An Interview With A Sony World Photography Honorary Judge

by Gina 12/26/2011

If you’ve been looking for a larger audience to showcase your photos, a venue to consider is the Sony World Photography Awards. Sponsored by us, the competition is considered one of the more recognized global photography awards around. And, no, it’s not just limited to photographs taken with Sony cameras. There’s a wide range of submission categories like narrative formats, a higher education category and even an open category for amateurs and enthusiasts. In addition to the opportunity for the prizing, select photographs are also reviewed by honorary  judges. This is where Jon Jones comes in. A judge in the Photojournalism and Documentary jury, Jon is also Director of Photography for The Sunday Times and whose work has appeared in leading publications like TIME, Newsweek and The New York Times. We had a chance to chat with Jon about photography and tips for the judging process. To learn more about the World Photography Awards or to enter, go here.


How did you become involved in the Sony World Photography Awards?

I was asked to do some portfolio reviews last year by Astrid Merget (Creative Director at WPO) and she came back this year and asked me to be a Judge. The Sunday Times also publishes the winners in the magazine.”


As Director of Photography for The Sunday Times Magazine, what kind of photos do you look for in your publication and how does that influence your perspective as a judge for these awards?

“We do so many different types of work from high-end celebrity portraiture to pure reportage to still life, so it’s a really wide range of photographic styles and genres. “


What advice do you have for aspiring photojournalists?

“Work! Work all the time and as much as you can, take pictures all the time and experiment. Don’t sit there thinking you will be discovered, you need to be out there trying to work.”


In the era of social media, more and more real time images are getting captured on mobile devices like phones. How do you see this impacting the photography world?

“ It doesn’t impact my role and what I do for the Magazine. It does affect the photographic world; sometimes it can be incredibly useful for people posting pictures you never knew existed, so it’s an addition.”


Are you on social Media?

“Yes I am for work. I use it because I like to see what people are doing, what projects they are working on and what they have shot. It’s a good way for me to keep a check on what people are doing without having to chase them all the time. “


Would you be open to an amazing photo submitting into the competition that was taken on an Android™ phone?  Where does camera start and photographer start?

“It makes no difference; a camera does not define an image. A picture is a picture, it has no bearing what it was taken on at all. “


You have had a variety of positions in journalism. From photojournalist to cameraman to producer. How has the video component of covering news impacted your perspective on photography?

“Essentially it is the same job, in that you are still being a visual journalist. People can miss site of that as a photographer, they don’t realize they should be journalists as well. Working in Television really helps with your story telling, narrative and editing work. As a photographer you can be so focused on the picture you can forget you are trying to build a narrative.”


For a photographer submitting a photo into the Sony World Photography Awards, it’s likely they have hundreds if not thousands in their portfolio to pull from. What advice do you have for an entrant in helping them narrow down their options?

“You have to learn to self-edit and be your toughest critic. When you learn to edit properly you will know what your best work is. Be as harsh on yourself as possible!”


Some people entering the competition have not had a chance to travel to so many different countries as yourself. How has traveling changed you as a photographer but more importantly for the people who can’t or may not have had a chance to travel, what can they do to grow their perspective as a photojournalist?

“Travelling doesn’t make any difference. People have lots stories on their doorstep, being a photojournalist doesn’t necessarily mean you have to travel; you can stay and shoot locally. If it is something you know and can connect with it will be a much better story than if you travelled to shoot something you don’t know or understand.”


So let’s be honest. This can be a pretty intimidating competition to enter for maybe the point and shoot user. Are there simple tips you can give maybe a family or friend who loves photo taking but may not be well versed in the technical side of photography?

“Shoot what you really love and don’t try and pretend to do something you are not interested in. You can always tell when people take pictures of something they are really in to; there is always a sense of involvement and dynamic.”


If you were to give an applicant (3) inside tips on the judging process, what would those be?

“This leads back to the early comments on self-editing and being really concise. Making sure you are telling a story, that your narrative is correct and that it is original and eye catching. In a competition you really need to try and get your point across. “

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  1. Anonymous wrote: December 28, 2011 10:52am

    nice data.

  2. Anonymous wrote: January 3, 2012 8:39pm

    Great Interview. I learned a lot


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