L.A. Photo Curator Results
Theme: 'Dreams' curated by Emma Powell 


Message to Entrants from Emma Powell:
The camera is generally assumed to be unable to depict that which is not visible to the eye. And yet, the photographer who wields it well can depict what lies unseen in his memory.”
- Eikoh Hosoe
"I am honored to have been chosen to jury this call for entry and I take my role seriously. It is always a difficult process to choose images to highlight out of a large group of strong photographs. As with any juried exhibition, my choices represent my personal preferences at this point in time. I chose the images that stuck with me or challenged me over many stages of reviewing all the submissions. I was impressed by the variety of creative interpretations of a single theme.
The photographs that made the strongest impression on me had a distinct combination of form and concept, with an added element of mystery. Dreams are not concrete; they can be enigmatic. Dreams can have the ability to amaze us, while also tricking us into believing that they are real. The images that I chose evoke a dream-state for me. They carefully walk the line between the real and the unbelievable.
My top images also suggest a continued movement or narrative without giving too much away. I found I was most drawn to photographs that inferred a life beyond the frame. It was the images that evoked questions about what had previously occurred and what would happen next that stood out to me. This arose through seemingly candid close-ups, as well as more formally staged or manipulated scenes. I selected the photographs that evoked a dream-like ambiguity.
I would like to thank everyone who participated in this call for entry and supported this program. I am impressed by the skill and imagination all of the images revealed. I am also grateful to the LA Photo Curator program and Laurie Freitag for trusting me with this responsibility and for using this platform to support additional meaningful causes."
Emma Powell

1st place - Ralph Mercer- 'Rayanne's Dream'
"I found this image to be a particularly strong representation of the act of dreaming. The lack of external context, and closeness of the framing, separates the figure from her specific surroundings, implying an internal dream-space rather than literal environment. The use of a warm black and white tones reinforces the image as a representation of dreaming rather than a window into reality. It is clear to me that the artist paid close attention to lighting, using delicate details such as illuminating the line of the chin to separate it from the dark shadow of the neck to emphasize the figure’s dimensionality. The light also appears to be direct and angled in a way that suggests a spotlight adding, to the mystery of this image.
I find the swirling lines surrounding the face suggest the fog of sleep or the beginnings of waking. The movement of these lines implies the restlessness that can come with dreaming. This image stood out above the artist’s other submissions because of the way the additional effects were used in the composition. In this case they are integrated in a way that looks natural and three dimensional. While possibly not aware, the figure appears to be gently engaging with the movement of the lines. The addition of the hand adds slight depth to the image and helps to integrate the swirling lines. I was intrigued by the figure’s subconscious gesture. The face alone appears to be almost too perfectly pretty and peaceful, yet the hand breaks the composition with an almost protective gesture. This could symbolize the vulnerability that comes with sleep. The hand also suggests that this figure may be encountering something that she needs to protect herself from within her dream, asking the viewer to imagine what that dream might be. It is the juxtaposition between the soft expression and the subtly direct gesture of the hand that starts to hint at a deeper meaning. This image continues to intrigue me the more I examine it, leaving me with more questions than answers."
Best Series- Claudia Ruiz Gustafson 
"This series stood out to me for being both clearly connected while also expansive. These images work together as a cohesive series because there is a consistency in aesthetic style and symbolism. The soft focus and warm black and white approach suggests a fictional dream environment, rather than reality. This consistent mood and sense of ambiguity asks the viewer to read these images as parts of a larger narrative. 
This artist utilized selective focus in a unique way. Rather than softening the images making the scenes gentle, the lack of focus heightens the sense of movement and implies an urgency that might not otherwise be there. I interpret this as depicting the singular concentration that can come with dreaming. The choice of placement of the focus is also important. In these images, the figure is often located in an out of focus portion of the composition. This adds to the emotional aspects of these images, as the figure’s lack of focus suggests a lack of control or a fear of the dream world she inhabits.
Repeated themes link these images together and ask the viewer to try to unlock the story behind them. The same female figure appears in each image. While she is recognizable as a consistent protagonist, she is also somewhat anonymous. To me, this figure represents the dreamer. Through obscuring distinguishing features, she is both an individual and also a more universal character. Within these scenes the figure is very active, using subtle movements and gestures to direct the viewer’s attention and suggest a narrative to discover. Though the figure is dynamically engaged with the spaces she is inhabiting, she does not appear at ease. It is this tension that prompts the viewer to imagine what the story behind the image could be. Multiple images in this series have an abstracted man-made structure in the background that provides strong compositional lines, while adding to the anxiety in these scenes. In contrast to these grounded forms, a bird repeatedly serves as a detail the viewer is directed to pay attention to.
While the images in this sequence have similarities to each other, they are a strong series because each is also unique from the others. These images do not repeat the same compositional structures or formats, rather they build on each other and are stronger together."
2nd Place
1- Margo Reed - 'Stress Dream'
2- Sharon Alagna  - 'Untitled Bed Self Portrait 3'
"The two images I chose for second place I find to have odd similarities. While both images have unique characteristics that set them apart, I’m intrigued by the things they have in common. These photographs both stood out to me because of their active use of gesture to convey emotion. Both depict the anxiety either of a stressful dream or sleeplessness.
These two pictures show a detail of the body, but not the face. This removes the individual. Yet in each there is narrative quality to the placement of the body. In one image one hand cradles or pinches the other hand, each taking on their own personalities. Is the lower hand taking care of the bloody hand or is it causing the trauma? As a viewer we aren’t given details about the previous act that created the blood, only the gesture that came after the incident. In the second image all we see of the figure is the legs, but the multiple exposures creates a sense of active motion. This restlessness goes beyond a simple impatient twitch, but instead becomes almost protective or violent in the spasm it depicts. In both cases, as a viewer, I become concerned for the figure and start to imagine what might have led to this poignant position.
Color plays an important role in both of these images. While the distinctive red of the blood covered hands suggests a trauma, it is also subdued by the warm skin tones surrounding it. Rather than standing out as significant and out of place, the red hue adds to the overall warmth of the scene, emphasizing red details in the shadows as well. This is in contrast to how we instinctively know we should feel at the sight of blood. In the other example the background is not only blue, but contains a gradient of values within that hue. This shadow draws the viewer’s attention to the highlights and legs of the figure. The legs particularly stand out in contrast to the blue background, emphasizing the double exposures, which might not be as visible against a white backdrop. These images appeal to me because of the combination of dynamic compositional elements and the suggestion of a story that is implied, but not completed."
Honorable Mentions

Gary Justis - 'Below'
Harry Longstreet  - 'Almost Home'
Robin Ay - 'Suffocation'
Traci Marie Lee 'That lumbered all the way '
Josh Raftery -  'As She Sleeps'
10% of artist entry fees goes to the curator's choice of charity.  Powell chose the Sierra Club as her charity. https://www.sierraclub.org/home
Another 10% will go to the first place winner Ralph Mercer's choice of charity, The Griffin Museum of Photography.



Claudia Ruiz Gustafson
Daria Martinoni
Darius Russell
Debra Achen
Emma Hopson
Erin Jennings
Eva Lam
Gail So
Gary Justis
Harry Longstreet
Jean-Claude Bise
Josh Raftery
Laura Blacklow


Margo Reed
Nassima Rothacker
Nina Collosi-Martinez
Ralph Mercer
Robin Ay
Ry Sangalang
Sharon Alagna
Sophie Huysentruyt
Traci Marie Lee