Take Your Best Shot in the Democracy Photo Challenge

Posted by Jane Morse
July 8, 2010
Democracy Is Photo Challenge

About the Author: Jane Morse serves in the Bureau of International Information Programs.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but how do you shoot a photo that describes democracy?

That's the challenge in the Democracy Photo Challenge, a public-private contest launched July 7.

The photo contest runs from July 7 to July 28, 2010. An independent jury will announce 36 finalists on August 19, and the public will select 12 winners during a global online vote from August 19 - August 26. The winners will be announced on the United Nations' (UN) International Day of Democracy, September 15, with the winning photographs exhibited at the UN in New York -- and later, other venues.

Phil Borges is one of the jury co-chairs for the Democracy Photo Challenge. Himself a documentary photographer and founder of the nonprofit Bridges to Understanding, Borges said the contest is “the ideal marriage of individual self-expression and global dialogue. Photography gives the world an opportunity to see the human condition through the eyes of another. Social media gives the world the power to talk about it.”

The other two co-chairs are Willis Hartshorn, Ehrenkranz director of the International Center of Photography, and Louie Psihoyos, Academy Award-winning documentary director (The Cove), photographer and executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society.

Photo entries will be judged on their effectiveness in illustrating what “Democracy is” (60 percent), technical qualities such as lighting, focus and composition (20 percent) and level of artistic creativity (20 percent).

“The best photos get to the heart of an issue instantly,” according to Psihoyos. “A single image can make an activist of someone who has no cause and shed light on issues that are lurking in the shadows.”

The photo contest is an offshoot of the enormously successful Democracy Video Challenge contest, which has attracted over 1,600 submissions from 111 countries since its launch in 2008. In January 2010, more than 1,400 people worldwide participated in the Democracy Is Twitter Contest.

The Democracy is… contests are an effort by a unique public-private partnership to engage citizens around the world in a global conversation about democracy.

People around the world can track updates and join the real-time democracy conversation online at: www.facebook.com/democracychallenge and www.twitter.com/demvidchallenge.

Democracy is… partners and participating organizations include: The Annenberg Space for Photography, Bridges to Understanding, the Center for International Private Enterprise, Getty Images, International Center of Photography, the International Republican Institute, the International Youth Foundation, the Motion Picture Association of America,NBC Universal, National Democratic Institute, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, One Economy, the Recording Industry Association of America, TakingITGlobal, University of Southern California (USC), USC's Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, the U.S. Department of State, and YouTube.


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