04 October 2018

What Judges Look for in the Submissions

04 October 2018 - Written by PhMuseum

As we enter the last two weeks of the PHmuseum 2018 Women Photographers Grant open call, the independent panel of judges tell us what they will value most when it comes to reviewing the submissions.

© Annalisa Natali Murri, PHM 2017 Women Photographers Grant Honorable Mention

There are many elements worth considering when presenting your project to an open call: the respectability of the organisation behind it, the work awarded in the previous editions, and the prizes and opportunities offered. Yet the most important, in our opinion, is always to review the panel of judges and get to know as much as possible about them. Their careers and personal vision on photography often reveal relevant insights regarding the possibility your work has to be considered and eventually recognised.

"I look for images that are not only true to the subject, but true to the photographer herself. In today's visually complex environment, it's never been more important to develop your own perspective, and your ability to express it well with your craft." says Pamela Chen who a is creative leader at Instagram, where she focuses on designing content experiences with innovative creators on the platform and where she led the team responsible for content development on @instagram, the most followed account in the world. An important piece of advice from a multi-dimensional professional who formerly worked as Senior Editor for National Geographic magazine, produced and edited documentary films at MediaStorm, and whose sound design and compositions appeared in broadcast and online publications including The New York Times Magazine and Wired.

© Bego Anton, PHM 2017 Women Photographers Grant Honorable Mention

Born in Addis Ababa in 1974, where she later founded Addis Foto Fest, the first international photography festival in East Africa, photographer, filmmaker and curator Aïda Muluneh comments: "In any process of jurying works, the first thing that I am looking at is based on technique, approach, content, and creativity. As Irvin Penn put it eloquently A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective." Taking a similar approach is judge Karen McQuaid, Senior Curator at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, who curated several exhibitions including Jim Goldberg, Open See (2009), Andy Warhol, Photographs: 1976–1987 (2014), and Rosângela Rennó, Río-Montevideo (2016). She is "hoping to see bodies of work that are visually and conceptually coherent, with impactful storytelling and a strong aesthetic."

While photographer and member of Magnum Photos Agency Alessandra Sanguinetti, who was born in New York in 1968 yet brought up in Argentina from 1970 until 2003, and whose work was the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Hasselblad Foundation Grant, and a Rencontres D’Arles Discovery Award among others will look at submissions from another angle: "I’ll be watching out for work that’s challenging, sincere and playful" she says. "As long as I'm transported into someone else’s story in an intelligent and visually poetic way, these qualities can come in all shapes and forms. My job as a juror is to be open and sensitive to that."

There is still time until 17 October to get to know the judges, organise your work, and submit it for their review at Don't forget to follow their advice and good luck!

© Sonja Hamad, PHM 2017 Women Photographers Grant Honorable Mention


The PHmuseum Women Photographers Grant aims to empower the work and careers of female and non-binary professionals of all ages and from all countries working in diverse areas of photography. Moving into its second edition, its mission is to support the growth of the new generations and promote stories narrated from a female perspective, while responding to the need to work for gender equality in the industry. To learn more and apply, visit Final Deadline: 17 October.

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