include $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . '/community/includes/head_CMSPLUS.php'; ?>include $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . '/community/includes/header_CMSPLUS.php'; ?>
The Northeast District competition is now open! And since you're all hunkered down for this snowstorm, you've got time to do some editing and send in those images. Hopefully you'll be shoveled out by then, but Image submissions will be accepted until March 6. Your entered works will be judged March 13-14 in Columbus, Ohio.
PPA urges our members to enter photographic competition to push yourselves to be more. You'll improve your craft and confidence in the process.
"Once photographers get over the initial fear of competition, most keep entering year after year and become better photographers in the process," said Randy McNeilly, PPA's photographic exhibition committee chairman. "Even if they don't earn a merit right away, there's so much they can learn. Plus, it's a huge confidence boost, not only for the photographer, but also the client who commissions their work--especially once they start to win awards."
At the district level, images either earn a "merit" or "does not merit" score. Merit images are sealed and move on to the International Photographic Competition (IPC), held each August. Non-merit images may be worked on and re-entered into the IPC that same year. Critiques from a PPA judge can be ordered to give entrants personalized feedback on the reason for the score. Entrants and non-entrants alike can watch the judging live online in January.
"The live stream was hugely successful at the International Photographic Competition in August so we're taking it to all of PPA's district competitions," said McNeilly. "This helps debunk some myths about the judging process and shows photographers how much they can learn by attending or ordering their critiques."
The best of the best images will enter the prestigious Loan Collection and be on display at the International Photographic Exhibit during Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta. They will also be in a coffee table book published by Marathon Press. For inspiration, PPA produced a video featuring 2014's Loan Collection images to show what the best look like.
PPA's District Competitions and the International Photographic Competition are open to the public. PPA photographers and non-members alike are also encouraged to attend the judging. Photographers who belong to PPA are each assigned to districts based on their studio's geographic location. For full district competition information, visit PPA.com/Competitions. To learn more about PPA's membership benefits or to join, visit PPA.com/Join.
You might have some fears
about entering the International Photographic Competition (IPC), but think
about what you could learn! We hear time and time again from competitors that
once you overcome your nerves and enter, your skills and technique will improve--not
to mention the confidence boost! The best way to get the most out of your IPC
experience is to have your images critiqued by an IPC judge.
Below is an example of exactly what we're talking about. Don't forget, you can order critiques at your next District Competition too! This is "Entangled" by Pamira Bezman, critiqued by Larry Lourcey. Watch the critique to see why this image was accepted into the General Collection and how it could be improved to go Loan.
Georgia photographer, Judith Ann, was lucky (and talented!) enough to earn a merit on her first time entering PPA photographic competition. In this guest blog, she shares the funny story behind her merit image and an afterword with her thoughts following the International Photographic Competition (IPC).
Dog Gone, I Received a
By Judith Ann
A lack of communication and poor note taking almost cost me a very important session last year. I'll tell you upfront, the good news is everything turned out better than planned. Pardon the puns, but it caused me to dig deeper into my artsy side when I realized I had been barking up the wrong tree for most of my morning.
The day started off like a typical morning at my studio, beginning with a review of appointments, ordering sessions and events to help my day flow smoothly for the next eight hours. I have always prided myself on my ability to plan and custom fit each client's session based on their requests. This particular time, my daily calendar informed me I had a pet session scheduled for 10 a.m. My assistant had booked the appointment the day before and the details were sparse. So bright and early I got my chain rattled and had to react quickly to this situation.
The notes said, "English Bulldog/pet picture" and being comfortable with dogs I believed for a hot minute that this would be an easy session--that is until I got up from the computer and started walking to my shoot room. My assistant appeared suddenly and filled in the details about my soon-to-arrive client. The client recently added a "man room" to her home--thus the need for the bulldog portrait for the wall.
"Really?" I asked excitedly. Then she said the portrait was to be based upon the poker playing dogs. I stopped walking.
"Huh? What are poker playing dogs?"
My assistant gave me the look that only the younger generation can give as if to You gotta be kidding me! Have you been living in the dark ages! "Like, they're everywhere" she said, "I'll show you."
I must have had the dumbest look on my face realizing I was totally unprepared for this session while I stared into a computer screen to see bulldogs playing cards, smoking cigars and looking generally illegal.
"How old is her dog?" I asked.
"I believe it's a puppy."
What da' what?
Soon after I heard a car door close and a barking dog headed my way--my moment of truth had arrived. The only thing I had going for me was the fact that this client was a regular customer who trusted me with her family portraits for years, at least up until this point. The studio door cracked opened and the tip of a furry nose nuzzled through and the wrinkly bulldog puppy came barking, jumping and running straight into my lobby.
I stood there dazed and confused and in my squirreliest voice said, "Hi Jennifer!"
Jennifer gave me a curious smile and said, "What's up?"
"I just realized I don't have a deck of cards," I said. "Would you mind leaving your puppy with me and running over to the store to get a pack while I get the lights set?"
Ha! lights set? How about trying to pull off the fastest-built set in 15 minutes flat?
She agreed and when I heard her car start up I sprang into action. The puppy was left to run around the lobby while I began to think...
My son-in-law was in the studio the day prior drinking the brown, old-fashioned root beer glass bottles. I dug through my trash and apprehended two bottles from the bottom of the garbage can. Yes! Close enough to a beer bottle and now I need a cigar and I think I have one from the proud parent of a baby boy! I hope this pup won't eat my only cigar!
Some further hunting around the studio produced an antique checker board with chips, an old camera and a quick hand dive into my purse brought up some change and dollar bills to hopefully round out the set. We cleared off a side table from the lobby, moved it into the shoot room and carefully arranged the newfound items. Jennifer returned with the fresh deck of cards and it was time to put our puppy to the test.
We placed our furry little friend on the table and he curiously looked left, right, up and down and in a split second scooped the cigar into his mouth and brought his head up into the cutest pose. Click. The image was captured in the blink of a (puppy's) eye!
(Side note: The puppy was not harmed in any way in the capturing of this image. As a matter of fact he enjoyed all the attention. The cigar was not lit--we created the smoke and red ash in post-processing.)
My assistant and I discussed better communication techniques through more detailed note taking and a big HEADS UP on unique session requests. As a bonus, we have had several clients request that particular image as artwork for their home.
In this, my first year of PPA image competition, I included "Hold 'Em Ace," and was pleased to earn a merit seal at my state (Georgia PPA) and district (Southeast) competitions I'm excited to hear the results from the IPC! My fingers are crossed on being chosen for the Loan Collection.
It's official! I've come full circle in completing my first year of competition. I entered the same four images from start to finish (GPPA>SEPPA>IPC) and am excited to say that three of the four images merited! After I received my judge's critiques from the GPPA/SEPPA level, I made some adjustments on three of my four images. "Hold 'Em Ace" had already sealed and I was told you NEVER break the seal once you merit.
My judge's critiques helped me see her perspective on how I could improve my images and I was mostly happy to make the suggested changes. I have to admit I did take a little offense on my critique of "Bonny Boy." The judge made mention on my child's sausage fingers on the bike handle, I took it personally because, to me most children have little sausage fingers. After growling about the comment for several days, I took another look at those baby sausage fingers and began to see why the judge had pointed them out.
I agreed that maybe they were standing out more than they should, so I took my burn tool and ever so slightly browned those little sausages. My images went from being what I considered really good prints to great images with just a few small changes. As a suggestion, don't take the judges' comments to heart--they are there to help you become an even better photographer.
I was glad I took the time to compete and successfully survived entering into a whole new world. I bet you have already guessed about how I feel about next year, that's right, I'm thinking about conjuring up brand-new ideas that will hopefully earn more merits. It's a win, win situation that will benefit my clients. My final thought is that being able to resource a judge with years of experience, compete with your fellow photographer peers in the industry is bringing me closer to my goal: award-winning photographer, Judith Ann, M.Photog. (master photographer).
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:
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
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.
By: John Owens, Communications Specialist, PPA
I've always been a "believe it when I see it" kind of guy.
As I boarded the bus with the rest of the PPA staff for our field trip to Gwinnett Tech, I wasn't sure what to expect from my first photographic competition. I'd written about the 12 Elements of a Merit Image and felt I had a firm grasp on them, but I hadn't seen them in action. They were just a list.
On the ride over I kept envisioning an American Idol-esque judging panel, or a Gordon Ramsay-type screaming at a helpless puppy in a photograph. My competitive background is in hockey, and I felt fairly certain that no one would drop the gloves, but who knows how heated the judging might get? What if someone attended and disagreed (strongly) with not earning a merit? If an image doesn't merit, does it get shipped off to an island of misfit images?
So yeah, I was excited for the International Photographic Competition, if a little misguided.
We arrived at Gwinnett Tech after a 30-minute drive from PPA HQ in downtown Atlanta. We entered the cafeteria where staff member and former PPA board member, Rich Newell, M.Photog.Cr., and chairman of the Photographic Exhibition Committee (PEC), Randy McNeilly, M.Photog.Cr., MEI, API, gave us the rundown for the IPC.
"For some members, this is why you're involved," began McNeilly. "I think you're going to see this event grow quite a bit in the next few years."
As they started to rattle off some numbers, it seemed like the growth was already in full-effect. At this year's IPC, nearly 5,000 images would be judged during the week. In the first year of IPC, eight images were judged.
For the first time this year, participants could sign-up for text message alerts to be immediately notified when their image was judged. The new feature was so popular, 1,200 text messages were sent in the first day, which was no doubt also a credit to the judges' efficiency.
In addition to the judging of the images, a record 1,500 images also requested individual critiques--a 250% increase over last year. Needless, to say, the IPC judges were in for a busy few days.
Then we learned that on top of the judging and critiques there was also a Judges Workshop taking place, where 38 students were taking the program to join the prestigious ranks of an IPC judge. So there was plenty going on! After our briefing, the staff was released to (quietly) roam the halls and pop into rooms to soak it all in.
I first headed into the large lecture room where the Judges Workshop was taking place. The room was dark, save for the light of a half-dozen Mac computers in the far right corner and a lit canvas in the left corner. The student judges were split into two groups, the left practicing the judging of print images, while the group at the Macs was mock-judging digital images. The 38 prospective judges was an impressive number, because as I learned from McNeilly, they can't exactly just show up. Even just being a student judge is actually years in the making.
They are entered into the program after they take the 40-hour Judges Workshop. But no, this doesn't mean they are a judge yet. Before they can become a judge, these brave photographers must earn their Master Photographer degree. It takes 13 merited images to achieve a Master's degree, and with a maximum of four submissions per year (none of which are guaranteed to merit), it can easily take six years or more.
Next they must start seeking out state competitions and tell them beforehand that they would like to be a judge. They spend three years judging at affiliate competitions and are evaluated by the existing judges. A committee then looks at the evaluations and votes on who can enter the fold.
Prospective judges must meet the minimum of three state competitions and have received five critiques, but no one gets in with the minimum. There are currently 114 total official judges. About two make the cut to join them each year.
But it's not just about becoming a judge for those attending. It's just as much about gaining an inside perspective to the competition.
New Jersey photographer, Mike Dill, CPP, was among those who, more than anything, came to improve his own photography.
"I wanted to see and learn what goes into the judging process so I could do better in future competitions," said the action and sports photographer. "I've watched competitions live before, but this gives me the opportunity to go behind the curtain and learn what goes into a winning image.
"It'll be a huge help to my photography to be able to evaluate my own images as well as become a judge in the future."
After a few more rounds of mock judging, the group took a break, as did the rest of the judges who were scattered in classrooms around the school. I immediately got the sense that they all knew each other, it almost felt as if they were attending an elite photography summer camp.
They wore matching black, short-sleeve, button-down shirts and gilded medals hung from their necks. Some had just a few pinned to their lanyard, but others had medals going all the way up the ribbon to their necks. They were the rewards of years and years of competition and merit earning, and the judges wore them proudly (in fact, I learned later they are required to). I could see them eyeing each other's tally, much like myself and the rest of the staff were, to see who among them was the best.
That's right, at the IPC, there's even competition amongst the judges--each striving to fill their lanyards to the brim like the lifetime members among them. But for these few days, they volunteer their time and fly out from all over the country to name the best of the best, and to push those who ordered critiques to be better.
After the short break, the judges went back to their respective rooms. I followed a group to a room for print submissions. I guess you could say submitting a print image is the old school method of competition, since printing and mailing four images can cost up to $800 versus just emailing some high-res JPEGs. But certainly from a spectating standpoint, the print submission room gave a better feel for what the competition was all about.
This batch of images was in the first round of judging, and would either merit or not merit. That means their brave owners decided to skip their district competition and submit directly to the IPC. Those images that earned an electronic seal (80 or above) at their respective district competitions go straight to loan judging. The difference in the judging is, at the IPC, there is no numerical scoring like there is at district competitions. Here it's either a yes or a no.
This room is much like the left side of the Judges' Workshop. The only thing illuminated is a large canvas, with a rectangle cutout in the middle to display the image. Images are clipped onto a three-sided rotating easel by white-gloved volunteers. The dark, the quiet and the lack of fingerprints gives a real weight to the competition.
The panel of six judges sits in a row maybe five feet from the displayed image. A seventh judge, sat to the side, announces the name of the image before it is displayed and oversees the scoring. As an image rotates into view, judges take turns approaching the image, getting within inches to examine every corner, every detail of the frame. Glasses on, glasses off, and then return to their seats to record a yes or no on an iPod.
The first two images do not earn merits, and then a third. A pattern starts to form as a fourth does not merit, but then it happens.
Total game changer. If a judge voted against the majority decision, they have the opportunity to challenge the result and argue their position, either for or against the image earning a merit. Then each judge says how they voted and why, highlighting details in the image they love or elements they find lacking. It might be the tiniest detail that they love or hate, every aspect of the image must have meaning and must be perfect. A judge might love a particular image, but that still might not be enough for them to vote in its favor. Their respect for the industry outweighs their passion for an image they're seeing for the very first time.
After they've all taken another look and discussed their thoughts, the judge who offered the challenge gives his or her rebuttal. Then they re-vote.
The constructive debate format takes the judging to another level. Their careful care examining each image is part of the reason only 30 to 40 percent earn merits each year. After about 20 minutes, the judges rotate to be sure they are seeing images from every angle. The judges complement each other on strong challenges that reverse the group decision and always offer thoughtful descriptions of what they're seeing. Color, texture, focus, exposure, depth, light, sharpness, technique, presentation, impact, tonality and design were all used in the discussion for a single image.
Those complete images that earn merits move on to another round of judging for the Loan Collection. This round, the finals, if you will, is even more tightly scrutinized. Here, a great image is just that, it takes more to enter the Loan Collection. The challenges are even more passionate, and discussions even more in-depth. In the end, only 682 images entered the 2013 Loan Collection and will go in the Loan book and be on display in Phoenix at Imaging USA.
From the print competition I headed over to the critique room. Patty Geist, M.Photog.Cr., a little Nebraskan photography sparkplug, was one of a few judges scattered in a Mac lab reviewing images. Wearing a headset, she told the image creator what she liked and didn't like about the image. Where it excelled and where it needed improvement. She offered suggestions and showed the image owner specifically what she was talking about with her cursor. It might not be her favorite part of being a judge, but Patty appreciates the value in the critiques and offered an easy answer to anyone thinking about getting one in the future.
"If you haven't submitted an image to competition before--of course!" she said. "If your image didn't merit, it's the only way you're going to learn why."
Judges giving the critiques are generally seeing the images for the first time unless they were on the panel by which the image was judged. If they were, this gives added value to the critique, because they have already seen it and judged with the help of five others.
"That way my individual paradigm isn't the sole influence," said Patty.
At the end of each critique, the judges encourage the image owner to go to Imaging USA for one-on-one sessions with an official judge.
"Here it's just a one-way critique, but there we can answer the specific questions they might have about their image. We told them what to fix, but there we can tell them how."
After another morning of judging and critiquing upwards of 1,000 images, everyone took off their judging caps and once again became friends at camp as they broke for lunch. One hundred-some photographers brought together in the same room by the great unifier--pizza.
Although I'm not a photographer, I can sense when I'm around greatness, and they had the medals to prove it. The International Photographic Competition is the past, present and future of photography all at once, and judging by the passion and camaraderie of those esteemed photographers, they all seemed to be aware of it. You'd have to see it to believe it.
So why enter? Why get a critique? Why attend? To get better. To be a part of the present and the future. And hey, maybe it will inspire you to be more.
For my part, maybe the 12 Elements extend beyond just photography. Did I touch on them all?