PDN Award-Winner Flynn Larsen Talks Cropping

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Megan Maloy / Cultura RM

Flynn Larsen / Cultura RM

Photographer Flynn Larsen tells us about her award-winning image and offers advice on entering awards competitions

Regular IMSO readers won’t be surprised to know that Flynn Larsen has won a 2013 PDN award. We featured her work last year (here and here) exploring images driven by narrative and sense of place.

Flynn Larsen / Image Source RM

Flynn Larsen / Image Source RM

Her photography brings a sense of wonder to domestic life.

Flynn Larsen / Image Source RM

Flynn Larsen / Image Source RM

The image that won her a PDN award has the sense of narrative but should also win a prize for “the-award-winning-photo-with-the most dramatic crop ever.” The crop is right on the edge between brave and skilled, and mistaken and wrong. It’s right at the point where it begins to ask questions of the viewer – it’s about looking! All that in a commercial saleable image. We asked Flynn to fill us in on the background to her image.

What were the concepts behind the shoot?

I wanted to shoot three generations – a boy, his dad, and grandfather together. But the boy’s sister was also home that day so we ended up photographing quite a bit of her as well. Like so many of my shoots, the concepts were really just a day in the life of a family; at home, going on an outing, playing music, skipping stones down by the river…

What is it about this particular image that you are most excited by?

The composition and the cropping is pretty dramatic. I always like to experiment with composition while shooting – I’ll start with something straighforward, and then see how far I can take it, and see what visual tension, or new meaning and emotions are created.

Stephanie Cabrera was Art Director on the shoot, what is the most useful aspect about Stephanie’s involvement?

Stephanie is always taking a step back while I am focusing on the moment. I could explore one moment for a long….long time, so it is great when Steph helps pull me back to see the bigger picture before delving in again. She is a great collaborator from the very beginning of the shoot – the concepting, the shot lists – to the editing process at the very end. She knows her photographers’ strengths and really pushes them in the ways that will let them shine the best.

Do you enter many awards competitions and what advice would you give to competitors about selecting images to enter?

I go through phases with award competitions, but I always feel like I should be entering more things than I do. I think it is good to do because even if you don’t win anything, your work is seen by a lot of people. About selecting images….boy, that is tough. My only advice would be just to stick to your own instincts and vision, instead of submitting what you think the judges want to see.

Click here to view the PDN 2013 Photo Annual’s Winner’s Gallery

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