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Monday, 25 October 2010


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Thanks Mike, for a moment I thought it was just me. Apart from being patronising, its really a crap piccy, and to mention the world cup in the same context is actually absurd!!
if ever you come to Durban give me a call and I will go show you what poverty looks like.

It *is* surreal and disturbing.

Do you have to have the photograph explained to you?

A man lies unconscious on the ground, having been clocked in the head by a loaf of incredibly stale bread.

David S.,
Sure, go ahead.


Certainly it looks like it would be the kind of photo that you could take with a camera with the response time of a DP ... oh.


This is a good example of a photograph....I just don t get. Why did this win a prize ? The only question it raises in my mind ..is the guy dead or sleeping. Otherwise its a real stretch .

What am I missing? Serious question not a critique.

Apparently the image wasn't even judged against Michelle's other possible entries...http://www.michellesank.com/

What is disturbing is to be shooting a poor guy all dirty asleep on the ground. If you're Sebastiao Salgado, I might accept photographs of human misery, but then they woudln't be like that, they would show some (actually, a lot of) humanity.

What is surreal is to win the IPA with that.

I had a bad nightmare - I woke up and for a moment thought I was back in the 60s, with the pretentious photos of beggars and the like.

Now I know what disturbs me about it. If you convert it to black and white, it is entirely made of middle-gray.

"Renowned photojournalism professor Charles Mbongo from the University of Southern Tasmania lies resting in the garden the London office of the British Journal of Photography, exhausted after judging a multitude of riveting images during the annual British Journal of Photography's International Photography Awards"

How about ...

"Colonel Mustard in the garden with a loaf of squishy Wonder Bread" (long term chemical poisoning)."

An aid worker was accidentally killed in a botched airdrop of 14 tons of plasticine yesterday. "We assumed that the soft modelling clay would be harmless", said a spokesperson for the Childrens' Aid Society. "This is only the second such death since we began the ToyDrop program thirty years ago. The first unfortunate incident involved a defective shipment of lawn darts."

this photo is terrible, not even B roll, like C or D, wouldn't even be saved on my computer, nice butt shot too, maybe get a face next time?

Please, tell us what merit - photographically - this image has. It doesn't necessarily show poverty, maybe it shows drunk. There isn't enough information to make ANY judgement other than... Poor photograph. Nicely exposed, terrible crop, vacuous subject, zero information. Please explain why this is an award winning PHOTOGRAPH.

This photo raises one big question -- what's the rectangular package behind his head (and thus between the camera and his head)?

We're told the guy is asleep. So, sleeping outside that casually suggests either extreme poverty or mental problems. No way to tell which (and of course there are other possible reasons, those are just the obvious ones and account for a lot of the cases).

The title emphasizes that the area is called the "golden mile", so presumably the intention is juxtaposing that against extreme poverty.

However, that's completely cliched. And the photo itself isn't effective for that purpose, especially because of raising issues of its own (first thing I thought: "where's his head?") which detract from seeing it that way.

To me, this is a ridiculous choice for that contest. I just don't see how this photo is special, valuable, interesting, or attractive.

Sounds like a person or so does (and I'm sure there are more; there's at least the judges for the contest).

So, am I missing completely what makes it good? Somebody who thinks it's good or effective, give us your analysis!

The "Note" at the end of the article was fascinating too :

"Note: Apologies to everyone who posted comments on this story first time around - I decided to repost it because, having spoken to the photographer, I realised describing it as an 'image of poverty', in the original version of this article, was an oversimplification. In fairness to Michelle, I wanted to correct it. Please post again - it's great to see so much debate stem from one single image. "

Debate? The comments are almost universally negative toward the choice and the image. I see no debate. I'm going to guess that the judges intentionally picked something odd to shoehorn into their own concocted back-story for an image so that you could intentionally get a "debate".

Maybe something like "An impoverished man sleeps in a public park, his most important possession kept close at hand to prevent theft and certain starvation."

Of course, the image doesn't actually seem to portray anything like that - but what the heck, I'm now part of the "debate".

A professional photographer, reduced to living on just bread and water for several weeks because the majority of his former clientele is now satisfying their photographic needs via micro-stock, passes out after learning that his few remaining clients are demanding he upgrade to medium-format digital in order to retain their accounts.

Yeh, well, that image is just so underwhelming.

Reminds me of an image a few years back that was hailed as the "new street photography". It had the same underwhelming, "so what" feel about it.

Drunk dude wakes up in city park with epic case of "bread head"

What surprised me was not that that image won a photography competition, but that someone was writing about how poor/dull the shot actually is. I've seen so many photos of similar quality (in my biased opinion, of course) win competitions that this one didn't even raise an eyebrow.

Another thing that gets up my nose is that people seem to say anything they like with no regard for accuracy whatsoever. Regarding the use of "surreal" to describe this image, this is directly from Dictionary.com -

"having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic:..."

It's a guy sleeping on the grass for goodness sake!

What goes Ha ha ha ha ha ha klonk?

Me laughing my head off.

This was the winner?
So all the other entries were worse?

Possible explanations?

1. This is a major piece of performance art carried out by BJP-IPA as guerrilla warfare to expose a lack of taste, perception and independent thought and opinion in the photographic community.

I ranked this first because I can't see how this image is in any way surreal or disturbing, let alone powerful. It just makes me think about taking a nap.

2. The burnout and ennui that sometimes afflicts those trying to evaluate, rank and understand art has hit the IPA judges hard: "It's all great art. It's all crap. Who cares, lets just pick one and get out of here." So they ranked them all by secret ballot and picked the low score. Then they went out drinking and got lucky, which shows that the Universe's system of rewards is as inscrutable as art.

3. It is, in fact, great art and those of us who think it's crap are hopeless, out of touch fools, addicted to naive and outdated ideas of beauty and truth.

4. The photographer is related to or shagging someone at IPA.

To quote my buddy, and excellent photographer, Bob Whitmire, "Art's just fart without the eff."


Mike tells it like it is: the photo sucks.

"Man with 18% Gray sweatshirt pauses while photographer meters scene."


I assume you're being disingenuous. I find it hard to believe you reacted to the photo any differently than I did. But here goes:

A man lies on the ground with a brick by his head. He appears to have been murdered with the brick.

But the photograph's title tells us he's asleep by the side of the road. So he's not dead after all.

Which begs the question: what's with the brick? Why is this man carrying a single brick and nothing else?

He appears to be homeless and/or poor. It seems the brick is all he owns, aside from whatever's sticking out of his pocket.

If you owned only one thing in the world, why would it be a brick wrapped in plastic?

Is it intended as a weapon? Is it intended to defend the man against those who would seek to rob him on the road to Durban? Or does this man intend to use it on others?

Could the photographer simply be assuming the man is asleep? How does he know? Did he wake the man up after taking the photo? Is the photograph's title simply an assumption on the part of the photographer?

Et cetera.

This has to be the greatest photo related post I've seen in a long time- if not all time!

Reminds me of a college student photo contest from decades past where one of the judges actually warned possible contestants-"Please, do not submit photos of students sleeping on the lawn, no matter how seemingly original. We've seen them all."

Someone finally had the artistic fortitude to stick it to the man, turn the art establishment upside down, and take the all time ultimate sleeping man on the lawn picture! I love it! This is beyond a surreal photograph, this is a surreal moment in the history of photography. And when someone blows this mother up a couple of feet in either direction, and hangs it up in a major NYC gallery- someone's gonna spend some seriously surreal cash money for it.

A mysterious and hitherto unknown weapon leaves governments around the world terrified about possible new threats of terrorism. The as yet unidentified substance can be wrapped in coverings in an arbitrary color and will then hurl itself with great force into any object with a similar color, causing terrible internal injuries and even deaths in any human victim.

My first thought was that he'd been murdered and it was a police crime scene photo. The comment I liked best on the BJP site was to the effect that if this is an outstanding photo then photography is truly dead. Anyone want to buy my cameras, cheap?

Well... I'm glad I didn't waste my money entering the single image category now! At least the winner of the body of work category was a bit interesting.

It looks to me as something shot out of the Mexican drug wars, with a kilo by his head where he/she died... does the person have a head? wher is the intent look of listening on the face? The picture is the kind of stuff you would get from a police handout.

I can't possibly top John Krumm's hilarious caption. It will provoke giggle spasms for a week.

Congratulations to Michelle Sank. She is most deserving of the contest's prize.

It is all so sad really.....


A man sleeps in the open on the Golden Mile, next to his 3 kilogram brick of South Africa's finest heroin. When he awoke seven hours later, his brick was exactly where he left it, despite hundreds of passersby stopping to photograph him. "I just assumed he was another murder victim", says Nbogo Badir, one of the many that photographed the man for a British photography contest. Local superstition states that any person who comes close to a murder victim will themselves become a victim. "If I knew he was only sleeping, I would have bricked him and made myself a rich man", says another budding photographer, Michael Bgogobgo.

This freedom-loving demonstrator was killed by the concrete block next to his head--which was determined not to be a crime because the assailant took time to color-coordinate the block wrapping with the victim's pullover.

Let me attempt an explanation: We are expected to be sympathetic to the implied plight of this person because of (1) his dirty jacket, and (2) his tan. Taken together, (1) and (2) are enough to establish that this person probably is a victim of oppression. The photographer has documented this in a direct, clear-eyed fashion, while at the same time appealing to our postmodern sensibilities by composing the picture in a way that places a loaf of bread where we would expect the person's face to be. By doing so, the photographer avoids any risk of being accused of exploiting an unfortunate, and gives the art school graduates something to talk about at lunch time. Hence, an award-winner.

Is that clear?

My photos seem a lot more interesting to me than they did before I read this article. My self esteem thanks you!

Caption: "John Smith was able to top the competition in the world 'Hide-and-go-seek' finals by his inspired choice of a hiding spot--behind a loaf of Wonder Bread."

I like it. A lot. There are so many overt in your face photos of poverty and suffering out there. Most frankly scream their message to the viewer - I am poor, I am oppressed, I am suffering. They require little effort on the viewer's part to understand what they are about. Consequently, after the initial, visceral blow, they leave little lasting impact, no scars, just more flotsam in the deluge of photography. There's a term for this - it's called compassion fatigue - and I fear that many are caught in a loop where the only thing they respond to is turning up the volume to 11. Trouble is, that becomes the new normal.

This one is different. It challenges the viewer to spend more time with it to try to understand what is going on. Black man face down on the ground. Grungy, ill-fitting clothing. Is he dead? Is he homeless? What happened? What's that by his head? Bread? What's that in his pocket? The title let's us know that he's not dead but rather asleep, but also adds juxtaposition - a man, clearly down on his luck, asleep in a place known as the "Golden Mile". At this point, the viewer willing to invest a little intellectual capital has spent more time thinking about the this photo than usual, and maybe has walked away with something more than a quick hit to his "sympathy" synapse.

So that's why I like it. At lot.

p.s. - Finally, pardon the unavoidable pun, but the figure-ground relationship is very well done. He sits neutrally within the frame, neither dominant or receding. Entirely appropriate for the subject and photo.

Black man and White loaf of bed caught in public post-coital slumber signals end to Apartheid - and to "animal, vegetable, mineral" segregation ...

After reading the new Ndebele translation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Amahle Bakhile attempted to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing. Tragically, he failed at the latter requirement.

M'bato Ngyu of Capetown learns the hard way that giving a gift-wrapped brick is not a proper way to commemorate your 25th wedding anniversary. Particularly when your wife possesses a good throwing arm.

Don't piss-off Santa. He may reward you with a brightly wrapped brick and a personal greeting.

When they heard that that prize was the Sigma DP2s, all the other entries withdrew, except for this crime scene photo.

Sometimes you just have to throw down your cards and say "I'm out..."


Having once achieved fame by publishing a book of photographs with text “borrowed” from bloggers without giving them credit, she ended up alone in the world, with only a loaf of bread for company. A sad lesson for all would-be plagiarists, but a nice occasion for the gentle reminder, “Do the work, dammit.”

It does look surreal and disturbing to me.

1)Man's arm becomes detached after tripping over square balloon.
2)Mans breath causes grass to turn brown.
3)Philly fan kills self after loss to the Giants.
4)Trapped coal miners encouraged by voice from above.

Photographer thinks to himself:
"I should submit this one as a joke... it will make my other stuff look so much better by comparison..."

Eh, different standards, photography is subjective, etc. It's not the shot I would have taken, but I've seen worse. So much supposedly award-winning photography has left me less than impressed that this is no surprise. Choosing this particular case for extra ridicule could be seen as a comment on a larger, more insidious trend.

Belligerent and unwilling to give up his car keys after a long evening of drinking at the local bricklayer's union hall, Bob was knocked unconscious by his drinking buddies."You guys know Bob's a helluva fighter, I didn't have any choice." One of the others sheepishly muttered,"It's OK guys, he'll just think the headache was from all the bourbon tomorrow morning."

Pilgrim resting on the Golden Mile, Durban, South Africa

Before this thread starts to sound like a more general attack on the photographer rather than on the judges selection, please check out Michelle Sank's work at:
She has many excellent photos and wonderful portraits on view there. Thanks.


This is a very interesting post as it deals with the very essence of photography: images and how they are perceived. Pretty much everything else about photography doesn't matter a jot. What matters most for me in photography is the print ( or the image, in whatever form it takes). The image is the end to the means. Also, the image in and of itself, is the beginning of the life of that particular photograph.

When I opened the post, I read the title and then looked at the photograph. Initially, on looking at the photograph for a few seconds, it was somewhat difficult to read.The close tones and analogous colour palette made for a confusing shape. This, however, forced me to look again. On looking again, I was able to identify the individual elements that made up the subject matter.(Initially I thought there was a gun on the man's right side. I didn't realise that the oblong wrapped package was a loaf of bread until I understood more of the context from reading the article). The image does not alert us to any one specific geographic location and this image could have, for all intents and purposes, been made in any number of locations.

As I see it, this image highlights much about certain types of 2-D image-making-whether photography, painting, or drawing. Image-makers are limited by the fact that they have only two dimensions in which to communicate their message. Image- makers rely on communicating with only a small number of tools within these two dimensions- colour, tone, texture, line, shape and so on. As we all know, photographers, too, use these tools in conjunction with other compositional devices-depth of field, grain, lack of grain, film types, lens effects (and so on).

Whether consciously or not, Michelle Sank has created a very successful image here ( in my book), for the following reasons:

1. The photograph was initially confusing to read- the close colour and tonal palette confused the shapes and I was not able to read the image instantly. This was refreshing. (Most of the images I come across every day-advertising images and stock photographs particularly - are specifically designed to be read and understood at a glance and are not meant to be studied for lengthy periods. They need to be very clear, unambiguous and sell a product at 100kms/hr).

2. Formally, this image works extremely well ( again for me). The close tones of the clothes, the bread and the scorched grass serve to highlight one thing: all elements of the subject matter are essentially smooth, large areas of uninterrupted colour, which serve as a backdrop to the hand. (The hand is the smallest compositional element in the image and the cast light on the fingers create strong shadows and small, powerful shapes). In fact, ALL of the main lines of the picture lead towards this hand-the line created by the colour difference between the fleece and the trousers, the line created by left arm, the trouser folds, the ark of the shoulder. It is this hand which is the center of interest in this image. This is a picture of a hand.

3. Michelle Sank has successfully isolated her subject matter from space and place. This serves to focus the viewer's attention on the person on the ground. Yet we are denied the face of this person. We are shown the hand. It forces questions, and provokes thought. This brings this image, and the experience of viewing this image, alive. The image has cause and effect. It's visceral. And that's good ( again in my book).


There was a similar occasion headlined in Australia's "Herald Sun" newspaper on October 1st 2010... "IT ALL came down to the failure to press a single button. Tuesday night's Australia's Next Top Model final at Sydney's Luna Park went viral on the internet - for all the wrong reasons..."

The award was announced by mistake to the wrong person... and in doing so created far more publicity than could have ever been generated otherwise! And as a follow up... the Charles Saatchi Gallery in London will probably purchase the said photo for @250,000!

The model stood up immediately after the photo was taken, looked at the photographer and they both collapsed to the ground (again) in helpless fits of laughter. After fifteen minutes or so, they got to their feet. "Hey, let's put this a photo comp!" Cue further collapse, mirth, etc.....

Many of the comments are funny, I agree. But I don't personally think the made-up Bongobongo names are funny (I except Chris May from this, as his fake name actually sounds sensible). I'm not offended by them, mind, just don't think they add to the humour.

Carefully disguised brick falls from sky and kills man.

"John N'Dingo of Durban, searches for his contact lens."

"John N'Dingo of Durban, learns the gift wrapped brick is actually uranium, when he tried to lift it."

So now that we've slagged it off, can someone explain how it is of less merit than, say, Henry Wessel's picture of two dogs under a tree? Would it have been a work of art if Eggleston had taken it?

Just askin'

I can see the meeting now:

- Circulation's slipping, our overheads are too high, and we're getting stomped by online media.

- Well, we do have our annual competition coming up, perhaps that will help.

- Did it help last year?

- Hold on, what if we select a truly poor image as the winner?

- Huh?

- Think of the publicity. Choose something that is so ridiculous that everyone posts it. At the top of every thread will be "British Journal of Photography".

Man spends long, hot morning trying to duplicate HCB's "Men sleeping on grass" with camera hidden in loaf of bread, gives up and goes to sleep.


Alas BJP does seem to specialise in images that require a great deal of explanation or should I say justification. Anyway I just don't seem able to "get" them.

"The photograph is about murder. It's about latent violence, and the brutal, animal nature of human existence. Dostoyevsky would have loved it. Weegee would have loved it. It demands the viewer's active participation in parsing out its meaning and its narrative. The picture might as well have been taken 50,000 years ago -- a photograph of a man and his most basic tool, a blunt instrument of violence."

And to me, the photograph is about a guy sleeping in the park on his lunch break with a loaf of bread next to his head.

In Galway once I saw businessmen sleeping on the grass on a nice day, dressed in suits. About the only thing we can reliably infer from this picture is that the guy was tired.


Fine rich detail in the blades of grass even at 100%. This was obviously taken with a prime lens using a full-frame....

Oh wait, sorry, I'm on the wrong forum.

"I'm not immediately impressed by this image myself, but aren't you -- as a professional contrarian -- even a little bothered by the strength and unanimity of the negative response to it? Think back to the reactions to f64, New Topographics, John Gossage, Paul Graham, Alec Soth... Almost always 'Why, these aren't proper photographs! They're so banal!!' "

I'm secure enough to accept being part of the reactionary crowd if that's to be my role here. I'm a middle aged white man, for better or worse. Heck, I don't like piercings or tattoos either for that matter. That marks me as part of my generation and social class, but the fact remains that I am part of my generation and social class. So, so be it. That's not going to make me pretend to like tattoos.

Sometimes bad is good, but to quote a musician of my generation, Sometimes bad is bad.


Nice... not as good as a black-velvet picture of Elvis with the magic eyes that 'follow you around the room', but nice.

Man knocked unconscious while crossing local park. Police find weapon nearby.

Florida's Electoral Commission unveils pre-wrapped voter de-registration device

What a waste of precious photons. A photo (or any other artwork) should stand on its own, caption or not. This one doesn't.


Man "fishing" for the large white-backed vulture who prefer to have their carrion on a sandwich.

British Journal of PHOTOGRAPHY?

Surely you jest

'Don't call me Shirley!'

C'mon, everyone, that picture's weak. In addition to being boring, it needs a curves adjustment. Just my opinion! I'm sure the photographer has taken many better frames than that one. Just my opinion!

Obviously it's no fault of the photographer, she simply sent it in to be judged. I'd love to hear from someone else that entered the contest and lost, though.

It's more redolent of crashed out student than microcsm of a nation but the colours are nice and I'm sure it would work well as part of a series. Sometimes that's enough but ought not to be enough to win a major prize. Perhaps the judges have seen a series and chose the image on that basis?

The World Cup fun having ended, and boredom set in, South Africa has reinvented the beautiful game. Yet to be solved: on corner kicks, how to head-in the brick. (Note: wearing the new hood uniform fails to soften the impact and blinkers the aiming.)

I'm so distraught. One look at this photo... and the caption and it hit me like a ton of stale bread. I immediately ran to catalog and take pictures of all my photo equipment, the Canon SLR and the collection of lenses lovingly bought over the years and same for the Pentax DSLR and its suite of glass. It is now all up for sale on Ebay, for a steal. I don't have the heart to even fight to get their market value. I have understood in that moment that I never understood anything about photography. Never will. I think I'll just take up watching the television.

My camera does that too - it snaps a random pic when I turn it on.

Mike -

Prior to voicing your real opinion, if you had done a column describing this photo as "brilliant," but underappreciated by an untrained eye, I bet your comments section would look very different.


With all due respect, the comments would have been essentially the same. We would just be asking Mike whether he was pulling our leg.

"Man bread on grass”

Some of the photographs from Alec Soths Niagara when viewd in isolation might make some wonder what all the fuss is about. But when viewed in the larger context of the book they work beautifully. This picture which is part of a larger project is one I actually like and might like all the more when seen along side the other images.


I'd be grateful if you'd ask Ms Diane Smyth of the BJP to write a guest post (and if you'd host it) in which she could help us to understand the judging and selection process (generally, for any exhibition or competition - not specifically this one). I am interested in how others go about this. I know I couldn't very easily do it. Simply building my own paltry collection over the years has been a very sub-optimal experience for me, and I only have myself to please and no need to comment to myself on social matters!

The photo is clearly prized for it's ambiguity and political message. If there was no caption, it would be a lot more interesting (politically) because the clear first impression is that he is dead or unconscious having been hit by an object which looks like a brick.

On closer examination its obviously a loaf and the guy is sleeping, but as we are all programmed to see underlying violence and suffering in every "African" picture we would jump to the initial conclusion easily. The fact of its innocence is what is so unique. Its a reverse psychology joke that exposes how easily us patronising westerners jump to conclusions about Africa. I like that.

It backfired though. It's just too contrived.

Still, it is not a fantastic photograph from a technical perspective. In fact that seems to be the fashion nowadays and I deplore it.

I was at a BJP event last night where a series of members street photography pictures were presented by slide show, and they were pretty typical and derivative and very very boring.

Then Steve McLaren presented some other stuff from around the world that was mind blowing, including a few of his own.


There are good photographers out there, but politics and fashion seem to dominate every photo event in the UK to the detriment of art.


I too find this image provocative. My opinions have been more or less stated by other viewers (Gregory Clements and John M Flores).

I too find this post “surreal and disturbing” but for reasons different from most responders. What I find disturbing is the torrent of ridicule you have unleashed by lobbing the first stones in your response to the photograph. I don’t remember ever seeing such hostility vented on TOP. Intense disagreement, yes, but not such gleeful animosity.

As you finally acknowledged on this post, Ms. Sank is a serious, hard working and well-established professional photographer – a colleague of ours, if you will. Sure, she must be strong enough to bear aggressive criticism, but our responsibility to her is to address her work with respect and courtesy, not mean spirited mockery.

It is obvious from her website that Ms. Sank’s work is not about humor and I doubt she finds readers’ captions funny. The responses to her photographs remind me of a frequent classroom experience I had as a photography teacher. When a particularly ‘difficult’ photograph was put on the wall, a long period of silence would follow. Obviously, many students were unsure whether to praise or scorn (or even question) the image. When the first person spoke, a wave of agreement would follow, making it extremely difficult for anyone to disagree. I see the same kind of mob psychology at work here.

I’m not saying anyone should change his or her initial opinion of Ms. Sank’s image, but that they should avoid the feeding frenzy of ridicule and intolerance seen on this post. And I believe such behavior is beneath the dignity of TOP.

Joe Cameron

M'bato Ngyui, this year's winner of South Africa's "Run for your life, run for a loaf of bread" 10,000 K marathon lies exhausted after claiming his prize.

Thanks to JohnMFlores and Gregory Clements (and perhaps others I've forgotten) for explaining at some length why / how the photo works for you. You haven't sold it to me yet, but I appreciate the insight into what it does for you.

Ever since impressionism, the critics have lost their faith. Hence, this might be art in the market and in play giving it has award and a Sigma camera too ... It might not be ... who has the authority to know. BJP? 3 letter words only. And so is any of one of us. No one has the authority.

Anyway it is only a Sigma camera ... I might not think this is an award but pardon me, more like a curse. But BJP think it is. Just like they have their own view on these picture.

Ultimately we have to have rely upon ourselves and be open as well. If that is art to someone, so be it. We have ours as well.

A lot of people presume the man must be poor. Why ? He clearly has more clothes than the emperor !

Seriously, I think the photo is mildly interesting in that the brown patches of ground could be seen as blood stains, adding to the illusion of a crime scene. But that hardly warrants a "single image award".

Is it a photograph? Yes.

Is it a "good" photograph? Um, maybe. (I think not.)

Is it "art"? No.

The response that I got when I posted a link via Facebook, mentioning that I hoped to win the award some day but I am obviously not good enough:

"Oh Edward, you are plenty good right now ... you just need a model (me) and a million dollar idea (a man asleep SERIES). Just imagine ... I get a dirty sweatshirt and we do "Man Asleep on the 2nd Green of Colonial Golf Course", "Man Asleep on Central Expressway", "Man Asleep in Shania Twain's Front Yard" You see where i'm going with this thing, right? So .... whatcha think?!?!?!?!?"

Man slain when struck in the head by a frozen loaf of bread. Authorities Wonder where it came from.

Just wanted to point out that "teenage pregnancies" were called "pregnancies" until around the industrial revolution when women started working outside the home. Women/girls traditionally started producing offspring as soon as they became fertile, and current (western) high average birthing age is anomalous in human history.

The saying goes that an image can say a thousand words. To me, a great image needs nothing. The best don't even have a title.

Here I find that the image is in fact mute, but that doesn't stop a lot of people inventing a world of words around it.

I do dig the artist's other work though, it is typical modern documentary photography. I don't like it aesthetically, but together her photography tells a whole lot of different stories all with just images. This single image winning a single-image-award has me extremely curious whether the other contestants were indeed unable to shoot anything better than HDR sunsets, brick walls or cats.

My entry for our little contest:
"Modern digital cameras so awesome they create award winning photographs whatever you point them at"

If you grant the argument that the photo is simply bad, you have to wonder why the photographer, who seems both sensitive and competent, chose to submit it; or why the BJP judges, who surely have some qualifications, chose to make it the winner.

Like the judges, I find the photo both disturbing and surreal, and looked at it quite a bit longer than I would have at a picture that was simply banal. Part of the problem may be that most photographers want photographs to be "about" something, to carry a narrative, however brief. For example, the Henri Cartier-Bresson photo of the man jumping over the puddle is a very simple story, and one that makes you smile -- the story is very clear, and lacks any mystery whatever. This photo is the opposite. It can't carry a narrative because it IS so mysterious. You ask what the hell is going on, and why. But I would suggest that the things it is not about are poverty, drunkedness, sleep, parks, bread, or social status.

I'd further suggest that if this photo were on a wall full of typically banal "art" photographs, of the type what would undoubtedly be approved by most members of this forum, you'd look at this one longer than most. It has interesting abstract qualities (think of it as a painting) and that mystery...IMHO.


At first sight--without have consciously seen any of the text--I found the image startling. The man's head being replaced by what looked like a paving stone was in fact surreal and disturbing to me. It is possible that I had subliminally registered the headline and was expecting something surreal.

That feeling faded in 30 seconds or so; at that point I assumed I was looking at a photo of a corpse. When I finally read the post, I was nonplussed to find that it's just a guy asleep in a park. I don't think it works as "social commentary" (my wife's comment was "there's no context, therefore no meaning; it could be anywhere in the world"), although I do wonder about how that packaged loaf of bread got so extremely dirty.

Because of my initial reaction, I still think it's a fairly good photo. However, I am surprised it won an award, and I'd like to see some of the work it was up against. I'm not sure I would have found it really memorable except now it is of course That Photo Everyone Is Incensed About so I won't forget it any time soon. I definitely don't have the kind of intense hatred for it some of the commentariat are displaying.

This is an awesome photo. 90% of photographers just have no taste. They are not artists, they are technicians, who want to capture another variation on a sunset over water or fall leaf with dew on it. Instead of using the camera to examine and critique the world, they just want to take 'pretty' pictures. If they weren't photographers, they would be bankers.

One armed man struck unconscious by loaf of golden bread.

Gluten tag!

Like the view and feel. Well worth the award. If YOU can't read it why blame the picture?

"Darn! I missed the legs again."

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