Think your smartphone photos belong on gallery walls? Find out how to make that dream a reality with the Mobile Photography Awards 2016...
How good are your mobile snaps? Got any photographic gems that you think deserve more attention than they’re getting on your Facebook feed? You’re not alone; our smartphone cameras are extraordinarily powerful now – to the point where they don’t seem far from making DSLRs redundant. And that’s exactly why the Mobile Photography Awards exist.
With entries for the sixth annual awards now open, we caught up with organiser Daniel Berman to find out what the judges are looking for, how to succeed, and what smartphone photography how you can get involved…
In it to win it
The MPA’s homepage has this written proudly in a side panel: “If it’s true what Henri Cartier-Bresson says, that our first 10,000 photos will be our worst, then mobile photography has given people an historic opportunity to quickly get past 10,001. The MPA is a showcase for photographers and artists who have embraced this decisive moment.”
It’s a nice ethos, and it’s also probably true; we now all take dozens of pictures each week, after all. So it stands to reason that our shots should be getting better and more impressive just as the cameras in our pockets do, too – something the awards is keen to champion. Daniel explains:
“In 2011 the mobile photography space was a little like the Wild West,” he says of the MPA’s origins, “so there was room there to establish a new version of traditional ‘art world’ events. For an exhibition to be taken seriously in the fine-art space – to be invited to art fairs or established galleries with a well-heeled clientele of collectors – the images normally need to be part of something larger.
“So part of our core mission is to host gallery shows to facilitate the sales of limited editions for our winning artists. In that way, the MPA is a vehicle to bring wider attention to brilliant mobile photographers. It’s now six years in and we are still going strong.”
But ‘going strong’ is a modest way of putting things. Last year the awards had over 7,000 entries, with the quality of photos submitted rising across the board:
“The number of people using mobile phones for artistic or photographic purposes keeps growing,” Daniel says. “And at the same time the devices and the apps get more sophisticated every year, which helps the artists who have been doing this for a while just keep getting better at their craft. A rising tide floats all boats.”
Fancy your chances of winning? Then you’ll want to know just what the Mobile Photography Awards judges are looking to see…
“Our jury is always a mixture of photography professionals, art gallery owners, journalists, artists, art advisors, and others who are both familiar and completely new to the mobile community,” Daniel explains. “They look for photos that tell a story, display technical excellence, and that show a unique artistic vision. But above all, we seek images that stoke the viewer’s awe, and which inspire people to think about their world in new ways.”
Finding everything that every judge wants to see in a single photo is a tall order, which is why the MPAs dish out prizes to pictures over a range of different categories, with no limit to the amount of photos you can enter:
“We have traditional photo categories like Landscapes, Street Photography and Black & White as well as more modern categories, like Visual FX and Digital Fine Art & Photo Illustration. One of my favourites is the Darkness category,” Daniel adds. “It’s a ‘film noir’ type of thing where we’re looking for mysterious and compelling images from the darker side of life.”
The ‘search for excellence’
With smartphone cameras getting better all the time, we had to ask: does Daniel see a time soon in which they overtake traditional prosumer cameras?
“Maybe not soon,” he says, “but we will definitely see more technical advancement in phone cameras, the continual improvement of features, and manual controls in post-processing apps. And aside from that, there will always be a search for excellence among photographers, no matter what the tools.
“The reason we run the MPAs,” he says in closing, “is because we feel mobile photography is an art form in itself – the photographer is slightly limited by the technology [when compared to a DSLR], so they have to try to reach certain visual achievements within those limits. That’s what makes it special.”
Check out last year’s winners… Click here to see the shots that took home the gongs in last year’s Mobile Photography Awards.