Apparently not. But the one below is…..
There’s been a bit of chatter about town debating the winning image (above) in the 2010 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize worth $80,000. There’s universal agreement that the winner, Dean Sewell is an exceptional photographer and that the sole judge, Stephen Dupont is also extremely well credentialed both as a photographer and as someone suitable to judge this kind of award.
Unfortunately, there also seems to be fairly unanimous opinion that the winning image is far from the most worthy winner (see the other finalists here) and unfortunately some murmurings about the winner and the judge knowing each other pretty well. Dean was also the winner of this prize in 2009 when it was judged by Andrew Quilty, a member of the well known and tight photographic collective Oculi which Dean is also a member of. Whilst I have no doubt that both judges performed their tasks without favour, it is important for independence to be seen to be present and the structure of the judging of the Moran seems to leave this open to criticism.
In a small photographic community such as Australia, it does seems strange that the biggest prize in photography is selected by one person, and a working photographer at that. It unfortunately puts the Moran organisation in a position where bias can easily be accused, particularly when the judges selection seems to differ from the opinions of so many others. The fact that most established Australian photographers know each others work and can recognise certain images as belonging to photographers they know and respect makes it inherently difficult to judge with an unbiased outlook. In fact even Dean seemed somewhat surprised at the win, declaring in his acceptance speech that “there would be detractors to this image being warranted of a major photographic prize”.
Perhaps the Moran organisation needs to have a look at the structure of the judging, perhaps a panel of 3 judges would be preferable or someone a little more removed from the community which it is judging. In the absence of that, let’s hope someone who admires my work gets selected as a judge for next year!
Anyway, I was pleased to have one of my entries selected as a semifinalist and congratulate Dean on his second win in a row. He is one of Australia’s most respected photojournalists and rightly so. Here’s my entry, you can see lots of great photos selected by Stephen Dupont on the moran website here – http://www.moranprizes.com.au/default.aspx?id=32