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After having seen many book and dummy submissions to European festivals over the past years, I was very much looking forward to be part of the Kassel Dummy Award shortlist jury. I would get to see ALL the entries, not just the long/shortlists as usual. And I would be able to exchange thoughts with my fellow jury members, sharing the responsibility, which I did feel heavily. Behind each dummy submitted there is someone who has put in work, thought, time, energy and money, who has done their best, this deserves all our respect. My first impression was, peeking into the boxes, that more than a dummy I’d get to look at a book. Very few had a dummy feel, from the outside many looked and felt like already published trade edition books. Having to go through 7 big and full boxes, making sure that each of us was looking at every entry, many longer texts were left unread, at least by me. I soon stopped worrying about the manufacture in regard to content. Knowing enough about book production I was able to imagine how eventual changes could enhance the content where needed. So my focus was very much on this aspect: the content. Did, what I was seeing, surprise me, make me laugh, make me feel, make me react in a strong way? Did I see something new, from a different view point? The question we’d go back to was: does the author have to tell something? Why should this body of work become a book, and then – why the kind of book they had submitted? I felt many dummies would benefit from a tighter edit, a different sequence, which would maybe lead to different design choices. Self publishing and/or making a dummy does not mean it has to be done all by oneself. A photographer, being a photographer, has the duty to tell her/his story, with strong convincing content. Others can help with the form, that being their job. I’d urge them to take advantage of this, it really helps. Being a juror is a challenge and a huge responsibility. Being in a group jury is great, each one has a different perspective, a different taste, a different knowledge. While I alone wouldn’t have selected all the shortlisted dummies, most of my picks are in, and I can appreciate the value others see in their picks. Winners or not, these shortlisted dummies will travel and be seen by many people, that’s a great opportunity.

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