June 20th, 2016

Woods Wheatcroft on the Great Outdoors

The work of photographer Woods Wheatcroft is imbued with light, energy and play. In fact, those are the names of three portfolios on his website that present his work. Wheatcroft shoots travel, lifestyle and stock photography that is true to his West Coast upbringing: laid back, cheery and sunlit.


A long exposure of a surfer in Baja California, Mexico. Photo © Woods Wheatcroft

His work has attracted outdoor clients such as Keen, Outside and Patagonia, and his job often takes him to far-flung locations. Last year, a shot of BASE jumpers in the Italian Dolomites—shot for KAVU outdoor wear—garnered him Grand Prize in our annual competition The Great Outdoors (open for entries for 2016 at www.greatoutdoorscontest.com). We asked Wheatcroft to talk about the striking award-winning image and what goes into his outdoor photography.

PDN: How long have you been shooting professionally, and how would you describe your style?

Woods Wheatcroft: I earned my first photography paycheck in my early 20s and have now been full time for about 16 years. My style is very much connected to the life I choose to live: fun, spontaneous, authentic, humorous. I am most happy capturing the in-between moments.


Two beachgoers are caught by an unexpected shorebreak wave in Baja California, Mexico. Photo © Woods Wheatcroft

PDN: Where are some unique locations that your travel work has brought you to?

WW: Unique and memorable travel locations for me include Japan, Nicaragua, Baffin Island in Canada, and the west coast of Scotland, to name a few. Baja California, Mexico, is still my favorite.

PDN: What’s the story behind your Grand Prize image from The Great Outdoors?

WW: That image was taken on a two-week trip through Europe with a group of sponsored wing-suit jumpers. KAVU is one of my long-time clients and I shot stills for them on a multimedia shoot. We traveled to Switzerland, Italy and France. This particular image was taken in the Sass Pordoi region of the Dolomites in Italy. Ironically, two days after this image was taken our car was broken into and all of my camera gear was stolen. That hurt. I shot the remainder of the trip on a Polaroid and a cardboard disposable camera I bought at a gas station!


Wingsuit BASE jumpers leaving the exit point in the Sass Pordoi area of the Italian Dolomites. Grand Prize winning image of The Great Outdoors. Photo © Woods Wheatcroft

PDN: Was there only one opportunity to get that shot, or did the BASE jumpers do multiple runs?

WW: There are few angles and options to shoot wing-suiters. I will say there was only one opportunity to shot this particular moment because of the weather closing in. The BASE jumpers did do multiple runs but this was the last jump of this day, as the clouds filled the exit point. We were in a downpour shortly after this. We did explore another angle that involved a three-hour hike to be in the middle of their flight as they flew past a cliff. That result was an award winner as well.

PDN: Are there any rules you live by when photographing outdoor work?

WW: Rule 1: Any rule I give myself, I must be willing to break it at anytime. The moment rarely repeats. Besides that, I always try discover and explore new angles—such as my experience with the BASE jumpers—and not just ones that take five or 10 minutes. I think about the bigger environment and do my best to pre-visualize how the subject will best communicate in that space. Other rules of thumb: Always keep shooting until you “feel” you have it, and love what you do! I love my life outside of my photographic pursuits, and it feeds me and inspires me. Wherever life takes me, I usually take my camera.

Enter this year’s edition of The Great Outdoors at www.greatoutdoorscontest.com before the June 30, 2016 deadline. See more from Woods Wheatcroft at www.woodswheatcroft.com.

May 17th, 2016

The Curator Final Deadline

Submissions for The Curator Fine-Art Awards will close in one week. Enter your work by May 24 to be considered for our annual group exhibition, returning this summer to Foley Gallery in New York City. Other prizes include $3,500 cash, $200 to B&H Photo, print exposure in the August “Fine-Art Photography” issue of PDN and on pdnonline.com, and the chance to be featured in The New Yorker‘s Photo Booth blog. Enter at pdncuratorawards.com.


Founder, The Magenta Foundation
Director, Flash Forward Festival Boston

Foley Gallery

Photo Editor

Associate Photo Editor
The New Yorker

Co-Founder & Creative Director
CoEdit Collection



June 3rd, 2014

PDN Photo Annual Judges on Images They Wish Had Been Winners

Judging a photo contest is hard work. So why do creative directors, art producers, gallery directors and photo editors to do it? One benefit is that they get to see fresh imagery—lots more imagery than just the final winners. To win a juried competition like the PDN Photo Annual, an entry has to garner high scores from multiple jurors. But sometimes work that one or two judges love doesn’t score high enough with other jurors to place among the finalists.

We gave some jurors of the PDN Photo Annual the opportunity to talk about one entry that they particularly liked and remembered, but didn’t make it into the Annual. Here are their choices:

© Antonio Gonzalez Caro

© Antonio Gonzalez Caro

Myles Little, associate photo editor, TIME:
I choose Antonio Gonzalez Caro’s project about fishermen. His is a highly personal vision of a subject I’ve seen covered a lot, often in more conventional ways. Without romanticizing this hard life, Caro draws the viewer into a place of dark beauty. The images of the man bellowing, and of the hand near the school of fish, make me feel like I’m peering into an old fisherman’s dream.

© Adam Voorhes

© Adam Voorhes

Darhil Crooks, creative director, The Atlantic:
I pick “Dangerous Candy” by Adam Voorhes. There is so much I love about this image. The sharpness of the lighting and shadows is beautifully done and the background color gives the image a happy vibe. You don’t even notice the packs of nicotine-laced “Camel Strips” at first. But what I admire the most about this shot is the precision. The angles are perfect, the distribution of the M&Ms and the tear of the wrapper were clearly thought out and styled. It’s not only a brilliant idea, but the execution is brilliant as well.

© Moms Demand Action/photo by Eden Robbins

© Moms Demand Action/photo by Eden Robbins

Raquel Duarte, senior print producer, LLOYD & CO:
Eden Robbins did a phenomenal job with the “Mom’s Demand Action” campaign. I gave him a 5 rating but unfortunately he did not win the PDN annual contest recognition that I find he deserved. It’s a simple campaign that is extremely powerful. The content is what got me immediately. It is clever, raw, based on statistics, fueled by truth. Given all the political controversy around guns and weapons and the unfortunate turns of events we have had in the recent years, it is repulsive that our government has “their hands tied” to take any action and vetoed any proactive measures that could been taken to prevent the harming of any further innocent lives… [t]he children who will grow to be our future.

On a creative note, the casting is remarkable. The mix of ethnicity, gender, facial expressions, are well represented. The unfocused and monochromatic backgrounds are perfect, simply there adding mood and atmosphere, but yet very specifically detailed. The objects the children are holding are nostalgic, relatable, reminding me of the joy and fun I had growing up, followed by an uncomfortable feeling that shatters my happy memories, because those items are banned, while guns are not.

Grey’s creative direction was brilliant. Eden’s execution was ingenious.

© Andrew Goeser

© Andrew Goeser

Brian Paul Clamp, owner and director, Clampart Gallery:
Who has not been curious about “Missed Connections” on Craigslist? Andrew Goeser’s student project endeavors to see the real people behind the ads. Contacting those individuals who place these ads, the artist shot them at the site of the “missed connection” and then paired the photograph with the original post. I find the concept of the project compelling, and the hypothetical relationships at turns funny, romantic, poignant, and sometimes even pathetic. I can imagine this series expanded and presented/published as a book.

PDN Photo Annual 2014