Reservoir Dan & The Mobile Photo Awards
The JUXT team had an opportunity to interview Dan Berman, the founder of the Mobile Photo Awards. Dan is a well respected member of the mobile photography community and it has been an honor to work with him on other projects. This year along with some other GREAT judges, Juxt and the MPA will be making selections from the Photojournalism category. It is going to be a fun time and with no need for further introduction, here is Dan Berman!
Explain to our readers the vision and mission of the MPA’s.
The Mobile Photo Awards were founded to promote and celebrate the global phenomenon of mobile phone photography and art and to give the art-form wider exposure to both the general public and the fine art world in the form of gallery shows and exhibits. The annual awards serves as an open call for entries for a traveling exhibit which is promoted to collectors of fine art as well as the media.
The MPAs are modelled after traditional photo competitions in that we have multiple categories, notable judges and the goal of bringing exposure to the artists and the medium.
Although we operate a blog throughout the year where we promote mobile photographers and the movement in general, our mission coalesces around the annual submission period for the MPA itself. The entry fees for the Mobile Photo Awards, like all gallery shows and exhibits, are used to offset the costs of prizes, prints, framing, display, shipping, infrastructure, and touring exhibit.
The goal of the Mobile Photo Awards is to celebrate the medium of mobile photography, the artists, the beauty of the images as well as the developers who create applications and invent camera accessories. We believe that in order to bring the pictures into the public eye the medium must move beyond online photo sharing. We are avid supporters of the online photo community, it’s imperative, and the medium is clearly part of the message in the case of mobile photography – but there’s also the real-world promotion of art – tactile images, printed and framed with care, viewed on walls in public and given the respect accorded other art-forms. In the mobile space it’s tough to offer “work-a-day” professional photography gigs, what we offer are fine art sales, gallery shows and exhibits, exposure, two-page spreads in prominent magazines, TV spots, etc… Long story short, In order to achieve this goal, we have founded the Mobile Photo Awards in the hopes that the very best artists and images will be discovered.
The MPA’s first year was a great year for mobile photography and mobile arts. These awards truly signified the movement and validity of the art that is made on mobile devices. How is this year going to be different in the MPA’s and what were some of the changes you’ve made to help it grow?
The biggest change comes in the form of new categories. We have scaled back on the “app” categories to focus more clearly on photo categories. What this means is that we have new categories like Transportation, Travel and Children instead of challenging folks to use a particular app in order to enter a category. The other big change is the inaugural ArtHaus Photo Essay – we want to encourage mobile photographers to think thematically and work on generating a coherence to a particular set of photos. The best photo essays create something greater than the sum of their parts – one hot photo is a like a hit single, but a photo essay is like a great album, a space captured in time which gives each of it’s elements greater meaning when considered alongside the whole. In other words, put *all* of Dark Side of the Moon on your iPhone, not just Money. So that’s exciting.
And of course, the JUXT Award for Photo Journalism is a great example of the community working together to bring about a common vision, to show that as artists, as documenters, as organizations, we advance further and learn more when we work together to promote each other’s trip, and indeed, often what happens is that, like a photo essay, we create something bigger than just ourselves. If that makes sense!
The MPA’s has an all-star cast of judges. The best part is that the judging panel are peers. Can you give us more information on who they are?
Some names include Marty Yawnick the publisher of LifeinLofi, Street Photo blogging legend Eric Kim, Mobile Photo Group founding member Misho Baranovic, Glyn Evans the publisher of iPhoneography.com, landscape master Robert-Paul Jansen, and many more – complete list is here:www.mobilephotoawards.com/categories
We want to shake things up each year and bring new faces in to the jury – we have, I think, 11 new judges this year and 4 or 5 coming back – some folks are well-known in the mobile photography community and some are known more for their non-mobile work. All of our jury members in 2011 and this year have several things in common, but foremost is a sense of integrity. Clearly, mobile photography is a passion for all of these people whether they express it through photography directly, operate long-standing blogs or media outlets, whether they are gallery owners who have been supportive of the art-form – bottom line is that it’s a diverse group, a smart group, and a group who will choose carefully and take their task seriously. I believe paying entrants deserve the highest level of commitment and focus from the jury.
In putting on an amazing event, you have to reach out to folks who not necessarily get the idea of this type of art-form due to its infancy or the tool. What do you find helps in dismissing some of these beliefs and myths?
Show them the work. Honestly, at the the San Francisco Fine Art Fair, where we exhibited in May, there were 70 galleries from all over the world. High end stuff – there were Chagall’s for sale there. Not a flea market. Anyway, we were one of 5 or 6 photography galleries and for 4 straight days we talked to people who would come back to us after a stroll through the exhibits and say the mobile stuff was by far the most varied and interesting work on show. We consistently were mentioned as a feature attraction in all the art-blogs and newspaper articles on the fair. The best part may have been the owners and curators of other photography galleries marvelling at our presentation. As one said to me, “…I don’t even care how these were made because most of these are very good and that’s all I care about.” Me too, I said.
We sold pieces in the $1300 range for limited editions. Nobody was fooled into paying those prices – these are serious collectors who see both beauty and value in acquiring a print of an MPA winning image. So yeah – we just keep on trucking and feel the work speaks for itself.
What can we expect from this years MPA?
Another fantastic competition brought with suspense and drama – more great gallery shows, more fine art world breakthroughs, more great artists and images brought to people’s attention.
What are this years categories and who were the winners from last year in those categories?
Architecture & Design
Black & White
People & Portraits
Plants & Flowers
Macro & Details with OLLOCLIP
The JUXT Award for Photo Journalism
CONNECT with DPReview
The ArtHaus Photo Essay
What is the most exciting portion of the MPA’s for you as the founder and organizer?
Watching the images come in and discovering something new and awesome. Being at the exhibits and seeing the work printed and framed on the wall and the looks on people’s faces when they spend time with an image. Calling an artist and telling them we sold one of their pieces. It’s all good
Here are some of the amazing images from last year’s Mobile Photo Awards:
Eric Einwiller – Horizontally, Vertical
Tony Docherty – Dandelion Wishes
Robin Sweet – Catwalk
Sara Tune – Awesome Sauce
Erin McCann – Subway Singers
Kert Gartner – Ironman
Stefano Pesarelli – Indifference
Submission Site \ Blog \ Facebook \ Twitter: MPA and Dan