Call for Entries: Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016


Call for Entries: Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016

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Magnum Photos and LensCulture have joined forces to create one of the best new opportunities for photographers to be recognized and rewarded for their talent.

2017 marks a significant year for Magnum as we celebrate 70 years since our founding photographers toasted the conception of an independent photo agency. Ahead of these anniversary celebrations, Magnum Photos and LensCulture invite submissions to the inaugural Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards, an international call to discover the best photographers from all over the world.

Our distinguished jury will select 12 Winners and 20 Finalists from Documentary, Street, Portrait, Fine Art, Photojournalism and Open categories. In addition, the jury will select 7 photographers as “Jurors’ Picks” and give out 5 “Student Spotlight” awards to young, up-and-coming talents. Winners, finalists and top-rated photographers will enjoy gain access to an unprecedented level of global exposure and recognition from two of the largest organizations in the photo industry, as well as cash funding and career support.

“Magnum Photos is delighted to be working with LensCulture on this exciting new competition, which we hope will attract diverse photographic practices from all over the world. 2016 marks a significant juncture for the agency as we launch a new, stories-first website, in the lead-up to our 70th anniversary. We view this new award as an opportunity for our dedicated audience — and the photography community at large — to share in our celebrations.” – Martin Parr, Magnum Photographer and President.



  1. I’ve submitted, and will NOT do it again.

    (i) It’s too expensive.
    (ii) It doesn’t represent real value for the submission ‘whim’ of a review that comes back, from god knows who wrote it ?
    (iii) Am (v) skeptical of some of the chosen LC winners, esp when referenced against the review comments I read coming back on the www ; there is conflict here.
    (iv) They spam email so much, underlining that they are a profit driven initiative (where yes, a few people will win the LC “lottery”).
    (v) The “Magnum” term is being leveraged by LC unfairly. The implication is that a Magnum photographer may/will be reviewing your images and writing back to you. Is this even a 1 percenter?
    (vi) Looking at the work / credentials of the LC judges, not that great. Most have not taken a good photo themselves! ie a great piece of new risky reportage for example could come their way and they overlook it.

    Look for a gallery space, print a photo book, put up your work if you believe in it.


    • Are you serious? The jury has Martin Parr, David Alan Harvey, Newsha Tavakolian, and three major editors and the CEO of Magnum London. This is/was a great opportunity to get your work in front of those eyes, and I would hardly call it a lottery.

      Of course the jurors won’t be writing the reviews personally, since there must be thousands of submissions and LC would have a network of respected reviewers for that. But even if the chances are slim, imagine if you’re picked as a winner or finalist by these people, the very top of the field. The prizes are pretty amazing too.

      I hope you’re selected so that it softens your view a bit, but either way good luck.

      • Yes, Serious.

        My only correction would be “Looking at the work / credentials of the Non Magnum LC judges, not that great”..

        You work for the LC Marketing dept I take it.

        In addition “Thousands of Submissions” = hundreds of thousands of dollars, and $18k given out – this helps underline some of the real drivers here. Granted the ‘Magnum Gift Bag’ might cost a little too / not.

        G’luck with the lotto.

      • Now I’m getting emails from “Magnum Photography” which comes from! – ridiculous. It’s like getting Ronaldo into your league and calling it the World Cup!

        Just one big Marketing Campaign.
        Be mindful of this people.

  2. I got caught short last night when posting and I wanted to elaborate a little on why entering this competition might be one of the best expenses you undertake this year.

    one aspect you do you get is very honest and frank critique from an editor.

    To that end I have copied one of the Street Photography critiques from last year where I placed in the top 25, though not in the top 10, and I thought I would share this with you so that you may perhaps benefit from reading what the editor had to say about my 10 image submission.

    I hope this prompts some people to submit a body of work because if nothing else, they are honest which in today’s Internet Society seems to be strangely lacking on occasions.

    “Thank you so much for your submission. You have created some very compelling and energetic images. This series really captures elements of movement and emphasizes the human subject in interesting ways. I can tell that you have a lot of interest in how people interact with their environment and with each other.

    Your series is not very visually cohesive and looking through your images I am left wondering if there is some conceptual element that ties them all together, aside from containing human subjects. Within this one series you have used several different distinct styles. Image #1 is incredibly different stylistically from images #3 and #4, which are completely different from images # 7, #8 and #9. Usually a series is tied together by one or more common elements. This could be style, location or concept, to name a few. …… I encourage you to consider what exactly you are trying to convey or explore in these images and then chose a style that best reflects that.

    When you are creating your images it is important to consider how stylistic and compositional elements can be used to both convey or reflect your concept or exploration and create a visually dynamic image. Take image #1 for example. You have used a creative perspective which adds an interesting element to the composition. There is also a good balance between light and shadow as well as a balance of elements within the frame, with the figure being off the the left and the two circular elements playing off each other and leading the eye around the frame. These are some elements that create an interesting image.

    Other elements to consider would be color, pattern, line, depth, symmetry and framing. Lines leading into the frame to a horizon line can add a lot of depth to an image. Symmetry as well as framing can emphasize a subject, though sometimes symmetry can read as predictable depending on how it is used.

    I really do think that you have created some interesting images and have captured some exciting moments within this series. I encourage you to work on being consistent within your work and develop a cohesive series. I look forward to seeing what you might create in the future. ”

    Additional Recommendations
    Recommended Books & Photographers

    Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb on Street Photography and the Poetic Image

    The Americans, by Robert Frank

    Doing Documentary Work, by Robert Coles

    Street Photography Now, by Sophie Howarth and Steve McLaren

    18 Composition Rules for Photos That Shine (online article)

    The Street Photographers Manual, by David Gibson

    Bystander: A History of Street Photography, by Joel Meyerowitz and Colin Westerbeck

    Why People Photograph, by Robert Adams

  3. The harsh reality is that it is very hard for the vast majority of people – Magnum included – to make money in photography nowadays. Especially with the billions of images available online for next to nothing.
    So how do they find new income resources? By using their name to host photo competitions. That cost the entrant $20 minimum to enter. Think about what this is. You essentially are paying for a job interview, not really knowing what the interviewers (judges) are looking for, but hoping that their tastes and whims match your entry.

    Would you go to any other job interview if you knew there was a cover charge?

    I’ve lost count of how many emails I get from photo awards competitions – IPA, MIFLA, SIFLA, World Photo Comp, I-Shot-It etc etc

    • I think Magnum and LensCulture will use their marketing strength to give a few a lot of exposure and some money. That is a good thing. It is a bit like putting your work in a great gallery. But it is like playing lottery. Only a few will profit from this and most will just pay money. Overall I agree that that there is a high saturation of competitions out there that give themselves some big sounding name (add International” to it and it will sound great) but in the end they are small places that just cash in. Personally I decided to stay away from competitions, even after having some minor success in the past, but to focus on gallery shows instead. I find that much more rewarding. I think that Magnum/LensCulture can become one of the more relevant competitions out there, like the Sony Award or the Oscar Barnack Award. That is good for both sides, photographers that win and for Magnum and LC to get some extra revenue. D!RK

  4. Okay, but note that the special emphasis on “young, up-and-coming talents” means that an accomplished but unknown mature photographer — a present-day Vivian Maier, shall we say — would still be at a disadvantage. Par for the course in our demographics-driven society, but still…

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