What makes a great image? CR’s Photo Annual judges share their favourite work

With the deadline for submissions to CR’s Photography Annual fast approaching, we asked this year’s judges about the projects that have inspired them and what they think makes a great image. Here, Jessica Crombie, head of visual creative at Save the Children, discusses great documentary series, smart storytelling from the Guardian and the importance of challenging stereotypes …

With the deadline for submissions to CR’s Photography Annual fast approaching, we asked this year’s judges about the projects that have inspired them and what they think makes a great image. Here, Jessica Crombie, head of visual creative at Save the Children, discusses great documentary series, smart storytelling from the Guardian and the importance of challenging stereotypes …

We’re introducing some important changes to this year’s Photography Annual – we want to celebrate not just the work of photographers themselves but also those who commission and art direct great images, whether in advertising, magazines online or via an image library. As well as adding categories for the best use of photography in advertising and marketing campaigns, by fashion brands and in editorial, we’re introducing one to celebrate the best work commissioned by photo libraries.

This year’s judges are Sarah Douglas, creative director at Wallpaper, Daniel Moorey, head of print at Adam&EveDDB, Sarah Thomson, head of art production at Fallon London, Gemma Fletcher, senior art director at Getty Images, Alan Wilson, art director at AMV BBDO and Save the Children’s Jessica Crombie. Here, Crombie selects her favourite photographers and recent series – to read our interview with Alan Wilson, click here.

What image or series has impressed you most in the past 12 months?

I think the set of images that has impressed me the most over the past 12 months was the Photographer’s Gallery exhibition Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity, curated by the always brilliant Susan Bright. They questioned what motherhood is, or can be, when it starts and ends, how a child and parent can transform that relationship and push through perceived boundaries.

The images included were stereotype challenging, thought provoking, emotionally charged, shocking and sometimes very funny. I loved this exhibition and almost all of the work included, which is unusual for me in a group show.

Installation Image from Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood ad Identity on display at The Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street (11 October 2013 -5 January 2014) courtsey of The Photographers’ Gallery. © Kate Elliott

Installation Image from Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood ad Identity on display at The Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street (11 October 2013 -5 January 2014) courtsey of The Photographers’ Gallery. © Kate Elliott

 

What, to you, makes a great image?

A great image to me is one that makes me stop and look, but then think. Just looking and then walking away isn’t enough, I want a great image to tell me a story, to educate me, to give me eyes on a place or a person or a thing I haven’t seen before, or a perspective I haven’t considered before. I look at a lot of documentary imagery but it doesn’t have to be photojournalism to get me interested – some of the most incredible images I’ve ever seen have been highly constructed, such as the work of Taryn Simon or Thomas Demand. It just needs to do more than be pretty, I’m not really interested in pure aesthetics without something behind it.

Guy Martin‘s image of fighters taking defensive positions and fire back at Gaddaffi loyalists in the centre of Misrata on April 20, 2011 (the first day that rebels pushed back loyalist forces from the centre of the city)

A car is prepared for a wedding as war rages in Benghazi, Eastern Libya, March 2011, by Guy Martin

Who do you think is producing great work at the moment?

There are lots of documentary photographers doing fantastic work right now like Anastasia Taylor-Lind and her projects about women – particularly The National WombGuy Martin and his Libya work [above] which is great, and Peter DiCampo and his blog ‘Everyday Africa’ [which collates mobile photography taken across the continent], which I think is very interesting and important as a stereotype challenging exercise and should be looked at by everyone who works in the field of representing.

Peter Di Campo’s Everyday Africa blog, also pictured top

And what organisations do you think are making great use of photography?

The Guardian to me is doing really interesting things with imagery right now. I am so inspired by their multimedia work, the ‘Firestorm’ [an interactive on the experiences of the Holmes family, who survived last year’s Tasmanian bushfires] and ‘Shirt on your back‘ [on the Bangladeshi garment industry, and events that led to the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which we wrote about here] in particular.

They are beautiful, engaging, interactive and so sophisticated in terms of their structure, and they show us all the way that we should be going in terms of online storytelling; a seamless combination of music, photography, film and text, I dream of telling Save the Children’s stories in such a smart way!

The final deadline for entries to this year’s Photography Annual is September 11. For details on how to submit your work, or for more info about the annual, click here.

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