Last September, TIME named Dilys Ng, the Photo Lead for TIME 100, as the magazine’s Senior Photo Editor. In the last year, the magazine’s iconic cover has featured portraits of movers and shakers like Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, BTS, and Elliot Page. They’ve paid tribute to the resilience of Asian American elders during a time of violence, and they’ve captured the stories of our generation’s leading athletes, including Naomi Osaka, Sue Bird, and Allyson Felix.
“Seeing how important a certain cover or image is to someone or hearing about how proud the photographers are of the work they made are some of the most rewarding parts of the job,” Ng tells us. “Being in TIME is a monumental moment for everyone, and I feel fortunate to be able to have a small hand in helping make it happen.”
Ng will be one of our jurors for the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards, now in its seventh year. To coincide with our open call for submissions (closing September 3rd!) we had the chance to interview her about her job, including some of the most important photo stories she’s worked on in the last year.
It’s been about a year since you were announced as Senior Photo Editor at TIME. What has been your proudest moment during the last year?
“There is not a specific moment but navigating 2020 with our photo dept. and everyone at TIME was certainly one for the books. Everything we made in the last year stemmed from pure collaboration that allowed us to pivot, mobilize worldwide at record speed, and establish changes that were long overdue.
Can you walk us through a day in your life as Senior Photo Editor?
“I focus on franchises and special projects, so my days vary. I usually try to prioritize my day by time zones: EMEA shoots and editorial meetings in the morning, creative and production in the afternoon, and West Coast/SOPAC shoots in the evening. In between that, I’m moving images to our art dept/editors/color dept, aligning with print/digital/video/marketing/PR teams, and meeting photographers. Some days, I’m on set or juggling eight cover shoots, and other days I’m sat at my desk archiving and invoicing all day.
Do you have a favorite cover from recent years?
“I have a handful of favorites. Among them are the Akwaeke Emezi cover photographed by Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., Dr. Anthony Fauci photographed by Jody Rogac, and our massive Guns in America cover made together with the artist JR. The Emezi shoot with Elliott was such a beautiful collaboration between them, and I remember knowing it had to be a cover when Elliott texted me previews.
“Jody photographed Dr. Fauci in the most considered way (in under fifteen minutes, too) that humanized him in a way that I hadn’t seen before. She also co-founded Pictures for Elmhurst during the height of the pandemic in New York and raised more than a million dollars for Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.
“Our Guns in America project with JR was a massive undertaking that included photographing, filming, and interviewing 245 folks across three cities with opposite views on guns. I’m not from America and did not grow up with gun culture so it was an eye-opening experience—from the number of guns on set to the incredible, and incredibly heart-wrenching stories from hunters, doctors, police officers, parents, and children.”
What do you look for when commissioning photographers? Is there anything in particular that makes a photographer stand out to you?
“I look for a sense of authorship in their work and quite literally anything outside of the pictures themselves. Some of my favorite photographers were psychologists, dancers, and painters in another life; some draw inspiration from cartoons or Degas paintings or the clothes that their dad wore. Understanding what contributes to your practice is important to me because it helps me point you towards a more meaningful assignment.”
What will you be looking for when judging submissions to the 7th Annual Emerging Photography Awards?
“I’ll be looking for a fresh perspective and vision that is unapologetic and confident.”
We’re accepting singe-image entries and series entries as part of this year’s Emerging Photography Awards. Dilys Ng will be one of our judges for the series category. You can learn more about the awards, and our all-star panel of jurors, by visiting our website.