Conceptual Photography

My contributions to the Australian Photographic Society pages in Australian Photography magazine are now only twice a year. My latest piece appears in the April 2019 issue under the title A New Concept.EPSON MFP image



Here it is as submitted:

During the Australian Photographic Society’s annual convention in 2018, there were some speakers who discussed conceptual photography. Marian Drew, one of Australia’s most influential and significant photo-media artists, gave a presentation. And there was a panel (Phillipa Frederiksen, Julie Powell and Lisa Kurtz) discussion about conceptual art – with Greg Mc Millan as Moderator.

The panel discussion elicited considerable discussion revealing a lot of interest in conceptual photography. When the new Management Committee of the Society met for the first time following the AGM, it resolved to establish this new initiative and charged me with the responsibility of managing it.

So, what is Conceptual Photography? Some readers may not be certain. If so, like me, they might find the material at these Website pages helpful:

The image illustrating this article is, in my view, conceptual. Let me attempt to justify that claim. There is an organisation based in Melbourne that has embarked on an ongoing project called ‘Unit of Measure’. For their initial project, participants measured parts of the built environment in Collingwood using something other than the usual units of measure, such as feet and metres. Instead they used standard-sized basketballs as their unusual unit of measure, and took photographs showing, e.g., how many such basketballs fitted into a door opening.

When some of that project’s people came to my home city to conduct a Unit of Measure Photowalk, I enrolled and found myself measuring parts of the urban environment using Coca Cola cans. So, the concept was to use those cans as a different unit of measure and find things in the urban environment that we explored which were exactly so many Coca Cola can diameters wide or exactly so many Coca Cola can lengths high and so on. The concept was to measure the urban environment using something different to the normal as our Units of Measure. And, of course, to create images of what we did. Conceptual photography? You be the judge.

New Acton UoM 0058 Cropped

Just under four months after I was given the challenge, the Society announced what it considers to be a stunning new initiative – a very special new photographic Prize, unlike any previously seen in Australia, providing the opportunity for Conceptual photographers to be recognised as the best in Australia – and to win significant prize money. You may have seen an ad about it in the March issue of this magazine. Have you entered yet?

The main challenge in establishing the event was identifying a suitable partner with premises for displaying the winners and other finalists, and to acquire the winning print. I was absolutely delighted when the Magnet Galleries in Melbourne agreed to join us. The winners of the Australian Conceptual Photography Prize (ACPP) 2019 and the best entry by an APS Member will be announced on Thursday 4 July 2019 at the 6.30 PM AEST opening of the exhibition of the finalists’ prints at Magnet Galleries’ Melbourne Docklands Gallery. Will I see you there?

The winner of ACPP 2019 will be awarded $8,000 cash. The winner of the best entry by an APS Member will receive $2,000 cash. If the winner of ACPP 2019 is an APS Member then that entrant will receive both cash amounts – totalling $10,000. Other prizes may be added as sponsors are announced.

Because the ACPP is acquisitive, the printed winning framed artwork that is awarded the Prize immediately becomes the property of Magnet Galleries.

Each entry must be a still work that has been substantially produced by photographic means, including analogue and digital photography, collage and mixed media.

Each entry must be accompanied by an Artist’s Concept Statement, of no more than 100 words. This may well prove to be a challenge for photographers not used to explaining the concepts, if any, behind their images. However, I see that challenge as a most useful learning exercise for people wishing to enter the Prize, and something that should improve their future photography as a result.

There are, of course, other entry terms and conditions. Each entry must not have been previously selected as a finalist in a Prize or exhibited at a major public institution. There also is a specification that a maximum of four entries may be submitted by any one entrant. And, entries must have been created in the twelve months preceding the closing date for entries (3 May 2019).

To read full details about the Conditions of Entry, about Submission of entries and Entry fees, about Exhibition prints and about Judging, and to Enter the prize, visit the APS Website: or scan the QR code below.

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