How do this years competitions function?
Every year we change the way to get into the WSP book a little bit but getting a nomination is the best thing that can happen to your photos cause all nominated photos will get curated again and depeding on the amount of votes from the curators your photo can get into the book. A nomination is the same as getting short listed in other competitions but the amount of nominated photos was mostly around 2000 so we don't use the word "short list" cause it aint a short list ;-)
Themed street competitions and the normal street competitions
There are 9 normal street competitions where you can upload any kind of street photography and there are 9 themed street competitions. From the 9 themed competitions the first and second curators choices will get into the book.
All curators can nominate photos next to their final selection. For example if a curator doesn't like the photo but think others curators may like it, it get's nominated. Or if the curator likes the photo and would have even given it a special mention but is out of special mention it gets nomiated... and there are of course lots of reasons why a curator may nominate a photo, that's all up to the curator.
The nominated photos get curated in a round of curators in Hamburg and last year 3 curators joined up online and gave their 1 vote per photo.
The past years there were between 20 and 30 photos each year which did get the 2nd highest amount of votes, last year only 4 photos got the higest amount votes; meaning all curators voted for those 4 photo. The photos with the highest votes form the base of the book and along these photos other photos get selected which fit to each other. These can also be photos which didnt get a lot of votes but there should be at least 3 votes to get in.
It happenes that you think that your best photo didn't get into the book and mostly this happenes cause the photo selected was a perfect fit to the photo next to it. Or that you didn't even got selected by the final curators round cause you were first or second curators choice in a themed competition or like last year in the normal street competitions.
It happens that a curator liked your photos a lot and nominated you very often. Remember that you can be selected from one curator but the other curators weren't.
This year we will have 9 themes within the "normal" selection these are the themes from the themed competition. We don't know yet how many photos will be within the themed competitions. Some photos within the normal street competitions do fit the themed competition and it might happen that if we are short with the themes that those photos will be within the themed parts of the book.
At the end when the photos are selected and before the book is made, I check the photos with the Gudberg Nerger publishing house and then some photos get vetoed out of the book. Mostly the photos with children on it dont make it in the book... there are though rules in Germany concidering the publishing rights of children. A pitty of course but in some ways understandable. In some cases we check the laws in the countries the photo was shot so we sometimes still had a few children in the book.
The cover of the book has been my personal proposal, I do ask the curators what they think about the photo, before showing it to Jan from the Gudbergnerger Publishing house and we both then decide which photo the cover will be. The Gudberg nerger publishing house does the exhibition and the cover is of course something very important to them. Btw we didn't find the cover photo for wsp5 yet, perhaps this year the way to the cover will be another one who knows...
We can't of course tell you exactly why each nominated photo didnt get a lot of votes or got a lot of votes but I have been sitting in the curators final round and I can tell you a few things. These are not the rules of street photography and does NOT say your photo is good or bad, these are just the happening while talking about the photos in the last jury round, not criterias nor rules. There are always exceptions and different outcomes.
- The Story. The photos selected mostly have a story which a lot of people can identify with. Many times if a curator likes a photo somebody else asks why and summens what is seen on the photo and why others would like to see this too. You can do this your self too, look at your photo and tell your self what you see on the photo in objects, and make those objects a story everybody can see or is it more of a scenery or mood you personally like. An example, if you shot a photo from a person passing by you, it is a photo of a person passing by. This can be interesting in a serie where you tell a story within several photos and a person passing by is a minor note within your serie, but it is very very hard to make this one shot from a person walking by that everybody wants to see too.
- Photos / Sceneries already have seen. The curators know all photos from the past book by heart, and if they see a photo which looks a lot like a photo already published the question is always do we need another photo with the same theme or look like last year? Sometimes it happenes sometimes not. Creativity, photos surprising us, things we never seen always surpise more then a copy of something.
- Birds, it became a kind of a joke among the curators round. We did birds in some of the books, it will be very hard to get into the book with a photo of birds.
- Country last year there were a lot of photos from certain countries and we of course selected some of them. The WSP book should be a good mix of photos from the entire world and so it can happen that we look afterwards, which are the best photos from this country and sometimes reduce the amount to prevent one country to be the main subject of the book. As you can imagine this is just an issue which has nothing to do with great street photography. It also doesnt mean that the same amount of photos from a country needs to be equal.
- Editing this is one of the most important parts. Don't over edit your photo, oversharpening (read this for example click btw we don't apply any filters when you upload). Extrem and over usage of vignetting, if you shot film you always have some vignetting which is of course totally fine but most modern cameras today hardly have this effect. Vignetting can be a style and that is of course great but please think: why do I want vigentting. Unwanted unsharpness if your main subject is out of focus it can be a great photo but you can see in some cases that if something else would have been sharp the photo would be better. That can be bad luck. Dodging and Burning is also something to be very carefull about. With film photography the contrast within a photo is so much less that it is more understandable to dodge and burn your photo like one used to do in the darkroom. But with Digital photography you can shoot into the sun and still have a detailed result..
We did select photos which were edited badly but had such great story we couldn't leave them out. In some occasions we ask for the raw photo file and then let a professional edit your photo. The outcome always surpised the people in a very positive way.
- Locations, there are some locations in the world I never have been to but saw so many photos that I can presumably walk there blindfolded and still find my way. That is of course a small joke but a location we have seen in so many variaties is of course less interesting then unknown places. Finding your own special location does make a difference.
- Highres upload always and always upload your photo in highres if you didn't this can be the reason not to get in the book. Last year we made a mistake with the page numbers, suddenly there were 4 pages with out photo and we needed to get photos for these pages. But there were not enough photos with high votes anymore. So I was in close contact with a few curators who were online and we tried to find 4 photos. We did found a lot of times photos which could have fited about 6 times but it turned out that we didn't had the highres photo and not enough time to get the highres on the fly.
- Mistakes we do make mistakes and eventhough the book gets checked from several people there have been errors in the books each year. If we made a mistake you get the possibility to be in the next WSP book for sure.
- The line within the book, we try to make a line within the book. By Chapters or like last year by putting in street photos which have a more social and relavant for these times. This year the themes will of course be the line of the book but we will also look futher for photos which are social and relevant for 2017, to get street photography more into the light of Life photography.
- The single photo problem. It is of course a problem to have this one and only shot which is awesome and gets in the book. A photographers entire work should be the criteria for curating, unfortunately the competitions are about the single photos. We know this is a problem and we try to also look at the other photos from the photographer if the photo gets enough votes. This year we are trying the first serie competition with Alex's Cogh Documentary competition this is a great competition to show a serie of photos.
- Objectivity or subjectivity, for several curators who all have a totally different looks at street photography curate the photos into the book, we can say the choice is rather objective for the photos resemble the tasts of a lot of people. Still the selection of the themed competitions which are selected by a single curator are definetly more a subjective choice as the photos who get into the book over the nominations. So the WSP book is something of both.
- Commercials. Some photos are a story in between a commercial post at the back and something hapening in the front. Some great photos did not get into the book because the name of the company at the poster was too big in the photo and didn't really matter cause it was about the picture not the company text. Always some curator then says, do you want to make commericial for this company? And of course we don't.
- Drunks and homeless people. It is in Germany forbidden to photograph people in a helpless situation, like homeless people or totally drunk people who do not know what they are doing. So we are very carefull with this theme and mostly don't publish photos with homeless people or drunk people. Still there have been photos of homeless people and perhaps there will be, we are just very carefull with this.
After you read this: it doesnt mean that if you use vignett, have birds in your photo, have a thin story, shot at the eifel tower that you won't make it into the book, these are NOT facts NOR the rules for street photograpy, NOR the critiria to get into the book only the sligh reflection of the curating process of the past years and how we endet up with the results. Each curator can tell you a totally different kind of aproche to your photo, and each year is different.
cheers and good luck!