I’m including this under the category of ‘Assignment 1’ as well as the more general ‘Publication Progress’ as it is both a competition and a portfolio feedback opportunity.

LensCulture run a lot of photography competitions round the year and although I have entered some in the past, I have got more selective about which I think would suit my work as they are often quite tightly themed e.g. street, portrait. Recently the competitions have been free for a single image but chargeable for multiple entries including themed projects.

This Critics’ Choice 2020 awards really caught my eye for a couple of reasons:

  • It is a much broader competition than usual in terms of judges and ‘winners’
    • There are 20 judges and each will select three photographers
    • So effectively there are 60 potential ‘winners’
    • With so many judges, as the blurb puts it: “Your work only needs to resonate with one!
  • There are individual judges in here who I would love to get my work in front of, and an open call like this gives my work a better chance of being seen by these people than contacting them ‘cold’:
    • Anne Danneman, The Photographers Gallery
    • Charlotte Cotton, Curator
    • Fiona Shields, The Guardian
    • Jim Casper, LensCulture
    • Louise Fedotov-Clements, Format Festival
    • Manila Camarini, D La Repubblica
    • Michael Famighetti, Aperture
    • Simon Bainbridge, BJP

So for me I think entering these awards is a no-brainer.

Cost: it is $45 for a themed project of up to 10 images, plus $15 for a written feedback review. There is a 30% student discount which brings it down to $42, which is approximately £34.

The edit

Another day, another edit… :-)

So this time I get to pick 10 from 15. Better than 8 from 15 like Source.

Here’s the master set again:

Full set

I used similar editing logic as I had done for the Source submission (albeit with two more slots to play with) in terms of removing some subject duplication without losing too much of the sense of rhythm. In the end I arrived at the same set as Source plus one glove image and one dead bird image reinstated.

LensCulture 10

Submission instructions

Thankfully this submission allows images of higher resolution than the Source system (which was a strangely low 800 pixels on the long edge). The LensCulture system allows images between 1200px and 2000 on the long edge and no bigger than 10MB per image. This is fine.

Based on my Source experience of realising that the images might be presented against a white background, I have made sure that the versions I exported for LensCulture are with a faint keyline to demarcate the edges of the overall image.

02 Rob Townsend - where my glasses are


The upload system allows a ‘submission statement’ and though it doesn’t specify a word count limit, it does say a ‘brief statement about the work’. The 120-word statement I used for Source seems to fit that description:

My work is concerned with the complexity and unreliability of memory, in particular the intangible, interconnected processes of remembering and forgetting.

This project emerged from a series of walks around my local area, noting memories triggered by what I observed. I became fascinated by the notion of memory slippage, that an abandoned chair could make me think about having missed someone’s birthday. It evolved into a study of the fine line between forgetting just enough and forgetting too much.

With this meander through my remembered lapses I examine the intricacy and fragility of memory. I’d like to encourage reflection on how a scene can trigger an unrelated memory, and of how forgetting is an invisible yet significant part of life.

In addition, as I had added the written review option there were three additional questions, presented here with my responses:

  • What is the single most important question/concern you have about your project that you wish to have answered here in this review?
    • I would like to know how successful the series is in my intention, which is to provoke the viewer to think about the reliability of memory.
  • What do you hope to accomplish with your photography in the next few years?
    • I want to continue to use photography to express ideas around intangible concepts such as memory, forgetting, loss, cognitive activities and other fascinating aspects of human nature. I use photography as a way of investigating ideas I find interesting. I consider the work successful if I have transmitted my ideas to viewers. This means that I want to get my work seen, whether in a traditional physical exhibition or publication, or disseminated online.
  • Is this an ongoing or completed project?
    • This project is complete in as much as I have finished shooting. I am however still in the process of finalising an edit and sequence for potential publication or exhibition. The ten images presented here are a subset of the 15-20 images I generally present when showing people this work.