Dorien Scheltens

Interview Catching the eye: tips for photographers

© Dorien Scheltens

“Sometimes the great power of an image does not lie within the image itself, but in its capacity to trigger the wish for more.” 

─── by Josh Bright, December 11, 2021

  • Elisa Medde, Editor and Curator of Foam Magazine and judge of the 2021 Open Call Photography Award offers photographers tips on how to get their work noticed.

    color studio portrait of a man with feathers by emerging photographer Mati Gelman
    "An Inner Call" ©Mati Gelman

    One of our most popular competitions, and a personal favorite among our team, the Open Call award offers an opportunity for practitioners of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences, working across all styles and genres to showcase their talent, creativity, and skill.

    A renowned photography curator, writer, and editor, Medde has a background in History of Art, Iconology, and Photographic Studies, and is particularly concerned with the relations between image and power.

    color conceptual photo of a wall with flowers by Tika Jabanashvili
    Untitled - Tbilisi, Georgia © Tika Jabanashvili
    colorful abstract portrait of a woman with long hair
    “Epic Hair, Everyday” © Suki Lui

    Over the course of her career, she has worked for various cultural institutions, publishing houses, and non-profit organizations, and as an independent curator and editor, and for the last decade has served as Editor in Chief at
    Foam Magazine.

    What do you look for in an image?

    EM: I would say that the most important thing I look for in a single image is its communicative potential. Which has nothing to do with it being supposedly iconic or not, but with its narrative power, its visual impact, its voice. Sometimes the great power of an image does not lie within the image itself, but in its capacity to trigger the wish for more. When after looking at a single image I feel like I want to know more, see more, continue the conversation – that excites me.

    black and white image of a face reflexion in mirror by Kseniia Apresian
    Self Portrait © Kseniia Apresian

    Launched two decades ago, Foam has become one of the most important platforms in contemporary photography: a space for conversation, contemplation, and connection where disparate visions and perspectives are brought together.

    Underpinned by a desire to make the medium more accessible, they aim to foster and encourage dialogue, in order to confront and challenge the very role of photography.

    color travel photo of men walking in river in Bangladesh by Rifat Hasan
    "River trail" - Bangladesh © Rifat Hasan
    Travel photograph by Trevor Cole of two men surrounded by their cattle walking in Khartoum, Sudan
    "Mundari camaraderie” - Khartoum, Sudan © Trevor Cole

    – What is your favorite or most memorable moment from your time working at Foam?

    EM: It might seem banal, but my all-time favorite moments are when new magazines get delivered at the Museum. I still remember with warmth my very first issue, back in 2012. I have a very physical relation to Photobooks and obviously Foam Magazine as well: as soon as I get one I notice the different papers with my hands, the smell, the manufacture, the binding. So when a new issue is delivered, the opening of the first box, it always feels like opening a new jar of coffee – I get that spike of joy that comes from finally seeing something an amazing team has worked so hard for so long.

    color street photography of French Navy sailors in front of the Sphinx in Egypt by Jonathan Jasberg
    “Sailors & The Sphinx” - Giza, Egypt 2020 © Jonathan Jasberg
    color landscape photograph of a cliff in the sea at the Faroe Islands by Paul Lichte
    "Breakwater” - Faroe Islands © Paul Lichte
    Black and white photograph, documentary, street, ganges river, india
    “Purification By Water” - India © Cristina Dimitrova

    Centered on their Amsterdam Gallery Space, their diverse program of exhibitions, events, and educational programs, champions photography of all styles. Likewise, their eponymous, and multi-award-winning magazine is published triannually, with each issue dedicated to a specific theme that is explored through the lens of both established and emerging visual artists

    What advice would you give to up-and-coming photographers?

    EM: I would say that the most important thing is to dedicate their energies to building, or finding, their strong unique voice, their own code. Especially at the beginning, do not bother about success, visibility, but rather in having a solid practice, asking the relevant questions, understand how your voice interacts, depends and navigates within your community. Make sure your message comes across. Also, do not be afraid of experimenting. A specific medium or technique is as useful as it contributes to bringing you where you want to go. That’s the only thing that matters.

    color landscape photo of trees in the desert by Sandra Ramos
    “Twins” © Sandra Ramos

    All images in this article were entrees to previous awards. Since our inception, we’ve provided a platform for emerging visual artists, both through our monthly awards and through our magazine, where, alongside the work of more established artists, we feature and give exposure to award entrees that catch our eye. With no express restrictions, The Open Call Award is a unique opportunity for photographers from across the photographic spectrum to showcase their talent. Together with Elisa, we look forward to discovering your work.


    All images are © of their respective owners