An Interview with MPA’s Daniel Berman
One of Life In LoFi’s promotional partners is the Mobile Photography Awards and it’s one of the largest, highest profile mobile photography contests to date. The MPA was organized by one of iPhoneography’s pioneers, Daniel Berman. You might also know him online as Reservoir_Dan. Dan has been shooting and exhibiting since the early days of iPhoneography, as well as being a highly visible presence online on both Twitter and Facebook.
Entries are still being accepted through November 30, 2011 — that’s about a week away. Click here for more information.
Click past the jump to hear what Dan has to say.
Life In LoFi: Hi, Dan. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.
Daniel Berman: Thanks, Marty. Firstly, I’m very sorry about your Rangers. Since I had no horse in that race I was truly pulling for you. As a Cleveland Browns fan and a Toronto Maple Leafs fan I have no clue what it means to be that close but I know it must hurt.
LoFi: Thanks, Dan. I don’t think you wanted to talk baseball here, though. As I told you over the phone a while back, I love the concept and how you’re doing the Mobile Photography Awards. What is the MPA and why have you started it?
DB: Iâ€™ve been involved one way or another with mobile photography for several years now. Iâ€™m passionate about my own iphoneography but what keeps me coming back for more is the talent that I see around me on a daily basis. And there is truly very little being done to harness that talent in a concentrated way outside of the online world. So, the Mobile Photo Awards were founded to promote the medium as an art-form, a commitment to presenting the images in galleries and exhibits.
The short-term goal of the Mobile Photo Awards is to celebrate the medium of mobile photography, the artists, the developers who create the applications and, of course, the beauty of the images. We believe that in order to bring the pictures into the public eye the medium must move beyond online photo sharing. The images must be tactile, printed and framed, viewed on walls in a public space, and treated with the public respect accorded other art forms.
LoFi: How will this further expose Mobile Photography and Mobile Art?
The idea is that over time the awards will grow into something that are covered by the mainstream press. My goal is to bring these images into the public eye much like other international photo awards elevate the stature of the artists and images in particular genres. I see mobile photography as a genre of photography and art at large and it deserves itâ€™s own focus. Hopefully, the gallery shows and exhibits will continue to garner media attention and bring the images into the view of both the public and collectors of fine art.
LoFi: Who are the judges and how does the judging process work?
DB: The judges are drawn from a pool of established talent in the mobile photography and art world. Most of the folks on the panel have been creating pictures with mobiles for several years and have made names for themselves in the community. I felt it was important to populate the jury with people who work in the genre and view/create images everyday. Each category in the awards has a lead judge who will narrow down the entries to five images. The system is â€œblindâ€, that is to say that the names of the entrants will not be available to the judges. Then 3 or 4 other members of the panel will join that person to determine a winning image. The grand prize winner will be chosen from among the 25 winning images and be decided upon by the entire panel.
LoFi: How is this event different from similar events?
What distinguishes the Mobile Photo Awards, besides the prizes and exposure of the contest, are the gallery shows.Â Yes, there is a $500 Apple Store gift card for the grand prize winner, $50 itunes gift cards for the 25 winners, Keepsy books, free archival prints, and more…but the real award in my mind are the exhibits that will visit three cities for month long runs at established galleries.Â I see nothing wrong with 2 night runs but itâ€™s important to me that the exhibits are lengthy, and build momentum to give the press a chance to cover the events and viewers the chance to see the images.
LoFi: Why is there an entry fee?
DB: Like virtually all open gallery calls in the art and photo world there is a nominal entry fee. These fees cover both the prizes as well as the costs associated with the gallery shows. When a brand or a product puts on a gallery show without entry fees the costs are paid for from an advertising/marketing budget and is designed to build awareness for a product. We have no product to sell. The means to an end here is about the art, not about a corporate brand, a particular camera or a piece of software. Not that there is anything wrong with sponsored events, please donâ€™t get me wrong there, itâ€™s just that we are an independent organization and have no product or brand besides the awards themselves.
LoFi: Can you tell us about one of the galleries that will be presenting the MPA exhibit?
DB: Absolutely, the MPA exhbit will be visiting the prestigous ArtHaus gallery in San Francisco from April 4 through April 30th. ArtHaus is an amazing 1700 square foot space in the heart of San Franciscoâ€™s art district. It has been voted the cityâ€™s best contemporary art gallery the last two years by the media in San Francisco. This is a serious gallery, one of the biggest and most well known to put on a Mobile Photo show and weâ€™re thrilled to be putting on the exhibit there. We expect it to be a big success and are very excited about the run. And more to come!
LoFi: Where do you see the MPA going from here?
DB: Well, letâ€™s hope itâ€™s a success this year and if so weâ€™ll be back next year!
LoFi: How can people enter the awards?
Please visit www.mobilephotoawards.com to enter the awards. The deadline for submissions is November 30. So hurry up and get those images in for a chance to win!
LoFi: Dan, I know you’re busy. Thanks again for taking the time here.
DB: Thanks, Marty!