On Wednesday 6 July, our four judges – Richard Billingham, Charlotte Cotton, Emma Morris and James Reid – faced the 150 prints that hang in HOST for the Summershow. To set about the task ahead, judges were asked to take into account the success of the single images as well as how the photographer had chosen to print and frame the work. After spending time looking around the gallery, they sat down to discuss the images that caught their eye and those that they wanted to know more about.

Surprisingly, there were a lot of overlapping choices. Apart from the four finalists (more on this later), there were four other images that sparked some debate. One work was Ivar Kvaal’s image, initially chosen by two of the judges. James Reid commented: “Whilst the other judges were perhaps more documentary-led in their selections, I was particularly taken with some of the more ambiguous and experimental images such as Ivar Kvaal’s ‘Untitled, Tethered To The Polestar’, which could be interpreted in any number of ways, and raise questions in the viewer’s mind.”

Ivar Kvaal

Judges also spoke about Becky Matthews and Clare Struthers’ image ‘My Big Fat Ugandan Wedding’ – while it was decided that this was most definitely a powerful single image, it was unanimously agreed that the final print should have been larger to create a more striking overall effect.

Becky Matthews and Clare Struthers

Nick Ballon’s ‘The Other Volcano’ also came up in discussion, the peculiar image raising a few questions as to why and how, with one judge commenting on the appeal of creating a physical object to be photographed. Ultimately it was decided that the image was a bit too mysterious to constitute a winner.

Nick Ballon

The portrait by David Brunetti of a teacher of Uganda was another image that was a mutual favourite. Having many qualities to make it a successful portrait, the image is intelligently lit and conceived.

David Brunetti

Yet the set was whittled down to four images that the judges kept coming back to. Judges agreed that Neil Hall’s ‘After the Crash’, an image of Nigel Farage after his aircraft crashed in May 2010, was a strong photojournalistic image, and an astonishing case of being at the right place at the right time.

Neil Hall

Also quite a newsy image, Antonio Olmos’ ‘Friends of Negus McClean’ pictures a group adolescents congregating around a memorial to their friend who was stabbed in north London. The image was seen as a very profound comment on youth culture – not nearly as shocking as it should be and almost looking staged.

Antonio Olmos

An image from Martin Usborne’s series on dogs in cars, ‘Congo’, was agreed to be highly stylised but successfully so. One judge commented on liking the juxtaposition of the dent, tree and car in the image.

Martin Usborne

It was the fourth image, however, that generated the most positive unanimous response from the judges. Many elements of the photo were commented on, making it the overall winner: strong composition, the facial expressions of the young boys, especially the first boy, the height of the boys being all similar, humour, and it being representative of many different types of photography.

So after two hours, we had our winner, ‘Ivory Coast United 2010’ by Luca Sage. Emma Morris commented: ““I was drawn to the image as soon as I walked around the room. The composition is beautiful. I love the facial expressions, particularly of the first boy.”

Luca Sage

Many thanks to the participating judges and for all photographers who entered their work this year.