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You might have heard, but the International Photographic Competition (IPC) was last week!

The results are in and they are GOOD! More images, more merit images, and WAY more images going loan. Way to go everyone! Here's an excerpt from our official press release below:


A panel of 45 eminent jurors from across the United States selected the top photographs from nearly 5,000 total entries from August 4-7 at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Judged against a standard of excellence, just over 1,800 images were selected for the General Collection and 918 (roughly 18 percent) were selected for the esteemed Loan Collection--the best of the best. The Loan Collection images will all be published in the much-anticipated "Loan Collection" book and over 200 selected General Collection images will be published in the "Showcase" book by Marathon Press.

Images accepted into the General and Loan Collections will also be on display at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee Feb. 1-3, 2015 during Imaging USA, the annual convention and expo for professional photographers. These images constitute one of the world's largest annual exhibits of professional photography gathered simultaneously under one roof.

Those who didn't earn merits this year didn't have to leave empty-handed. Critiques from the IPC judges were available upon request, and the judges completed roughly 1,800 during the competition. The critiques are offered as a way to help participants find areas of improvement and prepare for future photo competitions.

And for the first time, this year's IPC was streamed live online and 1,570 unique visitors from 13 countries tuned in over the four days. 643 of those weren't involved in this year's competition, showcasing the widespread curiosity in competition, but tentativeness to enter. This is something PPA hopes the live stream will help change.

"This was truly the biggest and best IPC yet," said IPC manager Rich Newell, M.Photog.Cr. "Those critiques must be working; we had about 250 more images go Loan this year. And we're thrilled with how many people viewed the live stream. We hope it showed all the non-participants who watched what truly goes on at competition. Hopefully they won't hesitate to enter next year!"

The IPC challenges photographers to grow their artistic and technical photography skills by creatively capturing and presenting their best images, and by doing so, improving their businesses.

 

Here are a few photos from the judging:

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To view full results of the International Photographic Competition, visit PPA.com/IPC. And go ahead and start practicing for next year! Let's see those numbers soar even higher.

A first-timer's account of the International Photographic Competition

 

By Penn Hansa, PPA Intern

I naïvely thought I had been at PPA long enough to know what to expect when we went to the International Photographic Competition - lots of images, seasoned judges sitting in a dim room deciding whether the image presented should merit and a solemn air of importance surrounding the entire event.

I was only half correct. IPC is much, much more.

It's an invaluable experience, a chance to learn from some of the most talented photographers in the industry and oddly enough, it feels like a family reunion -- if your family were made up of experienced IPC judges, that is.

"Do you want to see my granddaughter?" a judge asks, while waiting for the next round of judging to start. He pulls out his iPhone and flicks through the images before anyone replies.

"Only if I get to show you mine," another judge replies. "And then we can judge the images!" They all laugh.

But when the session starts, it's all business. In the digital room, the judges sit in twos or threes, and as an image comes on the screen in front of them, they'll review and tap in their vote on an iPod Touch. Oftentimes, they'll lean closer to the screen to see the image more closely, viewing it from different angles to make sure they haven't missed a pixel when considering it.

A common misconception about IPC is that the judges will favor images that suit their style. Because they score in a matter of seconds, it seems easy to believe it. But when a judge challenges an image, it's all laid out on the table and it's clear to see that their deliberation is intense. They'll each speak at length about why they favor an image to merit or what fell short, citing the 12 elements of a merit image

"It's not about the treatment of an image, and whether I like it or not," said Allison Watkins, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. "I have to put my preferences aside to see the image impartially."

I wanted to see more of the thought process behind the deliberation, so I headed to the critique rooms, where judges offer their thoughts and constructive criticism about the image. For each image that is being critiqued, the judge will talk about the image as a whole, explaining their stream of thought as they look at it, including both the positive and the negative. It's a real learning experience to see exactly what makes an image merit and truly invaluable.

I settled behind Gregg Wurtzler, M.Photog.Cr., as he critiqued a few images, and then pulled up a new one. Wurtzler has 14 years of judging and critiquing images under his belt.

"What do you think about this one?" he asked me as he made his initial assessment.

I tried to keep in mind what I had learned about the 12 elements from watching earlier judging and critiques, but was drawing a blank. I liked the image, but something about it seemed off, and I couldn't place my finger on the correct term.

He just chuckled at my confusion and started his critique, first complimenting the photographer on his choice of subject and capturing the right moment, then describing how the photographer could have improved his composition, to notice the placing of the subject's hands and the busy background that was detracting from him.

"At first, it's sometimes difficult to look at the image and have to guess why the judges didn't merit it," Wurtzler said after he finished the critique. "But we've all been doing this long enough that we can usually pinpoint what it is."

Later, I sat behind Mark Garber, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, who has helped thousands of photographers with his critiques.

For any photographer who hasn't entered competitions, take this as an incentive: Garber is a huge advocate, and made a point to encourage all the photographers in his critiques to keep entering their images.

"Competition is quickest way to improve photographic skills," he said. "Every photographer has had images that didn't merit, so don't be discouraged when it happens to you."  

Convinced of the fun and invaluable experience IPC is yet? Find out more about entering your images, becoming a PPA-approved juror and other competitions at PPA.com/IPC.

 

By John Owens

The PPA team took its annual field trip up go Gwinnett Tech for the International Photographic Competition yesterday. Last year, I entered the International Photographic Competition as a wide-eyed rookie. This year, as a crusty, second-year veteran, I knew the drill.

But you know what? It was at least as exciting. And it's because the images are new and the judges' passion is unwavering.

There was also the added element of the first ever IPC live stream. When we arrived, Scott Morgan, director of information technology for PPA, informed us that roughly 850 unique users were currently watching. About 250 of those weren't even involved in the competition!

The stream features live audio from each judging room, with the digital image shown on the screen. It's perfect theater for Warren Motts, M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., A-ASP, F-ASP, whose baritone voice lent his digital judging room added drama.

What those at home can't see is the added action in the print room. The white-gloved volunteers placing each print in the turnstile. The judges' routine of getting up from their seats for an inches-away look at each corner of the image. Every color correction, every shadow, every pixel. Glasses on, glasses off.

Past PPA president and current chairman of the board, Ralph Romaguera Sr., M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API, F-ASP, was in his ultimate element (he's never really out of it) in the print room. As one of the rooms' jury chairmen, he led the judging and addressed the live stream audience whenever possible. "Hello out there in PPA land..." began each session.

For the judges, the IPC is photographic summer camp. It's their unofficial halfway point to Imaging USA--a chance to hang with longtime friends and colleagues and share in the passion that unites them. There's an equal share of hugs and friendly verbal jousting. The kind of environment you find in a tight-knit family, one that pulls you right in and embraces you.

A particular welcome sight was Keith Howe, M.Photog.M.Artist.MEI.Cr., CPP a longtime IPC judge whose battle with lymphoma and ongoing recovery has been followed here on our blog. "I'm moving pretty slow," he said. "But I'm happy I'm here."

They come together both for each other and for the greater good of the industry. To keep the competition and quality of winner images moving forward. They come for fellowship and to be wowed be beautiful imagery. They want to see something new.

"It's amazing how much time the judges spend every year nurturing this thing called image competition," said Randy McNeilly, M.Photog.Cr., MEI, API chairman of the Photographic Exhibition Committee (PEC). "I'm more proud to be an IPC judge than everything else I've accomplished in photography."

There are currently around 100 judges in the committee, with 20 hoping to join their ranks in this year's Judges Workshop, running alongside the competition. If averages hold, 3 of them will become approved jurors this year.

As for the IPC itself, the competition continues its upward trend. Total submissions crept over 5,000 for the first time this year, with nearly 2,000 of those earning merits and going back in for a second round of judging to see who will make up this year's prestigious Loan Collection book. 1,800 critiques were given, up from last year's 1,500.

From a photography standpoint, what impresses me most is the selection process. Think about how many images you capture over the course of a given year. Now choose four. That's all you get.

Now refine them into something amazing. Find a mentor and ask for their input. Maybe even enter them in a district competition beforehand to see how they rank. Should this leaf be here? What this line doing there? How's the lighting? The cohesiveness?

Everything matters. Even the title of your image can have a tremendous impact on its... impact. That's most paramount in the print room, when the title is read the moment it is turned into the judges' view. Does your image tell the story your title implies? Does it add something to the image?

It's something to think about.

By mid-afternoon, stream unique visitors climbed to 1,030, with 345 non-participants. Clearly the curiosity is there, so now that you've seen how the machine works, we hope you'll give it a try next year.

Oh, and speaking of that live stream, you can tune in to see who's going Loan right now! Judging continues for another 24 hours!


Coming soon...IPC Live!

You've always wondered what happens during International Photographic Competition judging. You

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 imagined judges sitting behind the closed doors, in a dim room, throwing out opinions, tearing down an image piece by piece--maybe even yours. Or maybe they pulled numbers out of a hat?

Fear not--the mystery of IPC judging is soon to be revealed! For the first time ever, PPA is live-streaming the whole thing!

From August 4-7, 8:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST each day, you'll be able to watch at stream.theipc.org with your desktop device*.  If you're a PPA member, you'll be able to log in to view the stream. Non-members can easily register with your name and email address to access it for free. Once on the site, you can switch between rooms based on your interest, such as Portrait, Artist or Illustrative images.

Whether you have images in competition or not, the judging process is still a valuable learning experience. You'll be able to hear judges' comments and critiques, and see exactly what makes a merit image.

Judith Ann Elliott, a PPA member from Powder Springs, Georgia, attended the IPC as a non-participant before she entered her images for competition the following year. "I was sold on IPC after I saw the judges - they're fair and truthful. They aren't just there to tear your image down. They're there to build your image up and make you a better photographer," Elliott said.

"We're excited to offer live streaming so participants and non-participants alike can see the value in viewing the judging process," said IPC Manager Rich Newell, M.Photog.Cr. "Photographers will be able to see what truly goes on during the process, and hopefully this will encourage more to enter in the future."

*Audio is not enabled on mobile devices. For full audio and video, please view on your desktop computer. 

 

On Monday, May 26, entries will open for the 2014 International Photographic Competition
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 (IPC). PPA members that have entered the competition before know that not only can IPC help you earn merits toward your PPA degree; it can also help improve your photography business! 

While having your work judged can be intimidating, especially if it's your first time entering, we get tons of positive feedback on how entering IPC has made entrants better photographers. From keeping you inspired by seeing other IPC entries to being able to charge higher prices if you earn an award, there are many great reasons to enter IPC. Check out 10 of the ways competition can help your business here. 

As you're preparing your images for entry (digital or physical prints), it's important to keep in mind the 12 Elements of a Merit Image. These are the standards by which all photographs in the IPC are judged. By adhering to these standards, you are more likely to earn a high score so you can get those merits towards your degree. Practicing these elements will also help keep your photography at its best! 
 
If you're new to the IPC, or just need a refresher on the 12 Elements, check out our PPAedu video series on the topic with IPC judge Michael Timmons. In part one, Michael covers the elements Impact, Creativity, Style and Composition.  Part two covers Print Presentation, Center Of Interest, Lighting and Subject Matter and part three focuses on  the last 4 elements; Color Balance, Technical Excellence, Technique and Storytelling. You've got to be a PPA member to watch these videos, so join today! 

Once you've reviewed the 12 Elements and are ready to enter, you can read the rules and register for the competition at PPA.com/IPC. Here, you'll also find video tutorials covering topics like choosing the correct category for your images, setting profiles and calibration, entering albums and more. Make sure to review these videos before you enter your images to ensure that you are doing everything correctly! Oh, and if you're planning on mailing in physical prints, you can find a list of approved print cases for shipping to the competition. 

Be sure to enter by June 26 to avoid late fees! Entries will be accepted until July 10, but after June 26, an additional fee is required. 

Once you enter, watch the judging live in-person or streaming online
As we mentioned earlier, entering the IPC is a great way to improve your images and your business as a whole. However, the score you receive won't include all those great judges' comments about your work. You might be surprised by some of the things the judges pick up on!

So, to get the most out of IPC, you'll want to be present while your image is being judged so that you can absorb all of the judges' comments and ideas, and use these to continue to improve your photography. You'll also learn some great lessons while watching others' work being judged, and you may be inspired as well!

Judging will take place August 3 - 7 at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, GA. Judging is open to the public, so we encourage you to attend and watch  the judging live. Can't make it to Georgia for the judging? No worries, we've got you covered there too! For the first time ever, all of the judging will be streamed live on PPA.com, so you can still watch from the comfort of your couch. Remember, watching the judging is the best way to learn at IPC, so we hope to see you there, in person or virtually. Stay tuned for more details about the streaming as we get closer to the judging. 

In the meantime, start getting those images ready and enter the IPC beginning May 26! 
Each year at the International Photographic Competition (IPC), a panel of jurors votes on whether or not an entry will earn a merit based on the 12 elements of a merit image (read more about the elements on PPA.com). Why are merits important? Well, they're needed for you to earn your PPA degree, showing your dedication to professional photography. Beyond that, earning a merit at IPC is a sign that your image-making skills are improving, which can only help to improve your business! 

Once the jurors determine if an image deserves a merit, the next step is to take any merited images and decide if they become part of PPA's loan collection. Only a small percentage of all the entries to the IPC become part of the loan collection, so it's definitely a big achievement! Loan collection images are exhibited at Imaging USA in the International Photographic Exhibit. The Photographer of the Year awards are also determined by the IPC results, and the winners are recognized at the Award & Degree ceremony held during Imaging USA.

To show you how some past loan images were created, we'll be sharing some images from PPA's loan collection and how the photographer created them. This is "Bandit" by Mona Sadler. M.Photog., CPP, owner of Coastal Pet Portraits in Alliance, N.C. (coastalpetportraits.com)


Mona created "Bandit" during a pet photo special on behalf of Spay Today, an organization that provides free pet spaying. 

"The look on the dog's face was as special as he is," says Sadler. "His owner suffers from MS, and he is a certified service dog. Although living with pain and disability, she and Bandit
give to others." 

1066-1.jpgCAMERA & LENS: Canon EOS 5D camera; Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L
USM lens shot at 100mm
EXPOSURE: 1/200 second at f/8, ISO 200.
LIGHTING: Two Photogenic PowerLights, a 2500DR and a 1500SL, modified
by a 3x4 Aurora soft box and an Aurora Lite Bank; a Larson reflector
bounced in fill light
POST-CAPTURE: Says Mona, "Bandit was being held by his owner when I took
the photo. I painted her out and let the background go white. The painting was
done first in Photoshop then finished in Corel Painter to add texture and brush
strokes. It was my goal to make the portrait look very classical, soft and tender."

Stay tuned for more loan images and the stories behind them. In the meantime, you can view the 2013 results on PPA.com. Plus, look for an online gallery of IPC images coming to PPA.com soon! 

And don't forget to stop by the International Photographic Exhibit at Imaging USA in Phoenix January 12 - 14, 2014 to see loan images from this year's IPC in person. 

IMAGE © Mona Sadler

Each year at the International Photographic Competition (IPC), a panel of jurors votes on whether or not an entry will earn a merit based on the 12 elements of a merit image (read more about the elements on PPA.com). Why are merits important? Well, they're needed for you to earn your PPA degree, showing your dedication to professional photography. Beyond that, earning a merit at IPC is a sign that your image-making skills are improving, which can only help to improve your business! 

Once the jurors determine if an image deserves a merit, the next step is to take any merited images and decide if they become part of PPA's loan collection. Only a small percentage of all the entries to the IPC become part of the loan collection, so it's definitely a big achievement! Loan collection images are exhibited at Imaging USA in the International Photographic Exhibit. The Photographer of the Year awards are also determined by the IPC results, and the winners are recognized at the Award & Degree ceremony held during Imaging USA.

To show you how some past loan images were created, we'll be sharing some images from PPA's loan collection and how the photographer created them. This is "Moon Light Dance" by Frank Salas, M.Photog.Cr., A-ASP, of Frank Salas Photography in Irvine, California.

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"Moon Light Dance" was taken minutes before the end of the wedding couple's reception at the St. Regis Hotel, Monarch Beach Resort, in Southern California. Wedding day time constraints typically test the photographer's creativity, Salas says. "By offering to stay until the end of most events, I'm able to spend a few more minutes looking for new scenic spots where I can create something unique not only for the couple but for myself as well."

CAMERA & LENS: Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens
SETTINGS & EXPOSURE: f/2.8 for 1/80 second, ISO 1600
LIGHTING: Available light only
POST CAPTURE: Processed and retouched in Adobe CS6 and Lightroom 4; enhanced with filters in Nik software


Stay tuned for more loan images and the stories behind them. In the meantime, you can view the 2013 results on PPA.com. Plus, look for an online gallery of IPC images coming to PPA.com soon! 

And don't forget to stop by the International Photographic Exhibit at Imaging USA in Phoenix January 12 - 14, 2014 to see loan images from this year's IPC in person. 

IMAGE © FRANK SALAS

Are you planning on entering PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC)? Having your work judged can be intimidating, but it's well worth it to receive feedback so you can continuously improve your photography.

Better yet, if your image scores high enough you will become part of the PPA Loan Collection and have your work displayed to over 10,000 of your peers and the general public at Imaging USA, January 12-14, 2014, in Phoenix, AZ.

In an effort to inspire you to enter the competition and to show you how some of these loan images are created, here is a past loan collection image and the story behind it.

Voila! This is "Our Rhapsody in Blue" by Allison English Watkins, M.Photog.Cr, CPP.. You'll find the story on how this image was created below!
watkins_rhapsody_blog.jpgWatkins is an award-winning portrait photographer and owner of English Photography, in Park City, Utah. "Our Rhapsody in Blue" is a portrait of fellow photographer, Kris Doman, M.Photog., CPP, and her family, and was captured on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.

According to Watkins, Doman wanted a vintage-style portrait with a particular set of colors.

"The Salt Flats have little with which to build a dynamic pose for five people, so I went in search of some specialty furniture to match Kris's vision," said Watkins. "The minute I saw this chrome black and white chair and stool I knew I had found a perfect match. We arrived 15 minutes before the sun dropped over the horizon, providing the absolute sweetest lighting to work with."

If you're wondering what equipment was used to create "Our Rhapsody in Blue," here is the nitty-gritty on camera, lenses, lighting and software used in the creation of the image:  

Camera & Lens: Nikon D300 camera, AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens with a Singh-Ray LB warmer polarizing filter

Exposure: f/5.6 for 1/20 second, ISO 200

Lighting: Natural light

Software: Processed in Adobe Photoshop for retouching along with Nik filters to increase clarity and vibrance. Watkins also repositioned the horizon of the mountains for compositional purposes.

"I wanted to capture the texture of the landscape, so I chose a slightly higher camera angle and shorter lens so as not to condense the ground detailing," said Watkins.

When working toward creating award-winning images, make sure you pay attention to your camera and lens settings. Play with angles and lighting. Shoot for error AND for success.

We hope to see your images entered in this year's International Photographic Competition, held July 29 to August 1, 2013, at Gwinnett Technical College just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Be sure to enter your images by June 28 to avoid late entry fees!

Judging is free and open to the public, so if you can come by, take advantage of this great learning opportunity and hear your (or others') images judged in person. You'll get tons of priceless feedback that will only help you in the future.

So, don't be scared, enter the competition today!

IMAGE © ALLISON ENGLISH WATKINS

Are you planning on entering PPA's International Photographic Competition? Having your work judged can be intimidating, but it's well worth it to receive feedback so you can continuously improve your photography.

Better yet, if your image scores high enough you can become part of the PPA Loan Collection and have your work displayed to over 10,000 of your peers and the general public at Imaging USA, January 12-14, 2014, in Phoenix, AZ.

In an effort to inspire you to enter the competition and to show you how some of these loan images are created, we'll be sharing some past loan collection images.

Check out 'Golden Arches' by Steve Jessee, M.Photog.Cr, CPP, and read the story of this images' creation below!

steve_jessee_goldenarches_blog.jpgJessee, a specialist in landscape art photography and senior portraits at his studio, Associated Photography, in Princeton, WV, created "Golden Arches" while exploring shooting locations in Washington, D.C.

"I stepped into this beautiful hallway (part of the U.S. Postal Service building) to get out of the rain," says Jessee. "The leading lines and the arches woke up my senses to capture the moment."

Are you wondering what equipment was used to create 'Golden Arches'? Well, read on for the nitty-gritty on camera, lenses, lighting and software used in the creation of the image.

Camera & Lens: Nikon D7000 camera, Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED (2.1X) lens

Exposure: f/5.6 for 1/125 second, ISO 800

Lighting: Available light

Software: Processed in Adobe Photoshop 6 with a Topaz Adjust 5 specify filter to bring out the full color range. Jessee applied a glow to the hanging lights, and that's when the title of the image came to him.

We hope to see your images entered in this year's International Photographic Competition, held July 29 to August 1, 2013, at Gwinnett Technical College just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Be sure to enter your images by June 28 to avoid late fees!

Want to learn more about the criteria on which a competiton image is judged? Read about the 12 elements of a merit image.

Judging is open to the public, so feel free to come and hear your image judged in person. You'll get tons of valuable feedback that will only help you in the future.

So, don't be scared - enter the competition today!

IMAGE © STEVE JESSEE



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