stan banos of reciprocity failure has been writing for the past few days/weeks about pdn's all-white 24 member jury for their upcoming contest. i first learned about it on a photo editor which became the sort of boxing ring of opinions and larger forum of information. well, just a few days ago, pdn responded with a letter to the public which i have below. it is important to read stan's preliminary responses/questions and his follow-up. benjamin chesterson on duckrabbit even offered up a $1000 prize to anyone who could legitimately justify pdn's actions.
On PDNOnline, we’ve just posted our interview with Miriam Romais, executive director of En Foco, the non-profit that for 35 years has supported photographers of diverse cultures, primarily those of African, Asian, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander heritage. We first asked Romais to talk to us about the lack of diversity in photography and problems faced by minority photographers back in March, as we planned our Careers and Self-Promotion issue. In other words, our interview with Romais was not spurred by questions about PDN’s own commitment to diversity.
Yesterday some blogs circulated a note about the fact that of the 24 judges of the 2009 PDN Photo Annual contest, all of them are white. It's a valid point ,and one that everyone who works on PDN’s contests has given a lot of thought. While the lack of any judges of color wasn’t intentional, it is regrettable. Thanks to the huge number of entries it draws from around the world, the Photo Annual offers us our best opportunity to see a wide range of work from different perspectives. We should make sure our judges represent a wide range of perspectives as well.
Past judges of PDN photo contests have included African-Americans, Latinos and Asians who work as photo editors, art directors, web designers and educators. We didn’t choose them out of tokenism. (Yesterday when we were reading the blog comments about this issue, PDN Custom Media Project Manager John Gimenez, who works with the judges during the judging process, noted that he usually doesn’t know the race of the judges until they send him their head shots, and by then the judging is done.) We don’t like to put the same judges through this grueling task too often, and the lack of diversity in the photo community as a whole means that it requires effort to compose a diverse panel year after year. But it is an effort that’s worth making.
As always, we love to hear from volunteers, and we welcome your suggestions for future judges.