Photography.Book.Now Blurb Competition

Photography books seem to be finally having their heyday. With access to the distribution, promotion and production of books through online sources, it seems weekly I’m dazzled by another self published photographer and at the same time overwhelmed that I’m being so finicky about putting out my own. One could trace the enthusiasm to the gang at Photoeye, or the Dashwood Books, maybe even more likely is Martin Parr and Gerry Badgers excellent History of Photobooks books or perhaps simply the big publishers Aperture, Steidl, Schaden, Chronicle, Nazreali or the newer ones Loosestrife, Radius, etc., add to the mix fantastic Photobook blog 5b4 and it’s easy to see a small part of ‘why the boom’.
While the ramped up ability to produce is now more apparent than ever (esp. in photography circles), what’s exciting is stumbling across some real jaw dropping book projects. Recently I’ve been knocked out by Andrew Bush, Anthony Hernandez, Paul Shambroom, Dawoud Bey, Christian Patterson and as equally by a single inkjet handmade book Stephen DiRado made for me of his mall photographs.
Well this summer I get the opportunity to see tons more books. The online book publisher Blurb is hosting a too-good-to-be-true competition with a grand prize of $25,000, as well as several runner up awards. I’m honored to be a juror in the company of Darius Himes, Jen Bekman, Charlotte Cotton, Elisabeth Biondi, Frish Brandt, Stephen Gill, Lesley Martin, Alan Rapp, Kathy Ryan, and Denise Wolff. I can tell you that this is a list of people you’d want to see your work regardless of prize.
The deadline is July 14th. There is an entry fee of $35 (very reasonable). Looking forward to the boxes at my door.


  1. Posted May 12, 2008 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    You read the fine print? Every smarty entering the contest should!

  2. Posted May 12, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    To clarify:
    Copyright and all other rights remain those of Contestant and/or any third parties from whom Contestant has obtained permission to use the third party’s material(s). Any book or image of the book used by Sponsor shall carry the photographer’s credit line. Use may include publication in any Blurb publication or web site. All Contestants understand and agree that any Submission may be used by Sponsor for marketing and promotional purposes including in any media such as exhibitions, print and digital media. All winning Contestants understand that their name, likeness and winning Submission will be used for marketing and promotional purposes including in any media such as publicity, exhibitions, print and digital media.

    That Blurb may use your picture in an ad does not seem as alarmist as you present. If you’ve ever worked with a publisher or magazine you’ll often agree to the same stipulation.

    One could always put those ugly watermarks over the photos 😉

  3. Posted May 12, 2008 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I think sp is right. Blurb gets to use ALL of the images, even those by ALL losers. That is not at all the same stipulation as ALL other publishers.

  4. Posted May 12, 2008 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Yes, the text states that Blurb can use any images submitted. Does that mean Blurb will be selling editioned prints or books of your works when you have that Moma retrospective? No. Not without your consent as you hold Copyright.
    If the internet has taught us anything is that images once published, (online, books or otherwise) become part of something bigger and are subject to many uses, intended or not. Some people do opt out, many well known artists don’t have websites most likely for this reason. I don’t see Blurb as trying to misrepresent here and I nor the other judges (quite a few of whom I know) are not to my knowledge subject to a briefing on the best way to get free images for ads for Blurb. It really is about the work.
    It’s a good discussion though and I think the bigger issue is who owns the internet? Google certainly owns this conservation.

  5. Michal
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Still, serious artists should probably think twice before paying to give away their use rights.

  6. Posted May 13, 2008 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Out of interest, will you be receiving a printed copy of every submission?

  7. Posted May 13, 2008 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Yes I’ll be getting a box of books to look through. Pretty excited to see what’s out there.

  8. Louis
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the potential use of material by blurb is particularly unusual. But entrants submitting hard copies must submit 3 , none of which are returned and digital entries must be done as Blurb books. To an extent , it could be argued that the promotional aspect (for the competition organiser) is higher than that of many other competitions. I sincerely hope that the competition is a grand success, but when compared to something such as the Oskar Barnack , which is free and material is returned with a thank you note, I cannot help but feel somewhat underwhelmed. I think there is an increasing tendency for the balance of benefit in many new competitions to be swinging further toward the organiser, which is a worrying trend.

  9. Posted May 14, 2008 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Good point there. There does seem to be a vast lack of funding for the arts outside commercial venues. A few people are doing something about that; the Humble Arts Foundation, United States Artist grant, etc…

  10. Posted June 10, 2008 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    As a result of posting here, I got an interesting, unsolicited email. How the sender knew to contact me, as well as how they got my email is a mystery to me. Here is the email exchange:

    Rights to your Blurb book

    Hi Michal,

    I was forwarded your comment about entering the Photography.Book.Now competition. I wanted you to know that we in no way take over the rights of your book when you enter, whether you win the competition or not.

    In the Rules of the competition it states this: “All Submissions become the sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.” This is in reference to the physical book that is submitted, not the book copyright or content. It simply means that we will not send back any copies of the book that are submitted to the contest.

    I hope that this clarification will encourage you to enter. Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

    Best Regards,

    My reply:

    Hi Xxxx,

    I am honored by your invitation and your personal attention to my concern!

    The part which continues to bother me is this:

    “All Contestants understand and agree that any Submission may be used by Sponsor for marketing and promotional purposes including in any media such as exhibitions, print and digital media.”

    This implies that even the contents of the losing entries become fair game for use. I cannot get my head around that. I pay to create a book. I pay to enter the contest. If I lose, my book will not be returned and all my images in it become fair game for use by the Sponsor.

    No, can’t do that. But thanks for getting in touch,
    very much appreciate it!!



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