iPhone photo contest winner dishes on Apple in new podcast

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Shot on iPhone
Judge's comment: "What I find most interesting is the background pattern, uniquely magnified and distorted in every one of the water droplets. I’m drawn to studying and trying to elucidate what that pattern is."
Photo: Andrew Griswold

Each finished work of art has a backstory and Andrew Griswold’s podcast Just Outside the Artboard focuses on what happens between idea and creation.

His first episode, launched Aug. 23, gave him plenty to talk about as one of the 10 winners of Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” challenge.

‘Shot on iPhone’ challenge winner has a story to tell

Griswold’s winning image, an abstract view of a graffiti wall shot through raindrops on his car window, is hanging in Apple Stores around the world, from Texas to China.

It likely would not have traveled all those places had Apple not got in hot water with the photo community over the rules when it was announced in January.

The terms and conditions made no mention of Apple paying a licensing fee for the winning images. This set off a firestorm on Twitter and in online forums. Apple quickly announced it promised to pay winning photographers.

Andrew Griswold, iPhone photographer
Andrew Griswold
Photo: provided by Andrew Griswold

Griswold lives in Indianapolis, Ind., where he is the art director at a creative agency. He did not know Apple was running a contest until the controversy ensued.

“This was definitely one of the stories I wanted to tell in the first month,” Griswold told Cult of Mac. “I didn’t do it for the money because I’ve always looked up to the ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaigns. I still can’t believe that out of countless entries that I was selected one of the winners.”

Odd emails, requests and then…

Griswold’s podcast (you can download it here) offers an interesting glimpse into how the famously secretive Apple ran its contest.

With the contest in the headlines, Griswold mined his Instagram feed for images he liked and tweeted them with the appropriate hashtags that would catch the eye of contest administrators.

After a few days, he got an email from Apple that he initially thought might be spam. He responded and it turned out to be legitimate.

“After that email, I kind of went crazy,” Griswold said on his podcast. “I immediately went to Twitter. I’d post four photos, then four more, post them… I bet I put up 40 or 50 photos.”

The emails kept coming from Apple with indications of which images were under consideration (21 at one point). Apple requested original, unedited files, to examine the metadata to make sure the images met with the rules of the contest.

Some were tossed because they fell outside the time period or were made using third-party lens attachments. Griswold shoots with lenses made by Moment.

Finally, one image made it into the judging rounds.

“The funny thing about the entire process was the way Apple emailed me,” he told listeners. “They’d say, ‘We have some good news but we can’t tell you until you sign this non-disclosure agreement.’ I’d sign and then find out I was in the next round.”

Griswold signed two different non-disclosure agreement during the judging.

After all the communication with Apple, Griswold learned he was a winner from friends who had seen the winning images shown on the Today show.

An email came from Apple later that day confirming the win.

Griswold is not allowed to say what Apple paid him, but “I will say, it was a sizeable amount for one single iPhone photo.”

The winning image was actually made the week before the contest was announced and was the result of having his car washed. He paid extra for the wax, which made the raindrops on his window bead more than usual.

There was no dramatic change to life, he said. He got some nice messages from people, a few more followers on Instagram and some additional freelance assignments.

“It’s kind of a progressive thing,” he told his listeners. “People have to realize, it’s partially luck, experience and being in the right place at the time time. The reality is, these types of things don’t make you famous, but it might make you open to future opportunities.”

Griswold’s first episode already has more than 250 listens and he hopes to have his second podcast out on Friday.