Daniel BermanThe Mobile Photo Awards has been growing in popularity over the last few years. Now in its fourth year the MPA’s attract a lot of attention and thousands of entries from hopeful mobile photographers the world over.

Daniel Berman, the founder of the MPA’s took some time out from his busy schedule to talk about his own photography, the MPA’s and offered some advice on what he thinks makes a winning photograph.

Tell us about your introduction to mobile photography

As a film maker and TV director I’m always around cameras, so shooting with my phone was just another camera. In 2009, I started downloading photography apps and found some like-minded early adopters on twitter.

Right from the start, there seemed to be two main strands of creativity inspired by the “always with me” aspect of the device. For some, the ubiquity of the device in their lives made it easier and more organic to visually capture many more decisive moments. Street Photography is a natural extension of the fantastic ease and utility of the device. For others, because the phone was always there, they found time to experiment more graphically with their photos, mutating and shaping the images with multiple apps to fit their imagination.

Here are a couple of examples from 2010 that illustrate this idea – one where I capture a moment that could never happen again in the same way and another where I spent time on the couch, the chair, the lineup, etc… manipulating it until I hit upon something I liked.

Lets Go by Daniel Berman

Lets Go by Daniel Berman

The second image is a purely graphic creation, hardly related to the actual photograph. These images made a believer out of me. I thought, well, this device is pretty awesome. The future is only limited by the imaginations of the app developers and the users. I was hooked.

'Many Small Steps' by Daniel Berman

‘Many Small Steps’ by Daniel Berman

How did you progress from first discovering mobile photography to a point where you decided to start the MPA’s and what motivated you to do so?

Being involved in the community early on I witnessed the Wild West side of mobile photography’s early years. Prior to Instagram, even before Hipstamatic, there was an excitement around shooting, editing and sharing from one device. I love the idea of bringing recognition to some of the best artists and the finest images created with these remarkable devices. I also realize that for an exhibition to be taken seriously in the fine-art space, to be invited to art fairs and established galleries with an active clientele, the images need to be part of something larger, and that’s exactly the role I envision for the MPA.

The MPA isn’t really about having your “winning” image on a website with a stamp on it. The MPA is an opportunity for people to bring attention to their work at the same time as we bring attention to the work of the community as a whole. We are a combination of an open gallery call and a competition. The amount of press and interest we generate outside of the mobile world is a result of presenting a coherent set of fine art exhibits that go beyond one person’s taste.

Daniel Berman

What makes the MPA’s so unique from other photographic competitions?

The MPA is combination of a competition and an open gallery call for entries. Most comps don’t do gallery shows of the winners and open gallery calls don’t come with a $3000 grand prize. We do both. The idea is that we try to be more than a website. Yes, we give away cool prizes like cash, Olloclips, prints, etc… yet we also do exhibits and sell fine art at fine art prices to the benefit of MPA winning artists. When we do well in the art world then mobile photography as a whole gains another little point on the grid of credibility. The MPA is an opportunity for people to bring attention to their work at the same time as we bring attention to the work of the community.

Tell us more about about the competition?

The categories are all seen right here – from landscapes, street and portraits to digital art, visual fx and the noir-inspired Darkness category we cover a lot of ground. Each image submitted may be entered in up to two categories.

We award $3,000 to the Grand Prize MPA Mobile Photographer of the Year. A $500 award is given to the winner of our photo essay category. In addition to inclusion on the MPA Exhibit tour for 2015, each of the twenty category winners will receive a prize pack including an Olloclip lens attachment, an iStabilizer Flex mobile tripod, a gift code to purchase art work on crated.com, prints from Social Print Studio, and more to come.


Who are the judges this years and what will they be looking for in a winning photo?

As always, we have a mixture of photography professionals, art gallery owners, journalists, artists, art advisors, and others who are both familiar and completely new to the mobile community. It’s an exciting list. Information on all of our jury members is seen here.

Of all the photos submitted past or present are there any that stand out in particular?

There have been so many. In particular, I’m always impressed by the psychological depth mastery of light on view with Roger Clay’s work. Helen Breznik and Aylin Argun both bring exceptional artistry and mature creative thinking to their self-portraits. But yeah, I’ve been pretty lucky to have been around these images through 15 exhibits in the last 3 years.

Do you have any future plans for other photography events in 2015?

Plenty of news on our 2015 gallery season will be announced shortly.

Where can people find out more about the MPA’s?

Right here 🙂 www.mobilephotoawards.com

Entry Fees range from $20 for three images to $100 for twenty images. You may register and submit through December 1, 2014.

Good luck everybody! I can’t wait to see what this year brings us.