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Mike Trow: “I am excited to see entries from across the world”

4 years ago

We speak to Mike Trow, the chair of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards’ Professional Competition. After chairing and curating the 2018 Awards, he feels like it is “ a surprise and honour to be trusted with this role again.”

Trow describes working with such a great body of judges over three days as “a joy, and challenging work.” He hopes that this year’s panel will help make another great year for the Awards.



How did you become involved in photography?

I have been involved in photography since I was a child, through my father’s work at art schools and the artists who came and stayed with us, including Tim Gidal, Jean Philippe Charbonnier, Daniel Meadows,Richard Sadler and John Blakemore.There were always interesting, fun artists around me,whose work influenced me from a young age and helped shape and develop my visual preferences. Reportage and portraiture have always been something I admire and love, andy my first job in photography was in a reportage agency seeing amazing and shocking real stories from all over the world. The Sony World Photography Awards fit with much of my professional history. Whether editing an Iraq war story by the Turnley brothers, or trying to find a buyer for Nick Danziger’s work, I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the best photographers in the world. I also experienced working at an irreverent features magazine called Bizarre, which was fun, exciting and transgressive, and at Jack magazine alongside the legendary editor of men’s magazines, James Brown.


You worked for 13 years at British Vogue as the commissioning photo editor, how would you describe this experience?

I spent 13 years at British Vogue producing beautiful portraits, great magazine features and stunning, narrative still lives, which is something very few people get the chance to do. It was stressful at times – making beautiful things that pass judgement is always a challenge in any sphere. Producing shoots to the highest level to ensure good results takes a number of skills that I hope I will always have, and I greatly enjoyed my time there..Above all it was very much about working with great photographers and creative teams to create consistent work that readers will appreciate and remember.



What are you currently working on?

After leaving Vogue I took a little family time out, travelled in Europe, worked on my own projects. A highlight of the past year was Chairing the Professional competition and curating the exhibition for the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards. I also took on freelance photography projects. Alongside gearing up for the 2019 Awards, I am currently the freelance Photo Director for Porter Magazine, and I am also working on other exhibition opportunities.




As the chair of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Professional competition,what entries would you like to see?

For 2019, I hope the standard is even higher than the strong standard of entries from 2018. I think more environmental and political work is important as it highlights major current global and local issues that affect everyone. The Still Life and Landscape categories I hope will continue to gain more and more innovative entries. My main hope is that photographers from all nationalities apply and submit their best works. It is a global competition and the judges are excited to see entries from across the world that tell stories that might take audiences out of their comfort zone.


What did you like the most from the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards?

2018 was a very strong year - I felt all the winners and images exhibited were impressive.I think Alys Tomlinson’s Ex-Voto series was a strong and profound project, executed in a traditional way. I also loved the Afghan ‘Buzkashi’ series by Balazs Gardi, which dynamically mixed sport and reportage with great narrative. Edgar Martins’ work also stood out for his sensitive and mysterious still life series on suicide notes.


And from the exhibition at Somerset House?

I am genuinely excited about the 2019 competition and I hope myself and the terrific judges on the panel can prove worthy of judging such a wide array of works and keeping the Awards moving forwards.


Ready, set, go!