I attended the judging of the 70th Annual Pictures of the Year on Tuesday, Feb. 19. It was the magazine editing division, and I went in without knowing what to expect.
I entered the dark lecture hall and saw that three judges were seated in front of a large projection screen. A moderator kept the conversation flowing while two students clicked through the entries. Each entry had multiple photos and were judged on storytelling and editing technique. The category was officially called news and issue story editing, which the judges joked was”everything” besides feature stories. As long as there was an issue or news peg, it was valid for the category.
Each judge was given a chance to “speak to” each work and explain their opinions. They narrowed the field to the top six, which all received awards of excellence. From there, they tried to narrow down a top three and later determine place. Because the competition was so steep, the judges discussed if certain entries made the top photos stronger than others. The judges considered the effectiveness of design, headline and typography. As the judges continued discussing, they all began to agree on the top choices. The mentioned that there weren’t many breaking news pieces, but then decided that the spread on Egypt could be considered breaking news. National Geographic’s story on wild weather, a piece on Pine Ridge and wounded knee and pictures of the underground rock city of New York, along with the Egypt story were constantly being revisited.
I had no idea how many elements can be looked at when judging a photo. I can tell when a photo is professional or good quality, but I have no idea how they decide which photos to keep and which to cut. I guess it just comes with time and more knowledge , but I’m glad I just got to enjoy the photos without the added pressure. The top six, as well as the three division winners can be seen here.