At What Cost?

The Syngenta Photography Award, is a new international competition that aims to stimulate  dialogue around key global  challenges. Open to professional and amateur photographers, the Award will explore a central theme each year. In its inaugural year, the theme is  “rural-urban”, exploring the relationship and tensions between rural and urban environments.

Marcus Lyon

For the first time in history, over half of the world’s population lives in urban environments, which is increasing the competition for natural resources and labor,” commented Mike Mack, Syngenta CEO. “Finding a balance between these rural and urban tensions is critical. This new competition aims to establish an important platform to explore issues of global significance through photography.”

The competition will be judged by a  distinguished  international panel chaired by award-winning South African photojournalist  Jodi Bieber. The other members of the panel are: Irina Chmyreva (Russia)  curator and researcher of photography; Stephen Dunbar-Johnson (UK) publisher, International Herald Tribune; Milton Guran (Brazil) curator and photographer;  Malu Halasa (Lebanon) writer and editor;  Marcus Lyon (UK) photographer;  Mike Mack (U.S.) Syngenta Chief Executive Officer; and Liu Heung Shing (China) photographer and photo editor. 

The Syngenta Photography Award has two categories.  The Open Competition welcomes photographers of all levels, from professional to  amateur.  In addition, professional photographers are invited to compete for a  Professional Commission by submitting an original proposal that is related to this year’s rural-urban theme.The winners of the Syngenta Photography Award will be announced  at an exhibition in London in May 2013.

The Syngenta Photography Award is free to enter and has two categories: Professional and Open. Professional photographers are invited to compete for a Professional Commission by submitting an original proposal that is related to this year’s rural-urban theme. The first place winner will receive a US$15,000 prize, and up to US$25,000, to complete the commission. The second and third place winners will receive US$10,000 and US$5,000 respectively. The Open Competition welcomes photographers of all levels, from professional to amateur. The judges will award a first, second and third place winner who will receive US$5,000, US$3,000, and US$2,000

The deadline is January 15th, 2013

Competition Website

About Syngenta

Who wouldn't love a free competition with big cash awards??  PHOTO/arts Magazine is always looking for free and low cost photo competitions. The urban-rural theme of Syngenta's first competition perked my interest because it is closely related "My Own Wilderness".  Both explore the relationships and tensions between uninhabited versus populated environments. But I had never heard of Syngenta prior to learning about this competition. The old saying about "nothing is ever free" would seem to hold true in this case.  Syngenta is a global Swiss based chemical company that markets seeds, herbicides, and pesticides. Their seeds include both hybrid and genetically engineered varieties. Syngenta is a major global supplier of genetically modified corn and soybeans.There is a long history of legal issues and controversy involving Syngenta and the numerous companies it has purchased or merged with over the years.

I present this merely in the name of full disclosure. We've all experienced some very rough years in this recession. Artists especially have felt the pinch. The lure of cash prizes and no entry fee is very enticing, but I think it is very important to know where prize or grant money comes from. Concerned Photography is more than just what is seen through the lens. Choose wisely and responsibly.