The Griffin Museum of Photography 2009 Focus Awards

- - Awards

To say that my jaw hit the floor when I received an email from Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director of the Griffin Museum of Photography announcing that I would be getting an award is an understatement but the level of shock I felt then could only be called mild compared to the near catatonic state I was in as I stood on stage at the 4th annual Focus awards after they had just honored industry titans Modern Postcard and handed out thick glass award trophies to Russell Hart, Executive Editor of American Photo Magazine a man who might have ended this sentence long ago and then Rosalind Smith a local writer who received a standing ovation. I had just spotted DOP Kathy Ryan in the Second row who was here along with Director and Founder of Visa Pour l’Image Jean-Fran├žois Leroy to honor the next recipient, Eliane Laffont, editorial director Hachette Filapacchi Magazines and founder of Sygma Photo New Agency, with a lifetime achievement award.

Eliane, by the way, gave a moving acceptance speech on the power of photography and photojournalism in particular where she recounted a poignant moment in her career and really it probably relates to a turning point in the business of photography when Corbis bought Sygma and the new contracts came back and they had changed “photography” to “content” and “photographers” to “content providers.” She concluded by saying although things are looking bad now there is so much great work being made in the world and as long as photojournalists believe, photojournalism will exist.

I wanted to say how cool and original it is that they built an award around the idea that they “honor the work of those who are not photographers but who have been instrumental in building greater awareness of the photographic arts in the general public.” The museum itself is very cozy and from what I understand they have excellent programming. If this award is any indication of the type of out of the box thinking they’re going to continue with in the future then they will become, if they haven’t already a strong voice in the photography world. Actually, the fact that Jean-Fran├žois would fly in from Europe and Kathy would come up from New York for this one night is a pretty good indicator that they are already a strong voice.

From what I understand Lou Jones our MC for the evening came up with the idea for the award and I’m told by other photographers in the community he really works hard to educate himself and those around him about the future of photography. I was also told there was intense debate around my nomination (and others as well) but nearly everyone I met said they don’t read blogs so I’m guessing there’s handful of young photographers who work with the museum who nominated me and I want to say thanks.

I’m not so much an advocate for blogging as I am for simply doing things online where I strongly believe a great portion of the business of photography will end up. I think blogs are a great way to strengthen the community, to debate new ideas, to stomp out old bad ideas and to find a new path for photography but it’s more important that people working with photography are putting work online and trying new things out to help us all figure out what’s next. I did manage to say in my speech that I believe in the future of photography and that I would like to convince those that have the power to make decisions over the use of photography that there is no greater medium for communication online and once they finally realize this there will be a big bright future awaiting all of us.

There Are 13 Comments On This Article.

  1. Having listened to commencement speakers this weekend giving graduates advice for the future, it seems that Rob, you must have listened when you graduated. You have followed your passion and been true to your beliefs and you have been rewarded for that.

    Congrats,

    Paul O’Mara

  2. Man, that’s awesome. Good to see the advocacy you promote with an attitude more akin to “paying it forward” than “what’s in it for me” being recognized and honored outside the blogging community. The people who get it, get it. But for those who don’t but need to, this adds just a little extra touch of legitimacy. Always a good thing. Congrats Rob.
    shawn

  3. Jeff Engel

    Congrats Rob, I’m angry I couldn’t make it. I’m so glad you got the award. I (and others) have been talking about your blog to people like Lou and Banafsheh (I’m assuming you met her, she is at the Griffin and also runs the Boston Photography Center) and others for a while now. You provide an insight which is rarely expressed so openly and honestly. I am not at all surprised that folks like the Griffin would act upon and express that appreciation in the way they did.

  4. The Griffin is a special place and their Focus Awards are unique in our photographic community. You should be very proud to be have been honored. Well done!

  5. Thank you for taking the time in this special occasion to talk about the future of photography and for all of us.
    You have my highest regards.

    Adriana Mullen

  6. Marshall

    Congratulations on this award. Even if they don’t read blogs themselves, it’s clear that they recognize people who do good work in whatever forum. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend – now I’m more inspired to make it to the next awards, though they’ll have to work pretty hard to match up to this year’s awardee list.

    – Marshall

  7. Olivier laude

    Congrats Rob, you have worked very hard and have been very smart about it. I am glad your efforts have been rewarded. I am sure they will continue to be

  8. Eliane Laffont

    Congratulation Rob,
    I was proud and honored to share the podium of the Griffin Museum that evening with you.
    The world of Photojournalism needs blog like this one as we all need a new way to communicate and built together the future of our industry.
    Eliane Laffont