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Nikon Photo Contest International 2008-2009

Behind the scenes the judges get excited too

Ms Terashima, this is the second time that you've been in charge of NPCI. How are the entries judged? Please tell us about any episodes that were of particular interest.

Terashima:

There are 10 judges-all distinguished photographers in their own right-and the judging is carried out meticulously. Photographs are checked one by one-with each photograph seen by several judges. In many photography contests the organizers carry out a preliminary selection of submissions before photos are shown to the judges. In NPCI, however, the judges view all works submitted. Nikon limits its role to that of provider of the contest arena. One individual commented that he had served as a judge in many photography contests, but that it is very rare for contests to receive entries from so many countries, and that NPCI is an extremely valuable forum. During the selection process, for example, one judge, who is an expert on insect photography, was very impressed by a particular photograph of an insect, as he was unaware that the creature existed in the country in question. Although a long time professional photographer, he had discovered something new. For me too it was moving to be able to experience such a moment.

The judges get excited too, then. Have there been any difficulties that have arisen?

Ms. Terashima talks about an episode that holds a lot of memories from the judging session of the previous contest.

Terashima:

Overseas photographers and Japanese photographers serve together as judges; however, the ways in which they view photographs differ in some respects. As a result I myself sometimes get confused when it comes time to conclude the judging. Minor disputes occur as a result of the different judging methods of the respective photographers, and we feel that our role is to see that these are resolved in a friendly manner. Obviously, there are language related problems, and when complex opinions are expressed, such as in what way one thinks a photograph is good, we bring in interpreters.

The judging can get fairly heated, then?

Terashima:

When the Grand Prize winner was decided, the 10 judges sat in a circle and gave their opinions one by one. In the end the vote was split five to five between a photograph of a boat with a fisherman onboard and a photograph of a dolphin. After further exhaustive discussion, however, the photograph of the fisherman prevailed. I think it was admirable that they all had an equal chance to give their views, one by one. Deciding on the Grand Prize alone took over two hours.
At the round table discussion which followed, it was a great compliment to the organizers when the judges unanimously agreed that the interchange involved in the process of judging had been very exciting. It was also agreed that opinions had varied significantly during the long judging period, and that a photograph thus can be seen to have a life of its own. I found this a moving experience.
Working at the last NPCI had an effect on the way that I myself look at photographs. Before then I thought that a beautiful thing was simply a beautiful thing; however, if you look at the same thing again after a certain time, you may form a different impression.

NPCI - a chance for everyone, regardless of experience and technique

Please tell us about the current contest-NPCI 2008-2009.

Mr. Okamoto expects much of submissions in the current NPCI.

Okamoto:

There is a free subject subject category and a thematic category. The theme for this contest is "My Planet." The primary reason for selecting this was our awareness of environmental issues. The fact that the environment is a fundamental issue of today led to the easily understood phrase "My Planet." Since restricting the topic to the environment alone would limit the scope of the entries, entrants are invited to "Express your world…"

The word "My" is significant, isn't it?

Okamoto:

That's right."My" is key-as is "Planet," rather than "Earth." Interestingly, as soon as the title was announced, we received inquiries about what was meant by "planet," and whether it would be acceptable, for example, to submit photographs of any planet. Photographs of planets are of course welcome, if the images represent a particular memory or moment that is significant to the photographer, and we feel that inherent in the appeal of the title "My Planet" are the different interpretations that can be anticipated. Since the title refers to whatever the word "planet" conjures up in the mind of the individual, there is wide latitude in how this can be interpreted, and we anticipate receiving a diverse range of different images. In the free subject category, entrants have complete freedom to photograph whatever they like, so we are happy for them to shoot any subject they choose. Advances in camera technology have also made it possible to shoot images that could not be photographed in the past. As photographers have a much wider range of choice and possibility, it should be possible for a camera manufacturer like Nikon and camera enthusiasts everywhere to work together to make progress, and I believe that here lies the significance of Nikon holding NPCI.

Are the Emerging Talent Awards decided irrespective of category?

Terashima:

Yes, these were established at the last contest but one and are awarded to photographers up to 29 years of age. Since NPCI attracts many works of high quality, it is difficult in practice for young photographers to compete. However, these youngsters with a future are precisely the people we want to have readily accept photography as part of their daily lives, and it was with this in mind that these awards were established. In the last contest one of these awards was won by a 15 year old. Since the contest represents an excellent opportunity for people with a love of photographs or an enjoyment of photography to have their photographs looked at from a variety of viewpoints, irrespective of their skill level, we would like anyone of any age to feel free to enter.

A photo collection packed with the
prize-winning photos is given out free
of charge at Nikon Plazas and similar
venues.
*The distribution of NPCI 2006-2007
photo collection packed with the prize-
winning photos was finished. We
would like to inform of the distribution
of the photo collection for NPCI 2008-
2009 in following website "Nikon Photo
Contest International" once the detail
is set.

Okamoto:

The prize winning works are compiled into a single volume, which is given out free of charge at all Nikon Plazas and at other similar venues. We want this photographic compilation to be readily available to a wide range of people-not just to contest entrants.
We also stage exhibitions. So far, we have only held exhibitions in Japan, but for this contest we are planning to stage them outside Japan as well. Photographs from the contest are also used in the Nikon calendar. For each month, a seasonally appropriate photograph is selected for use in the calendar from the submissions sent in by NPCI entrants. As the photographs used in the calendar are not restricted to prize winning works, this represents a further opportunity for contest entrants to gain widespread exposure for their photographs. Entries for the contest will be accepted between September 1 and November 30, 2008. For further information, please refer to our website.

Thank you very much for this interview.