Users of social media today are familiar with the various symbols allowing them to Like, Love, Laugh at, say Wow to, Cry about and be Angry with words and images their friends and followers post on their sites.

It is easy to Like every photo that our Facebook and Instagram friends post and most of us seem to do so most of the time. So, when someone who is more selective in making use of these easy responses Likes – or even Loves – my images I am particularly pleased. When that person adds a comment that is even better.

When the person responding positively to my image is a successful photographer, whose work I admire and opinions I respect, I am even more pleased. Unknown to him, for some time I kept a record of which of my images he Liked and/or commented about. I’m not naïve enough to think that his reason for indicating approval of any image was always because he thought it was good photography. No doubt he sometimes Liked one of my images for some other reason.

Anyway, in January 2020 I put together a photobook containing a collection of some of my black and white images that Roger (Roj) Skinner had Liked or Loved or commented about. I spent a lot to get a good quality lay-flat book and was pleased with the outcome. The book’s title is “Liked”.

The Australian Photographic Society (APS) conducts an annual photobook competition with cash prizes of $500. APS and Australian camera club members are eligible to enter. Momento Pro is the major sponsor of the competition, providing $1,400 in voucher prizes. The competition includes a Storytelling and Portfolio category, and has no limit on the book subject, size or print method. You must enter a physical book.

I had never previously entered; but decided to submit “Liked” in the Portfolio category. Some weeks later I received a phone call from the co-ordinator, Anne Pappalardo, advising me that I had won second prize in the Category and requesting information and a photo for use in publicity.

Publicity photo of me and the book © Robyn Swadling

Soon after I learned who the other winners were and saw that another Canberran, Helen McFadden, had won second prize in the Storytelling category. We all had to keep the news secret until the six winners were announced on 1 September, but Helen contacted me and asked me to make a “copy” of the pages of my book available for the Canberra PhotoConnect website.

Judging took place on 22 August at the Art at Heart studio in Bellbowrie. Sue Gordon (President of the Photographic Society of Queensland) and Warren Vievers (accredited judge for the Photographic Society of Queensland) reviewed the books physically, while Libby Jeffery (co-founder at Momento Pro) Zoomed in from NSW. To allow Libby to judge remotely, the coordinators presented each book to multiple video cameras, describing their physical characteristics, reading out essential text, and flicking through every page.

With five previous years of coordinating the competition under her belt, Yvonne Hill confirmed that, “the standard of winning entries continues to improve year after year and 2020’s entries were no exception.” Libby Jeffery stated that, “all the winning books showed an appreciation for white space, symmetry and consistent alignment, and many of the books made good use of text and extra graphics to enhance the story behind the photos. We hope the process of reviewing, editing and sequencing photos into a book layout helped the entrants develop new skills, and inspired them to work on more creative photo series or projects in the future.”

After five hours of review, the judges’ scores were analysed, and the six winners were chosen. The judges awarded the winning books for their excellence and fitness for purpose in photography, sequencing of images, design, layout, and typography. An article about the competition and all the winners is on pages 8-19 of the latest issue of the Society’s magazine Monitor. And here’s the official announcement.

A screenshot from the official announcement of the winners.

As the screenshot above advises, you can even watch a video of the book here.

The judges said Liked “presented an engaging series of abstract black and white images and it made us laugh. The image selection was unique and contemporary, as only photos that received a ‘Like’ from a photography peer were chosen. Including the social post text and comments, in the Facebook font, also added to the context and humour. It’s a great creative collaboration.”

A screenshot of one of the double page spreads in the book

Liked is also available to preview (or even purchase) here.

I may produce another similar book of colour photos with my MomentoPro voucher.


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