THE JUDGING PANEL INCLUDES RANKIN, CAT BURNS, MATTHEW JOSEPHS, VICKY GROUT, KAREN BINNS, ERIC JOHNSON,
SOPHIE ELLIS BEXTOR AND NAKYUNG HAN
AWARDS CEREMONY AT ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS
21 SEPTEMBER 2023
Today (Tuesday 6 June), Abbey Road Studios, the world’s most famous recording studio, announces the second annual Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards, designed to celebrate the art of music photography and elevate talent across the globe. Across a range of categories, the MPAs 2023 will recognise the previous year’s most memorable photos, the unsung music moments and the photographers who captured them. The winners will be unveiled and celebrated at an official ceremony on Thursday 21 September at the legendary studios.
The MPAs honour the images from 2022 that capture the magic of live music, the creative process and the diverse music scenes from across the world. These awards recognise photographers both established and undiscovered – with open-entry categories as well as awards chosen by a judging panel made up of artists, stylists, photographers and influential names in the global creative community.
Abbey Road Studios invites emerging, undiscovered and professional photographers from all corners of the globe to enter the six open-entry categories, titled Undiscovered Photographer of the Year, Music Moment of the Year, Live Music, In The Studio, Underground Scenes and Hip Hop 50. Entry is free via the MPAs website.
There are also four invited category awards, with the nominees and winners chosen by the official judging panel that includes renowned British photographer, publisher and film director Rankin, BRIT Award-winning singer-songwriter Cat Burns, innovative photographer Vicky Grout, leading stylist and consultant Karen Binns (Wizkid & Tori Amos), singer-songwriter and kitchen disco icon Sophie Ellis-Bextor,US photographer and winner of 2022’s MPA Icon Award, Eric Johnson, stylist and creative director Matthew Josephs (FKA Twigs) and New York Times Deputy Photo Editor Nakyung Han. This esteemed panel will nominate, debate and ultimately award these categories – each bringing their own unique expertise to the table. The invited categories are Portrait, Editorial, Artist at Work and Icon. Abbey Road Studios photographer in residence Simon Wheatley will join the judging panel for the Underground Scenes category. This year’s MPAs shortlisting panel comprises Sacha Lecca (Rolling Stone Magazine US and 2022 MPAs Judge), alongside photographers Yana Yatsuk (winner of the 2022 Portrait Award) and DeShaun Craddock (finalist in the 2022 Zeitgeist category).
Rankin says: “I’m thrilled to announce the 2023 Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards is now officially open. It doesn’t matter if you’re emerging, or a celebrated professional photographer, we want you to enter because we want your photographs to be seen.
The MPAs is close to my heart because I founded the awards together with Abbey Road. This is our opportunity to celebrate what music photography means, not just to the audience and the musicians, but to the photographers behind the lens.
This year, I’ll be giving you the opportunity to win a day’s mentorship with me on a music shoot, so make sure to get your entry in before 18 July.”
In its inaugural year, the MPAs received thousands of entries resulting in many incredible career success stories for both winners and nominees on the night. These include the 2022 ICON winner Eric Johnson securing his first Rolling Stone US cover with American artist Pusha T, the Undiscovered winner Joe Puxley opening his first exhibition, and Jason Sheldon being commissioned to shoot the newly refurbished Studio Three and new Writing Rooms at Abbey Road Studios, as well as multiple nominees making the step into music photography as a full-time career.
Returning as lead judge is Rankin, the renowned British photographer, publisher, and film director, who is also head of the eponymous agency RANKIN Creative, which hosts an 80+ strong team that puts strategy, creative and production all under one roof. Through RANKIN Creative, he is best known for work that is on the cultural cusp and leading future trends: producing rule-breaking campaigns for brands such as Unilever, L’Oreal and Samsonite; creating wide reaching projects for charities including Women’s Aid and Macmillan; and shooting music videos for the likes of Miley Cyrus, Rita Ora and Kelis. As a photographer, Rankin’s portfolio ranges from portraiture to documentary. He has shot The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Kate Moss, Kendall Jenner and The Queen to name only a few. His photography has been published everywhere from his own publications to Elle, Vogue, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Wonderland, and exhibited in galleries globally, including MoMA, New York, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Joining Rankin is Cat Burns, the platinum-selling singer-songwriter from South London. Her artistry is defined by elegant, frank, conversational lyrics and instantly familiar melodies. A BRIT School alumni, Cat emerged on everyone’s radars due to the success of her viral hit ‘go’. Originally released in 2020, ‘go’ became a phenomenon on global platform TikTok in early 2022, taking Cat from her bedroom in Streatham to #2 on the Official Singles Chart. ‘go’ gained Cat her first platinum certification and an ever-expanding, loyal fanbase. Having previously featured in Spotify’s Noteable songwriters programme, 2022 saw Cat not only announced as a Spotify UK RADAR artist but a Global RADAR artist – making her the first UK artist to receive the global accolade.
Also joining the panel is one of London’s leading street culture photographers, Vicky Grout. Vicky is known for her documentation of the music and fashion scenes through portraiture. Her passion for telling authentic stories and connecting with her subjects has led to talent-brand collaborations with Nike, Google and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as shoots for Facebook, Hackney Church and Havana Club. Vicky has shot a diverse line-up of artists including Stormzy and Jorja Smith, as well as regularly shooting for publications such as Wonderland, GQ and the New York Times.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor initially gained recognition as the lead singer of indie rock band Theaudience, Sophie embarked on her solo career in 2001 with her double-platinum debut Read My Lips, which included the singles Murder on the Dancefloor and Take Me Home, propelling her to international stardom and selling over 2 million copies. Since then, she has become a successful broadcaster, presenter and actress in addition to hosting her #1 charting podcast, Spinning Plates. Sophie released her seventh-studio album HANA (mastered at Abbey Road Studios) this week and embarks on The Live Kitchen Disco Tour later this month, cementing her status as a multi-disciplined entertainer and all-round pop icon.
Creative director and fashion consultant Karen Binns lends her perspective to the panel. A genuine club kid, Binns was immersed in the 1980s underground fashion, pop art and club scenes in New York, running warehouse parties and counting iconic figures like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol among her friends and mentors. This experience taught Karen about the importance of authenticity and originality in the adaption of her art and interpretation of ideas. This is reflected in her work over the last 30 years, where she has infused popular culture with precision and validity. Karen has been responsible for styling / creative direction for iconic musicians including Tori Amos (for over 25 years), Estelle on American Boy, So Solid Crew, Mark Morrison, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, and is currently stylist for Afrobeat sensation Wizkid.
Photographer Eric Johnson’s archive goes back more than 30 years having had work published in Rolling Stone, 032c, Vogue, Dazed & Confused, The Face, W, The New York Times, V & Interview, to name a few. While he has photographed a dizzying array of luminaries from Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather to Cindy Sherman and Gus Van Sant, Johnson is best known for his work documenting the US music culture of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. His photos of Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill and the late Aaliyah defined an era of US music photography, while more recent work with the likes of Doja Cat, Glorilla, Yung Miami, Pusha T and Shygirl places him at the heart of contemporary pop music culture in 2023. Last year Eric was awarded the inaugural MPA Icon Award and announced as ‘an unsung hero’ by V Magazine when featured in their August 2022 ‘HEROES’ issue.
Matthew Josephs is one of the most interesting and exciting fashion stylists to emerge from the UK in recent years. Characterised by a fluid and open approach to gender and pop culture, Matthew’s voice stands out in the fashion industry as authentic and uniquely his own. Matthew is known for his work with musicians such as FKA Twigs, Shygirl and Joy Crookes and brands including Charles Jeffrey, Yuhan Wang, Viktor and Rolf, Isamaya Beauty and Byredo. He has also collaborated with top photographers such as Steven Klein, Harley Weir, Tim Walker, Charlotte Wales, Alasdair McLellan and Campbell Addy.
Nakyung Han is the Deputy Photo Editor at the esteemed US news title The New York Times. Nakyung started at the NY Times in 2005 where she had picture editing tours of duty on the Business, Culture, Metro and Science desks. Previously, she was a photo editor for a variety of magazines, including Fortune, New York Magazine and Budget Travel, though her roots can be traced to the legendary newspaper The Village Voice.
Simon Wheatley joins the panel as a guest judge for the Underground Scenes category, having emerged as an authoritative chronicler of London’s youth culture with the publication of his book, ‘DON’T CALL ME URBAN! The Time of Grime’ in 2010. Analysing the social dimensions that gave birth to the UK’s most important musical genre since punk, the mixture of music portraiture, reportage and architectural photography was immediately hailed as a classic. In 2018 Simon was invited to be the in-house photographer at London’s Abbey Road Studios where he continues to lend his documentary expertise and cultural relevance.
Helming the shortlisting panel is Sacha Lecca. Sacha is the Deputy Photo Editor at Rolling Stone (US) and a photographer, working with the magazine since 2007, preceded by stints at CMP Media, the Guggenheim Museum, and Newsweek magazine. His photographs have appeared in Rolling Stone, Huck Magazine, American Photography, Creem Magazine, The Photographic Journal, Time Magazine and more.
Also on the shortlisting panel is DeShaun Craddock, a photographer from Brooklyn, New York. DeShaun would take his camera to small local venues in New York City as early as 2011, but it wasn’t until a lucky break winning an opportunity to meet and photograph Alicia Keys in 2013 that the fascination with music photography began. DeShaun began photographing concerts regularly in 2014 with a start as a house photographer for Live Nation. With a portfolio that includes street, abstract and music photography, DeShaun has been featured by Popular Photography and Nikon. He has worked on assignment for Stereogum, Paste, Okayplayer, Hunger, and Rolling Stone. In 2022, he was shortlisted for the Zeitgeist award in the inaugural Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards.
Ukrainian born photographer Yana Yatsuk is also on the shortlisting panel. Yana, who is based between Los Angeles and New York, moved to New York from Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 16 and slowly began pursuing self-taught photography. Growing up as an immigrant in the South shaped Yatsuk’s work by naturally embodying grit, diversity and humanity in its rawest form. As an editorial photographer, Yatsuk has worked for publications such as Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, V Magazine, Behind The Blinds, I-D, Vogue and more. Notable subjects include Billie Eilish, Laura Dern, Cate Blanchett, Natasha Lyonne, Regina King, Jane Fonda, Ringo Starr, Dave Grohl, Olivia Rodrigo, Ana De Armas, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys and Lizzo. She is commonly recognised for her work with Billie Eilish (Rolling Stone Cover, Eilish Fragrances campaign etc), alongside her covers with TIME’s Women Of The Year of Cate Blanchett and Rolling Stone (Alanis Morissette & Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, and Ringo Starr & Dave Grohl).
SIX OPEN CATEGORIES
Undiscovered Music Photographer of The Year
Countless legends took their first steps at Abbey Road. It’s a spirit that continues today with sessions designed to inspire the next generation of artists. We want to find and recognise the emerging, unsung talent that exists in music photography, to shine a light on the best undiscovered photographers of all backgrounds forging a path in music photography. Do you have a body of work that is waiting to be discovered?
Music Moment of The Year Award (Category supported by Outernet)
Defining the undefinable. This category celebrates THE image that defined music in 2022. THE picture that makes you stop. Makes you think. Makes you feel. A visual statement of music in 2022. We look through the lens to celebrate the photograph that captured a moment in time, the mood, the spirit of the year. An image that could be remembered for generations to come.
Live Music Award (Category supported by Philips Ambilight TV)
Did you take the picture that defined live music in 2022? Then take a shot at the Live Music Award. From the undeniable electricity of a small venue and the euphoria of a returning festival to the intimate connection between artist and audience, these are the photographs that show us what live music means to you.
In The Studio Award
Exploring the process of recording music in the studio. The intersection where two creative processes combine: music creation and the art of photography. The artist behind the lens and the artist in front of the lens. This category is open to photographs showcasing musicians at work in the studio. Images that capture the magic that happens when musicians come together to write, experiment or record.
Underground Scenes Award (Category supported by Abbey Road Studios)
Take a shot that champions music subculture in 2022? Then take a shot at the Underground Scenes Award. Music goes beyond a song or the artists that perform it. It’s a catalyst for the communities who embody its spirit in venues and dancefloors across the globe. This category shines a spotlight on the importance of grassroots movements by celebrating photographers documenting underground music scenes around the world.
Hip Hop 50 (Category supported by Hennessy)
2023 marks 50 years of Hip-Hop: five decades of captivating beats, powerful lyrics, and groundbreaking artistry that have left an indelible mark on popular culture. The MPAs will celebrate this iconic anniversary with a special category that will serve as a vibrant homage to 50 years of photography. From the birth of the genre in the Bronx, New York, to its global expansion, and its everlasting impact on music, fashion, and society, the submissions will capture the essence of Hip-Hop’s profound significance.
Whether you have documented electrifying performances by legendary artists in the genre, behind-the-scenes glimpses of creative processes, or street scenes that breathe with the raw energy of the culture, we want to see images that encapsulate the spirit of Hip-Hop from any point in the last 50 years.
FOUR INVITED CATEGORIES
The official MPAs judging panel will nominate, debate and award the following categories recognising outstanding work in music photography:
A photograph that captures the spirit, essence, and personality of the artist. Stylised, conceptual, or candid, it’s how the artist represents their work through visual imagery.
Editorial photography draws the viewer in, sharing a whole story with an image. It can create an entire mood, illuminate written text, set a tone or present a highly evolved creative concept.
Artist At Work Award
This award celebrates a defining photograph that captures a moment of creativity of the artist at work – in the studio, on stage, behind-the-scenes.
A special honour in recognition of an individual whose impact and contribution to the art of music photography is unparalleled.
ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS ANNOUNCE THE RETURN OF THE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS
THE JUDGING PANEL INCLUDES RANKIN, CAT BURNS, MATTHEW JOSEPHS, VICKY GROUT, KAREN BINNS, ERIC JOHNSON,