I have written before about the way that I enter the international photo competition of the French magazine PHOTO every year, and how my work has been published in it on and off over the years. Well, it would appear that one of my photos is being published in it again.
As I recall, I first sent in photos to the magazine in 1996 for the 1997 competition issue. When I say “sent,” I really mean “sent,” as in those days, I used to mail a dozen 8 x 10 inch darkroom-made RC prints across the mighty Atlantic to enter the competition. (Can you imagine what a logistical nightmare it must have been for the magazine’s staff to handle literally tens of thousands of prints? It’s no surprise that I never saw the prints again.)
Nowadays, we have the internet, and people can submit their photos online, which is a lot easier and less costly. This year, the magazine has also decided to show what I assume are the photos chosen for publication – the “lauréats“ – on its website, and one of my photos is among the 404 shown there. (The website also lists the number of submitted photos as 29,019, but the cover of the magazine says that more than 50,000 photos were submitted from over 70 countries, so I don’t know why those numbers are so different. Can 20,000 photos have been submitted by CD or prints? Who knows???)
As usual, this time I submitted a dozen photos, which is the maximum. Unlike other years, all of the photos that I submitted were made on the same day – that of my 20th anniversary photo sessions on August 19 of last year. This was a bit of a gamble – like “putting all of my eggs in one basket,” so to speak – as there was not the type of variety that I would otherwise have, but I felt strongly about the photos, so that’s what I did.
That lack of variety may explain why only five photos made the finalist category (as opposed to ten or eleven as has happened in the past), but all I needed was for them to choose one, and that they did.
As I wrote above, my success with this contest has been on and off. I didn’t get published in that 1997 issue, but I waited two years to try again and did get published for the first time in 1999. I also got into the magazine in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2007, but then started a long six year drought of being shut out. Finally, a photo was published in 2014 and then in 2015, so it looks like I’ve now gotten in three years in a row, which has never happened before. (You can read an earlier blog post about my experience with this contest here.)
I’m also happy that my friend Dave Levingston had one of his photos selected. You can read his blog post about it here.
You can see my photo on the website here, and the full gallery of winning images here. (Scroll down for the latter.)
So, what’s the story behind this year’s winning photo (above and at the top)? First, the names of the models (left to right) : Blueriver Dream, Stevie Macaroni, Kelsey Dylan, Brooke Lynne, Dane St. Clair, Claudine, Queen Dandelion, Erica Jay and Nadine Stevens. They had all come together to help me celebrate the anniversary of my first art nude photographs, made 20 years earlier to the day.
What’s also important is the location, as this particular spot – behind one of the studio buildings at the Woodstock School of Art – is where I made those first photos 20 years earlier. I had contacted the school to ask if I could rent some studio space that day, but I was told that all of them would be in use. However, when I explained my situation, the school’s management very kindly allowed us to spend some time behind this building to make our photographs.
The other thing of note is the photograph that the model in the middle, Dane, is holding. It’s an 8 x 10 inch RC print of a photo from my very first roll of art nudes, of a model named Gabrielle, that I had made there on that day 20 years before. (Oddly enough, that is exactly the type of print that I used to send in to the magazine in years past, so perhaps it’s appropriate that they chose this one.)
Still, it is a bit odd that they chose this one for publication. I don’t think the composition or the positioning of the models is the strongest of the ones that I submitted that were made at this spot. What does make it interesting is that 8 x 10 print, which I had brought with me to include in one image to show what I did in the same spot 20 years earlier.
Of course, it’s an interesting photo to me because I know the story behind it, but what could the editors in France have thought? None of the other photos that I submitted included it, so why select this one? Did they recognize that the location in the 8 x 10 print is the same as where the overall photo was made, and did they think that there was a larger story behind it? I guess I’ll never know.
There are a couple of other things to mention. You’ll see that my cropping of the photo for web posting is different than that of the version on the magazine’s website. I cropped out most of the windows for my own use because the main focus of the photo is on the models in the lower part. The windows in the upper part don’t add anything, but I left them in for the magazine submission so that the photo would be more of a standard size, which I felt might make it easier for them to use in their layout.
I’m also wondering what the size will be in the magazine. Typically, most pages of horizontally oriented photos include eight images per page, each about 2 ½ by 3 ½ inches. At that size, though, the print that Dane is holding will be almost impossible to see properly, so why use it? Either the editors weren’t thinking of that when they decided to go with this photo, or (could it be?) that this will be one of the few photos that they have chosen to be printed at a larger size?
I’ll just have to wait until I see a copy of the magazine. In days of yore, this issue of the magazine would reach newsstands in New York around the second week of February, but now it normally doesn’t get here until middle or late March. Still, I have asked some people I know in France to try to take a look if they can to let me know.
Until then, I guess I’ll be on pins and needles about the size – but that’s better than not knowing if one of my photos was chosen at all.