All good things must come to an end, including our early-bird rate on entry fees. Monday, January 15 is the early-bird deadline for submissions to the 41st National Magazine Awards. Enter online by 11:59pm EST to save on entry fees. The final deadline for all submissions is Friday, January 22.
Download our guide for a handy reference to categories, deadlines, guidelines and more.
Ready to submit? Follow these steps : 1. Review the Categories, Rules, FAQ 2. Register online at submissions.magazine-awards.com 3. Enter the details of each submission 4. Upload a PDF of each submission 5. Pay the required entry fees ($100 for most entries) 6. Courier hard copies (if required)
Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. In this interview, we chat with Montreal-based writer and photographer Terence Byrnes. Last year at the NMAs, Terence was awarded the gold medal in the category of Photography: Photojournalism & Photo Essay for “South of Buck Creek.” Byrnes succinctly captures the premise of the photo essay by way of a subheading: “A Canadian memoir of black and white in America’s unhappiest city.”Read on for Terence’s thoughts on maintaining sympathetic neutrality towards the residents of Springfield, Ohio; smart phones and the democratization of photography; and his advice for emerging photographers.
First, congratulations on winning gold at the NMAs for “South of Buck Creek,” published in Geist. Your photo essay describes Buck Creek as a “cabinet of wonders.” In your career as a photographer, have you found other subjects, or places, that could be described as such?
I shot for a while in Buffalo when that city was among the rustiest of rust-belt towns. The industrial desolation, abandonment, and sense of fallen empire were awe-inspiring. In a residential area, I saw a man, wearing only dirty white briefs, roasting a wiener in a hubcap where he had built a fire with twigs. This was at the end of a street of McMansions protected with black iron grillwork over every door and window. Is that a wonder? I don’t know.
The essay portion of your piece notes that you took approximately 10,000 photos of Buck Creek, over a span of 45 years. How do you organize all of your photos?
Ten thousand was a guess. It’s more than that. Many are negatives, with some chromes. I worked from proof sheets to produce scans on a Nikon scanner. I moved to digital capture in 2003. Lightroom keeps track of it for me.
Do you have an absolute favourite from those 10,000 photos?
One day, I was photographing an oddly shaped building—it may even have been a skinny parallelogram—that housed a bar. “Bob City” was painted on one end of it. Railroad tracks, a sidewalk, and several streets converged and diverged behind the building, and dandelions had popped up in a patch of grass in front of it. I spent about 45 minutes finding the right position and height to put these elements into proper relation with each other. When I processed the film (this was probably 30 years ago) air bubbles had stuck to the best frame in the series, rendering it unusable. Wanting to salvage that frame eventually led me to early digital scanning of negatives and moved me out of the darkroom to the screen, where I patched the bubbles. I can’t say if this image was an “absolute favourite,” but it’s got a lot of history stored in it.
Within the first few pages of the photo essay, we jump from the sixties with “Terria (1966)” to the early 2000s with “South of Buck Creek” (2001), then to the 90s, with “Joy (1999).” What were your intentions behind the non-chronological organization of this photo essay?
“Intuitions” is probably a better word that “intentions.” When you establish an order for a photographic series, some arrangements just look better. I suppose I want the eye to re-orient itself to the formal elements of each image so the photograph is actually seen. Also, ordering by year suggests development of some sort, or it implies a narrative. As it was, the images themselves were my first priority.
Very early on in the photo essay, you state that your role in Buck Creek shifted from spectator to participant. Certainly, that theme—of your enmeshment in the Buck Creek community—runs throughout: there’s the “crazy moment” when you “fantasized about adopting” one of the boys from the Vision for Youth residence; you carried the “Friends (1977)” photo around for years, hoping to eventually deliver it to one of the photo’s subjects, “scary guy.” What challenges came along with crossing that line from spectator to participant?
Great question. I had to maintain sympathetic neutrality toward everyone and to learn—more than once— that folks who looked down-and-out could be as smart, respectful, and as deserving of respect, as anyone else. Honesty and openness were crucially important. A subject might say, “Take my picture, but don’t ever use it,” and my agreement would have to be as good as gold.People were blown away when I would come back a year later with free photographs. That’s how the street cred developed. Of course, there were rough spots and challenges that were both emotional and physical. I saw families living in misery and stripped of dignity thanks to bad luck, fear of gang activity, and profound physical and emotional disability (with no health care or institutional support). You want to help, but you can’t.
“Marriage (1998)” features a woman in her bikini, with her two twin daughters. The narrative portion states, “In the later years of this project, women wouldn’t so easily agree to have their pictures taken. They were afraid, as one told me, that their faces would appear atop a nude body on the Internet.” It seems that while the Internet has encouraged people to document their lives—via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram—it’s also made it more difficult for photographers to act as the documentarian. Are there other ways in which the growth of social media and the shift to digital have impacted your career as a photographer?
Camera phones have, in a sense, radically democratized photography and, for many people, have done away with the cachet of the physical print. Academic criticism and identity politics have also had a less than salutary effect on the documentary form. Some months ago, I glanced outside my window here in the Point-Saint-Charles district of Montreal and saw an 11-year-old boy got up in a home-made superhero costume, holding a garbage can lid as a shield. I knew it was pure Arbus, but couldn’t resist. When I asked the boy if I could take a photograph, a teenage girl ran up and began shouting at me. Her assumption—thanks to her familiarity with internet images—was that I was about to do something that was immoral as well as illegal.
Your first camera was an Agfa Ambi Silette loaded with Tri-X film. These days, what’s your camera of choice?
Actually, before the Agfa, there was a Kodak “Pony,” which I had forgotten. You’ve caught me at a crossroads now, though. Should I move up from my Nikon D810 to the new D850 or switch to the mirrorless Sony A7R III? Probably the new Nikon.
In 2008, you published Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait, which you had worked on for 10 years. That means that there was some crossover between the literary portraits and Buck Creek. What similarities were there between these two seemingly very different projects?
Both were closer to the subjects’ homes than to the studio. I tend to shoot on-site and to make it up as I go along. This can produce really banal results, but also great surprises in lighting, posture, expression, and mood.
What was the impact—personally and/or professionally—of winning a National Magazine Award?
I think it makes me an easier sell to editors who don’t know me. And if I pitch an idea, I’m more likely to be listened to.
What advice would you offer to a young photographer?
The advice I give myself is often so disastrous that I should keep my own counsel. That said, I think of current work that catches my eye. I love the work of Tamas Deszo, Sebastián Liste, and Ruth Kaplan. Or Michel Huneault’s photographs of Lac Mégantic after the train disaster. There are some wonderful documentarians out there who do far more than record event. I would have been interested in photographing the refugees/migrants who streamed across the border in Quebec’s Eastern Townships in the belief they would find a home in Canada. Good projects don’t have to be topical, but they do have to be fresh.
Previous to Byrnes’ NMA gold award, he received two NMA honourable mentions. The first was in 2009, for “The Imagined Portrait” published in Queen’s Quarterly. The second was in 2012 for “The Missing Piece,” published in The Walrus. For more information on Byrnes’ photography and writing projects, please visit his website.
For the past three years, the National Media Awards Foundation (NMAF) has partnered with Indigo Books & Music Inc. to launch a nation-wide newsstand promotion designed to increase awareness about Canada’s best magazines published in both official languages. The NMAF is excited to announce the promotion will be continuing this year.
The participating 2017 award-winning titles will be displayed in a dedicated NMA newsstand frame in 89 Indigo superstores across the country. Specifically designed to help Canadian publishers make a statement on newsstands — a challenge in a market that is more competitive now than ever — this promotion provides a one-of- kind opportunity for magazines to increase their visibility and grow their newsstand sales and subscriptions.
The NMAF, whose mandate is to recognize and promote award-winning Canadian magazines and content, strives to implement initiatives that help publications thrive in the evolving magazine industry. With this newsstand promotional campaign, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Foundation is providing publishers with a distinctive opportunity to leverage their prestigious distinction, maximize their impact on newsstands and bolster their readership.
How did it feel to be the first reporter atPrecedent to win a National Magazine Award for writing?
It was super satisfying! We’d been recognized at the Canadian Business Media awards and the KRWs before but to have a piece of writing given some recognition by the best people in the business was huge. It’s not something that happens to everyone and there’s no guarantee that it will happen again. It wasn’t something that I expected, so it really was just a huge treat.
Can you tell me a bit about how your first got the Bryant story? Sure! I guess that’s going back to the winter of 2015. Sean Robichaud, a criminal lawyer who runs his own law chambers, had mentioned to Melissa Kluger (editor and publisher of Precedent) that she might be interested to know that a high profile person just joined his new chambers—it was Michael Bryant. When she told me, I didn’t immediately know the story was going to have the kind of richness that would be required for a long cover story. But it was interesting enough, even just the fact that he was getting back into the game after people hadn’t seen him in so long would’ve at least justified a short front of book news piece.
Tell me about your reporting process.
I got in touch with him fairly quickly but didn’t hear anything for months. In the spring he responded to my initial email and said he’d be happy to chat about what the story might be about. After I met with him for the first time, I had an inkling of what the story might be: the attorney general who ran the justice system is becoming a criminal lawyer and starting to see some of the injustices in the criminal justice system that he was oblivious to when he ran it. That was what sold me and made me think that there might be more to the story. When I took it back to Melissa to talk to her about it I could say that there was something here that’s richer than just “here’s Michael Bryant becoming a criminal lawyer.” There was a kind of poetry to the story that we could pack in and make it a cover story.
Bryant published an autobiographical book called 28 Seconds: A True Story of Addiction, Tragedy, and Hope in 2012, how did it influence your story?
The big blockbuster revelation in his book which I think people knew but he hadn’t spoken publicly about, was the fact that he’d struggled with alcoholism. He also talked about what happened on the day of the accident (1) and going through that experience. I think in that book he was pretty proud of his tenure as attorney general. So we had to think… the accident is old news, we certainly don’t want to re-litigate what happened, the fact that he struggled with alcoholism is also old news and so much had been written about him already. We really had to think what could we add to the story, what we could add to the next chapter in that book. I would also say that it’s a huge advantage to write about someone who has a published autobiography because an enormous amount of the work is done for you. I had not ever done that before, or since, and I wish every one of my sources would provide a full biography.
Did anything stand out to you while reporting?
I remember I interviewed his pastor because a big part of Bryant’s narrative was that after the accident and after he’d fallen away from politics, he started going to a non-denominational Christian charity in downtown Toronto. His pastor revealed to me that Byrant had considered becoming a minister and that he thought that maybe religion was going to fuel meaning in his life. The story only got richer the more that things went on.
How was it to interview him? He’s known to be a bit gregarious.
He was a fun interview. There’s no question that he’s a very seasoned politician. But also as a politician he was sort of a straight shooter. I think journalists enjoyed talking to him because he didn’t necessarily stick to party line talking points. He was happy to sound off on what he thought was wrong with the justice system, he wasn’t mincing words.He had no problem saying that the presumption of innocence was a joke. He was a fairly easy interview subject.
How is this story different from others that you’ve worked on?
I guess we knew how much attention it was going to get from our audience and we knew that it was probably going to get more of a focus from the wider world as well. You know the next piece that I wrote on document review did well in the legal community, but I don’t think that people outside of it really picked it up which is fine, that’s not our goal. But I think we were aware that Michael Bryant is a bit of a lightning rod for controversy. We know that he is a polarizing figure to people both in the legal community and outside and we knew that people really didn’t know what had happened to him. We knew that it was going to make a certain amount of a splash upon publication.
What sort of feedback did you get when the piece came out?
The feedback was fairly positive, which was also gratifying. Overall both readers and people from outside of the legal world seemed to be inspired, which wasn’t necessarily the goal of the piece, but they were inspired nonetheless by him trying to make the most meaningful second half of his career as he could. I think people read it and were pleased to hear someone who once perched atop the justice system speak candidly about its flaws. I think people who are in the trenches (so to speak) of defense law—prosecutors and crowns—they know that the system has its problems and so to hear someone like Michael Bryant give voice to that was somewhat satisfying. And I think people just enjoyed the yarn. We don’t write that many 4500 word single profiles.
Fish recently wrote the cover story for Precedent JD (Precedent’s law student magazine) called Are There Too Many Lawyers? He is working on a project now that is exploring the link between mental health problems and the practice of law. You can follow Precedent on twitter here.
The 2018 National Magazine Awards are open for submissions. Enter your best magazine work for awards in 29 written & visual, editorial and best magazine categories. Writing and Visual Awards include a cash prize of $1000 to the Gold Medal winners. Digital content is eligible in most categories. The early-bird deadline for entries is January 15. Final deadline is January 22.
FREELANCER SUPPORT FUND Last month the NMAF announced a new program for freelancers to save 50% on their first two entries to the National Magazine Awards. Find out more.
SMALL MAGAZINE REBATE Magazines with under $200,000 in annual revenue may be eligible for the Small Magazine Rebate, equal to 1 FREE ENTRY. Find out more.
HOW TO SUBMIT
1. Review the Categories, Rules, FAQ
2. Register online at submissions.magazine-awards.com
3. Enter the details of each submission
4. Upload a PDF of each submission
5. Pay the required entry fees ($100 for most entries)
6. Courier hard copies (if required)
DIGITAL PUBLISHING AWARDS The 2018 Digital Publishing Awards will feature 24 awards recognizing excellence by the creators of Canadian Digital Publications, including online and tablet magazines. Submissions for the 3rd annual Digital Publishing Awards will open on January 2.
DEADLINES January 15: NMA Early Bird Deadline
January 22: NMA Final Deadline
We’ll be announcing the details of the 41st National Magazine Awards gala later this Spring. Stay tuned right here on the NMA blog.
The NMAF is pleased to unveil the list of categories for the 2018 National Magazine Awards. The program will feature 29 categories crafted to recognize excellence in journalism, writing, visual art, design and publishing, including 10 categories from Magazines Canada’s Magazine Grands Prix program.
Beginning this December, this unified National Magazine Awards program will honour the outstanding achievements of our industry’s best creators and publishers, and reflect the exciting future of Canadian storytelling. To learn more about this collaboration, please read the press release.
CATEGORY LINE-UP FOR THE 41ST NATIONAL MAGAZINE AWARDS
Writing & Visual Awards, recognizing excellence by Canadian creators in print or digital magazines, include a cash prize of $1,000 to the Gold Medal winner.
Long-Form Feature Writing
Short Feature Writing
Best New Magazine Writer
Photo Essay & Photojournalism
One of a Kind Storytelling
Editorial Awards recognizing excellence by a team of magazine creators, editors and art directors in print or digital magazines.
Best Art Direction of a Single Article
Best Editorial Package
Art Direction Grand Prix
Editor Grand Prix
Cover Grand Prix
The Grands Prix: Best Magazine awards recognizing outstanding achievement in magazine publishing.
Fashion & Beauty
Art & Literary
Two special awards will also be presented at the 41st NMA Awards Gala. These awards are the highest honours bestowed to a magazine and an individual.
The Magazine Grand Prix title (formerly Magazine of the Year) will go to the Best Magazine winner which demonstrates overall excellence in bringing its publishing team together to create an outstanding product; and the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement, which recognizes an individual’s innovation and creativity through contributions to the magazine industry.
The call for entries opens December 4, 2017 and closes January 22, 2018.
The NMAF is currently accepting nominations for individuals to serve on the juries for this year’s National Magazine Awards and Digital Publishing Awards. Click here for more information.
The National Media Awards Foundation is getting ready to honour the best in Canadian magazine and digital journalism at the 2018 National Magazine Awards and Digital Publishing Awards. The NMAF is currently accepting nominations for individuals to serve on the juries for this year’s awards programs, and join the great tradition of recognizing achievement by the creators of Canadian magazines and digital publications.
One of the reasons I volunteer as a judge for the NMAs is that the process is very well organized, completely transparent and fair. I really enjoy the discussion with my fellow judges. It’s collegial, and I almost always learn something. And every year I discover a few outstanding new writers who have produced great work. That’s a gift.
—Kelly Toughill, Director, School of Journalism, University of King’s College, Halifax, NS
Ideal candidates should fulfill one or more of the following criteria:
Internationally renowned journalist, editor, designer or other expert with an interest in supporting the NMAF fulfill its mission.
Editor, art director, publisher, web editor or other staff member (past or present) of a Canadian magazine, whether or not your publication participates in the National Magazine Awards or Digital Publishing Awards;
Freelance or staff writer, illustrator, photographer or digital creator, where a significant portion of your work is in Canadian publications (especially if you have been nominated for or won a National Magazine Award or Digital Publishing Award yourself);
Journalist (print, broadcast, digital) with expertise in a particular field represented by one or more NMA or DPA categories (such as photojournalism, service, arts & culture, fiction, poetry, etc);
Academic or industry leader with expertise in a particular field;
Professionals and leadersfrom related cultural sectors, including the visual arts (film and television), the literary arts (book writing & publishing) and the performing arts (theatre, music).
Bilingual: Not all of our judges need be bilingual, but all awards juries will have at least one bilingual member.
The NMAF welcomes applications from individuals who bring different industry perspectives – from recognized leaders to celebrated emerging talents. We also aim for the judging panels to reflect our country’s diverse Indigenous, cultural and regional communities.
Judging will take place during February and March 2018. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to nominate someone to the jury.
The NMAF is proud to have some of Canada’s most respected journalists and experts serve on its past juries.
Judging the NMAs allows you to keep tabs on industry leaders, validate someone’s hard work, and boost a worthy talent’s own career. It’s also an easy way to give back to a community that has given all of us so much.
—Arjun Basu, Senior Vice President, Product at Bookmark Content and Communications, Montreal, QC
I judge for the NMAs because I want to give back to the magazine industry and contribute its health. It also gives me the chance to see where other magazines in the country are having their successes.
—Steven Sandor, Editor, Avenue Edmonton, AB
The NMAs focus on creators, the people who are create the work that makes everything else possible. Given all of the challenges that creators face in earning a living, participating in a process that recognizes and rewards their efforts is, I think, important and valuable work.
—Kim Pittaway, former editor, Chatelaine, and journalism teacher, Dartmouth, NS
I think the NMAs themselves are a valuable measure of the accomplishments of Canadian magazine writers and editors. As to the process, we were given sufficient time and a workable structure both leading up to and in the conversation itself. My fellow judges offered interesting insights into the work considered and the process was both engaged and congenial.
—Kim Jernigan, former editor, The New Quarterly, Waterloo, ON
Serving as a judge for the National Magazine Awards, which I have done for at least ten years, is always a highlight of my reading year. It’s like receiving an engaging anthology of great writing by exciting emerging writers, masterful old pros, and hidden treasures. And you get the honour of choosing the best of a wonderful bunch! What could possibly be better?
—Stephen Trumper, Writer, Editor, Teacher, Volunteer, Toronto, ON
I enjoy being part of any process that involves visual communication. It helps me to learn more about my work as well as connect with others in the industry.
—Brent Morrison, Art Director, Swerve magazine, Calgary, AB
I enjoy the process because it gives me the opportunity to contribute both individually and collectively. Entering my own scores for each entry validates the time I spend reviewing and assessing each submission; discussing my assessments with the other judges during our conference call provides the opportunity to weigh the value of those assessments against the opinions of other industry experts and (on occasion) to argue in favour of work which I feel may have been undervalued.
—Dawn Chafe, Executive Editor, Atlantic Business Magazine, St. John’s, NL
Judging the National Magazine Awards, in the Poetry category, was a great experience. There is so much excellent writing out there, and it was a glimpse into the great diversity of publication going on across the country.
—Wayde Compton, Writer, Vancouver, BC
Having been involved since the 1980s, as a board member, president (1991) a member of a special review committee (Strategic Speculation) and a frequent judge, I have a real investment in the event. What I like most of all is the emphasis the awards have nurtured of rewarding the effort of individual creators (rather than the publications, which get to bask in the reflected glory anyway.) Some no longer seem to value, or understand, this. But it is one of the things which makes the MagAwards special.
—D.B. Scott, publisher, Canadian Magazines blog, Cambridge, ON
I enjoy the chance to dive deep into excellent work that I might have missed the first time around. It’s also a chance to (literally) cast my vote for storytelling that serves the reader and the material, not just the reputation of the writer or magazine.
—Susan Catto, editor, Hello! Canada, Toronto, ON
The NMAF is a bilingual, not-for-profit, charitable organization whose mission is to foster, recognize and promote editorial excellence in Canadian publications. Submissions will open in December for awards honouring the best in Canadian magazines in 2017. The 41st National Magazine Awards gala and the 3rd annual Digital Publishing Awards soiree will be held in the spring of 2018.