PDA

View Full Version : Why do you or don't you compete?



Keith_A_Howe
01-18-2009, 04:35 PM
As many of you have probably heard a motion was made during council meeting at IUSA to create a new degree, Master of Wedding Photography. This was voted down in council but since I have been home this has prompted some interesting discussion on the Council list serve about print competiton. It was brought up that a relatively low percentage of PPA members actually participate in print competition. What I would like to know is why do you enter prints? Is it for the education? the potential accolades? personal self esteem, marketing value? Or what? I also even more want to know if you don't enter, why not? Is it the expense? intimidation, fear of failure? lack of understanding of the whole process? just not into competing? or whatever other reason. Are there any changes that PEC could make that would make you start entering? If you don't want to post publically then send me a PM. As many of you know I am a councilman and an affilate juror. I don't hold any power with either of those groups but I do have opportunities to give input and so I would like to educate myself about what the membership really thinks, and not just make guesses. I don't need a whole long explanation, which you certainly can give if you want, but I am looking for an informal poll and a tally of the main reason people enter or don't enter prints. Thanks in advance for all the feedback you can give me.

Keith

D._Craig_Flory
01-18-2009, 04:51 PM
Hi Keith;

I have competed since 1978. My reasons: #1 to have it serve as a way to see where my work stacks up against my peers. #2 as a way to constantly improve. #3 as a way for my clients to see when I am rewarded for excellent images. #4 as a pat on the back but also as a prod to not stay still but to keep striving to get better.

Louise_St_Romain
01-18-2009, 05:08 PM
I think of print competition as a means of improving myself as a photographer. The first competition I entered was National last year and the one thing that I got out of the critique that you gave was how to make the images I submitted better. In the short time I've entered prints in competition, I'm seeing a difference in the quality of my work ... thinking in the back of my head about what would make an image do well while I'm taking that image in a way forces me to slow down; it is far too easy with digital equipment to take a ton of shots....

Being able to show clients pretty blue ribbons is nice too :D





besides, D.Craig made me do it :p

Ron_Jackson
01-18-2009, 05:09 PM
I love to learn. There is a part of every single day that I learn something so I can keep moving forward for my business and my clients.

As you know, after being stubborn for a long time, I finally tried print comp at regionals last year. When the prints were returned, I was not at all upset about the scores contrary to certain beliefs, but the fact there was no feedback available. I don't care about the scores as much as I do about the judges feedback. This is where you learn. If you get a case back with prints and scores and nothing else, what really did you learn? If I get a print back with a score of 79, I want to know what kept it from an 80 or even why it wasn't a 72? If you take a test in school and the test is given back to you with a score of 79 but the wrong answers are not marked and noted, how do you know what is wrong so you can learn from it?

Print comp takes a lot of time and money to participate and for me, if I can't get feedback so I can learn how to improve, then I just don't have the desire to be a part of it. I can't attend every competiton and even then, you have to be lucky enough to be in the right room to see your print come up or, find a judge from the panel who will sit down and discuss your print after judging. And not all competitons have the ability to allow for a video critique. So, no feedback is the primary reason I don't and won't participate. For me it's about learning and improving. I don't want to try and guess why the score is a 79 or a 90, I want to know what the judges saw when they viewed the image. Provide me with critique every time and I will participate every time.

Michael_Gan
01-18-2009, 06:51 PM
My reasons for print competitions is different now than it was when I was going for my degree. In pursuit of the degree, it was a matter of "mastering" my work for improvement of my client work. I figured, at that time, that if I can elevate my work above all others around me, it would give me that additional "edge" in the marketplace. Somehow, this worked because my clients most often select the work I strongly recommend for them to hang in their homes.

Now, it's a matter of me learning how to "push the envelope". It's a multi-faceted project of introducing new ideas into the competition arena, as well as seeing if I'm on the right track in communicating my artwork to others. Many of the most innovative photographers in our association like Tom Rouse, Tim Walden and Darton Drake, for example, have entered work that was not seen before and, like Tim Walden, the work has now become commonplace with many photographers across the country. For Tom, there was no predecessor to his work and he is spurring a lot of creative power from others. So, in my response to the council, I think that it all comes down to photographic leadership.

Many Masters recipients are taking the degree and running, instead of helping to create more Masters. Membership in our association is not a problem, it has come down to the quality of membership. The moment that we can get all of the sponsors of the degree to be the Masters that the recipients aspire to, is the moment that we have the ball rolling to elevate the quality of membership.

Much of this is to develop a sense of continuation for the Masters who seemingly get cut off because so much is dedicated to educating the new members. There are no educational challenges for the Masters - I know that for myself, with the exceptions of a few photoshop and marketing courses, I see very little that addresses what we don't know. This is why there have been talks of an advanced degree after the masters. PPA does not have that kind of program and as such, is losing the participation (and sometimes the membership) of its Masters. There is ASP with their "Doctorate" of the Fellowship degree, but other than a few additional accolades (sorry, wrong association ;)) of the Imaging Excellence and the POTY awards, there really isn't any other reason to excel with the exceptions of the few.

So, to me, print comp is the ultimate in how you communicate your work. It can be assumed that if your point comes across to the judges and your peers, your work should do well in the customer arena (with good marketing skills). Now the challenge for the Masters is to create new ideas in competition that will stir the senses, even educate, the judges to always see and judge things in a totally different way. These will be the ingredients that would propel our association through the next century.

Lori_Clapp
01-18-2009, 07:26 PM
I haven't read all the other responses yet, so this may repeat some of what others have said.

I enter to learn. I have learned so many things since I started entering - I look at things in a totally different way now when I think of an image I want to make. For example, I have always wanted to get a really cool image of a train - when I think about how I actually want that to look, I keep things in mind, like which direction the train should move through the image, that it needs room in front of it so it has somewhere to go, etc. And even in the studio when I am doing appointments, things I learn in comp always come to mind, like short lighting, and when broad lighting would be a good thing - not that I can always light it like I should, but at least I know what to TRY for!

Plus, it's always hard to look at my own work and be critical. It's nice to get other opinions, and to hear sometimes that I really did do it right!

I would say that the one reason I didn't enter for as long as I did, was the cost. I know now that the cost is well worth the experience. But just starting out, it didn't seem worth the price for me.

Also, the merits/degrees, etc., is still very confusing (as Holly knows, after our conversation at IUSA!)

Linda_Gregory
01-18-2009, 07:54 PM
I first entered because I could. Working at the newspaper, the editor decided what image I was going to submit. No choice or feedback wanted. I won two state awards that year, didn't get to see the competition or anything. The paper entered and won so they could publicize it.

When I worked at the lab, each spring photographers would start sending in negs with directions for artwork and I was fascinated with the what/why and how of it all.

Leap to when I joined PPA and actually thought of entering my own. I had great encouragement by local photographers who had seen my work.

The first entry I did was in our state seminar, usually used as a jumping off point before the affiliated judging later in the spring.

I was told all these things about a print I had taken in the pj model and couldn't quite comprehend why they didn't understand. :/

A local photographer who has many medals/ribbons and accomplishments explained as well as he could and then handed me one of his loan books.

My eyes were opened.

I reworked some of the images and entered them in HOA, our affiliated judging regional. Two actually merited!!! I was given advice by others there who had witnessed the judging and others who recognized what needed done to the other two. Again, those did not merit but I paid for the video critique which filled in tons of blanks.

My local mentor totally disagreed with it and God love him, realized that he was not an affiliate judge but would have fought for it had he been and been on that panel.

I compete because of the learning, the great publicity, to get my masters but mostly, for a great feeling of accomplishment, taking an image from my vision to a beautiful print that others also see as worthy.

I have goals for my competition career:

1. to merit an image I have had no help with in any manner (accomplished my second year)

2. to merit an image with only cropping, burn/dodge/ and other darkroom only techniques (almost but not quite accomplished)

3. to merit a portrait--I have been a photographer for many years but only entered the portrait end in the last few years

4. LOAN. need I explain that more? :)

The cost when I was working at the lab was prohibitive as I was not a PPA member and would only be joining to enter. That was my biggest drawback.

Keith_A_Howe
01-18-2009, 08:44 PM
I haven't read all the other responses yet, so this may repeat some of what others have said.



Just in case someone feels like Lori that it's already been said - what I am looking for here is as many responses as possible. I don't care if it's a repeat of another post because that's the point - I want to know if a lot of people are feeling the same way. You don't have to write out a long post - although I welcome that too. Just one sentence is enough. I also want to hear from those who don't enter. This is a good thread for anyone who has only lurked so far to jump in and post a response. Absolutely no right or wrong answers, just what you think about it. Keep them coming!

Keith

Dave_Cisco
01-18-2009, 09:18 PM
I have to say that I just haven't recovered from competition burnout. I competed at every opportunity for 10 years or more... I wanted(and got) my Masters. I wanted(and got) my Texas Full Fellowship...I wanted(and got) my local PPA Affiliate Full Fellowship. I just pooped out.:D

Todd_Reichman
01-18-2009, 09:55 PM
I just started with competition last year with the singular intent of earning a master's. I suppose I want to legitimize myself in an industry that I still don't quite feel like imeasure up in. I can't say that I'll keep competing in the event I do achieve the masters. I don't particularly enjoy the comp process for the reasons Ron suggested - mainly the lack of immediate feedback. The learning really comes from the prep which really doesn't require the actual competition.

I hope to earn my master's only submitting electronic albums. Not that it's cost prohibitive specifically, but cases and reprints do cost. Plus single prints don't really represent my real work, so it doesn't seem right to earn in that manner.

Mainly though, Im uncomfortable with comp mostly because I really have a hard time maintaining confidence in the face of criticism, embarrassing but true.

- trr

Tiffany_Schmitt
01-18-2009, 10:13 PM
At first I didn't because of intimidation. I wasn't that good and didn't think I ever would be. First results were a 77 and 78 I think. I learned so very much from our competitions that now I enter for a variety of reasons.

1. It makes my everyday work better. I have learned to think about what I am doing while I am behind the camera.

2. I am just competitive by nature. I want so see what my level of quality is compared to my peers...and that is how we judge ourselves to some extent.

3. I have just learned about the degrees and would love to attain those levels.

4. Also, I have just realized the potential for marketing 'award winning photographer'

Hope this helps.

Cheri_MacCallum
01-18-2009, 10:17 PM
I enter to push myself! I don't compete against anyone else, so for me it's about taking it to the next level.

Greg_Haag
01-18-2009, 11:02 PM
Keith,
I think for me it is not taking the time to dig in and understand the process, as well as procrastination. I passed my CPP test last year and have not put my images together and I have the service merits and have never submitted a print. My goal for 2009 is to submit my images in april for the CPP and to submit at least 2 prints for competition. However, with that said I am still unclear on the competition process, i.e. state and national submissions and how the point system works, I am sure that it is clearly explained someplace on the site. I think it is a great program and it is my loss for not being more diligent in pursuing it. I think the first step for me might be to post and image and get some feedback on how to make improvements, reshoot, and submit.
I look forward to working toward this in 2009.
Thanks,
Greg

monicamartin
01-18-2009, 11:14 PM
I have never entered a PPA or PPMA or our local guild's print competition. I have had solo and group art shows, but that is different. I have been CPP for 10 years, the first opportunity I had (had to be full-time in photography at that time) and I am up for a second renewal this year. But being non-competetive by nature, I don't have a strong wish to compete. And the cost for the last few years has been a problem.

Dea_Bell
01-19-2009, 02:47 AM
I have not entered because (in order of importance):

Low self esteem
Fear of Failure
Lack of knowledge of the process

Mark_Levesque
01-19-2009, 03:58 AM
I compete for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is because when I first joined NHPPA, Don Chick asked me if I was going to. And I am being serious. Prior to that I didn't know anything about competition, but he asked in an inviting way, as if it was almost expected that I would. Sure, why not. I had a month before the competition. So I worked up 6 prints and entered. The competition was on a Sunday, and I drove the 2.5 hours to the conference to see some of it for myself. It turned out that my prints were first in the rotation, and I got there just in time to see the beginning of the 3rd round. I sat down and the round began. My title was announced, and the turntable spun with my print appearing. Silence. The score: 80. Wow! I was hooked.

Since that day I have entered our state competitions, and our regional, and national, and I love it. I am somewhat competitive by nature, and I have a strong desire to improve my work and excel at image creation. I am also interested in getting my masters, but as a waypoint rather than an endpoint. I expect to create and enter prints as long as God allows.

The more I compete, the more I learn. It also serves as a strong spark to my creativity. Gets me to thinking outside the box, and provides me with ideas and techniques to bring to my client work.

I have to say, while I wish all my prints were critiqued, it really isn't a problem that they aren't, especially if you sit through the competition itself. For one thing, you are going to see others' images challenged. And you are going to learn from that. Additionally, most of the time, you can talk to the judges after the compeition and get them to critique your images. So there really is plenty of learning to be had.

treasures1
01-19-2009, 05:40 AM
I just joined my state PPA so for the first time I will be trying to enter at regionals. Before reading through all these forums I didn't understand the process- but I figure the best way will be to just do it! Also, I hate to spend the money if I don't think I'll merit, and I am not sure my work is there yet.

That's why I haven't-
This is why I will:

I want to be the best I can be- I want tangible items to prove how hard I've worked and how far I've come (ribbons, baby! )

I want my masters degree-

I want to be able to show my kids my images in the books- LOAN, please!

I want to be good enough to feel I'm qualified to help other people ten years from now who are where I am today.

Valenzuela
01-19-2009, 05:51 AM
I have entered our local print comps because I was told by the Masters and CPPs in the group that print comp will improve your work. I've found this to be completely true.... Having your work judged publicly forces you to remember your mistakes and not to make them again. Competition forces those involved to push themselves further, thats why I get involved in print comp. I think many do not participate due to the fact that only a certain percentage of any population will go that extra mile. Take this forum for instance, how many PPA members are there compared to the members that participate in the forum?

Ed_Siegel
01-19-2009, 12:55 PM
I suppose being relatively new to this, I have found the process rather confusing. However, I do want to enter comps a some point.

Keith_A_Howe
01-19-2009, 02:34 PM
Thanks everyone who has responded so far. It's exactly the kind of information I am looking for. I just need more responses. Like right now I see there are 50 people on the forum but there are only 18 responses to this thread. Every one of those 50 people has either entered or not entered so I would like every single one of them to tell me why. So please take 10 seconds to post your reasons, it will really help me a lot.

On another note, there are a bunch of posts here that I would love to respond to, but I am trying to keep this thread on track about just the reasons. Instead I would like to make an open offer to anyone who has any questions about how the whole process works to call me. . . just not today! I have a nasty sinus cold and I am pretty groggy. I am dictating this to Holly and making her type it so it will make sense. Give me a day or two to get better and call me at the studio with any questions you have - no matter how trivial you might think it is. 308-534-7909

Mike_Fulton
01-19-2009, 03:18 PM
Well I will throw out why I DO NOT compete in print competition in order for people to understand my point of view on the subject as well as how we (TriCoast) feel on the subject.


I completely and totally respect Masters and Merit Program however in the situation which TriCoast which was built from the ground up that was based on teamwork first and not individual achievement.

I earned my Craftsman Degree this year and honestly I felt empty and nervous inside due to I was not standing beside Cody (the Orig. other half of TriCoast) When I was out speaking and teaching he was working on keeping the business alive at home, so who's award is it in my mind? Cody is not an employee someone to hire to answer the phones but more a partnership and teamwork which runs the TriCoast company, so for me to receive something that he also helped earn seems quite empty to me.

Same goes for my Master's degree. I have never entered a print and most likely never will due to what I stated above. Cody and I work together and if it is not Cody it is Jordan or Suzy or an artist from TriCoast. I feel if I see the light, place the couple in it, hold the reflector/wireless flash/video light on the subject, then Cody or Suzy or Jordan takes the actual image - well who's photograph is it?

The correct answer is its a TRICOAST photograph not a Mike Fulton's or Cody Clinton's or Jordan Chan's photograph. So for me to stand up there and get print merits on photographs which we all helped earn for me is quite stuck up and self centered and at minimum very disrespectful to everyone else in the business.

I am very honored to have my Craftsman and I feel a Master's Degree and print completion is something one should strive for to assist them in being a better photographer, its just TriCoast is more than just a name brand to me, it is a set of photographers all having weakness which the others cover up with their strengths so unless they make a Masters for all of us at the same time I do not see me ever competing in a print competition. I am not going to even get into the unethical aspects I have personally seen when traveling the states/regional speaking that is completely another thread but also reassures that I have made the correct choice in not entering prints.

Again no disrespect, I actually hold a Master's Degree and most who hold the degree in great respect which is why I will not get the award.

Karen_Linsley
01-19-2009, 04:08 PM
I have entered print competition in the past and will do so again. The main reason is because I know it will improve my work. I'm also very goal oriented; I need to have something to work towards. I will be getting my Craftsman soon and the next goal will be Masters. And...I just wanna wear one of those cute little necklaces.....although I know absolutely nothing about what all the things on them mean.

I anticipate that entering print comp will be a long pull for me. I have no local folks here who can help me select images, nor give me feelback on the work that needs to be done on a particular image. I have no idea what I need to start entering print comp (like a print case?), I have no idea where to enter when I actually have a couple of images to enter.

I guess what I am suggesting is perhaps a print comp manual? Or a webinar on print comp? Something for those of us who are in rather isolated areas and can't easily get to the help and feeback enjoyed by folks who are surrounded by others who have already gone that route. I will be posting images here for help with them too.

Annie_Duncan
01-19-2009, 04:13 PM
I am not a competitive person, but would like to compete for the learning aspect. The reason I have not yet done so is money (or lack thereof :rolleyes:).

D._Craig_Flory
01-19-2009, 05:16 PM
I am not a competitive person, but would like to compete for the learning aspect. The reason I have not yet done so is money (or lack thereof :rolleyes:).

Hi Annie;

Pa. has two competitions a year. One is the annual 16X20 competition at the convention in April. I think you said you want to attend the convention. I strongly suggest planning on sitting in the judging room so you can watch the judging process.

At our two day October meeting we have an 8x10 competition. It is a great way to get your feet wet and see how you do. It is less structured than the annual competition and cheap too.

Regardless of whether or not you have a competition in mind I suggest that you make a hard drive folder for potential competition images. Every time you have an image you really like save a copy of the file there. Let me know when you have questions.

Keith_A_Howe
01-19-2009, 07:46 PM
This has become a very interesting discussion and one I would like to see continue. Can it possibly be moved to another thread? I have a real interest in continuing to get input about why or why not people enter and would like to keep this thread just for that - just stating your viewpoint with no right or wrong, agreement or disagrement about it. Can we keep this thread as more of a poll then a discussion and move this very interesting conversation to a thread of it's own? Thanks.

Keith

Michael_Gan
01-19-2009, 08:36 PM
OK, someone think of a thread title and I can move em'.

Charity_Reed
01-19-2009, 09:25 PM
I have read many of the responses and thought I would put in my 2 cents as to why I don't compete more.

#1 Print competition guidelines has nothing to do with what my clients like or will buy. The whole judging process is not based on what the client likes, but what some person or group of people came up with as the 12 elements of a merit print. Whatever! When prints are being judged on what is the best print for the client then I will enter prints.

#2 I don't really care about the peer recognition as much as I care about the client referrals. I think print competition is nothing but trying to get that pat on the back from your peers. I want to provide my clients with the best possible work I can so I can get their referrals.

I absolutly HATE when you enter a print and the judges say "This is a great print for the client and I am sure they loved it, but it isn't right for competition" Someone want to explain to me why a portrait my client spent hundreds of dollars on and is priceless to them, is not print competition worthy?

#3 It is my understanding that when you enter prints for consideration of the CPP that those prints are judged according to whether or not they are great images for the client. So that tells me print judging for CPP is completely different then regular print competition judging. I think all print competition should be judged like the CPP prints are judged.

#4 The cost of entering prints is ridiculous!!!! Just having the prints made is enough. Even at $30 a print that is alot of money per year. Then if you want to enter it in nationals, the price is nuts! No thank you I got other things I would rather spend my money on that will benefit my studio better.

When PPA changes their philosophy on print competition to be that more in line with the clients then I will enter more. Until then I enter only the album category. Which is actual clients albums. I want to be judged on my actual client work and not something my clients would never spend a dime on.

I plan to take my CPP exam this year and send in my clients work for judging. But I have no desire to get my Masters or anythng else that is based solely on peer recognition and nothing to do with client work. My peers are not paying my bills, my clients buying my portraits is what is paying my bills.

I know I am sure to upset a few by my comments. That is not my intent. I have been on the print committee of my local PPA for going on 3 years now. I am very involved in the process. I see and hear first hand how some of the awards are decided on by our annual judges. Two years ago one of our prestigous awards was given to a print because all the MALE judges (there were no female judges) love the models clevege. Sorry but that just really upset me. They gave a award to someone because of cleveage and nothing else!

In my local PPA affilate we are having problems with people entering print competition also. I think the biggest problem for most right now is the cost. I know I don't want to spend the money on it. I can't do a darn thing with those 16x20's after print competiton. I am surely not going to display them on my studio walls. I don't want my clients buying 16x20's. Right now all I am displaying is 24x36 and that is what I am selling. So if I started displaying those 16x20 print competition prints, guess what I will sell. Yup, 16x20. I will be taking a pay cut. Sorry I can't let that happen.

Maybe if we were justing entering 8x10's or 11x14's it wouldn't be a big deal to just throw away that print and the money it cost to print it. But 16x20's are more costly.

Have I learned a lot from being on the print committee?

Oh heck yes. I learned that some of the best images I have seen, haven't gotten the scores they deserved.

Another comment I hate to hear from the judges is this in regards to a wedding portrait "Would have been a good shot if it wasn't shot in the afternoon, they should have taken the photograph later in the day." Well we can't always pick the perfect time of day to take the brides portraits now can we? We have to go by the timeline the bride gives us. The judges don't even take any of that into consideration. They think we all just hire models for everything print competition related. Again, I say whatever!

As you can see I have some pretty heated feelings about print competition. I swear though I am not trying to cause any issues with my response to this. I just wanted to give Keith the bare truth from someone with no holds bar.

C

Arlyn_DeBruyckere
01-19-2009, 10:56 PM
I have read many of the responses and thought I would put in my 2 cents as to why I don't compete more.

#1 Print competition guidelines has nothing to do with what my clients like or will buy. The whole judging process is not based on what the client likes, but what some person or group of people came up with as the 12 elements of a merit print. Whatever! When prints are being judged on what is the best print for the client then I will enter prints.

#2 I don't really care about the peer recognition as much as I care about the client referrals. I think print competition is nothing but trying to get that pat on the back from your peers. I want to provide my clients with the best possible work I can so I can get their referrals.

I absolutly HATE when you enter a print and the judges say "This is a great print for the client and I am sure they loved it, but it isn't right for competition" Someone want to explain to me why a portrait my client spent hundreds of dollars on and is priceless to them, is not print competition worthy?

#3 It is my understanding that when you enter prints for consideration of the CPP that those prints are judged according to whether or not they are great images for the client. So that tells me print judging for CPP is completely different then regular print competition judging. I think all print competition should be judged like the CPP prints are judged.

#4 The cost of entering prints is ridiculous!!!! Just having the prints made is enough. Even at $30 a print that is alot of money per year. Then if you want to enter it in nationals, the price is nuts! No thank you I got other things I would rather spend my money on that will benefit my studio better.

When PPA changes their philosophy on print competition to be that more in line with the clients then I will enter more.

cut

C

I have to echo so much what Charity said. A few weeks ago I posted
http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?t=15189

and got one response. While I am thankful for the detailed response it made no sense to me. Maybe I'm just too uneducated to understand but I do know that if I followed the suggestions in Keith's post the client would walk away. I've entered competitions, I've ordered the critiques - they didn't make any sense. I've scored a couple of 80's, all of them on things I just tossed in to fill the 4 items. Many of the prints I've seen at conventions that scored above 80 I would be embarrassed to show. The rules just don't work for me so I putting my energy into things that produce positive results for me.

Heather_L._Smith
01-20-2009, 01:27 AM
Okay, Keith... short and simple.

I enter prints in competition because it requires me to work harder to create something better. Every day. My clients deserve my best, and if I can make client work merit, then I've won.

Oh, and I kinda like the accolades.

It would be interesting to see a Master of "X" (fill in the blank with a specialty) - be it portrait, wedding, etc. to see, for example, portrait photographers earn a Masters Degree, Portraits (versus a subject we don't necessarily make our living with)

Stephanie_Millner
01-20-2009, 04:15 AM
I compete for a few reasons.

1) Started as something I felt that I kind of had to do. Not sure why, but just out of obligation. Peer pressure I guess.

2) Found the actual print competition judging totally exhilarating, although if you explain to any sane person that you sit in a dark room for 8 hours watching 5 people talk about other people's work... they look at you like you're nuts. (Liz and I bring food and coffee. It's like going to a movie.)

3) I have found I am awful at sports and thus needed a hobby I was better at. All hobbies are expensive. Print comp is the cost of doing business.

4) My work has gotten infinitely better in the last year, thanks to watching other critiques and print comps. Great learning tool. And in my case, since I decided I was going to make a client image merit this year, my sales have directly correlated to print competition, so it's all in how you apply yourself. (We'll see how that goes.)

5) Bragging rights for clients. And by the way, I sold a duplicate competition print of a landscape from last year to a wedding client. So yeah, there's life after the print case. I posted about a blue ribbon from state last year and had clients calling me to come see it. Oddly enough, they read my blog. Who knew?

6) I like to see what everyone else is doing so I can be different. Or try some new cool technique and adopt it into the repertoire.

7) I get to see fuzzy puppy pictures! (obviously this reason is of utmost importance to me.)

Andrea_Chapelo
01-20-2009, 01:52 PM
Well I entered for the first time this year and I am still not sure WHY I entered exactly. Maybe peer pressure from my friends since I was going to my first ever conference and getting to watch my first ever judging. I was so nervous I thought I would chicken out and I certainly didnt' think I would be able to watch them be judged..but I did. Did I mention I have very pushy friends;)
But I will tell you why I will CONTINUE to enter...

My work is fine, my clients are happy but I want more. I want to learn to excel in my craft. Entering print comp this year and watching the judging and getting feedback from my friends and colleagues has pushed me to reach higher, and I want to continue in that direction. Will I ever see a Masters attatched to my name..who knows, but I will continue to improve and entering comp helps me to do that.
Seeing my first (I say first, because it will NOT be my last) image hanging at Nationals this year that I shot for a client at a wedding was exhilirating. I hope if I ever earn my Masters it will be on work that I make my living on. Will I enter an occasional landscape, sure...but that will not help me acheive my goal of producing better images for my clients and for me that is what this is all about. Becoming a better photographer, not recieving accolades or a degree (because that would mean I have to walk across a stage and those who know me at all know I would probably just trip and make a fool of myself anyway.)
So I will eat the cost of the prints and enter again at Nationals this year, because I really think of it as an investment in my business, rather than a waste of money.

Linda_Gregory
01-20-2009, 02:03 PM
I disagree to a point...I enter what I know because when I started, I was not a portrait photographer. I came from a travel/pj background and entered what I knew.

I have entered portrait types and have a merit of two of them but I have learned how to control the lighting on the critiques I've received and applied that to my studio/location portraiture.

It's about controlling the light and if you can learn that on a building, you can learn to do that on the landscape of a face.

Some people can learn, others can learn to apply it, that's what I choose to do.

Not all my saleable images are comp worthy but all my comp worthy prints are definitely saleable.

Keith_A_Howe
01-20-2009, 04:00 PM
Why I enter has changed through the years -

I grew up with a mother who thought nobody was as good/talented as her husband, kids,family at farming-4H-being Christian-school-whatever. So of course I grew up feeling pushed to compete. But unlike my mom it was never about being better then someone else, it was about seeing how good I could do. I got my Master's entirely from client work. I couldn't afford to do sessions just for competition. I couldn't afford trips to great locations to get awesome scenic stuff. I couldn't afford to pay an artist so I learned to do my own artwork. Because I saw how much time it took me to fix my boo-boos, I got better at correcting stuff before I tripped the shutter. That's a skill I still use every single session. Along the way I found out that my clients like knowing I am winning awards. It validates thier choice to come to me. It gives them something to brag about to thier friends. They feel possesive about my awards. THEIR photographer wins awards.

Then I got the Master's. I realized the degree itself was pretty meaningless. I didn't feel any better or smarter just because I had that ribbon around my neck. The degree didn't give me that - the process to get the degree did. So I started setting new goals - a merit print from a studio head and shoulders portrait, a commercial print cause I never do commercial, hang all four images in one year - and finally the one goal I never thought I'd reach - 4 loan images in one year. (By the way - one of those 4 loan images this year was from a client's regular senior session. It wasn't created with comeptition in mind.) So what now? I guess my next goal is to repeat it so I know it wasn't a fluke?

Why I still compete has changed again. My money situation has changed too. I can now afford to do those fun sessions just because I have an idea I want to try. But I do those because the idea appeals to my creativity not strictly for competition. I can afford to travel a bit and photograph those locations I couldn't afford 15 years ago. Again I go there because it's something I want to see. I photograph because the place inspires me. If competition images result - then that's a bonus. Some people probably fault me for entering landscapes or wildlife when that's not how I make my living. They are right - I don't pay the bills with those, but at this point comeptition for me is no longer about evaluating/improving my skills as a photographer. Now I am looking for a motivator to be more and more creative. I am looking to make images of places or subjects I haven't done before. I also have some personal goals I would like to achieve in this second half of my career. Doing well in competition gives me credability when I work on those other goals. So it's a means to an end.


Again thanks to everyone who has replied so far. I hope to get hundreds more responses.

Keith

Cassandra_Sullivan
01-20-2009, 04:15 PM
GREAT post, Heather.

I enter because I want to become a better photographer technically. Since the judges don't know the 'story' and possible problems I encountered during the session, they're just judging on how it was executed. I want to know what I did right, and what I did wrong - and I don't just want 'Happy Accidents'. And customers do see a difference when your technical proficiency improves. They may not be able to tell you what's different - but if you show them an image with bad lighting, and one with good lighting (but don't tell them the difference) - they'll like the one with good lighting better.

My only 'problem' with competition is the expense....print costs and entry fees.

David_A._Lottes
01-20-2009, 08:22 PM
As many of you have probably heard a motion was made during council meeting at IUSA to create a new degree, Master of Wedding Photography. This was voted down in council but since I have been home this has prompted some interesting discussion on the Council list serve about print competiton. It was brought up that a relatively low percentage of PPA members actually participate in print competition. What I would like to know is why do you enter prints? Is it for the education? the potential accolades? personal self esteem, marketing value? Or what? I also even more want to know if you don't enter, why not? Is it the expense? intimidation, fear of failure? lack of understanding of the whole process? just not into competing? or whatever other reason. Are there any changes that PEC could make that would make you start entering?

I used to compete for the press releases. My small town newspaper would almost always run a front page story if a local got noticed for anything. So I would enter client work and take a photo of myself with the images. I'd submit the PPA press Release to the paper with the photos and the names of all the locals in the pictures. The paper loved it because they knew the families would all get ten copies of the paper to share with out of town friends and family. It got me both name and face recognition. Granted some of the merit images were kinda weird. One time I took a picture of an old door latch and blew it up to 16x20, I cut the keyhole out and used it like a window mount over a senior portrait of a girl I took with a wide angle lens from the top of a step ladder. The background was a tie-dye like muslin and the girl was wearing a flowery dress and old sixties thigh high white boots. I called it "Go Ask Alice". It barely got an 80 but between local and state silver awards and the national merit I got it in the paper three times. By the end the girl was a local celebrity and all her classmates thought I was the coolest thing since Jerry Garcia died. I did her wedding a few years later and the last wedding I did in November was a referral from that girl's mother. I'm sure I learned a few things about making pictures over the years but for me it was mainly about the PR. I have to admit for awhile I started thinking that was the only reason for it and it upset me when people would enter flowers and stuff. Anyway, I don't keep up anymore because I'm lazy. When your getting started the awards and designations and stuff are very exciting after a while it lost it's appeal for me. Like Charity, sometimes I would think there was something fundamentally fouled up about print comp.....but in the end it's a voluntary system with guidelines that couldn't be any easier to follow if you put in the effort. It's a mentoring exercise and not a requirement for membership. Nope it's just fine, and mostly fun if you don't take it too seriously.... I'm just lazy. Maybe creating some new designations would recharge some batteries.
Only one way to find out. ;)

Keith_A_Howe
02-04-2009, 02:31 PM
So far I am seeing improving your work as the main reason for entering along with a sense of accomplishment, marketing etc. The main reasons people don't enter seem to be frustration with some bad apples in the bunch, fear of failure, lack of understanding of the system and the cost. Even if your reason for entering or not has already been posted, please add your thoughts. Like I've said, this isn't about just what the possible reasons are but more about how many people feel the same. One person posting that they don't understand the system doesn't tell me how widespread that issue is. 15 people saying the same thing shows that it is a big problem. Hopefully nobody is going to argue with you about right or wrong. There is no right or wrong to why you feel the way you do. So please even if it's been said, add your comments. Ever person on here falls into one of two goups - either they enter or they don't. So even if it's just because you aren't interested or don't care, that's still a reason and I would like to hear it.

There is another similar named thread still going that was a spin off discussion from this. It's been very interesting to me and I know some PEC members have read at least parts of it. If you want to discuss what's right or wrong or just share your suggestions for change, that's the place to do it. I am trying very hard to make sure the right people will read what you have to say.

Keith

Ed_Conner
02-04-2009, 05:57 PM
So far I am seeing improving your work as the main reason for entering along with a sense of accomplishment, marketing etc. The main reasons people don't enter seem to be frustration with some bad apples in the bunch, fear of failure, lack of understanding of the system and the cost. Even if your reason for entering or not has already been posted, please add your thoughts. Like I've said, this isn't about just what the possible reasons are but more about how many people feel the same. One person posting that they don't understand the system doesn't tell me how widespread that issue is.


Keith

Keith,

I enter for most of the reasons stated. We must push ourselves to get better if only in our own minds. In fact I echo many of your sentiments since getting my Masters.

The frustration is what I call the "Human Factor" of Judging and I see no way around it at any level that scores for various trophies or awards. National has alleviated it some with the thumbs up or down, multiple panels and Jurors chairmen who recognize a possible problem and send a print to another panel. Yes, we all know the 12 points to look for unfortunately, we all know and interpret them differently. Which, is why some I know just don't participate in anything requiring a judge to determine a winner.

I define the human factor as many things such as Early in the event and some are not awake or don't want to score to high early when a truly deserving print may come around. Judges get bored with similar prints(if one is an 80 why aren't the others?) It's the middle of the afternoon and everyone is struggling to stay awake. A print gets ripped for contrivance or to much "artwork" then one that is even worse gets praised by the same judge, thinking you missed something when you look at it on display you still wonder what planet they were on. There are judges,mostly new, who are afraid to rock the boat and challenge their peers. There are some who just don't like certain styles or the type of subject material they're viewing. Even though they try their prejudices sometimes sneak in. There are judges who have no clue how to judge a commercial, sports, wedding or any non traditional portrait studio work and just score middle of the road or nit pick certain things, while possibly true, they overlook them on what they do like and hide behind the word "impact"(which I concede is a state/local level problem more than a national) and fight like dogs over a piece of meat for that print despite the obvious composition, design & exposure flaws.

There's also the lunacy of some, making multiple challenges of a print for an additional point to get it to a 91 from a 90. The minutia they argue over at times makes one wonder why don't they just debate "How many angels fit on a pin head?. Other than bragging rights for the maker there is little or no intrinsic value(yes possibly Photog of the year averages with that particular group). But somewhere enough is enough.

It used to bother me a great deal still does at times. But my 2 daughters have participated in enough "Queen" of something pageants and I have photographed enough Horse Shows to understand, while the goal is to win and take home the "Blue" that as long as you know you put your best foot forward, the judges for whatever reason liked something or someone else better, while disappointing can be lived with.

Somehow most of us who participate, need to educate those who don't, to understand it's not politics. Just because your print was a "90" and the highest score of the event doesn't mean it is automatically the "Best of Show"(or a 90 at the next level) when it is compared side by side in closed judging with other "Blue Ribbon" prints. Judges just may realize they were to harsh or to easy or they for whatever reason missed something and think/believe the lower scoring print is more deserving. The judges are your potential buyers not the client who said "wow!". You now have to make a fellow photographer who's pretty good themselves say "wow!". Which, most of us know to be a lot more difficult. Nor is it someone going out of their way to be mean but, a means to improve oneself and get to know their peers a little better. Which we all benefit from in the long run.

Yes, I have judged before. Not PPA/professional level but a couple of camera clubs. I know what a job it is. Which is why I live with the human foibles of the panel when I enter and try not to be a wet blanket.

My apologies for rambling and stating what many may consider the obvious.
Thank you for the opportunity to sound off, however.

Ed Conner
Winfield,WV

Marc_Benjamin
02-04-2009, 06:23 PM
Just a quick tidbit:

I still enter because I for some crazy reason still feel the Joy of Victory and Agony of Defeat! Which definitely happened last night.

When I started, I wanted to
1. Show my teacher's/masters if they can do it so can I. Even put in a $100 bet with my friend/teacher Zee in 2005 that I can do it (M.Photog) within 5 (got it in 3) years. Though the old fart still hasn't paid.
2. Made it a driving force on my formal photography education since I went to college for information tech and never took a single unit in photo, even highschool.
3. I honestly thought I can really get it on with the ladies once I sling around that bling. Hey I figured if the clock necklace thing works for the rappers...


Print comp means different things to different people.

Speaking of People, halfway through this chase, I got told (really need to verify somehow) that I'll be (now am) the first Filipino PPA M. Photog. So I guess

4. I did/do it for my people? lol

Michael_Gan
02-05-2009, 09:57 PM
I think (and I'm just as guilty of this) all of this should be in the discussion thread as this one is supposed to be an informal "poll of yes or no. This will take some time to untangle, but when it is, look for a lot of these responses to be moved. Just don't panic when you see your replies missing ;)

Michael (with the moderator hat on)

KristiSanger
02-06-2009, 09:38 PM
Ok I'll bite.

1. The cost
2. Lack of knowledge (both the process of entering and knowing how to pick the images)
3. Time. I have a family w/ small children and don't have a lot of time to commit.

Jonathan_Brown
02-07-2009, 06:55 AM
My wife and I have both entered a few times and most likely will continue to in the future. Here are my reasons for entering:

1. It makes me a better photographer
2. Clients love the fact that we win awards and now that we both have awards it is a great selling feature.

Some reasons I am frustrated with print comp.

1. Like some have said before I have seen problems in judging with judges going bleary eyed and getting on runs of 78's and 79's. I feel this is the main reason that many stop print comp and who can blame them. If you feel that your images are not getting fair shake why should you invest the time and money in entering.

I am a volunteer in my states print comp committee and this year I was VERY frustrated when I saw judges with a glazed over look going on long runs of 78 and 79 just to give 80+'s to images that have definite halos and poor photoshop work or are way soft when you get up on them. I also heard a judge on 3 occasions make the comment "well I should have challenged this print when it first came around I guess" after another judge challenged a print. I thought one of the main jobs of a judge was to stand up for prints they felt were deserving of a merit and not just set back and go with the flow.

Well those are my thoughts. I am sure we will enter again but I am going to try and reuse some prints that did not merit if we can keep them in good shape and try to save some money on reprinting the same images over and over again.

Hope this helps.

D._Craig_Flory
02-07-2009, 01:55 PM
Hi Jonathan;

Switching chairs and having an alternate, or two, judges is for that very reason ... to keep them fresh & awake. Also, one of the jobs of the print master is to make sure the scoring is being done properly. Here in Pennsylvania, we are lucky to have Bob Golding as our Print Master. He is also Print Master at our Regional and is well known at Imaging. I have seen him admonish panels that "the scoring machines do go over 80". I recommend that you talk to your board about the possibility of a new print master.

MarilynDillon
02-09-2009, 05:53 PM
I entered my first state and regional last year. For me, the main purpose it to help me learn how to keep "raising the bar" of my work -- so I guess it would be learning.

scott_nadow
02-20-2009, 05:39 PM
Why I don't enter.

When I print images myself... What do I compare it to? How do I know when it is finished? easy... It's my image. It looks how I want it to look. There are a million different reasons why one judge likes an image and another does not, and yes I understand you must know the rules of photography before you can break them.
However an Editor wants the final print to look is not my concern. I don't compete for prize, merits, or pride. The only judge I have to please is the editor deciding to purchase or not. I must admit I have been totaly baffeled as to their image choices (again not my concern). Lets admit most customers wouldn't know a great image if it bit them on the backside, and how many of us sold a bunch of so so images by tweaking a ego or two. So if we are the customers of our own competitions then don't these same rules apply?

The only solution I see is to have an national anonymous (500 entry's) masters entry with 100 judges voting 10 times each and having a minium score of (---) to make master, and some feed back as to what worked and what didn't work. Less stress on everyone evolved, and more entries. Plus a smaller fee wouldn't hurt.

Sorry for the long rant.... just my two cents.

longimaging
02-20-2009, 06:02 PM
I'm a complete and total newbie to everything. I am largely self taught and I'm starving for opportunities to learn and grow. The problem for me is finding out what options I have to help me improve my photography. I have heard mention of competition in one of the seminars I attended, but I still don't know how or where to enter nor do I know what they will be looking for. Frankly, I don't even know what or how to get this Masters that everybody is talking about. I imagine it has something to do with showing a certain level of consistent competency.

Rick_Massarini
02-20-2009, 06:23 PM
... I don't even know what or how to get this Masters that everybody is talking about. ...

Everything that you need to know is on the PPA web-site. Just go back and click on the Competitions tab, and you can get information about the International Competition. If you click on the Merit and Degree Program tab, you can get an explanation of the degrees offered by PPA, their significance, and the requirements to qualify for each.

Keith_A_Howe
02-20-2009, 06:45 PM
Clint, Where are you located. If we know that we might be able o point you toward resources in your area.
Keith