Today we are announcing the 25 shortlisted photographers for the Source-Cord Prize. The winners will be announced next month when a special issue of Source is published. In September the judges met to talk over the submissions. As they arrived I spoke to them all to ask what they thought of the work they had seen and how easy they thought it would be to reach a consensus.
This is how the judging process worked. There were 926 submissions. The judges each had a month to look over these submissions online, from which they then made a shortlist of 25 that they ranked 1-25. From these a combined shortlist was made. This was the work that would be discussed by the judges in person on the day. I think we were all surprised how little overlap there was between the judges' individual selections which meant that a number of the pieces of work on the table were initially only strongly advocated by one judge.
The judges had print outs of the work and we talked over each portfolio by turn until these had been narrowed down to sets of pictures that at least three judges backed. We then stopped for lunch. I had to leave before the final selections were made but it was interesting to see the way the conversation took place in the morning. All the judges mentioned the diversity of styles and this could be read differently depending on the context. Stefanie picked out some documentary projects saying it was rare to see the approach in Germany while John and Kate agreed it was comparatively common in the UK.
There was some horse trading, 'If we are going to have a poetic project about growing up then it should be THIS one...' but in general having four views of each piece of work meant the strengths and weaknesses of each set of pictures were well examined. In most cases the judges could readily accept one another's point of view even if it didn't necessarily settle the matter for them. By lunchtime at least, they had arrived at a selection that could provide a winner that everyone would agree on.