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Simon Paul wins PDN student photo Grand Prize

MFA Photo/Video candidate Simon Paul is the worthy recipient of pdn/Photo District News's Grand Prize for student-produced photography. His prize-winning work Genesis of Desire is a studio-based project informed by Paul's own struggles with masculinity, body dysmorphia and gender expectations. Genesis of Desire is a black-and-white series of collages of male bodies that exist in physical and imaginary planes.

© Simon Paul

© Simon Paul

© Simon Paul

© Simon Paul

Paul is a Romanian-American photographer, multimedia artist, and filmmaker living and working in New York City. He was raised in the Southwest desert where he received his B.S. in Biology. He is currently working toward his MFA at the School of Visual Arts.

Paul’s work explores the boundaries between image capture, performance, photo collage, and sculpture. Made largely without the aid of cut-and-paste digital tools, the work exists in the same physical realm as the viewer. The work focuses on challenging mortality and the confines of the body to embrace the “other."

© Simon Paul

© Simon Paul

The PDNedu 2019 Student Photo Contest is open to students of undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, and includes a category for high school students. Winners are recognized in the Spring 2019 issue of PDNedu, which has a circulation of 50,000 copies to students and educators nationwide. Featured photographers such as Paul benefit from promotion to PDN's online audience of more than 500,000 followers. Grand-prize winners also receive prizes that include a Nikon DSLR camera, $150 to B&H Photo and Video and a portfolio consultation with either an editor at PDN or a contest judge.

Congratulations to Maggie Shannon, one of PDN's 30 photographers to watch for 2018

After graduating the MFA Photo/ Video department in 2013, Maggie Shannon worked as a product photographer in New York “at this really crummy sales company,” she recalls. “It was pretty awful. But I was sending work out,” entering contests and applying for grants to support the portrait series she’d made into her thesis project. Then she won Magnum’s 30 Under 30 — “such a huge boon,” she says. She quit her day job. The prize offered portfolio reviews and meetings with editors and working photographers who showed her the steps to creating a career as an editorial shooter. The most important advice she got was to shoot the work she wanted to be hired for.

Shannon began documenting women who make experimental music, which became her series “Noise Girls.” Her images show women in the artful chaos of their makeshift studios, often lit with poppy flash. She emailed editors, and got meetings and jobs. Her first real assignment was for Brooklyn Magazine, photographing a musician at a Brooklyn bar. While “Noise Girls” had prepared her to work in different kinds of environments, she says editorial assignments forced her think fast on her feet. Recently, Shannon has brought her airy palette and eye for strange shapes to fashion stories and look books. “It’s been fun flexing that creative muscle,” she says.

To find out more about Maggie Shannon's life post graduation and to read her interview with Rebecca Robertson, please click here.

Image courtesy of Maggie Shannon from her series, Thunderbirds. 

Image courtesy of Maggie Shannon from her series, Thunderbirds. 

Each year since 1999, the editors of PDN have selected 30 emerging photographers who represent a variety of styles and genres and have demonstrated a distinctive vision, creativity, and versatility. This year, the editors reviewed the work of close to 300 photographers from around the world. To be considered, the photographers must have been shooting on their own professionally for five years or less. Most were nominated by photo editors, art directors, curators, educators and fellow photographers around the world, and some were invited by editors based on work seen in promotions, portfolio reviews or photo contests.