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

With the deadline for Creative Review’s Photography Annual fast approaching, we asked this year’s judges about the photographers and series which have inspired them in the past 12 months. First up is Alan Wilson, art director at AMV BBDO in London…

Artist painting the scene in Hrushevsky Street, Kiev, by Adam Hinton

With the deadline for submissions to CR’s Photography Annual fast approaching, we asked this year’s judges what they think makes a great image and which photos have caught their attention in the past 12 months. First up is Alan Wilson, art director at AMV BBDO in London…

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 a photo 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 images commissioned by image libraries and for the first time, entries will be displayed in an online gallery.

Judges for this year include Jessica Crombie, head of visual creative at Save the Children, 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 and Alan Wilson, art director at AMV BBDO. Here, Wilson outlines his favourite photographers and recent series, from Evian’s Live Young campaign to Adam Hinton’s coverage of Kiev…

Protestor manning barricades at Hrushevsky Street, Kiev, by Adam Hinton

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

Adam Hinton’s photographic coverage [top and above] of the political unrest in Kiev is incredible. Every so often I revisit certain photographers websites to see what they’ve been up to and this series pulled me straight in. Adam somehow managed to capture a real sense of intimacy during the violent unrest. And also, in the weeks that followed, as the protesters paid their respects to those who had given their lives.

What, to you, makes a great image?

It could be its anger and intensity. Maybe it beguiles you with its beauty. It could be a visionary idea. Maybe it’s a something you’ve never seen before. Or something very familiar, but approached in an extraordinary way. Most importantly, nomatter what the subject matter, a truly great image will stop you in your tracks.

What photographers do you think are doing really great work right now?

Where do I start? There are so many people producing incredible work right now. In no particular order: Blinkk [Leila and Damien de Blinkk], Nadav Kander, Robert Wilson, Hinton, Julia Fullerton-Batten, Tim Flach, Rankin, Alison Jackson, George Logan … I’ve been fortunate to work with some of them. I’d love to work with all of them.

Nadav Kander’s Time Flies ad for Age UK (read our interview with Kandar about the making of the ad here).

101’s ad for Scottish Widows, shot by Blinkk

Tim Flach’s image of panda Ya Yun and Julia Fullerton Batten’s Blind series, featured on the cover of CR’s 2013 Photography Annual


George Logan’s images for Whiskas Big Cat Little Cat campaign, winner of best life series at last year’s AOP Awards


Alison Jackson’s spoof images of Prince William and Kate and Prince Harry, featured on alisonjackson.com

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

Only this morning on my way into work I couldn’t help but notice the Evian ‘Live Young’ poster campaign. It was hard not to notice because they’d taken over Oxford Circus tube station. It’s light hearted of course but what’s so impressive for me is that it’s for a water brand. It’s such a difficult brief and they’ve really made it stand out from the crowd. All done with absolute simplicity and charm.

Ads from Evian’s Live Young campaign

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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