Stan Banos of the blog Reciprocity Failure was dangling some blog bait a few weeks ago (here) when he published a piece about the 24 white jurors from this years PDN Photography Annual. I didn’t take the bait because picking on PDN is not something I particularly enjoy or find moves the conversation in an interesting or positive direction. And, having worked in the magazine world I understand and grew to hate one of the biggest failings of magazines that leads to stupid things like this happening. They don’t give a shit about the community around them. Editors do, photo editors do, writers do, photographers do, but collectively you would never see a magazine try to make the little slice of the world they live in better (that would cost money). This is why there is no loyalty among readers. This is why magazines are losing relevance. This is why new media is exciting.

This is why no one issues a standing order at a magazine to broaden the demographic.

Well, the blog bait just got huge:

“Rather than see the world of photography dragged through the mud and a cloud hang over PDN Duckrabbit have announced that they are offering $1000 to anyone who can credibly defend the all white panel.”

“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.”

So why did PDN do it? Passive racism probably fit’s the bill. If one of their objectives was to build a stonger community, this kind of thing would have never happened.

Ignoring it seems like passive racism too.

UPDATE: Comments Closed.

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  1. As much as I could do with the $1,000 there’s no way I could make a good argument to defend that situation.

  2. You really thing they excluded people of color on purpose? come on now..

    • @ridiculous, Now that would be ACTIVE racism, and quite a story …

      • @duckrabbit,

        so you want “quotas” for minorities even in photography, tomorrow you’ll want to see non white faces on paintings too.

        sounds very 1984 to me.

        • @Mario Rossi, No, just a magazine that represents its readers and doesn’t taunt them when they are disappointed.

  3. I’d really like to know who Mr. Banos thinks should have been on this list, but was somehow not chosen specifically because he/she is not white. Maybe I’m a “passive racist.” Maybe the other millions of people who never contemplated this are “passive racists” as well. Are non-white photographers having a harder time making it to the top than white ones? Maybe PDN should do a story on that. They might even win $1000 for it in the end.

    • @maybe i’m ignorant,

      Maybe… But I’m hoping with a bit of effort researching the history of this country, both past and present, you can get a clearer understanding of its intricate racial dynamics. Most people don’t have to think about race unless there in a “dodgy” neighborhood, for others, it’s one of the defining issues of their lives.

  4. Rob- My hope and expectation was never for you to “pick on” PDN. I have no intention of doing such myself- nor can I ignore what it did, or more rightly, what it didn’t do. I was however very much hoping that you would lend your thoughts, your insights, as an insider and human being, into the mix- much as you have done today. And I thank you.

    I fully understand that most people are scared shitless when it comes to discussing race no matter the scenario (hope the final number of replies proves me wrong). And these economic times makes everyone more paranoid still. I just wanted to open this up to discussion, a discussion that’s been long coming, and which needs to continue with participants from all corners and levels of the photographic world.

    Don’t you think PDN made a very conscious effort to include women? Over 1/3 of the judges were female. Come on now…

    • @Stan B., This is just an addition and not a comment on your comment — I think very possibly many, if not most, photo editors today are female.

  5. Rob, your hidden Urchin Tracker prevented me from clicking the first link; had to view source, manually copy & paste the link into a new window.

    You should blog about this or put up a disclaimer that you secretly track our exiting clicks.

    • @Anonymouse,
      Must be something else doing that. I only have google analytics installed. I don’t track people. I only count them.

      • @A Photo Editor, I think wordpress tracks outgoing clicks. Maybe that’s it?

  6. well, maybe the judges-selection-panel didnt know any good photographic judges with different looks.

    this would be a good opportunity to check for the general list of minorities. women, black, hispanic, asian, disabled or otherwise challenged, pregnant, young and old. maybe throw in some religion. how’s the multidimensional demographic holding up?

    or maybe the duckrabbit is too focused on the black & white issue? after all that is a photographic term, so his prejudice is expected. ;-)

    • @grubernd,

      ‘well, maybe the judges-selection-panel didn’t know any good photographic judges with different looks.’

      A wonderfully incisive answer Grubernd … I bet they’re really pleased you stuck up for them … here have $1000, actually on second thoughts

      • @duckrabbit,
        not defending them, just raising a point. and you chicken out now? it’s the only probable and then also highly realistic answer.

        just because your prejudices are literally superficial and totally against other socalled minorities that arent as easily discerned, doesnt mean PDN does the same, just with a different purpose. be it on purpose or not.

        • @grubernd, ‘it’s the only probable and then also highly realistic answer.’

          I work in the media industry in the UK. If I put together a judging panel of twenty-four media players, all white, and then my defense was that I don’t actually know any ‘good’ black people (as you put it) I’d be dead before dawn.

          I mean what kind of idiot defense is that, when you live in a country where almost one in six people are black? It would be like pinning the words ‘racist’ and ‘idiot’ to your forehead.

          Sound like anyone you know, or is that just my superficial prejudice speaking?

          • @duckrabbit,
            what percentage of black people are working in your company? women? handicapped? are you a politically correct employer? or do you just hire people because you know them and like what they are doing?

            • @grubernd, keep digging.

              Last charity I set up was in Ethiopia. Out of the twenty five staff, twenty four were black Ethiopian. Last programme I produced at the BBC my team was one white and two Asians. The POYI award we won this year was for team work with Black Kenyans, likewise the Amnesty International Media Award, which included contributions from people from 5 continents. Just back from Pakistan working with twenty Pakistani journalists …

              But to be serious for a moment this is not about me, or you. Its actually about a problem of representation that deserves examination. I thank you for entering the debate.

              • @duckrabbit, i saw your international and charity involvement before i asked the question. :)
                i know it is not about you or me here and the question at hand is an interesting one, but i still stand the point that they simply didnt think about it and to be honest – they shouldnt have to. selecting judges by their looks is kind of racistic, even if it is for the purpose of providing equal opportunities.

                i think in the end it says more about the demographics in our profession than about the political correctness of PDN.

                • @grubernd, nothing to do with looks,or tokenism, its to do with talent.

                  The insidious undertone being suggested here, infact being PRESUMED is that black people don’t have any (talent), that’s why none appeared on the panel and that my friend is point blank racism.

                  • @duckrabbit, you should not only read but also comprehend what i said. it’s not about talent, or existence of (coloured) talent, it’s about the who-knows-whom of the panel-assembling-panel.

                    this industry never was about talent alone. in fact, no industry is. sure, some talent isnt a bad start, but in the end it is all about who you know. read some famous photographers biographies – at some point or the other they always had someone else who enabled their career. they worked for it, but the decision is taken at the top.
                    and as outrageous it may seem for your multi-cultural and colour-aware background, they might be an all-white gang and their preferred faces are all-white, too. wouldnt hurt to break it up and bring in some diversity, though. even if it was only diversity by colour.

                    • @grubernd,
                      exactly, grubernd, well said.

                  • @duckrabbit,

                    are you by any chance a non-white person ?
                    that alone would explain many things.

                    • @Ian Aleksander Adams,

                      trust me…

                    • @Mario Rossi, I’m Rhubarb, but thanks for asking.

                  • @duckrabbit, Isn’t PDN based in NYC? It’s the hub of the photo industry too – It’s hard to suggest that NYC is somehow missing diversity.

                    • @Ian Aleksander Adams, right … sorry, a bit slow, still reeling from Mario trying to ‘out’ my color!

                    • @duckrabbit, I’m amazed at how they’re crawling out of the woodwork for this one myself (and with real names and everything!)

                    • @Ian Aleksander Adams, Don’t anybody be fooled, the angry people are in minority. As a Photo Editor pointed out, most people working in photography are individually deeply caring. I’m sure this goes for the majority of the people at PDN too.

  7. While I agree that ‘passive racism’ may be at play here I still have to call giant BS on the whole $1000 ‘challenge’. It’s like an atheist ‘challenging’ a religious person (or vice versa) to ‘prove’ that there’s no god and promising a billion dollars if he succeeds. There’s nothing to ‘prove wrong’ because there’s nothing proven right here. We’re talking about passive racism so the challenge would be to prove that the people at PDN did not unintentionally not do something on account of an unconscious preference towards dealing with white people regarding photographic matters.

    Again, I do (partly) agree with the point Banos is making but I think the whole challenge is bogus. That’s why I would kindly ‘challenge’ duckrabbit to put his money where his mouth is and give the $1000 to charity if no convincing argument against ‘passive racism’ is made within a month.

    • correction in 3rd column: …that there is A god..”

      • @duckrabbit, just reread my post. Don’t think it was that unclear but whatever.

        What I’m saying that your offer of $1000 is just hot air since you can simply deny that any defense of the PDN jury is credible. Therefore I suggested that you offer to give the money to charity if no one succeds in convincing you so you can show that you are genuinely ready to part with that $1000.

        • @j., so you’re saying it is a form of racism J? Interesting. Shame that rules you out the $1000.

          I couldn’t possibly preempt the results but I would say it’s fascinating how nobody wanted to engage with the subject until we introduced the ‘hot air’.

          As Rob writes, far more eloquently than duckrabbit, ‘Ignoring it seems like passive racism too.’

          • @duckrabbit,
            Yes, I do think that it’s a form of racism and I think there’s nothing wrong with pointing it out and making PDN sweat a little.

            All I’m saying is that I think the challenge is bogus. I think you might aswell have offered $100000 (even if you don’t have it) since you can always say that the argument (however sound) doesn’t convince you.

          • @duckrabbit,

            only in the UK people with your views could get a job.

            now that labour party is in free fall you better calm down, times are changing and people is quite sick of this PC rethoric.

            if you despise PDN than launch your own BlackPhotoDistrict or whatever else, people will then finally be able to judge the wonderful works of your gang of non-white photogs.

            • @Mario Rossi, yeah, we should segregate magazines now. That’s forward thinking.

  8. Maybe someone could suggest a few names of non-white people who you think should have been on the list…

    • @wb,
      too easy. they’re choosing from photographers, educators, gallerists and photo editors.

    • @wb,

      I’m not in the biz, so I’m hoping someone else could chime in here. And I suspect it’s a matter of making the effort, rather than relying on the usual set of friends, contacts, and colleagues- who happen to fit a very particular demographic.

      • @Stan B.,
        I’ll throw a couple out there – Eli Reed and George Pitts, off the top of my head.

        • @wb,
          You mean the same George Pitts who’s been involved in many PDN contests and juries?

        • … the same one who’s been on PDN panels and juries with Jimo Toyin Salako?

  9. Isn’t the photography world in enough sh** without worrying about the demographic of a contest jury?

    An oversupply of photographers, an industry intent on squeezing them and their insecurities until their wallets are dry with rights-grabs, late payments, competitons that lead to nothing despite promising everything, leeches promising folio edits and life coaching for $$$, manufacturers “upgrading” cameras every 6 months and others not able to supply the f*** batteries after the camera’s been out 9 months (yes that’s YOU Canon).

    And you lead on a ‘race angle’ for some two bit competition that will make PDN a ton of money and the winning tog will fade into obscurity (just like they do in ALL the other competitions).


    • @Arty Farty,

      In my brief, very brief career as a studio assistant in the late 70’s- I can assure you that the photo biz was every bit as cut throat and conniving as it remains today. And although the equipment may have changed- the demographics, despite the years, remain essentially unchanged…

  10. 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.

    • @War Hammer, What a gentleman you are.

  11. What is PDN’s process in selecting judges? Do they randomly email a few dozen art buyers, photo agents, photo editors and gallery owners and just take whomever replies back?

    • @ericF.,

      Good question! And I certainly don’t claim to have the slightest, perhaps APE can lend a few insights. I will say this so- whatever the procedure, do you think PDN would have put out a 24 member all male jury?

    • @ericF.,
      No, it’s not random at all. If you look at the list you will see that they’ve deliberately chosen a few photo editors, educators, art buyers, creative directors, consultants, gallerists and photographers. They make sure to include people from all professions within the industry.

      When I was a judge they called me and asked. It was very last minute and I’m pretty sure a photo editor dropped out so they quickly needed to find another photo editor. Then I spent half a day in a conference room alone going through thousands of entries.

      • @A Photo Editor,

        my personal experience as editorial shooter is instead that nowadays there’s a huge demand for pictures about non-white persons, gays, and anything non conventional.

        i for instance mainly sell images about Asia with people from china, japan, india, central asia, indonesia, and very very few of the pictures i sold so far portraied a single white person.

        and yet i never felt to be racist or “anti-white” : non-white pictures have never sold so well as today and the main reason must be that buyers and readers like them.

    • @ericF., a while ago for the PDN 30s they asked a friend of mine to be one of the judges, he suggested few names(2) and then never heard from them again, of course they didn’t pick his choices.

  12. Personally, I would have LOVED seeing George Pitts on the panel !
    Legendary Photo Director at Vibe Magazine for many many years, Photography professor at Parsons, consulting Photo Director for Latina & working photographer… this only took 1 minute of thinking….

  13. Dudley Brooks. Long time Washington Post photographer, former Director of Photography at the Baltimore Sun. Now Director of Photography at Ebony Magazine.

    Ken Barboza. Long time fashion and advertising photographer. Now head of Ken Barboza Associates Inc.,, an agency which represents photographers, as well as stylists and makeup artists.

    Many, many more from which to choose. Not only from the African-American perspective, but other ethnicities as well. So the, “we don’t know any qualified,” excuse is lame. Oh, but we are talking about ‘passive’ racism, right?

    • @Tim,
      Just curious, did PDN actually say “we don’t know any qualified”, or use some wording to that effect, or do you think as an excuse that was just somehow implied?

      It’s obvious that there are plenty of qualified people in this position – you’ve named two and so have I, and I know many more.

      • @wb, I can’t say that PDN said that, ‘we don’t know any.’ I’m just preempting what is a common excuse when dealing with issues such as this. My guess is that they really didn’t bother to be inclusive in the panel decisions. I’ve often commented here about the ‘arrogance’ of the upper chelons of the photo industry. I beleive they just chose to go with a few people they already know. It’s a closed club in my opinion.

        • @Tim, correction: echelons.

  14. This reminds me of a creative brief I received a few months ago: “Must cast diversity but can’t feel forced.”

    IMHO, PDN is/was one of our industry’s loudest voices and therefore, should set an example and work to “cast” diversity whenever it can, and in this case it certainly could have done so easily.

    Thinking about how Rob described the job, it might be considered slave labor: hours stuck in a dark conference room pouring over mediocre shots.

    • @Jain Lemos, Let’s not forget the other part of this issue. Rob raises the point that, new media, can, and probably will change the game. As an African-American photographer, I can tell you first hand, that many of us are bypassing traditional methods of gaining exposure, and taking our work directly to our viewers. Some of us are creating a following as direct results of online galleries and social networking such as myspace, facebook and modelmayhem. In addition, there are growing communities of new media based communications which enable us to take our stories and work, directly to the viewers.

      The purpose for a photographer to be recognized by PDN is to gain exposure, to be called upon by editors of magazines, to get his his/her work published, get paid, etc…

      The explosion of new media is allowing us to bypass all of that. So I would question whether PDN is still a major player in the industry. In fact, I believe that PDN’s relevance is worth questioning.

      • @Tim, I certainly agree with you that there are several issues going on here. As I wrote on my blog last night, PDN is dying on the vine anyway. I remember (late 80s) when PDN was truly a “district” rag, and we looked forward to picking up the latest issue at the local C-41 lab. They might think they are keeping up with the times, but I keep seeing the same favorite players. Is the key to my success now making the point that I’m a Portuguese-American photo professional? Maybe nobody knew!

  15. @duckrabbit
    wow. you guys at duckrabbit are slick. but my question is is it passive slickness or on purpose? more on that in a sec.

    with few exceptions (too few to warrant an outcry of unfairness or mass-racism) i think being conscious and having a conscience is how many professional photographers and photo editors operate. this art of documenting attracts people who are curious to understand and interpret the world around them.

    inquisitiveness = desire to learn = open mind = lesser tolerance (note-not disappearance) for bigotry.

    now, what is passive racism? someone here have a definition we can work from in order to play your competition?
    i think we’re all aware of what active racism looks like.

    in absence of a defined starting point, my idea of passive racism, really bigotry of any type (let’s not turn a blind eye to any of the other “isms” because surely that is a type of “ism” in and of itself) is the awareness of a biased situation yet allowing for it to exist… not taking steps to change the situational dynamics, to cut off the bloodflow and watch it whither away and die.

    if you agree, then we’re all guilty of passive bigotry of some type (even you with your charity and productions) or else we’d be actively fighting it every waking moment of our life. that may not be impossible, but it’s surely not common (though something to strive for).

    if you’ve been around long enough you realize that many people just aren’t as smart as they need to be for the position their business cards announce, or they don’t care, or do things half-assed because they’re just too damn lazy to do it right the first time or at least go the distance to make it right in the end.
    it’s a common character weakness shared by all races across the board.
    unfortunate as it is may be we’re all flawed humans no matter our level of tolerance or open-mindedness.

    who knows what transpired at PDN… decision making by committee? one already overworked editor charged with another task in the 11th hour who then delegated to interns who aren’t as knowledgeable?
    so… should they have actively set out to find these non-white people? yes.
    but the more pertinent question is did they?
    their answer to that question is where you’ll find your defense to the assertion you’re making, because right now all you’re asking is based on allegation. and an allegation worded as such to insinuate PDN did this purposefully with a tinge of malice or agenda in their hearts.

    through my years of photojournalism conferences and seminars and competitions and college photojournalism classrooms i’ve been at, most often i can count the number of minorities on one hand, sometimes two, for each event. and the reason i make such an admittedly overreaching blanket statement is because when i’ve stopped to really look at the gathered crowd it’s obvious who’s not there.

    so if minorities aren’t playing the game why is that? are there other cultural reasons (besides racism) that explains this occurrence? and is it our responsibility to seek minorities out and cultivate that demographic of our profession?
    because how do you seek something that may not want to, or can’t, be sought?

    i guess my criticism is how you’re phrasing the question. seems it’s being asked more for shock value than for starting a pertinent, productive conversation to actually better whatever situation you feel we may be in.

    so… “Surely an outrageous slur on the photographic industry?” is not so outrageous at all.

    passive racism… passive bigotry… is not “outrageous.”
    wrong… yes.
    but not startling… not unusual… not shocking. we all practice it in some form or another whether we’re aware of it or not.

    the inane monetary competition aside, the words you’re using are surely the outrageous part… baiting us all in. congratulations on your success. sparks may fly indeed. but ultimately to who’s benefit? will this conversation help change what you believe to be the status quo. or will it just advertise your business a little more?

    btw… if you were in PDN’s shoes who would you have asked to juror the show?
    inciting riotous discussion is one thing. doing it without offering some constructive alternative makes you as guilty of the same offense as the people you’re accusing.


    • @shawn rocco, ‘i guess my criticism is how you’re phrasing the question. seems it’s being asked more for shock value than for starting a pertinent, productive conversation to actually better whatever situation you feel we may be in.’

      Shawn the fact that you took the time to write a thoughtful, pertinent and productive response rather shoots the above part of your argument in the foot, doesn’t it!

      • @duckrabbit,
        we’ll see. preaching to the choir is one thing. will the parties who need to engage in productive conversation do so? or will it all slide into unattractive vitriol? and will we get an answer to my final question?

        • @shawn rocco,

          I have to rush off to work for the remainder of the day, so I can’t respond at length… economics is a huge factor as to why you see less minority involvement in all facets of photography. It simply costs too much- yes, and if that’s also the case for whites, I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like for those further down the economic scale.

          As to where to locate more qualified people of color in the biz- see comment reply for #8.

          • @Stan B. thank you. my travels and contacts though not limited to one specific area, aren’t as expansive as rob’s or other editors who sit in the higher posts of the business. so, though i may not be aware of them, i agree… a number of organizations like en foco should be in their “rolodexes.” so i wonder if PDN’s chosen panel really is an example of systemic racism or if it’s just a one-off fluke due to other circumstances. because it does look like they tried to be somewhat diverse.

            i guess when it comes down to it, my issue isn’t calling some organization to the carpet to answer for passive racism… it’s using this example this time without due diligence. but then again i understand the need to kick start the conversation. just wish we were all discussing a more blatant and provable example. -s

            • @shawn rocco, ‘just wish we were all discussing a more blatant and provable example.’

              I nearly fell out of my chair with laughter!

  16. They can have B.E.T. but PDN can’t have a white panel? Now…would it be passive-racism if I just happened to marry my same-race?

    If I made a pepporoni pizza, a piece of me would have died if I forgot to include the sausage. Or peppers. Or olives. But you know what? There’ll be another pizza. And it’ll be fine. Nobody died. Nobody cried. My taste buds will have enjoyed everything equally and just the same. Whats that? I forget to include pineapple?!? F*%@$!!!! I’m a fruitist.

    • @Austin Shaffer, who is ‘they’?

      Also, from your pizza analogy, are you suggesting that racial, or other segregation in the photo industry is acceptable?

      just curious.

    • @Austin Shaffer, Just wondering what you think the reaction would have been if the panel was all black? Go on be honest …

  17. I just saw this post, information about the $1000 contest and the responses that came pouring in. Bravo for having this discussion in the first place as, much like APE mentioned, it is rarely had for obvious reasons.

    As a person of colour in the industry let me say this, there are very few of us represented. It is unfortunate, because, guess what, many of are just as talented and insightful as many others in the industry who are not minorities. We would love to be invited to share our talents with others in the industry, but often we are not even considered. We are assumed to be ignorant, ghetto, submissive, difficult, unfocused, unable to grasp the bigger ‘whiter’ picture etc.

    When I first started in the industry, I truly believed that talent and ambition was all that was required to succeed. If I worked hard enough eventually there would be rewards. I expected to have to put in the work required and I diligently set about doing just that. What I did not expect was the running commentary on my colour that would prevail over every aspect of my career.

    Have I been told repeatedly about how well I speak? Yes.
    Have I have been asked point blank why there aren’t so many people of my ‘persuasion’ in the business? Yes.
    Have I been given a lecture about the political nature of blacks in the workplace as opposed to the mild mannered ‘mames’ of Gone With the Wind fame? Yes. Unbelievably, yes.

    If you are white and reading this, try imagining yourself in my shoes. If you went to work tomorrow as a minority and wanted to do your best and faced those kinds of inquiries at every turn – how would you feel? Would you still believe that your work was being judged on the same scale as your white counterparts? Would you feel like you were being asked to assimilate to a culture that was not your own in order to pass the test on the path to success instead of being valued for the additional insights you might bring to the table? Do you think that you would be so surprised by magazines like PDN choosing all white juries?

    I mean have any of you stopped to wonder why talented photographers, doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. with years of experience who immigrate from other nations end up as cab drivers in North America? Is that really what ‘the dream’ was all about or should we not be capitalizing on the knowledge that others who are different can bring to almost everything we do?

    The truth is, as a non-minority, you will never face those kinds of issues and you will never know how ‘passive racism’ feels. It is invasive, like a cancer and it is the thing, as a minority, that you push aside so that you can just focus on doing your best at whatever it is you do – every single day.

    I don’t expect the industry to change anytime soon and neither should any of you, but I can do my best to educate those I encounter to help them see the simple fact that I am just as equal, talented and entitled as they are to sit at the same tables they do – even if it is in solitary, looking over mediocre portfolios.


    • @i, Powerful, eloquent, heartfelt.

      You see when we deny the problem then we deny ‘I’ of her experiences. And the reason why its so easy for us to deny the problem is exactly for the reason that ‘I’ so rightly points out:

      ‘The truth is, as a non-minority, you will never face those kinds of issues and you will never know how ‘passive racism’ feels. It is invasive, like a cancer and it is the thing, as a minority, that you push aside so that you can just focus on doing your best at whatever it is you do – every single day.’

      That’s not denying the fact that we all have our crosses to bear, so why do so many people find that so threatening?

      I don’t know about you, but I want to live in a world where people don’t have to feel that way, white, black or any color. I want to know that I get where I do in life because I’m good at what I do, not at somebody else’s expense.

      Will post ‘I’s’ words on the duckrabbit blog.

      • @duckrabbit,

        absolutly agree with @ i

        and Duckrabbit

        I don’t know about you, but I want to live in a world where people don’t have to feel that way, white, black or any color. I want to know that I get where I do in life because I’m good at what I do, not at somebody else’s expense.

      • @duckrabbit, well at least as photographers, no one knows what race we are. we are judged by our work.

    • @i,
      Interesting post – thanks for posting it.
      I guess there are some things that some of us will never truly experience.

  18. As a photographer based in the UK, I wanted to add a comment regarding this debate, I have been working since 1994 for both national and international magazines, won a World Press Photo Award, a W,Eugene Smith Fellowship, Churchill Fellowship, A Hey Hot Shot , selected for Descrumbimentos PhotoEspana etc etc …..

    have I had any real exposure in either the British Journal of Photography or PDN …….the answer is NO…..!! and that is not for the want of trying….

    in regards to the BJP, many many years ago I went to show them my work after being awarded a paid traineeship at The Independent, I was told by the then editor of the BJP that they werent interested in publishing the work , funny thing was the year before they had published my friends work who had won the same award.
    In regards to PDN, I sent emails to the Exposures section after being awarded a W Eugene Smith Fellowship……no reply

    there are days when I feel what must I do to get some exposure……I say this in that many of my friends and colleagues here have recieved this exposure……

    We all know how important exposure is …………

    the new media outlets on internet have allowed me to gain some and maybe that is the way to go.

    and yes I am a person of colour

    Is it passive ……I have no idea……..I just try and get on with my work, shooting and being assigned….

  19. How many white judges are there at the Miss Black America pageant?

  20. will there be a black juror on the next PDN competition? no pressure on PDN of course. My vote would be for John Bennette. Very very influential collector and Juror from Hearst 8×10 competition.

  21. Talented black photographers: I know plenty. At least one of them is famous. Pretty much all of them would be good judges on a photo contest. If we’re talking about under-representation though, how about this from the front page of a 40 odd year old collective; Kamoinge…

    “Kamoinge was formed in New York in 1963 to address the under-representation of black photographers in the art world. The group was founded by Louis Draper, Ray Francis, Herbert Randall and Albert Fennar, with Roy DeCarava serving as its first director.”

    I guess the photo industry is still under representing itself…

  22. This is so incredibly silly. How about choose who will be the best judges, regardless of race? As an entrant in the contest, I hope that they selected the best people possible, as opposed to choosing people based on race, creed, religion or otherwise.

    Just plain silly. We are supposed to be blind to race, but so often it gets brought up when race has nothing to do with anything. Cry wolf long enough and people start to ignore you.

    • @sillyman, mmm … so if you picked the best 22 judges all of them would be white? Why’s that Sillyman?

      • @duckrabbit, the best 22 judges would be whoever are the best, regardless of the color of the skin. I don’t know these judges on the PDN contest to be able to know how well they are or aren’t qualified. If somebody is going to lob the race card at PDN, they should also come up with reasons why certain people shouldn’t be judges and why others should. It is difficult to defend against that kind of accusation, because the accusation isn’t specific enough.

        • @sillyman, now you’re just being silly …

    • @sillyman,
      Mostly agreed.

      I’m against Active Racism
      I’m against passive racism
      I’m also against “Positive” racism (i.e. choosing someone from a minority just because they are a minority – replacing someone possibly better qualified)

      If the best people at hand to judge were all white – so be it.
      If the best people at hand to judge were all black – then so be it.

      (Granted I’m not overly familiar with PDN, or the industry in the US + diversity there)

      • @Daf,

        actually i think that “positive discrimination” is the worst possible discrimination.

        getting discriminated in your own workplace, home, and country just because you happen to be white.

        if that’s not counter-racism i don’t what it is.

  23. I like the mobile-friendly version of the site rob. I wonder when blogspot or others will offer that option?

  24. Is white/non-white the only criteria? Does “white” include jews? What about height and weight criteria? What about sexual preference? What about people who eat their food serially in some kind of order?

    I mean, WTF!

    • @Michael A Shapiro, So how many judges do you think there should be before you start to think something a bit odd is going on?

      50, 75, 100, 200? What do you say Michael. How many interviews would you go to in which you kept not getting the job, even though you were as good as the rest, before you started to think something was wrong with the system. As many as 24?

      Read comment 17 and then come back and be trivial.

      • @duckrabbit,

        PDN is not an equal-right antiracist charity, it’s a commercial news service.

        either you get it or you don’t.

        this whole rant of yours is a pointless
        smokescreen or just a linkbait.

        • @Mario Rossi, Mario,I’m afraid you’re unable to tell the difference between equality, a human right, and anti-racism which is a choice of action.

          Are things that backward for you that having a black person, or ten on a 24 person panel is an anti-racist move? What century are you living in? They would be there on merit, nothing else.

          As for anyone suggesting any of the judges are racist. NO-ONE has suggested that. Why on earth would they be?

          • @duckrabbit,

            by your same logic then we need quotas based on religion, gender, and political party.

            i don’t see anything strange in PDN having 24 white guys as i see nothing strange either if other magazines have 24 blacks or 24 asians.

            the only one ranting and raving about it are you and only you.

            • @Mario Rossi, look up the word ‘merit’ and then come back to me.

  25. @duckrabbit :

    i find your idea racist in itself.
    the industry is based mostly on meritocracy.

    no one should advance or get a cover photo only
    because of his skin color or slanted eyes.

    if PDN is all white there are maybe good reasons.
    and then what about checking out which religion
    they belong ? it could give you some other surprises
    as well, what’s next … another 1000$ prize to whom
    can prove WASPS are not running PDN ?

    get a life.

    • @Mario Rossi,

      There are always “good reasons.” Good reasons to start a preemptive war, good reasons to stick people in a ghetto, good reasons to torture, good reasons to get away with all the above. The world is always full of “good reasons,” and funny how they usually favor those in power.

      Twenty four (24) missed opportunities to pick someone every single damn bit as qualified as anyone else (who happened to be white). There are good reasons for that too.

      • @Stan B.,

        if you really want to make racial or ethnic profilings than you should see by yourself that they may be 24 whites on PDN but they’re quite diversified, we’ve WASPs, jews, mixed bloods, nordics, mediterraneans, you think they’re all white because they look white in the picture but who told you they really are ? what if i tell you some of them are half arabic or half asian or half hispanic ?

        and then you’ve protestants, catholics, jewish, atheists, and maybe even muslims.

        what’s racist here is YOU profiling people judging them from a 200px snapshot and ranting on a blog.

        there’s only good reason for them to be there : the owners of PDN felt they were the right guys to run the show, period.

        call it mafia, call it racism, up to you.

        if your non-white pictures are so good then why don’t you try your luck with the best magazines ?

        for the record i do mainly ethnic photography and never had a complaint about me (a white guy) focusing on non-white subjects.

        • @Mario Rossi,

          For the record Mario, round about 98 to 99% of the photographers I’ve featured on my blog, as well as on the online photo gallery I co-edit with my friend in Manchester, England (who I assume is white, actually never met the lad but he seems a rather nice enough bloke- must make it a point to have a pint or two one day and chat about the crown) have been white, white and white. So far I haven’t gotten any complaints from them either, but yes, I do wish I had… say PDN’s wasted prestige and outreach to feature more qualified photographers of color. Thanks for asking.

          Oh, and just in case you want to see what PDN themselves recognize as people of color- all you need do is check the cover below…

          • @Stan B.,

            if the photographer’s skin color is really so important for you, than maybe YOU are indeed a racist.

            you better talk about photography if you run a photo blog rather than silly politics.

  26. The talented minority editors and photographers I know would all, to their credit, bristle at being chosen for anything on the basis of their race. That does not make their exclusion, even if due to “passive racism”, any less annoying.

    • @john mcd., Absolutely John. Given their ‘talent’ why would anyone need to choose them on the basis of race? If people were treated equally, on the basis of talent, I don’t think we’d be having this debate.

      • @duckrabbit, Seriously. Duh.

        We’re talking equally qualified people.

        So if anyone is suggesting that we want some kind of affirmative action, they are entirely missing the point and being somewhat offensive in suggesting that there are no people who would not be qualified for any other reason than their race.

  27. Here you go. PDN even dedicated an issue in 2000 to race and photography (thanks for the scan Keith). The cover line says “Photographer and photo editors speak out on how the media’s lack of diversity influence who shoots what and which photos get published.” So, all of you playing the reverse racism card here… even PDN feels like there’s a lack of diversity in media. So, why not do something about it?


    • @A Photo Editor,

      Wow, can’t make it up…

      Of course, there are those who will now argue that this issue pretty much covers PDN for the rest of the century as far as “promoting” diversity.

    • @A Photo Editor,

      it’s 9 years old.

      • @Mario Rossi,

        Yes, it is 9 yrs old- published in the year 2000, it bloody was! Starting the century off on the good foot- one would have hoped…

        • @Stan B.,

          9 years are a long time.
          so many things changed in the meantime.

  28. First off, this seems pretty inflammatory. You don’t get out the “R” word unless you know what you’re talking about, and have proof. You don’t even qualify it like that.

    Has anyone bothered to ask Holly Hughes directly about this? I don’t know her at all, but I’ve spoken to her on the phone a few times. She seems responsible, and cares about the photo community. I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams that the magazine would have designed this on purpose. Maybe at worst, they’re guilty of getting in a hurry, or just trying to fill the slots with the first 24 that would say yes. But who knows until someone at PDN officially comments? Again, these are strong accusations.

    Of course, on the surface, at first glance, it looks bad. (My question, as an aside, Why do you need 24 judges? Seems like overkill). But when you open that door to 24, then yes, it looks bad that it’s not more diverse. Would anyone have complained if there were only eight judges?

    But it does make you wonder. How can you have a magazine in New York City, and not think about diversity?

    I understand the intention of the original Poster, but every time he lobs another hand grenade in the form of a Comment, obviously very defensive, I think he dilutes his own cause. And when you throw out that “R” word right off the bat, it just makes you wonder how constructive this conversation can get.

    I appreciate the sentiments from Comment 17. Seems level-headed and thoughtful. Maybe something good can come of this.

    • @Just Ask Holly,

      As a Puerto Rican for the last 53 years of my life, I’d say I have a fairly good acquaintance with the subject of racism in many of it’s various forms, mutations and oh so subtle nuances. Inflammatory is one word you could use.

      I left a comment at PDN’s site on May 19, essentially asking what the deal was with the 24 rather homogeneous judges- to date, no reply. I also sent them a Letter to the Editor (which they printed in their print edition) about a year ago, noting something to the effect of how little things had changed in the 35 yrs I’ve been involved in photography that for the exception of one Asian female- the rest of the people featured in their Major Movers and Shakers (of photography) issue were all… white. And let’s just say that for all practical purposes- the major shakers and movers (with the exception of one Asian female) that year were, in fact, all white. No problem.

      But what’s the excuse for their personally hand picked 24 member all white jury (yeah, I’m sure there’s some mixed blood there somewhere- aint we all)? As you can see in the cover above, when they want to signify race, they know their phenotypes.

      As to “the original Poster,” whether you are referring to myself or Duckrabbit, if we hadn’t lobbed these hand grenades- would we be having this discussion?

    • @Just Ask Holly, I once witnessed an entrant ask Holly Hughes about the rather opaque judging process of a PDN photography website competition. She was defensive without cause, made an excuse to go off to find someone else that person could ask their questions of, and neither of them ever came back.

  29. Whether racist (passively) or not, it was one of the most boring collections of photography I have seen in a long time…

  30. @duckrabbit,
    Thank you, just wanted to share some of my experiences. Your work is amazing.

  31. One thing can be said with certainty about all PDN juries, irrespective of their degree of “diversity”. They inevitably make some choices which leave most of us scratching our heads.

  32. regardless of your opinions on the subject… I would hate to be the intern calling around to prospective jurors having to ask them what their racial background is!

  33. I find it a bit curious that there has been no response from PDN yet.

    • @Anthony, there is no up side for them if they respond. their “response”, if any, will be to look for some non-caucasian faces on future such juries. I think the problem is anyway more a case of NY-centered professional inbreeding than anything as sinister as racism, though the result ends up being more or less the same.

    • @Anthony, there is no up side for them if they respond. their “response”, if any, will be to look for some non-caucasian faces on future such juries. I think the problem is more a case of NY-centered professional inbreeding than anything as sinister as racism, though the result ends up being more or less the same.

  34. Do a google for black media, black organizations african american media and organizations. Are none of them racist simply for focusing on and promoting blacks? If substitute the word “white” for “black” is it racist only then? What is the new face of racism?

    National Print & Internet Media
    about…time (Magazine)
    African-American News & Issues (Houston)
    Afro-American Newspapers (Baltimore)
    Atlanta Inquirer
    Amsterdam News (New York)
    Atlanta Daily World
    Atlanta Tribune
    The Atlanta Voice
    Baltimore Times
    Birmingham Times
    Black College Sports Online
    The Black Collegian
    Black Enterprise
    Black Issues in Higher Education
    Black Journalism Review Online (“News for and about The Black Press in America”) (Online news site)
    The Black Scholar
    Black Voice News (California)
    The Black World Today (Comprehensive Online News & Information Site)
    The Broward Times (South Florida)
    Buckeye Review (Ohio)
    The California Advocate
    Capital Outlook (Tallahassee)
    Chicago Standard Newspapaers
    City News (Ohio)
    The Columbus Times (Georgia)
    The Communicator News (Ohio)
    The Crisis
    The Dallas Examiner
    The Dallas Post Tribune
    East Texas Review
    Exodus Newsmagazine (California)
    The Final Call (Nation of Islam)
    Florida Sentinel Bulletin (Tampa)
    Florida Star
    Free Press (Louisiana)
    Houston Forward Times
    The Indianapolis Recorder
    The Indy Outlook
    Insight (Minnesota)
    The Jacksonville Advocate (Florida)
    Jet Online
    Johnson Publishing Company
    The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
    Los Angeles Wave
    Michigan Chronicle
    The Miami Times
    Milwaukee Community Journal
    Milwaukee Courier & Southeastern Star
    The Milwaukee Times
    Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
    The Mississippi Link
    Monroe Free Press (Louisiana)
    the Network Journal (Brooklyn)
    New Journal & Guide (Norfolk)
    The New York Beacon
    Pasadena Journal (California)
    New Pittsburgh Courier
    New York Beacon
    O Magazine (“The Oprah Magazine”)
    The Orlando Times
    The Pensacola Voice
    Philadelphia New Observer
    The Philadelphia Tribune
    Piedmont Area Journal (Virginia)
    Pure-News USA (Illinois)
    Rap Sheet (hip-hop magazine)
    Sacramento Observer
    The Savannah Tribune
    The St. Louis Sentinel
    The St. Louis American
    The San Antonio Observer
    San Francisco Bay View
    The Savannah Tribune (Georgia)
    The Skanner (Portland, Seattle)
    The Source (Hip-hop monthly not black-owned)
    Speakin’ Out News (Alabama)
    Tennessee Tribune
    The Toledo Journal
    Vibe (Includes a link to Vibe radio)
    The Washington Informer
    The Weekly (Atlanta)
    The Weekly Challenger (Florida)
    The Westside Gazette (Florida)
    The Windy City Word (Chicago)

    National Broadcast Media
    BET Networks Home Page
    “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” (

    National Media Organizations
    National Association of Black Journalists
    National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters
    National Newspaper Publishers Association

    • @Dan Quan,

      Thank you so much for so dramatically demonstrating exactly what results when one faction of the population has been so effectively shut out from so many outlets of mainstream media for so long.

        • @duckrabbit,

          If I understand you correctly, racial discrimination is only wrong if someone “feels like” “white” people are exercising it, right?

      • @Stan B., Is he citing this as equally offensive? It might be, but only if it’s taken as evidence of media based segregation.

        • @Ian Aleksander Adams,

          Racial discrimination, bigotry and racism is either always wrong or it’s not. Equal ONLY means equal, nothing else.

          My father once told me of a night out he and my mother were on while they were on leave from the MC and Navy during WWII and how they told they could only enter the dance hall through the rear door. That has not happened to me, but I have had Police officer attempt to denigrate me with racial slurs. I was fortunate to not be arrested afterward.

          Racial discrimination is either always wrong or its not, we cannot have it both ways.

          • @Dan Quan, I’m not sure it’s the same situation. Many of the publications were created specifically to address a LACK of information geared towards their audience, basically, because the issues that they wanted to cover were being ignored as unimportant by the mainstream media. Now, sure, a lot of them are just as exploitative and money hungry as other publications, and are simply now branches of the mainstream, but PDN isn’t saying this is a top white jury either. They’re saying it’s a top jury. Sort of implies that the top is all white.

            Is that true? I don’t know. I’ll never be near that top.

            I’m suggesting that these black publications are a result of a sort of media segregation, not a cause of it (though certainly some profit from a targeted audience).

            • @Ian Aleksander Adams,

              I don’t mean to imply it is the same. I do not know how or why these jurors were chosen. I have read of no evidence of racial bias, yet people are assuming and alleging racial discrimination. Yet, when I point to other clear examples of racial discrimination people defend it as acceptable and even necessary.

              PDN may have chosen a “Top Jury”, although based on past “Top 30” issues and their “Photo of the Day” choices I doubt the merits of their choices, but, where is the evidence to allege racial bias whether active or passive? More likely they are just boneheads.

              • @Dan Quan, I do not want to live in a world where race targeted publications are considered a necessity, or even accessable. That’s not what I’m getting at.

                I just think that pointing a finger in this direction is missing the point entirely. The stated goals of these publications are to fill a gap. None of them, that I know of, claim to speak for an industry, entire nation, or anything of the sort. They are niche publications, and as such are not discriminatory. I’m sure many of them employ people from various backgrounds – I know I’ve been on freelance jobs for similar magazines, and I’m a white jew.

                I’m sure that you can find hate and close mindedness somewhere among those ranks, but again, that’s not the point. We’re talking about passive racism, something born more of ignorance than outright hate. No one is accusing anyone of hate speech or having an agenda.

                What Stan, and others, are hoping, is that people will make an effort to look past the business as usual and include people who have been trying to make contributions from outside the circles they are in.

                So yeah, basically, they are being accused of being boneheads. And asked to not be boneheads. That’s all.

              • @Dan Quan, ‘I have read of no evidence of racial bias’ … Dan, sorry to point out the obvious, you may have somehow missed where this debate started. 24 out of 24 of the panel were white. Statistically any which way you look at it, that is evidence of racial bias, given the make-up of America. That’s just a matter of statistical fact. What you or anyone else attributes that to is another matter.

        • @Ian Aleksander Adams,

          Not quite sure what his position is Ian, the fact remains that those publications were specifically created to address the utter lack of minority representation in various mainstream media outlets.

          • @Stan B.,

            Institutionalized racial discrimination is unacceptable.

            People will self segregate based on many factors such as skin color, ideology, sexual preference, age, family composition, interests, income etc etc. This is not a bad thing and it is not wrong, it is normal to want to be around those with similarities. Racists will hang out with racists, thats fine. I would rather have racists in this country than thought police.

            When one alleges something as serious as active or passive racial discrimination one should have presentable credible evidence to be taken seriously. Not just a feeling. to do otherwise is unhelpful and possibly even damaging.

            Words have meanings, and we have a responsibility to use them with forethought.

            • @Dan Quan,

              The evidence is right before your eyes, Dan- 24 times over. Don’t you think they could have found 24 qualified white male judges if they wanted? Easily. Feminists would have had a field day- and rightfully so! They are sensitive to that issue, that particular segment of the population. They are not quite so sensitive or concerned with people of color, or else they would have just as easily and purposely selected equally qualified judges that reflected that particular segment of society. This is not that hard to understand or grasp, really.

              • @Stan B.,

                There is no reason to talk down to me just because I disagree with you, it is bad form.

                With this statement “They are not quite so sensitive or concerned with people of color…” I believe you assume too much.

                Like I said before, I think it is more likely they are just boneheads.

                • @Dan Quan,

                  Was not my intent, or my action Dan…

                  “Bonehead” is a vague excuse, Dan. These are professionals, adult professionals with a certain amount of power that need to wield that power with a certain amount of responsibility.

  35. Not sure about the judging debate, but I would take offense to Rob’s blanket statement that magazines “don’t give a shit about the community around them.”

    As a small publisher and editor, I can assure you that EVERY decision I make takes my community of readers into account first and foremost.

    It is not surprising that Rob’s viewpoint comes after working at two titles with circulations of well over half a million. However, a closer look would show that the “relevance” of some niche verticals is actually increasing rather than decreasing, as the weaker print products fall by the wayside and the “exciting new media” gets more watered down by the day thanks to low entry barriers and excruciatingly lame content. (Aphotoeditor being the exception to this rule, of course…)

    • @TomB,
      Except small independent publishers of course!

      As you know many of these magazines started as community centers now they’ve just lost their way.

  36. Nothing from PDN all day anywhere. No tweets, no PDN pulse – zero.

    • @Anthony,

      Yup, obviously not very concerned- and they problably have every right not to be. How many of their subscribers complained when that issue came out? That’s the bottom line.

      Also be nice to hear form one of the judges, particularly the women who have fought long and hard to get their small measure of respect (amazing how people don’t see the most obvious connections). But I doubt that too- don’t want to chance being crossed off that short list.

  37. I hereby offer $10,000 to anyone who can prove that the panels selection was fueled by racism.

      • @Dan Quan, So Long as Mario wasn’t on the selection panel I think that’s a safe bet!

  38. Mario Rossi is banned. It was just a troll trying get everyone fired up. It’s over now.

    • @A Photo Editor, good move.

  39. WOW!

    A LOT of you really need to go back and study the history of racism in America, particularly as it relates to African-Americans, before you comment.

    A lot of ignorance showing here.

    • @Tim,

      That would certainly be a most welcomed start- not that I expect anyone to actually comply (I can hear the protests at the very concept already), but it would be nice for everyone to at least understand the basic concept of passive racism which is at play here. In this case, allowing the usual majority players to be featured without making any concerted effort whatsoever to find EQUALLY qualified judges (as they so rightfully and obviously did with women) that more accurately reflect the population of this country, and planet.

  40. Duck: Would you say that all officially organized groups that consist of the same race are “passively racist.”

    If not, then you must explain why you are able to judge the motives of this particular group and not all others.

    What I am getting at is that your argument/proposition is self-refuting.

    • @Peter, I would say so if they claim to be representational, whether it be of an industry, a talent pool, people of a certain athletic ability, etc.

      If they claim to be celebrating a certain heritage, and they pull their membership from an open pool, then shit, they can do whatever. I wouldn’t expect many native Americans to go to synagogue.

      But if we’re talking Olympic committees, town hall meetings, judging panels, and juries, they should be a composed more like the constituency they claim to represent.

      Basically, PDN is supposed to represent our entire industry, and our entire industry is not white. Or is it? Did I miss something?

    • @Peter Dawson, Thanks for that Peter. I’m sure the truth is a mixture of the more constructive answers given above.

      What I would say is that Stan Banos raised this issue on the PDN website over two weeks ago. They could have nipped the whole thing in the bud by acknowledging his post and giving some kind of response but they didn’t feel the need.

      Why is that?

      It was in the first instance a fair question to ask wasn’t it? As a journalist I think its a very fair question. And like all journalists when you see a question not being answered you want to dig a little deeper.

      You see if someone is claiming to have taken a straight photograph, but when you’re looking at it it seems all wonky, you’re entitled to challenge their assertion. No harm done, because if its just your eyesight that’s out they’ll be able to set you straight. On the other hand if it is a bit wonky they might admit the error and work on their technique. Either way, no harm done.

      • @duckrabbit,

        I can’t help but point out that if you say that “the truth is a mixture of the more constructive answers given above,” then the truth is NOT what you originally proposed. So why did you put it out there? To start a dialogue?

        The problem that I have with the question is that it comes from a “guilty until proven innocent” angle. I don’t think it’s unfair, but a journalist should have more OBJECTIVE evidence before making such a claim. For example, maybe contacting one of the jurors and asking if they were racially profiled.

        • @Peter Dawson, Thanks Peter … I refer you back to Stan Banos’ original blog posts. I think you’ll find a range of reasons given, its just a shame PDN didn’t have the intelligence to respond. As for objective evidence, which bit of 24 out of 24 do you struggle with?

  41. Not really related, but interesting nonetheless — I just noticed this Press Release on PDN’s site, dated May 2009. This grant is a $25,000 award, but you must be African-American to enter:

    • @Just Ask Holly,

      The only African-Americans I am close to are originally from South Africa and now hold dual citizenship, they are of Chinese descent.

      I wonder if they qualify?

      • @Dan Quan,

        Dan, didn’t you just lecture me on being condescending?

        • @Stan B.,

          With so few words I wouldn’t call it a lecture, I pointed out what I thought was an unhelpful attitude, but I don’t see your point. If anything I have a more mocking tone.

          • @Dan Quan,

            No argument there.

    • @Just Ask Holly,

      Yes, interesting, but unrelated. And yes, if we had a truly level playing field, perhaps we’d also need fewer race specific competitions.

  42. Duckrabbit, what you are asking or offering has no possible way to be answered with certainty. Passive?… I doubt it. Racist?… only if you hurl it out there and who will touch that? Ignorant and not in touch with their surroundings?… I’d put my cash there.

    I’ve always viewed the visual profession as a color-blind crowd. Perhaps the business appears to be biased by the make-up of the PDN judges, but it’s just never crossed their minds.*

    I’m suggesting that because you have raised the issue and it has stricken such a nerve, you may be providing them with the means to take a fresh look at the judging selection. Who knows what the next wave will wash ashore.

    *I do not have mind-reading skills so this is speculation.

    • @Paul O’Mara, thanks Paul, I appreciate your comments, but I wonder in 2009, in the photography industry, what excuse is there for ignorance?

  43. WOW!!! what a dialogue!!!!! I do have to marvel at the rants-I wonder WHERE and how people communicate! I think your “observation” of the all white jury is a call out for ‘our community’ to reflect on itself…and I think and hope that this point counter point opens peoples minds to think different;

    Here’s a couple ideas; Perhaps it wasn’t malicious intent to choose an all ‘white’ jury. I can only think that people become culturally,historically numb…maybe no one in the meeting of choosing the jury pool ‘saw’ to it- or cared or saw it a point to question….or sees it as important in these changing times. Oversight, ignorance? too busy to see the importance of it…but maybe this call out will help raise the bar and open eyes and minds.

    As a photographer who happens to be a woman, and mixed raced(not many boxes for me to check: ) I have noticed growing up in the world of photography, and some of the ASMP meetings, some photo workshops, and going through the magazines, and even looking at advertising, I have noticed there is a lack of the whole diversity that is “AMERICA” and the whole box of crayons that of the world.

    Most people have been taught the same history about Columbus who never even stepped foot on this continent- the current border debate with Mexico is also highly charged- this us and them……so much of what makes a rich diversity lies buried under this “blanket’ of ignorance or cultural acceptance, and it’s from the over dominating culture which is primarily white and male….the colorful diversity that exists gets white washed out and we grow blind as if in a snow storm with our eyes closed.

    I have looked to PDN for years of inspiration and to learn but have always felt a bit out of the loop- even though I know and have worked with GREAT photographers who’ve gotten some play on their pages. Some of these contests also make me scratch my head as to what is GREAT photography….yet another same cliche of beauty, sensationalism of yet another heroin story or another image of ‘stereotyped’ photo essays ; some of it seems so much the same; I wonder about passion and I wonder what choices of ‘great’ photography seem to pale compared to when I look at the really diverse photo stories, and photographers I’ve been inspired by when looking at work on David Allan Harvey’s blog/emerging photographers or look at the really cultural diverse work at

    I wish everyone could read the book “Nothing Personal” by Richard Avedon and James Baldwin. It speaks to this race issue from back in the sixties….and it is still a strong, passionate, perspective by two friends who went to high school together and made this collaboration as a photographer and a writer; one was Jewish and one was Black…it speaks of the racism our country was founded on; and it speaks of the beauty of the resilient spirit of the diversity that is so often and still is overlooked and for the love of light…and the shadows that define it.

    People maybe don’t want to look at it …and maybe that’s your point. People are obviously not comfortable and are quick to get all fired up-there’s something to learn and hopefully it won’t be another 9 years til PDN looks at whose chosen to color’ the world…. til then I LOVE the web for the blogs, the discussions the freedom to express and see work that I wouldn’t see in the main stream magazines; I think a lot of publications today lack what once made great magazines back in the day when I was a kid…great design, great editors like Marvin Israel-Roy Stryker. I miss the work Oliver Toscani and Tibor Kilman…now they pushed the envelop making some lasting impressions and giving the world something to think about.

    Here’s some sites for diversity and the great book by INGA MUSIO that will make clear how we need to get our history straight . This may help change and inform some new viewpoints-and isn’t that part of our work? to ask questions? to put forth ideas and perspectives?? I am proud of you for taking up the point. A non-profit dedicated to cultural diversity in photography.
    A GREAT culturally diverse publication and organization in the Bronx for over 20 years!!!
    Suggested reading; an excerpt from BLue Eyed Devil Why I love America….

    • @RAEchel Running, thanks for the tips, especially for the Avedon/Baldwin collaboration. I wasn’t aware of that. By the way, as a white male I also often feel out of the loop when looking through PDN.

    • @RAEchel Running, As an African-American photographer, I decided to just lay back and see what kind of responses this post would get. I could write an entire essay on the subject, but wanted to get a feel of people’s thoughts on the issue.

      Without going into a long autobiography, I’ll say that I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Miss., which, to anyone who knows their history, finally integrated through violence in 1962. It was a personal accomplishment to me, because my father worked in the campus cafeteria as a high school student, but had to be off campus by nightfall. Now, me, his youngest son, is an alumnus of that same institution.

      I’ve never taken a formal photography course. I learned photography through sheer passion and hustle. That passion and hustle was recognized by the white photographer in the PR Dept. on campus, who offered me a job as a student photographer. That opportunity opened up a world of possibilities for me. One of which was being in the right place when a small plane crashed at the University Airport one night. It was the director of the pr department who got me into the scene to get the exclusive images. Images that were splashed 6 columns wide across Mississippi’s largest newspaper the next day. The director of the pr department was a student at the university during the bloody days of its integration.

      I say all of that to say that, it was a group of southern, white, rich and middle class individuals, who saw something in me that they wanted to nourish. In time, this skinny, blue collar, black kid from one of the worst inner cities in the country, East St. Louis, IL, was living his dream; being noticed and assigned by some of the top editors in the country. I’ve shot an array of assignments, from poverty in the Mississippi Delta, to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

      In my opinion, the issues we’re discussing have less to do about race and more about culture. Culture in America, however, is divided along racial lines. I try and I hope that my experiences as a black man growing up in America are reflected in the images I capture. Likewise, I think we all show some of our experiences in our work, and that’s what makes diversity in communication so important. If we are constantly seeing only certain voices represented in our art, we deprive ourselves of the vast experiences of other segments of our society. That is a shameful waste.

      I would hope that media outlets recognize the importance of having these diverse expressions, and make space for them to be seen.

      • @Tim, a great and thoughtful post, offering a fresh perspective and inspiration.

  44. When listing what it takes to win a competition like the World Press Photo Awards, Mayes jokingly quotes another juror saying that it helps if you are “American, male, white and shooting black and white – so there are some standards.” Right after he says “I’m just kidding”, but I’m a firm believer that there’s some truth to every joke.

  45. A photographer I very much admire just informed me that the 10 jurors for the Photography Book Now competition sponsored by Blurb were all white (4 0f 10 female).

    Now how many of the panels participating in the vast myriad of portfolio reviews and festivals throughout this country and abroad are integrated? I would certainly hope more “there” than here…

    PDN is but one sad example.

    • @Stan B.,

      Jesus! Isn’t that what we’re talking about here!? Integration- pure and simple. Didn’t we start this conversation some fifty years back? Didn’t the more progressive amongst our society agree that we were all better off if we learned to work together- until Reagan came along and announced (to the absolute joy of many) that there was no such thing as racism?

  46. Doesn’t anyone see that we cannot achieve cultural or racial integration through institutionalized segregation and racial discrimination?

    The contest should be offensive to everyone but a racist.

    What if it were only open to whites and no one else? Would that be right?

    Even if one considers the idea of a racially biased contest acceptable, we should at least have some sort of clear cut standard to mitigate any miscegenation.

    Seriously, can we get an ANSI or ISO standard of race? Lets assume “white” is 36% reflectance, then with a deep tan a person could down to what, 24%? So anyone that would come it at 24% reflectance and under would be eligible to participate in the PDN contest. But that may include Hispanics and Native-Americans as well as others and we can’t have that.

    Then there is the possibility of a light skinned person with a broad nose and kinky hair, born of miscegenation, are they eligible?

    I hope this post is only comically offensive, a sort of caricature of racial bias.

    I realize we cannot un-ring the bell of human history, but we also cannot achieve integration through institutional segregation. At some point we need to realize we are all just “flesh-color” and demand equality on a base level. Then and only then will we truly be able to celebrate or differences.

  47. So many angry duckrabbit naysayers and all-white-panel supporters here! People, is it not worth considering that some choices were made that were perhaps passive and yet still damaging? Not worth considering that an error was made that might harm the photographic community at large (and that includes you angry haters)? Clearly it was a provocative contest to spur discussion. Instead, as is the usual on blogs, we get ridiculous angry haters. Please think before you write. It is the world wide web after all.

    Or are the haters just out there trying to win the $1000?

  48. My apologies for going on seemingly endlessly here, not that I (so far) regret anything I’ve said. And thanks again Rob, for hosting the majority of this conversation. It’s just that this discussion so rarely, if ever, actually occurs in the light of day.

    And so I’ll retire this evening with the thoughts of someone conspicuously more learned than myself:

  49. Do Have a little look at the 12 strong POYi jury …

    I like POYi because you can watch the judging, which is fascinating. But I do think a more diverse panel would have seen different things in different pictures …

    just a thought.

  50. This is retarded. How is that for political correctness? Why? Not because you had a decent thing going but because you asked readers to email judges to essentially comment on them being part of what you deem as a racist competition. Asking people to do so under the passive-aggressive line “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?” WTF man. So when PDN asked them to be a judge they should have replied with something along the lines of “I am a white woman so what portion of the other judges are non-white?”

    FYI – I too find it rather odd that the judges are all white and from the same demo. In this day and age it is not hard to find credible people to judge a competition like this from all races, religions and countries.

    But Duckrabbit you lost my vote for credibility when you put out the call to action.

    • @Myles, Thanks Myles … you don’t think they should be part of the conversation?

  51. Ignoring duckrabbit’s inane accusation isn’t passive racism any more than ignoring any other sort of idiocy.

    • @dude, I think you’ll find that if you read duckrabbit’s post he doesn’t actually make an accusation, rather reports what others have said and poses questions.

      • @duckrabbit, my bad.

        I guess it’s only the “competition” that’s inane.

        Who’s on YOUR contest jury? George Pitts? Jimo Salako? Nobuyoshi Araki? Dawoud Bey?

        • @dude, no worries. Your completely right it IS inane. But here’s a thought …maybe its inane on purpose, as a reflection that the PDN comp is inane, or just to get people like you and me talking?

    • PDN stepped up to the plate, it appears. Good for them. Maybe a half-hearted response, but good nonetheless. Better than silence and avoidance.

      In other news, the Jury for the 2010 PDN Awards has just been assembled and approved by all the higher-ups at Nielsen and their PR firm. They did a press junket today, and at the end of the day, they got together in unison.

    • @Dan Quan, You know what Dan a little humility goes a long way. It doesn’t really matter who’s right, it matters that some people end up on the outside, when by talent they should be on the inside, or having to get into places through the back door.

      • @duckrabbit,
        You are right, humility does go a long way, and, since you were wrongfully getting folks all riled-up, you out to show some.

    • @Dan Quan,
      Nobody said it was intentional. That was the point.

      • @A Photo Editor,

        Wow, I must have read a completely different set of comments. I remember being slammed when I said it was not intentional. But, hey, whatever man.

        • @Dan Quan,
          You claimed that passive needs evidence. In this case unintentional is the same as passive.

          • @A Photo Editor,

            As far as I’m concerned this a done deal, you guys can spin it any way you need to.

            I love your blog, I hit it almost everyday.I think it’s very informative and helpful, and greatly contributes to community. Thanks for taking the time to keep it up. It’s a great resource and I’m trying to learn from it.

  52. Dan, Dan, Dan- This is anything but a done deal. This was merely a start, a start as real and necessary as you or I, and bigger than us both. A start to address something that seldom gets mentioned, and rarely goes beyond lip service. This was never the winner take all, adversarial issue you made it out to be. This was, and still is, something in which we all lose if we don’t make the conscious, active attempt to be more inclusive, and ultimately more understanding…

  53. I went to sleep last night and the black guy I voted for to be president had won, was in office, was (mostly successfully) executing the most complex agenda since 1933. I was in a great mood. I woke up, logged on to this site, and its 1996 again. All of the AgitProp that gave rise to the great backlash in US politics, which produced and enabled W and Cheney.

    Someone pointed out the answer, and its simply who they know. I doubt a great deal of thought goes into who judges. The issue is really how many suckers they can get to send in their entry fee. Beyond that its just AgitProp.

    I’ll take my $1000 in pesos as I’m a beaner.

    • @From a Bean, yeah, I should have read the comments to the end and saw that PDN confirmed my take, to a degree. I wouldn’t have posted. So I guess I won’t be getting my sack of pesos.

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