The deadline for submissions for new photographers to apply to join Panos Pictures has been extended to 8 March 2011.
We asked Adrian Evans, Director of Panos Pictures, why he had decided to send out the call and what he hopes to see from applicants.
How has the recruitment process changed over the years?
‘It used to be fairly ad hoc. Before the web took over it wasn’t so easy to discover who was out there, especially outside the UK. Festivals like Perpignan had a far greater role to play in bringing photographers to our attention. Some of our best photographers actually walked in unannounced off the street. It was never something we encouraged but I would always see them just in case they had something special.’
Carolyn Drake. New housing in Kashgar, China. Click here for story.
‘Nowadays we are far more strategic about where we want to get to, but in saying that it is still possible to be surprised – I can still get the wow factor of discovering a photographer’s work for the first time.
On average we receive half a dozen enquiries a day from prospective photographers. It’s incredible. I thought photojournalism was supposed to be on its last legs! The problem is that it is time consuming dealing with so many enquiries and we don’t have time to give each the attention it deserves. An annual call makes the whole process much more transparent. The photographer knows when to apply and what it is that we are looking for and we are able to focus our energies on reviewing the submissions.’
Espen Rasmussen. Friday prayers amid the ruins after the 2005 earthquake in Balakot, Pakistan. Click here for story.
What makes a photographer stand out to you?
‘Put bluntly someone who can explain why they take photographs, what they are trying to say in their photography and who they are trying to say it to. In other words photographers who think about their practice and their audience. It is incredible how few photographers do this.
I’m looking for photographers who can interpret the world around them, rather than just illustrate it – Panos isn’t a wire agency. A photographer should have their own vision and aesthetic.’
Andrew Testa. A swimming pool patronised by ethnic Albanians near the divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Click here for story.
‘Equally important is the ability to tell new stories or to tell existing stories in new ways. There is nothing more refreshing than seeing a story or subject I haven’t seen photographed before. Too many photographers forget about the importance of identifying and researching stories. Think before you shoot. I recently came across a quote by Tod Papageorge on David Campbell’s excellent blog. He said “If your pictures aren’t good enough then you’re not reading enough.” That sums it up for me.’
Martin Roemers. A deserted Soviet army barracks, eastern Germany. Click here for story.
How many photographers will you take on?
‘We don’t have a target. It could be anything from none to half a dozen. And we don’t have a set form of representation. It is unlikely though not impossible that we would take someone straight into the Profile group. The Network is where we can get to know the photographer and they in turn can get to know us.
We’re pretty flexible in the way we work with photographers, though we’re not interested if somebody says to us “Can you just rep me in the UK market?”, because so many of our sales are in the US and around the world.
We know what we are looking for, the question is whether there is anyone out there who fits. Given the nature of what we do, we believe it is important to increase our representation in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. But that doesn’t exclude photographers from other parts of the world. For instance we have a gap in our North American representation. Ultimately it is about the work and not who you are or where you are based.’