Interview with World Press Photo Contest judge Adam Pretty

Interview with World Press Photo Contest judge Adam Pretty

Sports and advertising photographer Adam Pretty is well aware of the nerve-jangling pressures of both having your work judged and judging the work of others.

As well as having previously won six World Press Photo category awards, he also served as a member of the jury for the sports category in 2010 and, this year, was invited back to serve as a member of the Sports judging panel.  Here are his pull-no-punches views on the winning shots from this year’s contest.

“I feel honoured to have been asked to be a judge again. It’s an interesting experience for sure, and I find it quite revealing to see what colleagues are entering into the contest, especially when I’ve been photographing at the same events as them throughout the year. I found judging very educational and it helped in terms of how I see a picture. It’s funny how subjective it is when you see what others think is their best work.

“As a judging team we got along really well. Last time I was a judge there were more arguments, whereas this year there was a greater sense of harmony. The pictures were all technically good as well, with a lot of the guys who were shooting for the stories category opting for black and white. I still enjoy mono work because it lends itself more to a documentary treatment. In a sequence of pictures colour can introduce inconsistencies in a narrative if the light is weak.

“All the winners of the Sports singles category were standout images in my opinion. Tom Jenkins’ category-winning picture wasn’t my overall favourite, but getting a great moment in a sport like horseracing is getting harder and harder. His image had a cool composition and a nice flow. Even though the light was a bit flat, it had a story to it, which I liked.

“With competitions, sometimes an image can’t be too obvious or too perfect but it does need to grab your eye straight away. Tom’s picture was a classic example of that.

“Overall, the technical standard has risen and that’s got a lot to do with camera technology. Anyone can get a shot that is pin sharp now, but it’s that consistent quality that marks you out as a great photographer. It’s more about your eye as opposed to your reflexes.

“This judging process has reminded me it's so important to show off your best work. If you're submitting a story, whether that’s for an assignment or a competition, refine your edit and never include a clanger in a series. It’s also crucial to get your work out in front of your peers — that’s how you learn, that’s what pushes you forward.”