Votes are tallied, results are in for the Blake Andrews Interview Contest.
The contest involved participants ranking the above photos in order from favorite to least favorite. The second part involved guessing the overall averaged ranking order of all participants. More on the contest guidelines can be found here.
Results were counted as follows: if, for example, a participant ranked Ruth Orkin's photo as 15, and it's real order in the averaged ranking was 10, the participant received -5 points. The points were then added for all 20 images to give the participant a total negative point score. The winner was the participant with the smallest negative point score.
Before announcing the winner, lets count down the final averaged image rankings, from least favorite to favorite.
20. Daido Moriyama - Moriyama's image was voted least favorite collectively as well as by nine (of 48) participants. (Averaged Ranking: 13.15)
19. Andreas Gurksy - Rhein II sold for $4.3 million dollars in November 2011. It would apparently be hidden in the closet by the majority of voters, taken out and placed on the mantle just before Andreas stops by. (AR: 12.71)
18. Stephen Shore - This ad for Chevron by New Topographer Shore wasn't popular either. (AR: 12.40)
17. Edward Weston - Weston's portrait of John Coplans didn't resonate with participants. (AR: 12.27)
16. Steve McCurry - One of the most divise images in the ranking in terms of range; hated by many, loved by few, averaged low. Interestingly, it ranked first just as many times as our eventual winner (3 times). (AR: 12.02)
15. Cindy Sherman - One of only two images with no first-place votes. (AR: 11.91)
14. Roger Ballen - Voters did not rate highly this Ballen image of two characters from Matthew Barney's Cremaster cycle. (AR: 11.23)
13. Roger Fenton - The lack of participation by Crimeans in our contest surely kept this image from rising higher. (AR: 11.06)
12. Viviane Sassen - (AR: 10.98)
11. Robert Capa - Share's the averaged average photo award with Sugimoto. (AR: 10.42)
10. Hiroshi Sugimoto - Share's the averaged average photo award with Capa. (AR: 10.15)
9. Alfred Stieglitz - Begins a run of 9 consecutive American photographers in the top 9 spots. (AR: 10.06)
8. Walker Evans - This cornerstone image of American photographic history ranked overall towards the middle, but it did, however, tie for the most number of first-place votes with five. (AR: 9.98)
7. Paul Strand - Strand's image of Lilliputians on the set of Guillver's Travels: Mini-Mayhem in Manhattan was one of only two images with no first place votes along with Sherman. (AR: 9.35)
6. William Eggleston - Shaquille O'Neal's childhood tricycle ranked quite highly with participants, but fell from 4 to 6 on the last night of voting. (AR: 9.23)
5. Martin Parr - Parr begins a run in the top 5 of images with figures, four of them being portraits. (AR: 9.10)
4. Ruth Orkin - (AR: 9.04)
3. Alec Soth - (AR: 8.68)
2. Diane Arbus - This portrait of Blake Andrews and his family by Diane Arbus ran neck-in-neck with our winning image until the last day, but faltered at the finish. Tied with Evans for the most first-place votes with five. (AR: 8.25)
This leaves our favorite collective image as...
1. Dorothea Lange - Lange won by being average. She was only ranked first by two participants, but only three had her below 15 - and she was ranked last by no one. The great majority had her image in the 3 to 8 range. The winning combination for making a favorite image appears to be to offend no one, appeal enough to all. (AR: 7.94)
So what to make of the results? I'd love to see a public conversation develop around them.
As Blake mentioned in an email to me, the rankings were fairly closely clustered in terms of first to last, more so than expected. The high rankings of American photographers and portraits seems notable to me at a glance through the rankings. I had thought there might be a bias towards color, but apparently not.
As I guess one would expect, the top few images generally were the least divisive - few people ranked them very high or low. Most ranked them upper middle. This fits my experience being on juries for photography competitions - it's usually the average image (no offense, Ms. Lange) that we can all agree on that wins, and few people's true favorite.
On to our guessing and to our winner.
We received 48 completed entries. Our winner? It wasn't very close.
Daniel Echevarría, photographer and co-publisher of the blog One, One Thousand apparently has a supernatural understanding of our collective psyche. He won with a negative total of -69. Our last place finisher, for context, finished with -163.
I asked him about his ranking strategy and he replied: "I based my ranking guesses on the current popularity of these photographers, trends in the photo-world, and what I believe to be a universal consensus that Rhein II should have sold for $430 and not $4.3 million. The fact that I have doctorate degree in soothsaying probably also helped."
Blake Andrews, in accordance with our previously announced prize, will be flying to Danny's current city of residence - Atlanta, Georgia - sometime within the next year to photograph. He will give Danny a print of an image made during the trip.
Danny also saved Blake and I from some collective embarrassment, public scrutiny, character assassination, released hounds, pitchforks, torches, tarring, feathering and extended reflection on our methodology - I finished second and Blake finished third, tied with fellow iN-PUBLiC member Amani Willett.
Thank you to everyone who sent in an entry and for taking part in the contest!
HARD DATA (click to enlarge)
FAVORITES (Names have been removed. Average at the bottom.)
RANKING GUESS (Names have been removed. Negative point total on right. Red zero means an error in the submission (i.e. one name twice and one name not given), however no one with an error would have been able to win based on already having surpassed the winner's accumulated negative point score. xxxx means no ranking guess was made, although a list of favorites was sent by that participant.)