Panoforms, vintage portraiture, and more: Your top 10 favorites from the Royal Geographical Society’s AGAT

Written by Staff Writer

The entry deadline for the 2019 Historical Photographer of the Year competition is 7 July 2018, and comes as photography historians and artists around the world try to preserve and share the history of photography.

From capturing Winston Churchill’s first steps out of a London hospital after recovering from a heart attack to a massive earthquake in Tokyo, the expert panoramas and snapshots of This Is London, by Colin Grainger, from St Ives, Cornwall, stand out among the competition’s judges, who love the fact that they can present the historical record of British life in a fun and entertaining way.

1 / 16 Colin Grainger (St Ives, Cornwall) uses these large prints to illustrate important moments of his life. Credit: Colin Grainger

“My very favorite category of photographs is the panoramas,” says Huib Sijbrandij, director of the Historic Images Programme in the Netherlands. “It’s the first series that has a horizon line — that’s the golden era when the panorama was invented. They made history simple, glamorous and fantastic. Everyone can enjoy them — it’s an incredible medium.”

“Panoforms (is) one of the biggest popular categories,” adds Christopher Clark, the founder of the International Press Photo Association’s World Press Photo of the Year program and an amateur historian. “I’d get excited if there were another Russian on the panel. People would say: ‘How does this guy have time for everything that’s going on?’ But he is out there, meeting you, and he always seems to have a name for every object that you show him.”

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An insight into the photograph world

Like the Modern Master category for photography by Lars Schneider, in which photos from the modern era such as Martin Parr’s series Ansel Adams’ Views on Earth: photographs of the landscape of the United States, is another to look out for.

Another intriguing award to watch out for is the young user’s-competition, now in its sixth year, for individuals between the ages of 12 and 18.

“The youth prize, in that age group, is a crucial competition,” says Clark. “They are exploring past objects, showing you how they were made. It’s history coming alive in a new way.”

Just how much “history” is under threat

While many people see photography as an oasis of peace and tranquility in an increasingly digital world, the Visual Arts Heritage Council (Vahc) has warned that more than a million exhibitions of photography in museum collections and regional museums around the world are now under threat from internet streaming and other digitally-driven developments.

Clark has a warning: “Photography’s place in the public imagination is disappearing. It’s become this kind of quiet but impressive repository for visual information which is largely insignificant when you step back from it. It’s not a very engaging and physically active thing — it doesn’t have the same warmth, the same personality or the same expression as other artists or any other type of art,” he adds.

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