by Sara Guerrini photo editor Yourpictureditor
The Berlin based technology company EyeEm is first thing a mobile App for photo sharing, a photo community and a marketplace for professional and non-professional photographers, and not least the creator of an algorithm “that understands aesthetic taste”. We’ll be focussing here on the EyeEm Festival & Awards, which 4th edition just took place in Berlin and will be more in depth about EyeEm in few weeks with a following interview.
The EyeEm Festival is the celebration of an huge photo community and also a company communication tool made to reach a more skeptical and old-fashioned photo industry, which has been watching this fast growing new player with curiosity but at a safe distance. We have interviewed Jenna Black, EyeEm’s Communication Manager, and found out about their new, unique and controversial judging process, employing both Artificial Intelligence and human skills through the work of EyeEm Photo Editors and a well mixed Jury.
“Technology is changing everything” says Florian Meissner, Co-Founder & CEO of EyeEm and no doubt we agree with him! Is it time to reconsider judging abilities and the necessity of sitting down for hours reviewing thousands of bad images that a computer could easily do for us?
The EyeEm Festival has been launched as the Festival for those revolutionizing photography, technology visual communication. What’s exactly this revolution and how is it taking place? And: considering the works you have received, at which stage is this revolution?
The visual industry is advancing more rapidly than ever. The status quo is being challenged constantly, influencer marketing is booming, and technology is at the forefront of it all. The companies who were once leading the charge are now finding ways to stay relevant in the technology-driven visual industry. AI and Machine Learning is creating beautiful visual art of its own, and helping photographers, photo editors, etc augment their workflow. This revolution is in its early days, which is why we’re happy to bring together important players in the industry to discuss how this constant shift affects their work, and what they think is next.
The 2017 EyeEm Photographer of the Year, chosen by the EyeEm Photo Editors, is Sasha Dudkina, a 19 years old photographer from Moscow. Sasha creates very spontaneous images and reports the world around her with the fresh view of a young-adult. But beyond this, what has been considered so special to reward her as 2017 EyeEm Photographer of the Year among over 590.000 submissions?
I think the best answer for this is a quote from our Head of Photography Brada Vivi Barassi, «Sasha has been a super engaged community member since joining EyeEm in 2014, She regularly participates in Missions and shares life through her lens in a really consistent, intimate way. Sasha is brimming with potential. We’re so excited to work with her, help unleash her creativity to the full and provide support throughout her photography journey.»
Five finalists of the EyeEm Award are native of the following countries: Russia, Nigeria, Brazil, Republic of Moldova, Australia and The Netherlands. Do you see a geographical trend in the submissions you have received?
Since EyeEm is a global community, we receive submissions from all over the world (150+ countries), we of course tend to see higher submission numbers from the countries with higher user numbers – but I think the geographic representation of the winners is very telling of EyeEm’s global community.
How did you pick the 5 categories of the EyeEm Award? More traditional subjects like “Fashion” or “Food” are not included. Any specific reason? Are those still related to a more common and old-fashioned way to categorize photography?
With the EyeEm Awards, we look for images that have strong stories to tell. Through previous photo Missions or Awards we’ve hosted, we find that these categories present the strongest stories in the most visually stunning way.
One of EyeEm focus is also technology. Did algorithm and jury work together? How does the “tech” aspect meet this year’s edition? Both in terms of awards choices and of festival talks, workshops, audience interest, ecc. Being this an important part of your company it would be great to understand how this aspect was also part of the festival.
Yes, our algorithm was the first to ‘judge’ all the submissions. We ran the technology on the 590k + submissions in order to cut down the massive submission pool. The technology cut the submissions down by 70%, which our EyeEm Photo Editors then judged, the jury was then given a selection, and chose the finalists from there. Winners were chosen based on input from the jury and the strong storytelling of each image.
Technology is not only an important part of EyeEm, but it’s at the absolute forefront of the visual industry today. With more images uploaded to the web than ever before, how do we separate the strong, beautiful photos from the visual noise? How do photographers improve their workflow?
We believe that technology is the solution. We wanted to incorporate this into the Festival talks for obvious reasons, it’s important for those in AI/Machine Learning and Photography to come together to have insightful conversations about how these 2 things are making the visual industry one of the most exciting to be part of right now.
Could you give us your general impression of 2017 festival edition and some hints about EyeEm festival & Awards future goals?
With this being our 4th edition of the Festival & Awards, we’re evolving in both content and those we partner with. This year’s festival featured brands like Canon, BCG, Honor and more; with talks from photographers like Daniel Arnold, Mustafah Abdulaziz and Andy Kassier – in the future we hope to partner with both brands and individuals who are passionate about the intersection of technology and photography, and how the future of visual communication will be shaped by the relationship between the two. The great thing about visual technology is that its unpredictable, so we’re excited to see what the future of the EyeEm Festival holds.
Credit photo: Sasha Dudkina, WINNER of 2017 EyeEm Photographer of the Year
Jenna Black is EyeEm’s Communications Manager leading the storytelling of EyeEm’s technology, business, community and product. Prior to joining EyeEm, Jenna worked on PR and Communications for various companies including WordPress, Oracle, NetSuite, Samsung and more. She is based in EyeEm’s New York office.
Here a gallery of 2017 EyeEm Awards Winners: