Welcome to the Photo Follies 2011 Awards, the Premier Photo Industry Contest In This Universe Or Any Universe Yet To Be Discovered™. Entries were judged by a jury consisting of leading industry figures, including a school of Barbary macaques, and senior Google Street View operators on loan from World Press Photo. Judging was overseen by the Russian Central Election Commission to ensure fairness.

The Shop Till You Drop Award [sponsored by Adobe]
Highly Commended: Terje Helleso, for Winter Coat.
Highly Commended: The Sun, for Libyan Low Fly Zone.
Winner: Huili County Government, China, for Walking On Air.
The judges’ verdict: By far the most popular category, this attracted a huge number of entries displaying impressive levels of incompetence. Swedish wildlife photographer Terje Helleso capped a 10 year cut ‘n’ paste career with an animal fashion faux pas. The UK’s Sun achieved spectacular results by outsourcing design duties to a 7 year old with a pair of scissors and Sellotape. The Chinese entry was however unbeatable, raising Photoshop incompetence to an art form: so powerful is it that the viewer feels himself levitating along with the subjects of the photo.

The Robotog Award For Photography And The Law
Highly Commended: London Transport Museum, for DSLR Camera Ban.
Highly Commended: Government of Slovenia, for Panorama Mania.
Winner: Los Angeles Long Beach Police Dept, for Art Police.

Photo © Tim Allen / www.timallenphoto.co.uk
The judges’ verdict: Last year it was reported that Kuwait had banned DSLR cameras. That turned out to be a hoax – but nobody told the London Transport Museum, which imposed its own ban this year. Meanwhile the Slovenian government took a broader view, banning all public panorama photography. Just to make sure they hadn’t missed anything, the ban was made retroactive: all panoramic photographs ever made in Slovenia are now illegal. Not bad, considering that photography has been in existence a century and a half longer than Slovenia itself. Long Beach police won by eschewing the crude truncheon-based approach to photo prevention so beloved by law enforcement colleagues elsewhere; instead officers are now required to supplement firearms training with courses on the history and theory of art and photography.

The Uncle Bob Award For Wedding Photography
Highly Commended: Lasting Impressions, for Where’s The Wedding?
Highly Commended: P&O, for Headless Bride Horror.
Winner: The All-Russia Union Of Wedding Photographers, for Avant-Garde Nuptials.
The judges’ verdict: The Derek Pye School Of Photography continues to churn out worthy award-winners. The Lasting Impressions video operator was unable to find the right wedding to attend after being uncaged; and P&O Cruise’s wheeze of having the ship’s chef double up as photographer was a recipe for disaster. Harking back to the heyday of the avant-garde, the Russian entry surpassed all others in its – ahem – creative approach to the art of wedding photography.

The Susan Sontag Award For Writing On Photography
Highly Commended: Guardian Eyewitness, for Pro Tip – Affordable underwater casings are now available for most cameras, while space travel remains prohibitively expensive.
Highly Commended: Guardian Eyewitness, for Pro Tip  - When glueing your camera to a surfboard, it is important to choose your adhesive carefully.
Winner: Guardian Eyewitness, for Pro Tip  - It is important to avoid laughing while taking a photograph as this can lead to camera shake.
The judges’ verdict: Just as digital technology has made everyone a photographer, so the Internet has made everyone a photography commentator. The web is awash with photo advice, but no other entrant came close to the Guardian for consistency and regularity: while readers daily admire the quality of the Eyewitness photography, professional photographers are equally awestruck by the accompanying Pro Tips.

Photo Caption Of The Year
Highly Commended: Eastern Daily Press, for Olympus Digital Camera.
Highly Commended: The Mail Online, for Media Scum.
Winner:The Globe & Mail Canada, for Caption Writer Meltdown.
The Mail Online's freudian slip
The judges’ verdict:
The UK’s Eastern Daily Press made official what everybody already knew – that it’s the camera that matters, not the photographer – and adjusted their photo credits accordingly. “You couldn’t make it up” is the Mail’s frequent battle cry, but for the Amanda Knox trial the UK tabloid did just that, splashing that Knox had been found guilty when the opposite was true. But the Mail got one thing right, with a telling typo in one of their photo captions for the story. The clear winner, however, was the Canadian Globe & Mail, where an anonymous – and now missing in action – caption writer identified a previously unknown connection between the paper’s Celebrity Photos of the Week & the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The Enron Award For Business Management
Highly Commended: Kodak, for What Happens In Vegas
Winner: Olympus, for Overcooked Books.
The judges’ verdict: As Kodak losses mounted, company executives did their bit by regularly splashing on private jets to Las Vegas. Olympus’ continued existence as a camera company had been a mystery to professional photographers, with the last recorded sighting of an Olympus camera at a photo-call as long ago as 1998. All was revealed when new CEO Michael Woodford inadvertently opened the books to discover 13 years and $1.7 billion worth of creative accounting.

Quote Of The Year
Highly Commended: Mark Zuckerberg, for Comedy Of Errors.
Highly Commended: Sienna Miller, for Tired And Emotional.
Winner: Johnny Depp, for Photography Is Rape.
Pluck me...we've got a leak
The judges’ verdict
: Everyone’s least favourite geek finally admitted what every Facebook user had been telling him for years: but only after it was his own account that got hacked. Former topless model turned actress Sienna Miller refocused the UK’s Levenson enquiry into the media away from trifling matters such as the hacking of a murdered schoolgirl’s phone toward more serious issues: the Daily Mirror’s cropping of photographs and celebrity documentarians’ habit of chasing her down the street. Although not a contributor to Levenson, it was the camera-shy Johnny Depp who won by building on Miller’s riff to reveal the true nature of photography in a cover story in Vanity Fair.

Photo Product Of The Year
Highly Commended: Sigma Deutschland, for SD1 Morris Minor Edition.
Highly Commended: Urban Outfitters, for Sienna Miller Anti-Paparazzi Shades.
Winner: Hasselblad, for H4D Ferrari Limited Edition.
The judges’ verdict: Who says the Germans don’t have a sense of humour? Sigma Deutschland attempted to kick-start sales of the SD1 by charging 10,000 euros for a limited edition version with wood trim styled after a 1950s Morris Minor Traveller. Urban Outfitters came up with a $12 solution for wannabe celebs wishing to appear anonymous. But racing to victory was the Hasselblad H4D Ferrari Limited Edition medium format camera. In tasteful racing red, and boasting specs including 800 horsepower and a motor-drive with a 0-60 speed of under 5 seconds, the H4D Ferrari was aimed squarely at a previously ignored niche market: wealthy middle-aged photographers with erectile dysfunction. A follow-up, the Jeremy Clarkson Limited Edition, is rumoured to be in the pipeline.

The Remix Award For Plagiarism
Highly Commended: Siegfried Kauder, for Double Strike.
Highly Commended: Cory Doctorow, for Boing!!! Cory Doctorow’s Daily Mail Copyright Clanger.
Winner: Bob Dylan & Richard Prince, for Everybody Else’s Images Revisited.
Photo by Ed Schipul (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The judges’ verdict:
German MP Siegfried Kauder immediately fell foul of his own proposed “two strikes and you’re out” copyright law when two photographs on his website were found to have been hijacked from elsewhere. Author and Creative Commons campaigner Doctorow blew a fuse when he learned that the Daily Mail had used some of his wife’s photographs without permission, then went ahead and did the same thing with a photograph from the Guardian the very same day. But the clear winner was the world’s first plagiarism supergroup. Dylan was caught out claiming paintings in a new exhibition were from his travels in Asia when they were very obviously slavishly copied from a variety of other people’s photographs. In a deliciously ironic twist the fawning catalogue to the exhibition was written by Richard “Prince Of Thieves”, who had just lost his own multi-million dollar copyright suit for ripping off photographs from Patrick Cariou’s book Yes Rasta.

Grand Prix de Folie Photographie
The judges’ verdict: This year’s winner was a no-brainer in every sense. The premier award has in the past been inevitably scooped by one of the industry’s big players; it’s a sign of changing times that this year’s winner is not even professionally involved in the photo business. Photo blogger Thomas Hawk started the year promisingly, with a museum confrontation that left him facing a $2m copyright and libel lawsuit. But Hawk’s tussle with the World Erotic Art Museum was mere foreplay: the best was yet to come in June, when he accused legendary New York photographer Jay Maisel of copyright enforcement practices that would make Tony Soprano blush. In the ensuing firestorm Hawk displayed his much-vaunted commitment to transparency first by abusing and censoring anyone who disagreed with his frankly expressed convictions, then by quietly removing his offending posts. Finally he removed his blog from its long-standing home in the offices of investment firm Stone & Youngberg, where Hawk’s alter ego Andrew Peterson works, to remotest Utah.

First pictures of Apple's new leicaPhone
When Apple’s Steve Jobs claimed the iPhone4’s closest kin is a beautiful old Leica camera it was just a veiled hint of things to come. Barely a day after Jobs made his comment at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference the company hosted an unscheduled session to announce its purchase of Leica Camera AG and a subscription contract with Eastman Kodak.

After communications glitches marred the WWDC Apple were taking no chances and laptops were banned at the latest launch: instead audience members were handed pencils and paper as they entered the hall. While some younger members were seen to struggle with the unfamiliar technology, it didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. There were cheers as Jobs took the stage and launched straight into his presentation of the company’s newest product: the leicaPhone, the world’s first mobile phone to use film and interchangeable lenses.

The audience gasped as Jobs quipped, “some of you won’t have seen one of these before,” and produced a roll of Kodachrome 64 35mm film that he slipped it into the leicaPhone’s bottom-loading slot:

“You simply load the film cassette into the bottom of the leicaPhone, and when you’ve used the 36 frames post the cassette in the envelope provided to the Kodak laboratory in Switzerland. A few weeks later you will receive your transparencies by post: no other phone in the world can do this.”

Using the classic Leica M-mount means the leicaPhone will accept all Leitz lenses made since 1954. A range of accessories will be available, including 21mm and 28mm viewfinders. In a nod to the camera company’s heritage, the famous Leica red dot is replaced by a red Apple symbol on the front of the phone.

After demonstrating the leicaPhone by walking amongst the audience taking pictures Jobs returned to the stage and continued his presentation. “This is the first phone to take interchangeable lenses and the first phone to use film: there’s simply nothing else like it. If Cartier-Bresson were alive today I’m sure this would be his phone of choice. The classic Leica form factor makes it perfect for discrete communication on the street.”

Shrugging off criticisms that previous Apple phones had weak coverage, Jobs paraphrased Robert Capa: “If your signal isn’t good enough you’re not close enough to the cell mast.”

Although technically the leicaPhone can use any brand of 35mm film, initially the units will only be sold with a monthly subscription package for Kodak film. Two contracts are available. The D76 package will include a monthly supply of black and white Tri-X; film processing will not be included, but Kodak chemicals will be available at Apple stores. The higher priced K64 colour package includes a supply of process-paid Kodachrome.

Jobs dismissed concerns that tying leicaPhone users to Kodak film was a restriction on consumer choice. “History and our research show that Tri-X and Kodachrome are the film of choice for Leica users. By making these products available again Apple is actually increasing consumer options.” Taking a swipe at Adobe, Jobs continued: “Unlike others, our imaging technology is not tied to proprietary standards. If other manufacturers want to offer users the choice of Kodak or alternative films all they have to do is produce a film-loading cell-phone.”

An Apple spokesman was quick to quash speculation that Apple would soon produce a digital version of the leicaPhone based on the Leica M9. “When Steve compared the iPhone4 to an old Leica camera he meant just that. The images from 35mm film are vastly superior to any current camera-phone digital photos, and by marrying Leica’s analogue heritage with Apple’s digital technology we’re giving consumers the best of both worlds.”

Speaking after the presentation Jobs said: “Apple phones are not merely a mobile phones; in fact, they’re barely that. Rather, they’re a lifestyle choice, and the people who buy our phones want the best branding marketers can dream up. That makes for a natural synergy with other overpriced and out-dated design classics, so the Leica deal was a natural for us.”

What I’m thinking…

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