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By Megan Mitchell

Have you been on the fence about entering PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC)? 

If you're simply not entering because you are afraid of not scoring well enough, you might be missing a huge learning opportunity! What did you learn the last time you took a risk and tried to step up your work? What else could you learn? If you want to become a better photographer, these are probably the real questions! 

Entering the IPC and choosing to have your image critiqued is a great way to improve your photography skills. IPC jurors are accomplished photographers who have entered their images into the IPC many times before. Their eyes are trained to see things in your photos you might miss.

Now's the time to decide! If you enter before midnight on June 25th, you'll avoid a late fee - but no worries if you need a little bit longer to put things together, as late entries close July 10th. 

Curious about what sort of things the judges will be looking for? Watch a critique video here! Andrew Jenkins M.Photog.Cr., CPP, critiques Michael Patch's merited image, "Woodland Faces." 


Need a little more help before you take the plunge? See what other photographers have gotten out of entering their images in IPC and what they learnt from their critiques here! Ready to compete in the IPC? Enter the IPC today and Be More Competitive!

Megan Mitchell is an intern at PPA. Though she attends college in New York, she is originally from Georgia - most everyone she meets up north is shocked and disappointed by her lack of a southern accent. She finds great joy and comfort in copy editing and reading. She loves nothing more than words, but her family and friends take a close second.

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By Chris Homer

If you're thinking about entering the International Photographic Competition (IPC), make sure to get your images entered by Midnight ET, June 25! After that date, there's a $35 late entry surcharge! You'll still be able to enter until July 10, but why waste $35? 

If you've never entered the IPC before, don't fear having your images judged. The process can be intimidating, but entering the competition really is one of the best ways to improve your technique as a photographer. Read all about why PPA members enter the IPC and how it can help your career in this post. 

When you enter, you'll also have the option to request your images critiqued by an IPC judge. Go for it! The judges have entered the competition in the past and have achieved success, so they know exactly what to look for in an image. They'll point out ways to improve your photography that you may not have considered before. Check out a critique from last year's IPC. 

Are you ready to Be More Confident in your images? Remember to enter the IPC by June 25 and avoid the late fee! 

And remember - the IPC judging will take place August 3-6 at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, GA. Judging is open to the public, so feel free to attend and watch the judging. If you can't make it to the IPC to see the judging live, it will also be streamed online! This year there will even be a live broadcast, twice a day, to answer judging questions and go over some of the image reviews and challenges that will be happening during judging.


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.


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By Chris Homer

PPA's annual International Photographic Competition (IPC) is right around the corner! Are you planning on taking the plunge and entering this year? 

If you've never entered the IPC before, you might feel a little nervous about having your work judged. It's understandable, but know that entering a photographic competition and having your work judged by other professional photographers is one of the best ways to improve your photography technique! 

How?! When entering the IPC, you can select to have your images professionally critiqued. PPA's IPC jurors are accomplished photographers themselves who have successfully participated in the competition, numerous times, and know what makes a great image. As a result of their experience with the competition itself as image makers, but also, as they underwent a long training to become IPC jurors, opting to get an image critique with their candid viewpoint can greatly help you improve your work. That's the reason why they do it! Help photographers Be More Successful at competing. 

Check out the critique below. It is from last year's IPC and is by Andrew Jenkins, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, critiquing Mario Munoz's, M.Photog.Cr., "Reservoir Dogs". Mario's image was accepted into PPA's loan collection and while Mario often enters the IPC, he keeps ordering critiques, because they help him Be More Successful at IPC. 




Are you ready to enter your images in the IPC? Make sure to do so by June 25 to save money (after that date there's an added late fee!) Go ahead and enter today and see how scoring at competition can help you Be More Confident! 


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.


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By Rachel Noto

With the call for entries for PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) in full swing, it's now more important than ever to make sure your images are at the top of their game!

The work of artists can be fundamentally personal, and as such it can feel intimidating to submit work to be criticized and reviewed by masters in the field. However, absorbing a critique is one of the most important aspects of being an artist. Learning to think critically about others' work benefits you as well; in identifying the stronger and weaker parts of the work of your peers, you can turn that same discerning eye on your own work. 

All IPC jurors have earned Master of Photography degrees from PPA by submitting their images to competitions just like you, so their advice comes from a place of experience and empathy.  Hearing the thoughts of one of the jurors themselves is incredibly useful because they are not only a master in their field but have been in your shoes!

Watch Glen Mahan's merited image from the 2014 IPC, "Afrikaans Language Monument," be critiqued by Donna Goodhale, M.Photog., for some insight into what judges look for, and hone your own skills in observation and critique so you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own work in order to set your best foot forward in the 2015 competition!


Are your images ready for judging? Submit your work here!

Want to read more examples of critiques and other information about IPC before you submit? Read through the PPA blog's previous posts about the International Photographic Competition!

Rachel Noto is the second of two summer interns wandering around the labyrinthine offices of PPA, enthusiastically taking pictures of her cat, and occasionally getting a little writing and design done. An Atlanta native, she's learned to embrace the feeling of getting lost every now and then, though she now spends most of the year in the gridded city of Savannah, Georgia, where she attends the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has a passion for food, cute animals, and communication in all of its forms.

By Chris Homer

By now, you've heard us say this before, but we'll say it again: Entering your work into a photographic competition like PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) is one of the best ways you can improve as an artist. Having your work judged and listening to the critique can help you improve your images in ways you probably have not have considered before.

To make the most of the IPC, we recommend signing up to have your images critiqued by one of PPA's International Jurors, who are themselves accomplished photographers. We understand that if you've never entered the IPC and had your images critiqued the whole process can seem overwhelming! To ease your anxiety, take a look at an actual critique from last year's IPC. Below you'll see Matthew Kauffmann's image "Medic" critiqued by PPA juror Mark Garber, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. 



Ready to enter the IPC and improve your skills? Entries for this year's competition open May 26!


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.



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By Chris Homer

As a photographer, you're probably always looking for ways to improve your photography skills. One of the best ways to do this is by entering photographic competitions that provide you some very useful feedback. PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) allows you to get just that! The IPC entry submissions open May 26, 2015. Participating is already a great way to push your skills to the next level, but if you choose to get your images critiqued by one of the competition's jurors, you're simply bound to learn more as an artist.

If you've never entered an image into a PPA competition, we understand the process can seem a little daunting at first - but it really is a great way to become a better photographer and it is the structured process that raises the quality of the results. To get rid of some of your apprehensions about entering, check out Andrew Jenkins, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, critiquing an image by Gary Hughes, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, called "Just Do It". It  was accepted into PPA's general collection! 




Ready to enter your work? Be More Daring and learn tons! Entries for the International Photographic Competition open May 26.


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages. 



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By Chris Homer

Have you ever entered PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) or one of the District Photographic Competitions? If you haven't, you really should consider it. Why? Simply put, entering the competitions and having your work critiqued by one of our accomplished judges is one of the best ways to improve your skill as a photographer. 

If you've never entered before, you may be a little intimidated. Fear not! Instead, take a look at the critique below. Once you've seen how it works, hopefully you'll be more comfortable entering and... you'll understand how much you can get from getting feedback on your images! In the video, juror Larry Lourcey, M.Photog.Cr., CPP goes over "My Dad" by PPA photographer Lisa Duncan. 


Another great way to learn about photographic competition is by live streaming the district competition judging. You'll be able to view the images and hear what the judges take into consideration. The Northcentral district judging airs live May 20 - 21. It is free to watch, you don't even have to be with PPA and a link will be posted on the Northcentral District website and PPA's Facebook page.
 
Ready to enter your work in a photographic competition to learn and get recognized? Several District Competitions are accepting entries now and entries for the International Photographic Competition will open May 26. Get those images ready! 


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages. 



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.

 

 

By Chris Homer

At PPA, we understand that entering the International Photographic Competition (IPC) or any of the upcoming District Competitions for the first time can be frightening! But, as we hear from photographers that enter, participating in these competitions really is an amazing way to improve your skills and photography techniques. To get the most out of PPA's photography competitions, consider having your images reviewed and critiqued by an accredited IPC judge. Such constructive critiques will help you understand the elements by which images are judged and help you see what you did well and where you need some work on specific images. It's VERY affordable and will help you grow as an artist more than you can imagine. 

Below you'll find an example of one of these critiques. The image is "Kiss Me Sweetly" by Megan DiPiero and it is critiqued by IPC Judge Larry Lourcey. Check it out and see why this image was accepted into the General Collection! Be more adventurous!



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ch_headshot_100x100.jpg
About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages. 



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.

If you've never entered a photographic competition before, you're probably feeling some fear of having your images judged by another photographer. It can be nerve-wracking, but as we've heard from members that participate, PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) and the District Competitions are some of the best ways to improve your images and your technique as a photographer. To get the most out of the IPC, we recommend getting the images you enter critiqued by a judge who's trained for and dedicated to this photo competition.

To help you get rid of some of your fears, and maybe even encourage you to request a critique at the next District Competition, here's an example of what you can expect! This is "Rustic Cabin" by David Bair, critiqued by Jon Allyn. Take a look!


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 Merit!
By Judith Ann

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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.  

Afterword:

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:

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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.

Written by IPC Guest Blogger, Christine Walsh-Newton
Blog was originally posted on August 7, 2014

Whew! Was that a roller-coaster ride, or what? IPC 2014 exploded on the scene with a bang and will not be soon forgotten. The excitement of being able to view the judging live online added a whole new dimension to the competition this year! I'm happy, you're happy, we're all happy!

So... yes, I know there's still one more day to go, but some folks' judging has been completed and they're wondering what the next step is - so here are some things you'll want to know about.

1. Results - you should receive your results as the competition is ongoing. Texts are being sent to alert competitors that their image is in line to be judged as well as the results afterwards. If you didn't get signed up for the texts, you can still check how your images are doing by going to the live stream link (http://stream.theipc.org/) , logging in and checking the area that says "View My Images."

The final, official results will be available within several days of the end of IPC 2014 at the PPA website. In 2013, they were available about 1 day later and were posted at: IPC Results

The official results will list your name, the title of your image and the judging results. Results are noted as G, GB or L. G means that your image was accepted into the general collection and will receive 1 merit. GB means that your image was accepted into the general collection AND although it was judged for loan and did not receive a loan designation, a judge felt it was worthy of special recognition and it will be placed in the Showcase Book. More about that later. An L means that your image was judged as worthy of inclusion into the PPA Loan Collection and will receive an extra merit, for a total of 2 merits and will also be published in the Loan Book. More about that later, as well.

2. Bling - Did your name appear in the results four times? Well, happy, happy, joy, joy, you are pretty special! That means that all four of your entries received at least a merit and you are a medalist. You will receive a 4/4 pin suitable for framing... er... suitable for pinning onto your lapel, ID badge ribbon, or if you are degreed, placed upon your medallion ribbon to forever clank when you walk.

There are 5 different 4/4 pins depending on the number of merits & loans that you received:

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 "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

The International Photographic Competition was earlier this month and the results have been in for weeks

Now, it's time to dish out some medals. Well, not actually dish them out, that doesn't happen until Imaging USA, but we can at least tell you who won!

So yes, there be SPOILERS AHEAD!

PPA members receive these medalist designations by earning a merit--a mark of quality and honor--for each of the four images included in their entry case to the International Photographic Competition. This is the most prestigious competition of its kind, where images are judged based on a standard of artistic excellence, not against each other. 

After going 4/4 at the merit level, these images went to another round of judging. The level of the award is determined by how many of those four images receive the highest possible honor: acceptance into the PPA Loan Collection, which is displayed at photographic exhibitions, conventions and other photography events. 

The scoring rundown is as follows:

Diamond - 4/4 accepted into Loan Collection
Platinum - 3/4
Gold - 2/4 
Silver - 1/4 
Bronze - 4/4 merited, no Loan

And here is the spread of our 224 winners:

Diamond - 12
Platinum - 32
Gold - 59 
Silver - 66 
Bronze - 55 

"These photographers have reached a prestigious achievement," states Randy McNeilly, PPA's Photographic Exhibition Committee Chairman. "It takes dedication to achieve the consistent quality and creativity necessary to earn the title of Silver Medalist in one of the world's most celebrated photography competitions. While they will be receiving this award at Imaging USA in Phoenix, the real winners will be their clients who have commissioned the work!"

Make sure you check out the full list of IPC medal winners, ranging from Diamond to Bronze.


Here are a few of the winner images which will be on display at Imaging USA, January 12-14 in Phoenix. 

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