BJP Breakthrough – what are the judges looking for?

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The deadline for the BJP Breakthrough award has been extended. You now have until 11 May to submit your work!

We’ve designed this award to connect the next generation of photographers with the established photography industry. Four winners will have their work exhibited in East London, published by the BJP, and will also receive a state of the art Olympus E-M10 camera. 

For full details go to our dedicated BJP Breakthrough website.

But what are we looking for from the entrants?

Laura Pannack, the British social documentary and portrait photographer who has won prizes at the World Press Photo, The Sony World Photography Awards, The Magenta Foundation and Lucies IPA, says: “I’m looking for something that strikes me emotionally. It needs to have concept and aesthetic to equal measure. I want to be inspired and feel like the image has a personal relationship to the photographer. An image that start a conversation and show the passion and interest of the image makers curiosity and creativity.”

British Journal of Photography’s Editorial Director Simon Bainbridge, who has guided the magazine for the last 11 years. says: “What I am looking for in the series category is a coherent set of images that work together effectively to tell a story or convey an idea or approach.

“I want to see visual flair, and an understanding of how to use photography as an application or a vehicle for an enquiry or investigation. I’m hoping to see work that has the photographer’s signature, rather than their influences.

“For the single, I want to see an image that offers more than what the photographer saw in front of the camera – I want some hint at a wider issue, thought process, emotion or wider social issue. It needs to intrigue me as much as arrest my attention

Gemma Padley, projects editor for British Journal of Photography, who writes on photography for The Telegraph and Photomonitor, will be judging the undergraduate awards.

“For me, a standout image or series has to be brilliantly executed and achieve what it sets out to do – if the intention is to shock, then it should do that, and do it well; if it is to move the viewer, then equally it must do this, and so on,” Padley says.

“A single image should have a tight, carefully thought-out composition, demonstrate good technical skill, and have a spark – the spark of an idea or a feeling, and in turn spark something in the viewer. I like images that make me think, where the photographer presents a different take on whatever topic he or she chooses to explore.

“All of the above apply in a series, but multiplied! The added consideration is how the images sit together – I’m looking to clearly understand what the photographer is trying to convey through what’s in front of me.”

Leo Scott, who has worked on exhibitions with the likes of Nadav Kander, Rankin and Sebastian Richter, and now works for the theprintspace, the UK’s best-loved fine art print lab, says: “With such an open brief, it’s going to be fascinating to see the range and diversity of the submissions. I’m looking for daring messages and fresh viewpoints, and I’m hoping to be told original stories, to be surprised and intrigued by the visceral and the logical.”

Enter now, and take your photography career to the next stage.

Tom Seymour

Tom Seymour is an Associate Editor at The Art Newspaper and an Associate Lecturer at London College of Communication. His words have been published in The Guardian, The Observer, The New York Times, Financial Times, Wallpaper* and The Telegraph. He has won Writer of the Year and Specialist Writer of the year on three separate occassions at the PPA Awards for his work with The Royal Photographic Society.