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duckrabbit today launches an exciting new free entry photo competition with a twist. One lucky person will win a lip smackingly beautiful $1000. The task is simple … all you need to do is restore a little bit of duckrabbit’s faith in the world. Intrigued?  Read on …

The roots of duckrabbit’s competition stated several weeks ago when I came across a powerful post on Stan Banos’ Reciprocity failure. Banos writes:

A year or so ago, I sent a “Letter to the Editor” of PDN (which they published) observing how little things had changed in the 35 years I have been involved in photography. More specifically, it was commenting on their “Major Movers and Shakers of Photography” issue- in which the major curators, editors, gallery owners, and publishers featured were all (with the possible exception of one Asian female)… white. OK, OK, one can’t possibly pin PDN with the blame for lack of minority representation in the upper echelon of the photographic universe. Agreed.

Then I get my hands on the PDN May 2009 Photo Annual and check out their 24 (not a half dozen, or ten, or a baker’s dozen at that- but 24!) judges, each and every one- white, white and white! I know it can’t possibly be something as absurdly ridiculous as the now trite mantra of- “I just don’t see race.” It’s what year, what century, what presidency? Just how is it that to this day, people of color are still not represented anywhere near proportionately in these creative command positions?

… the other reasons for such obvious exclusion are even more nefarious and depressing, ranging from out an out indifference to blatant passive racism. Regardless, I still don’t know what possible, plausible excuse could exist for an all white jury from a publication of such influence.’

The following day Banos went on to write:

‘Some of us only have to worry about race when we’re in certain neighborhoods, for others it’s a crucial and defining factor throughout our lives. Ultimately, it’s something that affects us all. It’s nice to vote for a symbol; it’s more important to deal with everyday realities and consequences. This country and planet has witnessed too many of the ensuing horrors when we don’t.’

duckrabbit’s competition is simple. Stan Banos claims PDN’s action is in part an example of ‘passive racism.’ Surely an outrageous slur on the photographic industry?  In the absence of PDN feeling the need to respond, duckrabbit are offering $1000 to anyone who can prove Banos wrong.

Simple.

To be honest duckrabbit presumed Banos must have made a mistake somewhere.  Then I noticed that Pete Brook, author of the blog Prison Photography (one of the most intelligent reads on this or any other planet) added that this was a blatant act of “Passive racism”.  duckrabbit sat up. Maybe this wasn’t just the shooting off of a lone blogger?

Yesterday I came across PDN’s website where they are making a wonderful song and dance of their judging panel in all its glorious lack of color. My conscience cracked.

It just seems like a big two fingers up to a future world that is more equal than the one we’re living in right now.

Photojournalism has been responsible in bringing to our attention some of the terrible inequalities that plague this planet. It’s an industry and an art that has made a difference, has changed the way that people like me  think and feel about the world. But like Pete Brook, as an outsider, I’m starting to wonder, if at the heart of the industry lies a dark hypocrisy, so entrenched that no-one dares speak about it. I’m starting to feel cheated.

Whilst photography has been hell bent on changing the world for passion and for profit, perhaps it has failed to change itself? Failed to be the change that it wants to see in the world?

At duckrabbit we’ve decided to encourage the debate. We’re responding to PDN’s competition with one of our own. We’re asking them to prove Stan wrong, to engage with his comments, or else at the very least acknowledge the issue. That’s all. And we’re offering $1000 to the first person, anyone, who can come to PDN’s defense and answer his question as to ‘what possible, plausible excuse could exist for an all white jury from a publication of such influence?’

Here are the list of PDN’s judges.  Maybe you know one of them? If so perhaps you could drop them an email and let them know that there is a grand up for grabs. I bet they are all good people, but I wonder if they feel a twinge of embarrassment when they look down the list?

The money’s on the table. The cards have been dealt. Which way you going to bet?

(To win simply post your submission.  We’ll pop it up on the blog. We’ll pay out to the first person who can convince Stan Banos. You have two weeks)

Joe Elbert Joe Elbert was the assistant managing editor of photography for The Washington Post newspaper from 1988 through 2007. Under his direction The Washington Post photography staff won more awards than any other newspaper in the history of journalism. In 2003 he received the Joseph A. Sprague award, the highest award given by the National Press Photographers.

Julie Rosenoff Julie Rosenoff is the manager of art buying at Euro RSCG Worldwide, in New York. She still loves what she does after all these years, as every project provides a new opportunity to work with the amazing talent. In her spare time, Rosenoff enjoys spending time with her almost 2-year-old, son, Clayton.
Michael Foley Michael Foley opened Foley Gallery in the Fall of 2004 after 15 years of working with notable photography galleries including Fraenkel Gallery, Howard Greenberg Gallery and Yancey Richardson Gallery. He is on the faculty of both Parsons The New School for Design and the School of Visual Arts where he teaches and lectures on issues in contemporary photography.
Shannon McMillan Shannon McMillan is a senior art buyer at GSD&M Idea City, where she has worked for the past eight years. Her passion and commitment to producing great work is not limited to what she has produced within the world of advertising. Shannon also designs original glass jewelry and is a photographer—shooting for both her personal projects and for clients and in-house projects at GSD&M.
Patrick Donehue Patrick Donehue is a photographer, educator and consultant who has specialized in the production, marketing and management of stock photography since 1982. He has held senior positions at Corbis and Getty Images and is the former president of the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA).
David J. Carol David J. Carol is the author of the award winning photography book 40 Miles of Bad Road… His new photography book All My Lies are True… will be released in Spring 2009.

www.DavidCarol.com

Dennis Keeley Dennis Keeley has worked as an artist, photographer, teacher, and writer for more than 25 years. He is currently the chair of the Photography and Imaging Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Ca.
Benoit Lagarde As co-founder and CMO of Splashlight, Benoit Lagarde has been instrumental in the company’s growth into a multi-million dollar corporation over a period of seven years. Benoit’s creative vision has been the critical and driving force behind the company’s growth. Trained as a professional photographer, Benoit studied at the International Center for Photography in New York. Prior to his work in the photography business, Benoit served in the hospitality industry and has carried his passion for creative food arts with him to Splashlight—overseeing the award-winning eateries inside Splashlight’s various locations.
Jennie Myers Jennie Myers maneuvers a hypoallergenic mouse through Adobe-made mazes from a remote desk located at the offices of Drake Cooper (an ad agency) in exotic Boise, Idaho, where she is chiefly employed as associate creative director, and sometimes as deputy director of “ooh-those-shoes-are-fierce.” She recently celebrated her tenth anniversary as a creative by taking design to a fancy, downtown restaurant. Jennie also occasionally harasses design students at Boise State University dressed as an adjunct professor.
Yossi Milo Yossi Milo is the owner of Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City. The gallery specializes in contemporary photography and works on paper.
Paul Amador Paul Amador is director and co-owner of Cohen Amador Gallery, located in the Fuller building in New York City. The gallery, opened in 2005, specializes in modern and contemporary photography, and represents mid-career artists from Japan, Europe and the U.S. Prior to opening Cohen Amador Gallery, Mr. Amador was director of Lyons Wier Gallery, a contemporary art gallery located in Chelsea, New York City. Mr. Amador began his career as an international banker in New York and London in the early 1980s and began to collect and practice photography as a hobby shortly thereafter. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois and studied photography and print-making at the New School in New York. He left the banking field in 2001 to pursue his interest in the photographic arts on a full-time basis.
Steve Bliss Steve Bliss is an artist and educator residing in Savannah, Georgia. His photographs, digital collages and various works on paper are among the holdings of a variety of museums and private collectors throughout the country and overseas. Steve currently serves as the dean of the School of Fine Arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Liz Miller-Gershfeld Liz Miller-Gershfeld has been working in advertising for 15 years. She has been producing award winning art for clients such as Wrigley, Jim Beam Brands, Bayer Brands, Dial and many more as a vice president and senior art producer at Energy BBDO since 2000. Earlier, she worked on the production end of the process—getting her start as a production assistant on small feature films. Now a frequent lecturer and panelist, Miller-Gershfeld lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons.
Bruno Ceschel Bruno Ceschel is a freelance editor, writer, and photography consultant living in New York. His current project is a book on contemporary queer photography, and he is the editor of the new art / porn magazine STROKE, which will premiere in Summer 2009. Before moving to New York, Ceschel was based in London, where he worked on the 2008 edition of the Brighton Photo Biennial and for Chris Boot Ltd, and was visiting professor at the London College of Communication.
John Sale John Sale is assistant managing editor for visuals at The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, Tenn. He manages still and video photojournalism, design and graphic art, which is a fancy way of saying that he spends his days clicking on pictures. Sale started in the news photo business at age 16 and has won over 100 picture editing and design awards from international competitions.
Samaruddin “Sam” Stewart Samaruddin “Sam” Stewart has edited visuals for several news outlets including The Arizona Republic, Agence France-Presse, and most recently AOL, where he managed photo editors and was responsible for the visual direction of AOL news, sports, and entertainment images for 6 years. Samaruddin has also photographed over 40 countries, spanning six continents. He holds a B.A. in journalism and a master’s degree in mass communication, both from Arizona State University. Stewart is an active member of NPPA, WHNPA, SPJ and ONA where he routinely gives presentations on photo topics and judges photography contests. He recently relocated to Budapest, Hungary where he will pursue new photography adventures.
Tracy Doyle After starting her career in her native Toronto, and during five years of living in New York, Tracy Doyle has worked with some of the best and brightest in the photographic community. She has had stints at Steven Klein’s and Annie Leibovitz’s studios, and she was part of the historic re-launch of Interview magazine where she has worked with greats such as Mert & Marcus, Craig McDean, Nick Knight, Fabien Baron, Karl Templer and Glenn O’brien. She teaches two classes at the School of Visual Arts, in addition to partaking in both their Mentor and Independent Study Programs.
Olivier Picard Olivier Picard is the former director of photography at U.S. News and World Report. He has also worked as an editor in the National Geographic book division. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s he worked for the news agencies Sygma and Sipa Press. He is the recipient of numerous picture editing awards.
Michelle Bogre Michelle Bogre is a photographer, writer and lawyer specializing in copyright and media law. She is the former Chair of the Photography Department at Parsons The New School for Design and is currently an associate professor. Bogre helped to select the winners for this year’s Marty Forscher Fellowship.
Nan Oshin Nan Oshin is currently a design consultant and creative director. She has worked with clients including Billboard magazine, the Carlyle Hotel, the Capital Group, Costco, C magazine, the Oracle Corporation, the Ritz Carlton Hotel Group, Warner Brothers, and WW Norton. She has extensive experience in the creative direction and design of magazines, most recently as the senior art director at the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine. She has won awards for art direction and design, and has juried and curated numerous photography and design competitions and shows.
Elodie Mailliet Elodie Mailliet is director of photography for Contour by Getty Images where she oversees the carefully edited collection of high-end celebrity portraiture. Prior to joining Getty Images, Mailliet was director of photography for portraiture and entertainment at Corbis Outline. In 2005, she was named one of the top 100 people in photography by American Photo. Mailliet is author of the book one2one, published by teNeues. In addition to her previous roles at Corbis and Icon International, she has worked as a freelance writer for numerous French and American publications such as Le Nouvel Observateur, VSD and French Photo. Mailliet currently resides in New York City.
Barbara Bordnick Barbara Bordnick is a photographer with more than 25 years of experience in fashion, beauty and portraiture. She has garnered awards for outstanding work in film, print, advertising and art. Her images are in permanent collections at the International Center of Photography, the Gilman Collection in New York and the Polaroid Collection in Massachusetts. Bordnick helped to judge this year’s ASMP Arnold Newman Prize.
Peter B. Kaplan Peter B. Kaplan has been a photographer for more 30 years and his photographs have appeared in countless publications. Kaplan documented the Statue of Liberty’s historic restoration beginning in 1982, and currently has the most extensive story on the statue. Kaplan helped to judge this year’s Marty Forscher Fellowship.
Ariel Shanberg Ariel Shanberg is the executive director of the Center for Photography at Woodstock, a non-profit artist-centered organization dedicated to supporting artists working in photography and related media, and engaging audiences through opportunities in which creation, discovery and education are made possible. Shanberg has curated many exhibitions at CPW and he has also contributed essays on the work of numerous photographers including Lucas Foglia, Angelika Rinnhofer, and Jeff Milstein. He also sits on the advisory board of En Foco.

duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White. We specialize in digital storytelling.

More articles from duckrabbit

  • http://www.jainlemos.com Jain Lemos

    This is a wonderful contest, thank you. I’m passing it along here: http://www.jainlemos.com/?p=562

  • http://www.cooganphoto.com/ Dan Coogan

    I’m white… I feel left out :-( …maybe they are all like Stephen Colbert, he doesn’t see color.

  • Come on now, it’s 2009.

    This is just dumb. So they should go out of their way to find someone of color even if that person didn’t come up on their radar as the top qualified person? You really think they excluded people of color on purpose? You are reaching here, it’s sad.

  • http://- Susaan Evans

    Defending the indefensible?
    I see names and faces on this list implying Jewish, Asian and Muslim heritages. Given unlimited funds and a good phone connection I’d call them all and ask about their family’s racial history. Bet the results would show a melting-pot mix that makes up Americans in 2009. Do we now need to use shade cards in job interviews, lest we be called Racists, passive or otherwise?

  • K Brown

    Why does everything need to de-evolve into the “racist” factor?
    If all 24 judges were black, would this make anyones judgement looking at pictures more or less relevant to the contest? Pick any magazine you have near you, and tell me the color of the photographer.
    Get over yourselves.

  • Amie Himes
  • Pete

    Here’s a thought…Why not be constructive, lead by example and use the $1000 for a competition that has cultural significance with a mixed panel of jurors that are all different jurors?

    Make photos, not bombs

  • http://www.tamtricmassagelondon.eu IWONA

    am very happy

  • War Hammer

    Wait, lemme see if I understand this. You want to give me $1000 if I can prove to you what you have already decided is an indefensible action on PDNs part? Ummmmmmm, yeah cool tell ya what; I’ll give you $1000 if you can prove to me that this “contest” is rooted in any sort of sanity. Heres a stool, please step off of your horse. K thnx.

  • Photo Grapher

    Dear Mr. Banos,
    I don’t even know where to start… Ok, I’ll start where it’s obvious: You are a racist!

    You want affirmative action? do you really believe people should get things they don’t deserve just because other people of the same color got the short end of the straw?

    Do you want black judges to be chosen just because they are black? How about we make photographers write what race they belong to in their application just so that there are black winners as well?
    How about we distribute stamps and make every black photographer stamp his photos with “Black” to make sure a fair number of black photographers get published!

    How about the simple fact that the judges in all major competitions never see the name, sex or color of the photographer? Yet, very few photographers or photo editors are black. maybe there are less black people than white people in the world and photography is an international market? Maybe there aren’t as many talented black people in the photo industry as non-black talented photographers?
    Where’s the outrage at the under-representation of black classical music conductors?

    I tried to think of other examples to slam you with, but all i could think of was Formula 1, Golf, Ballet…

    There’s a thing called CHOICE, people chose to do what they want or can do in life, and guess what, most photographers are non-black because more non-black chose to be photographers and got good at it than black photographers.
    How about forcing the NBA and NFL to take on more white players? does that make sense to you? how about T A L E N T?

    How many famous black photographers do you know? How many of them live in the US (no you can’t use African photographers in your argument since ALL PDN judges live in the US)
    Photography is maybe the one profession where your color has 0 impact, please don’t change that. Competitions and editors choose photos, not photographers.
    The judges don’t represent the world, they represent the world of photography in Obama’s 21st century. (BTW, is Obama’s photographer black? no. if he was, everybody would say he was chosen for his color)

    Choosing to look at everything is terms of color, is, quite simply, RACISM.

    Now send me that check you bigot.

    BTW, where’s your outrage at the over-representation of women in the judges panel this year? (do the number even closely represent the real ratio in the photo industry?) Where’s your outrage at women-only competitions?

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    Yo- PDN! You hearing this? Photo Grapher’s got your back and done ya proud! Keep doing what you’re doing…

  • http://simplyann.net Ann D

    In PDN’s defense, it “has been covering the professional photographic industry for over two decades.” It has become an institutionalized, industry publication and therefore, partly by definition of institutionalized, left out those at the margins. It has never been challenged – and I mean truly challenged, economically challenged – to discover what exists at the margins. Neither has any other institution in the United States until recently. That’s another thing; PDN is AMERICAN. It comes with the baggage of America’s race problem, America’s post-race myth and the general American schizophrenic approach to issues of race, class and gender. It’s part of a system of -isms that can’t be pinned on the photojournalism industry alone. You photographers aren’t special! We’ve got the same issues in higher education, healthcare and in the workforce.

    The biggest -ism that drives PDN (and all other institutionally racist systems) is CAPITALISM. Yeah, I said it. There’s nothing wrong with capitalism when you are born and raised into its system and part of the majority. But when you’re historically disadvantaged (read: NOT WHITE) you are painfully aware of each and every locked door and blocked opportunity afforded you because of your skin color or economic class.

    Unfortunately Photo Grapher above me misunderstands the reason why black males dominate our (INSTITUTIONALIZED) sports industry. If watching athletes compete in regulated ways to chase balls, pucks and all manner of objects didn’t make for a billion dollar industry, we would see something else take the place. Like say, politics.

    This is why we get gritty subjects. Photographing naked people in the jungles of the Amazon and essentially telling their stories for them sells a magazine *in the same way* skinny white women distorted and objectified in the most amazing ways sells an image. Try finding an image of a black man graduating college with three buddies on Getty Images. I’ll wait. Good luck. Try finding an image of a Guatemalan family celebrating a birthday on Getty Images. I’ll wait. Not “Mexican” or “Latino”. Guatemalan. Good luck.

    My point is if the images won’t sell, there’s little reason to publish them. And the people who decide what sells have historically been white men and the occasional white woman. While their expertise in the subject manner shouldn’t be trivialized, they (as a matter of fact, WE) have been part of this trajectory since the category of race was INVENTED to justify cheap labor. PDN’s excuse is that it’s part of the system.

  • Photo Grapher

    Does Middle-eastern/ Asian count as white?

  • JBZ

    “Try finding an image of a black man graduating college with three buddies on Getty Images”

    Right away I came up with this:
    http://www.gettyimages.com/
    Keyword Search: Graduation, College, African-American

    Image #994218-001, Title: Three young men with diplomas in graduation attire (B&W, Photographer: Zigy Kaluzny-Charles Thatcher, Collection: Stone

    Granted, he’s only with two buddies…

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    Come on now, it’s 2009: “This is just dumb. So they should go out of their way to find someone of color even if that person didn’t come up on their radar as the top qualified person?”

    You ummm… do realize that your statement predetermines that there are no equally qualified applicants of color to be found? You do realize what a grossly prejudicial statement that is? No, you obviously don’t.

    It’s 2009- pretty damn sad.

  • Stan D

    This is one of the most hilariously stupid ‘contests’ I’ve ever seen. First of all, as others have mentioned there are names that represent a diversity of backgrounds of judges. Second, is the implication that because they are supposed to be ‘white’ judges they will only select ‘white’ winners based on their whiteness? Hmmmmm, unlikely.

    Will duckrabbit also be doing ‘contests’ about other grants and contests that actually ARE overtly racist (by only encouraging certain ethnic groups and therefore discouraging others), sexist (by only soliciting from one sex), and ageist (how many fucking grants and contests require submitters to be “UNDER XX”??)? Hmmm, also unlikely.

    Yep, it’s 2009- pretty damn sad.

  • amanda

    PDN is notorious for being less than transparent with its competitions. PDN is an old boys’ network with its standard preferences and favourites. In the past PDN has been incapable of elucidating on how it judges competitions, at least they’ve published a list of their panel. Does anyone even take them seriously? I’m not sure where the other commenters are seeing such ethnic diversity – a few Jews covers it?

  • amanda

    @Ann D, I’m with you. PDN is notorious for being less than transparent with its competitions. PDN is an old boys’ network with its standard preferences and favourites. In the past PDN has been incapable of elucidating on how it judges competitions, at least they’ve published a list of their panel. Does anyone even take them seriously? I’m not sure where the other commenters are seeing such ethnic diversity – a few Jews?

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    Stan D- You may be interested to know (well, probably not) that I helped produce and edit an online gallery, Expiration Notice, that was specifically aimed at featuring emerging photographers over 35 yrs of age (yet another distinct, deserving and overlooked “minority”). In it (and you can have a go look yourself), I specifically mentioned that I would be particularly interested in publishing photographers of color- if, and only if, their work made the grade. Other than ranting, what have you done to make this year any the less sadder?

  • Stan D

    Mr. B – I certainly don’t have anything against you patting yourself on the back, but asking me to do the same, and implying that I’m not engaged with the world around me is sloppy argumentation at best. I didn’t post here for the same reasons you seem to have.

    One thing your response does clarify is that your position was formed long before the PDN contest.

    It sounds like your intentions are in the right place, and that you’ve put paddle to water to the extent that you can. I have no idea what your ethnic background is — nor do I care — but should I? Is it relevant to the good work you are describing? Does your black, brown, red, white…skin color really make it so that you can/can’t be objective or honest? I certainly hope not.

    In terms of outcomes, it more relevant who the judges work for, who they’ve published, hired, curated, mentored, taught, studied and partied with prior to judging. Does ethnic background matter in this sense? Perhaps, but in the major ‘centers’ (NYC, LA, SF, Chicago…) it is much less of an issue. The contexts where paths can cross and interests overlap are plentiful; regardless of ethnic background.

    Did any of the people moaning about the imaginary racist conspiracy behind this contest complain when Lauren Greenfeld (wife of one of the festival/contest organizers) was a winner at the New York Photo Awards last month? Or, when Susan Meiselas helped award (as a judge) Getty grants to Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin (fellow Magnum photographers) a few months ago? Unlikely. The bottom line is that crying racism won’t even begin to fix the cronyism that keeps the photo business ticking along. Instead of asking the surname of someones grandparents, you should be asking whether they went to SVA, IPC, or Art Center, and whether they party with Mary Virginia Swanson or Darius Himes.

    The implication that the skin color of the judges determined winners is in itself racist and completely unfounded…and ultimately beside the point.

    Yeah, 2009. Pretty damn sad.

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    D- Your experience in life has been one where cronyism is the supreme detriment. And I’m certainly not about to argue that it’s not one helluva contributing factor, I know it well. But imagine (and I know that’s asking a lot) if you had the Additional burden of having to deal with racism in all it subtle nuances throughout your lifetime. If you get so bent out of shape over a contest that’s geared to one race or ethnicity, I really don’t think you’d survive the average life of one of us colored folk.

  • Stan D

    You presume to know about my life and ethnicity. Again, sloppy argumentation. Regards.

  • Finally

    I’ve been waiting for PDN to respond before I make a comment lest I come out as a biased. I applaud them for taking it seriously enough to try and explain. I think they have a ‘very good excuse’ and promise not repeat the same next time :-). Even those who were hating on the whole debate now see that it has yielded some results – for now.
    I wonder what they go by when they call up all these judges who they trust have all these experience (some over 30!). A search on the net? Recommendations from friends? past interactions with their works? I don’t know how they’d have judges on their panel who they’ve not met! I hope in the future they take it seriously enough to actually meet the judges after ascertaining qualification to ascertain objectivity and good judgement because just like most have observed, some of the images that made PDN 30 2009 are below standards I can see yet I’ve been a photographer for just a year now… but what do I know? Anyone who takes part in a competition only loves winning when they are sure that they are indeed that good.
    Again I’m happy they said something.

  • http://www.talleyimages.com Addie Talley

    So what is so racist about an all-white jury?

    What’s racist is noticing that it’s an all-white jury instead of if these people qualified to judge. If any of these 24 judges are not qualified, then ok, you’ve got a point.

    What if you didn’t know the color of any of the judges, just the qualifications? What if they all had immense accredidations… except for one – an Asian girl they pulled off the street? But, because there weren’t any pictures, you didn’t know she was Asian. If you, as an entrant, complained about that one judge not being qualified, would you be racist because you picked out the one judge that wasn’t white? I doubt it.

    What difference does it really make to the competition if its an all-white, all-black, all-Asian or diverse panel? A professional is a professional, and once you start pulling out color, you are the racist. I seriously doubt all of the 24 judges photograph only white people. So if they are professional enough to warrant consideration for a judge seat, then what difference does their skin color make – in the world of photography! The world that has its eyes wide open and finds beauty in all.

    If I was an entrant of the competition, frankly, all I would care about in the judges is if they knew what they were doing and could judge accordingly…. are they judging me or my work? Are we judging them or their work?

  • http://www.aurora.is kristjan

    I would like to know to whom I should complain.

    There is no Pale faced, Blue eyed, white hair, tall, slender, muscular Viking amongst the judges.

  • http://www.TommyImages.com Tommy Huynh

    Is PDN guilty of racism, passive or otherwise? Well let’s take some emotion out of the debate and look at it objectively and analytically:

    Respected photographer Teru Kuwayama estimates that 95% of those in the industry who are in a position to be judges (editors, art buyers, gallery directors, etc..) to be 95%, sounds about right. If PDN put all the names in a hat and plucked the judges from this pool at random, chances are they would end up with 23 white judges and 1 non white. The statistical probability of randomly selecting 24 white judges is 29% (.95^24). Hardly what I would call “obvious exclusion” or racism (passive or otherwise) as Banos exclaims.

  • Andre Friedmann

    It ain’t what you know.
    It ain’t who you know.
    It’s who you blow.

  • http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/ Neil van Niekerk

    Why is this even an issue?

    Does this assume that a someone’s sensibilities and appreciation for photography varies with skin colour? THAT would be the strangest part here if that were remotely true. So the logical extention is that to claim racism here is in itself inverted racism, as if non-white photographers would need to be judged differently or by different criteria.

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com Stan B.

    How many Whites would be comfortable being judged by a 24 member Black, Hispanic or Asian jury for anything? I’m 100% certain (no doubt whatsoever) that if they lost, the very thought that race played any kind of factor in the their rejection would never, ever even enter into there minds. You can rest assured of that!

    Again, do you honestly think PDN would have gone to print with a 24 member all male jury in 2009?

  • http://[email protected] David Robin

    Funny how there is no mention of age discrimination when the Young Guns or Thirty Under Thirty competitions are held. What about an Old Guns Show or Fifty Over Fifty competition? Shouldn’t we look also at sexism then? What about women-only photo competitions, articles or organizations? Should we have no-women-allowed photo competitions or men-only photo organizations?

    I think this is a great discussion. One in which I would love to take up on my blog on a much broader scale…..
    http://tumbleweedproject.blogspot.com

  • David Schloss

    Okay, while I think this is oddly fascinating I have to reply to something.

    I was the Technology Editor at PDN for five years. The place is hardly an “old boy’s network.” The publisher is a woman, the EIC is a woman, most of the staff I worked with were women. Most of the staff I worked with were young, the majority were younger than me (and I was under 37 the whole time I worked there).

    Staff wasn’t allowed to go on junkets, we paid our own way to trade shows and events, we picked up the bill when we were out with manufacturers so there was no indiscretion. Products that came in for review were either returned or purchased (at retail) from the manufacturer. Advertising dollars never affected our editorial coverage and the ad teams were completely independent and separate from editorial.

    The photographic industry (not photographers, the industry) as a whole is rather young, and while there are friendships there, there isn’t the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” rule that’s the heart of an old-boy’s network. The photographers I’ve had the pleasure to work with as a result of my PDN tenure were as a rule kind, sharing and friendly, and didn’t base business decisions on country-club dinners and cigar smoking sessions, but based on the desire to create great art, and to make great friends.

    I’m very, very proud to have worked at PDN. While you can cast aspersions at the selection of judges (and man, look what a talented bunch of people they have on this panel) don’t slag the magazine. The staff of PDN are (as are many in the magazine world) overworked, underpaid and dedicated to providing the kick-ass content that the rest of the industry looks up to as the benchmark for quality and excellence.

  • http://[email protected] David Robin

    Responding to David Schloss…

    Blind spots have nothing to do with age,sex,race or religion. The fact that PDN has a young staff of predominately women does not mean they are immune to having a blind spot when it comes to seeking out a truly diverse group of judges. Vigilance is the key to ensuring that diverse voices are not silenced as we all stand to be inspired, challenged and creatively provoked by a broader pool of talent.

    We can all do better at making sure that our view of the world continues to broaden as opposed to the less creative alternative.

  • http://studentoflight.wordpress.com/ Bryant Hawkins

    When I read this the first time, I thought, “yes, that’s a problem.”
    However, the more I think about it, the less I think it is. I agree with Photo Grapher about the ratio. For instance, in the photojournalism program I’m in, there are maybe 20 serious students. Only maybe two or three are not white. Both our professors are black, so it isn’t like the system is pitted against non-white photojournalist students. There just aren’t as many interested in the program. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true.
    To blame PDN of “passive racism” in a pool where the primary work-force is white seems backwards. Maybe the industry needs to figure out why it is mostly white. That is where we should be putting our energy.
    In response to David Robin: why should PDN actively seek out different colored people? That is racism. Granted, it might seem like “positive” race-selection, but isn’t it far more honest to take a cross section of the photojournalist community to judge the community?
    I do agree that there is a certain worldview that people of a certain color tend to hold, but to automatically assume that these judges will judge a certain way because they are white is just as racist as segregated schools or racial slurs. Maybe PDN could use a little more diversity (it never hurt), to call their policies racist seems short sighted. People are people. I think these judges have enough intergrity to judge photos based on form, content, etc.
    -B

  • Steve

    I’ve read through this thread with great interest and am glad that, more or less, this discussion has been as civil as it has. I agree with a portion of Bryant Hawkins last statement that the industry ought to be a bit more self-reflective as to why racial disparities exist, if indeed they do.

    I find it very interesting that the exact same issues that have been raised here, have been raised in other contexts were there are stark disparities (or absences) of minorities in a given profession or industry. Just a few months ago, the debate was about Sotomayor. For the past several decades it’s about the lack (other than a few notables) of non-stereotyped-acting roles for minorities or opportunities for directing, etc. The same debate arises when searching for faculty at universities, or CEO’s of corporations. The claim is often made that “they are not racist, they were just selecting the best most qualified people out there.”

    While I agree that folks tend to be good (and not racist), a search for talent is only as good as how wide one’s search actually is. As a lawyer, when asked for recommendations for a board position, mine might tend to be lawyer-heavy (if I don’t make a concerted effort to think outside that box and outside the blinders that I might inherently have because of the interactions I have, both socially and professionally). Often, I’ll ask non-attorneys for their thoughts to ensure that my own blinders don’t prohibit me from overlooking well qualified people I might otherwise miss. Same thing I suspect occurs when searching for PDN judges.

    The fact that these institutions/industries have lower proportions of minorities in them than one might otherwise expect is partially structural. Access to some of the opportunities to gain a foothold in an industry, whether by lack of educational opporutnities or by lack of ‘contacts’ is exacerbated greatly by the fact that a benign, self-perpetuating vicious cycle continues to lock out diversity. Until affirmative action, which isn’t about quotas, but about providing an equal opportunity for qualified people to get their foot in the door, universities were largely devoid of minorities, businesses didn’t outreach to minority applicants and still focused recruitment efforts in the same non-diverse manner.

    Sometimes I think that discussions like these is enough for an institution to take steps towards asking some hard questions. Other times, in the case of more entrenched gender, racial, sex, and age discrimination, unfortunately, it takes more drastic (legal) action to undue those “blinders.”

    I think the whole Sotomayor debate is instructive here. One one level having her as a Supreme Court justice is symbolic and for many Latinos represents a highly-visible example of having “made it” and that person can used as a role model for our kids. On another level, as the Supreme Court itself has acknowledged and (more recently in the past decade and a half) corporations, diversity helps to bring a diversity of viewpoints and perspectives to the table — whether at a law school, at a marketing meeting, at the Supreme Court, in a college classroom, or at the dinner table. Certainly, having a diversity of perspectives while judging a photography contest could prove just as beneficial.Does this mean, that the 24 judges didn’t judge based only on content, form, technical skill, etc.? Nope. But just focusing on that question ignores the broader issue of the existence of a disparity.

    At any rate, I’m looking forward to see what the 2010 PDN judge pool looks like.

  • susan evans

    So, Who Won?