s Choice: unearthing global talent

Editor’s Choice: unearthing global talent

© Holger van Dreumel, Ali Kabas, Chris Discard

December 2009

More than 11,000 images from over 80 countries have been submitted to CPN Editor’s Choice since it launched in March 2009. Mike Stanton, CPN’s editor-in-chief, looks back at an initiative that has showcased the work of thousands of talented photographers from Argentina to Zimbabwe, and sparked the interest of some of the world’s most influential picture editors.

"Hi. My name’s Aidan Sullivan and I’m the vice president of Getty Images, photo assignments." These were the first words spoken by the first guest editor marking the launch of the Editor’s Choice multimedia presentations. For the first edition, published on CPN in May this year, more readers logged on to the site than ever before to find out whom Aidan Sullivan had chosen and what he thought about their images.

© Tommi Anttonen

The idea behind Editor’s Choice is a simple one: a few times a year Canon photographers can submit their images for review by a leading photo editor. The guest editor then makes a selection of the best images, which are showcased on CPN with the reasons behind the choices explained. Sure, there has been the odd holiday snap or picture of a pet, but there have also been some outstanding work generating a huge amount of interest in the worldwide ‘Canon-using community’.

This first year has seen five quite different guest editors occupy the ‘hot seat’. Aidan Sullivan, now of Getty Images, was a photographer before going on to be picture editor at The Sunday Times. Magdalena Herrera is director of photography at GEO France. Barbara Stauss is picture director at Mare magazine. Volker Lensch is the photo editor of Stern magazine and Monica Allende is the picture editor of The Sunday Times Magazine. All five are at the centre of the photography business and influence some the world’s most prestigious awards and workshops.

There’s no doubt that Editor’s Choice has also raised the profile of some extremely talented photographers among the wider photographic community. Getty Images has pursued lines of enquiry with a number of those selected, as has Magdalena Herrera at GEO France. “I am very impressed with the quality of some of the images,” says Herrera. “I have been in contact with one of the photographers, Tommi Anttonen from Finland, and we agreed that he would come back to me with some propositions. I am very interested as an editor to have ‘ways of seeing’ coming from all over (the world).”

Barbara Stauss, in her role as the photo editor of CPN magazine, chose for publication the mysterious and haunting zoo images taken by Boza Ivanovic. She said of Ivanovic’s chimpanzee image chosen in her final selection: “The reduction of light makes you hear it scream.”

© Boza Ivanovic

One of Boza Ivanovic’s haunting zoo images.

The variety of work entered has been astonishing: from scenes of jubilation and hope following the election of Barack Obama, and surreal pictures of grass-covered motorways, to Robert Eliasson’s Cuban daily life series and the ethereal beauty of Cedric Jacquet’s painterly bird images. Three of the guest editors singled out the work of Mexican photographer Rodrigo Cruz. His hard-hitting reportage images were described by Herrera as: “consistently good” and “tightly edited”. Volker Lensch chose several of Cruz’s pictures praising their powerful photojournalistic qualities.

Aidan Sullivan said that he reviewed a lot of carefully thought out imagery that would do well as stock pictures: “Imagery that has a commercial value that could be used again and again to explain something.” This kind of picture has become increasingly important over the past few years, he added. He picked out Bruno Ehrs image of a train thundering through a modern cityscape, describing it as having a “cinematic quality.”

A constant refrain from the guest editors was that ‘less is more’. Submitting images for prizes and competitions, as well as to magazines and newspapers, is a skill, and one that should be taken as seriously as the creation of the pictures themselves. Sending dozens and dozens of images in the hope that one will stick is an approach that rarely works and only frustrates picture editors who have very little time to be impressed. Lensch, who says that Stern receives an average of 12,000 images a day, advised photographers not to send hundred pictures for one story. “Present a story [for example] as a PDF with 10 or 15 pictures, add a general text and a caption for each picture,” he explained.

Sullivan insists that the golden rule for entering prizes is, “to not enter a photograph unless you know that it is a very strong image. There are more photographers out there than there have ever been because of the digital boom, so I think you have to create a signature style…something which makes you stand out from everybody else.”

© Rodrigo Cruz

Rodrigo Cruz’s work was selected by three of the four editors to deliver their final selections thus far.

The quality of the camera and lens used can be hugely important in the creation of an image, especially in their ability to deal with low-light, quick movement and in varying depths of field. But what we can see from the thousands of images submitted is that there is no substitute for having ‘a good eye’. Many stunning images were captured with semi-pro cameras such as the EOS 10D, EOS 20D and EOS 40D. But the most popular cameras used were the EOS-1 series, and the EOS 5D and EOS 5D Mark II. During Barbara Stauss’s turn in the editor’s chair one third of all images submitted were taken on these latter two cameras, with the EOS-1 series close behind.

The final word goes to Magdalena Herrera, who said simply: “I think Editor’s Choice is a great success for CPN readers as it shows that people are really interested in photography.”

Canon Europe and the team at CPN wish to thanks all those photographers who submitted their pictures for review and we are looking forward to seeing more amazing images in the year to come.