Want to win the most prestigious press photo contest in the world this year? It’s okay if you don’t shoot with the latest camera gear — just make sure your work stands out from things that have come before.
I am looking forward to being surprised by imaginative photography that is original, curious, and thoughtful. I am not concerned at all about what equipment has been used, I am not sure it’s really very relevant. I would love to see a representation of the world that isn’t reductive, that doesn’t represent the world in photographic cliches – old or new cliches. Since the first year I judged the contest, I saw photographers emulating work that had been successful in previous years or plagiarizing the style and vision of someone else. I dearly hope that I don’t have to wade through thousands of pictures like that. A lot of the work can end up looking so similar, it’s hard to identify one body of work from another.
To see what has worked in the past (and perhaps avoid it), you can browse through the past 50+ years of winning images. The contest seems to be pretty flexible in terms of what constitutes photography: you may remember that photographer Michael Wolf received honorable mention in the 2011 contest for his collection of Google Street View screenshots.