Not me personally so let me explain.

The National Magazine Awards were last Thursday (here) and the big winners for photography were Gourmet (overall photography), National Geographic (photojournalism) and Vanity Fair (photo essay). I’ll also include Wired who won for design in this group of Ellie (the statue) bastard children because you see the National Magazine Awards are put on by the American Society of Magazine Editors. Yeah, Editors. Up until 2004 there was only one award for photography and then I guess they decided the photography might have something to do with the success of magazines and added photo essay and then photojournalism last year. It’s their award so I guess they can do whatever the hell they want. The only thing I find obnoxious is the editor going up on stage to collect the awards for design and photography.

Now, this Friday we have the SPD awards given by the Society of Publication Designers (here). Yeah, Designers. This is another gala affair where the winners are announced and in the categories where photography is concerned the Creative Director or Design Director will go up on stage and collect the award for you. Not as bad since we work closely with the design department and certainly their contribution to the layout of the photography makes a huge difference. But, if you think photography not surrounded by great design and typography will win an award, think again.

What I should be writing about today is the award ceremony tomorrow night (in between the two so, the Wired photo eds can spend the week in NYC) put on by some society of picture editors where nominations were made and envelopes will be opened announcing the winners of the best covers, portraits, still-lives, photojournalism, fashion, fine art and lifestyle that magazines published last year.

I know we’ve got the PDN Photo Annual and the American Photography book but I’ll be honest with you, I’ve sent a few all staff announcements about landing photography in those books and it’s just not as impressive as WINNING something (“we were selected”). There’s also the Lucie awards but I’m pretty sure that’s just photography in general and more along the lines of lifetime achievement, judging from the ages of the recipients.

So, here’s why I have such an enormous problem with the lack of awards for magazine photography. Awards actually make magazines better. It balances out the commercial pressures and gives you extra incentive to do things you wouldn’t normally do. These awards are incredible resume builders for photo editors and marketing tools for publishers. I’ve put my neck on the line a number of times because I knew the results would not only be great but also might bring in an award or two. An award for Photo Editing would also reinforce what we already know, “the success of certain magazines with advertisers and consumers is directly tied to the quality of the photography.” The CFO needs to know that.

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  1. Here in the West, we had the Western Publications Association awards in LA last weekend. Seems kind of silly everyone had their awards at the same time. Nonetheless, categorically its pretty similar to what you’re saying – not a lot of awards, if any that I can remember, for either photography or design, but definitely for stories. I think it is a bit of a sham. However, the Florida Magazine Association does have photography and design awards and have done a great job of giving credit where credit is due. Out of most of the associations I know of, the FMA is one of the better ones.

  2. Why don’t you just start handing out “APE” awards. Of it will be small at first, but I’m sure in a small amount of time you’ll have sponsors and in no time it will become sought after award.
    You can have ceremony in your small town in Montana and it would be thought of as the Sundance of the magazine photo awards.
    Run with it! But, not like with scissors.

  3. awards are so subjective, it sometimes it is a waste of time, but keep it up

  4. I’ll start up one myself if I bank on getting $75 per entry (only $150 for a series!) – that’s the game, right?

    Magazine photo editing does play a big role in the Missouri POYi competition, but its almost exclusively “journalism” outlets and is therefore out of touch with what the majority of magazines are doing.

    I’d imagine that your editor prancing up on stage to accept an award on behalf of his art department garners some goodwill in the first place, but PE’s do deserve their own red carpet and the chance to say, “wow, this thing really is heavy!”

  5. Paola Brivio and Paola Vozza (we work toghether at Geo) totally agree with you. So let’s try the way to establish a photoediting award. Is there any way to promote it together with other photoeditors?
    We love striving for the recognition of our profession. We have been doing this in Italy too, where only recently the photoeditors in the magazines are being discovered as a necessary role in the editorial staff.
    In Italy it is not easy for a photo editor to have an outstanding role in defining the style of the magazine through his/her job.
    So let’s do something for your great idea!
    Paola & Paola

  6. I need a proof reader, but you get the idea.

  7. I thought about doing something myself but decided to put it out there for the more influential DOP’s who read the blog to think about.

  8. Well no mater what, I think it should be called the APE Award.
    So maybe you should try to TM it.

  9. Awards for photo editing? That’s like hiring Mario Batalli and winning an award for being a food critic. Now if you want to give an award for hiring great shooters and see who came up with the best budget management, that would float for me.

  10. Well…you get some recognition Rob. I just saw your name in the new PDN photo annual!

  11. so would photographers nominate the editors for these awards?

  12. Its all about control.

  13. Hey that’s a grand idea, but we have to form a union first, Norma Ray style.

    It’s amazing that photos get the fuzzy end of the lollipop when magazines are such a visual medium and without us they’d be the phone book, a sea of boring type.

    Lets start the association now, and awards in December…

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