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Scotiabank Photography Award finalists announced

Arnaud Maggs in 2006

Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail

Two deans of Canadian photography and a mid-career Quebecois artist are the finalists for this year's Scotiabank Photography Award.

Fred Herzog, 82, Arnaud Maggs, 86, and 42-year-old Alain Paiement will vie for the $50,000 prize, it was announced Friday in Toronto.

The Scotiabank Photography Award named its inaugural winner, Lynne Cohen, only last year – but already it seems to have the clout and cachet of something that's been around much longer. It even has a cool acronym – SPA, as in "spa."

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The prize, of the "lifetime achievement" variety, celebrates excellence in contemporary Canadian photography while striving to heighten the international profile of the country's leading artistic photographers.

The winner, to be named in May by a three-member jury chaired by noted Toronto photographer Ed Burtynsky, will receive a $50,000 cash prize, a book contract with the German art photo publisher Steidl and a solo exhibition at the 2013 Contact Photography Festival in the Ontario capital.

A look at the three finalists:

FRED HERZOG

German-born Herzog came to Canada in 1952 where, after a year in Toronto, he settled in Vancouver, becoming one of the pioneers of 35-mm colour street photography, well ahead of the likes of Helen Levitt and Joel Meyerowitz. Although he had his first professional exhibition in 1966, it's only been in the last five years that his work has gained wider attraction here and abroad, including shows in 2011 at the National Gallery in Ottawa and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto.

ARNAUD MAGGS

Montreal-born, Toronto-based Maggs was a highly successful commercial artist and graphic designer for many years before shifting gears in the mid-1970s to devote himself to art photography. An inveterate taxonomist, he first became known for his frontal and profile portraits of Josephy Beuys, Leonard Cohen and Yosuf Karsh, among others. Winner of a 2006 Governor-General's Award for visual arts, he more recently has produced a series of self-portraits riffing on the famous 19th-century mime photographs of Nadar and his brother, Adrien Tournachon.

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ALAIN PAIEMENT

A Montrealer, Paiement became the first Quebecois artist to show his work at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, as part of the 1992 Power of the City/City of Power exhibition. He's a figure of long-standing significance in Canadian photography, known for his variegated (and sometimes vertiginous) explorations of the medium's spatial potential, including quirky axonometric depictions of architecture. He likes to work big: a solo show in Toronto featured one print that was almost 6 metres by 3.

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