View Full Version : Question on choosing images for future competitions

09-13-2008, 01:21 AM
I got my critiques of my four pieces back a couple days ago. They were very thorough and I appreciated many of the suggestions. This was my first year of entering and I was left with a few questions after viewing the critiques. I shoot 95% of the time in natural lighting.

1. Is the competition set up primarily for studio lit portraiture? I had a few photos that were judged as not having the right angle of light. The file attached named Reach Beach is an example (I was told that it would have been better to have the light angled on her face.)

2. I'm confused on the matting with competition prints. One of my photos was full bleed and another was centered on a white background and I was told that could have taken away from the presentation. I have to be honest and say that I find using the various strokes a little bit fake looking and dated. Does anyone have anything that looks more natural that they can share with me? The Intertwined file attached shows the photo that I centered on a white background.

Thanks, I would like to know how to choose the proper photos for future competitions.

09-13-2008, 01:45 AM
Trista, No it is not a competition for studio lighting. In fact I would guess there are more entries created in available light then artificial. I suggest you get a hold of some Loan collection books or general showcase books. I think that would give you a better idea of what to choose and how to present your images.


09-13-2008, 02:47 AM
if you belong to your local ppa affiliate, you can usaully meet someone with compitition experiance who would give you some one on one help by reviewing your images.

09-13-2008, 02:58 AM

flat lighting is not going to do well in competition (as a rule.) Reach Beach has rather flat light, and that definitely detracts. Had you made your capture at a different angle to the sun, you might well have had different results. the lighting you have creates no sculpting to the face.

Listen to (diamond photog of the year) Keith. Get a loan book and study how those images differ from yours. Learning proper lighting is huge. Take a class from someone with suitable credentials and you will see major differences in your work.

09-13-2008, 03:38 AM
I"m actually classically trained in lighting. My grandfather owned a successful portrait studio and when I started my business five years ago, I worked in studio most of the time. I found I needed the challenge of working in different environments. That being said, I know that what is looked for in competition prints can be very different from what a client wants to purchase in many cases. So, where can I get a copy of these books?

Thank you again for your feedback.

09-13-2008, 03:44 AM
Contact Marathon Press

09-13-2008, 03:50 AM
Thanks Keith.

09-13-2008, 03:29 PM

You asked about mounting. In the Old, Old days flush mounted prints were the way to go. We didn't have the option of digital images. When they first started doing undermats, you had to have black mount boards and you used a colored paper underlay to give the stroke. Now with digital we can do all that in the computer, so the presentation of the print has become worth 5 or so points. Sometimes it can make the difference. If the image is REALLY strong, presentation is not so important, but if it is borderline, it can make the difference. In general, white borders only work well on high key images. Conversely, dark borders work best on low key images. The stroke used to off set the image should be 5-6 pixels, no more. If it is too large, it detracts from the image. The color chosen should compliment the image and not be so bright as to draw attention to itself. These are the general guidelines for presentation.

As far as lighting goes - the earlier posts have given you good advice. Judges always look at lighting and flat lighting VERY RARELY will hang. There is always a direction of light and when you are used to seeing it in a studio environment, it sometimes is harder to see outdoors. Hold a finger up against the palm of your hand and look for shadows.Turn 360 degrees. This is an easy way to determine the direction the strongest light is coming from. Then you place your subject to take advantage of this directional light.

Good Luck.

09-13-2008, 07:04 PM
Hi Trista;

I'd like to add to the great advice you have been given.

On location is fine as long as you look for the light. If you remember what you learned in the studio and put those things into practice outdoors with the same types of lighting patterns and good contrast.

As for flush vs. step-mounts. If you have an image where the main subject ends up on one of the quadrants, that's fine. However, many times an image just doesn't allow for that. A step-mount may just allow for a perfect placement. Also, an image may have some areas top & bottom that don't help, or add to, the impact and presentation. Making a slim-line presentation step mount may just be the answer.

The General and Loan Collection Books will help you see a lot of possibilities.

09-13-2008, 08:10 PM

I apologize in advance-I'm going to hijack your thread, but feel free to PM me the answer if you want to keep things on track!

Just a few days ago, I read the article about your work in PPA's August issue (yeah, I've been too busy to keep up.) Anyway, I was wondering about your sales presentations and how well they work out for you. It sounds like you have to do a lot of traveling, especially covering a wide area. I'm asking b/c I'd love to go to projection sales, but all of my clients are about 2 hours away from here, so it's not really a safe idea for me. The idea that really struck me was when you build a digital version of their room and show them what that would look like. any chance you could show me a sample or so?

Thanks, Trista! Sorry about the hijack, everybody!!


09-14-2008, 02:24 AM
Hi Ashley;

If you have, or can find someone with a copy of, ProShots ... there are "rooms" as well as "frames". You can place a portrait in a frame and then put that on a wall in a living room, bedroom, den, office etc. to show clients how it might look. I am tired now but will post an example tomorrow some time. Between what Trista tells you and this, I help you get what you need.

09-14-2008, 04:08 AM
Thanks, DCF. I'd like to see whatever you can show as a sample. I don't know if Trista will post again or not, since she's new on the forums.... she may not be quite as addicted as we are... :P

09-14-2008, 04:32 PM
Hi Ashley;

I put an example together for you. I put a senior portrait in a ProShots frame and put that on a ProShots room. I hope this would be a help with your sales. Let me know if you need help on how to use it.


09-14-2008, 04:51 PM
Hi Ashley;

I just put together a 2nd example for you of a bedroom.


09-14-2008, 05:40 PM
Very, cool. Thank you!

09-15-2008, 02:59 AM
Ashley, if you check out my art blog...blouinart.com/blog, you'll see some samples of using photography in various rooms.
In answer to your question about how to help specific clients, drop me an email and I'll give you more info...trista at blouinart.com.

09-15-2008, 03:17 AM
Thank you Betty for the specific info on how to create competition appropriate presentation. That is exactly what I was looking for.

09-15-2008, 05:16 AM
Hi Trista,
I found some of the showcase books on ebay. Check there it can never hurt.
I searched for PPA loan collection and PPA showcase books.