PDA

View Full Version : Why Do You or Don't You Compete - Discussion



Michael_Gan
01-19-2009, 05:37 PM
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.Why not have all three of you get your Masters together? Consider this so that each of you individually don't have to rely on each other's weaknesses in order to produce a wonderful product for your clients, it's a more efficient concept in your business. With the teaching credentials you have for your many followers, it worries me that mediocrity for success is not necessarily the best thing to teach an industry that is well below the poverty level - which, if I'm reading your message right, seems like what you are suggesting. Please understand, I have all the admiration for you and what you three have been doing based on the current trends in photography, but will that be enough to help the others when those trends change? I've seen it time and time again, where photographers jump on a trend bandwagon only to fall victim to not being able to adapt to the new trends simply because they never developed the necesary skills to adapt. We're starting to see a lot of photographers having troubles transitioning from the PJ style over to the "Fashion style" in weddings, just like many could not go from the "formal style" over to PJ.

Competition encourages photographers to figure out how others are able to be successful. It is, indeed, a strong study tool that can only make our association's members stronger

Mike_Fulton
01-19-2009, 06:06 PM
Thanks for your insight Michael it means a lot. Can you give me a better understanding on how each of us could do it together when every image has each of us in it? I just do not feel ethical entering a print that is not 100% my own just as entering a group album that has all three of us but yet a paid custom album designer to design the album. To me the album design is a HUGE part of the album, more than the photos in many cases, especially if the designer did some PS to the images to match the overall look and feel of the album. So who should get the merit? Again I just do not feel it is ethical for me to enter something I did not have 100% in creating.

Maybe I am just reading too much into the concept of print comp but I have seen over and over again these past two years speaking people care more about themselves in print comp than the professional aspects of photography. I choose OUR PPA over MY PPA its just what I have seen so far and with my business makeup print comp simply does not suit us very well. Again I have respect for those who do it, however print comp just does not seem right for us as a whole group. I hope you understand, I personally could care less about any metals around my neck, any awards or anything else that brings individuality to myself. I care more about the other members of TriCoast and the clients which we serve and that includes other photographers when we speak/teach. To me those are the people that really matter not the metals I individually have around my neck.

My entire life has been giving back to others, be it as a CSI Officer working horrible scenes and hiding my feeling to protect the victims or sharing my knowledge as a photographer in the areas of lighting, it is no different. I simply get inspired by others - giving back is all I know and what makes me tick not the individual awards which comes with it. If I happen to get an award by helping others I will take it and be proud of the award (as with my Craftsman) but I do not feel reaching for an individual goal before helping others is what I am about.

Again you have much more education on the subject so I am very open to any advise you have to give (as well as anyone else on the forum)

Marc_Benjamin
01-19-2009, 06:56 PM
I'm adding my journey to this but I'm going through several rewrites...

Mike hang on a sec, you might find my journey a bit entertaining.

Michael_Gan
01-19-2009, 07:00 PM
I think your idea of "Collaborative effort" in the wedding albums is a very good point. One the PEC should strongly look into (probably more than anything else).

But for now, I think all three of you can enter separate albums each year with a reasonable amount of certainty that all three of you will see successes at the same time. All of your work is that good and I think the cost factor would not ve prohibitive because of the electronic submissions!

Stan_Lawrence
01-19-2009, 07:13 PM
" I care more about the other members of TriCoast and the clients which we serve and that includes other photographers when we speak/teach. To me those are the people that really matter not the metals I individually have around my neck."

Interesting concept....others above self. The reason for the concept? It makes you feel good, so what you're doing, you're doing for yourself. Funny how that works.....I'm not putting down the concept, it's very noble. It's also fantasy land to think that we don't do things for ourselves. We'd be very unhealthy if that was all we did. One of my favorite quotes...."there is no "I" in team, there in one in win, give me the ball" Michael Jordan. It's the individuals working together that makes a great team. Not recognizing the individual accomplishments doesn't make the team any better. Just a few thoughts....:cool:

Mike_Fulton
01-19-2009, 07:34 PM
" I care more about the other members of TriCoast and the clients which we serve and that includes other photographers when we speak/teach. To me those are the people that really matter not the metals I individually have around my neck."

Interesting concept....others above self. The reason for the concept? It makes you feel good, so what you're doing, you're doing for yourself. Funny how that works.....I'm not putting down the concept, it's very noble. It's also fantasy land to think that we don't do things for ourselves. We'd be very unhealthy if that was all we did. One of my favorite quotes...."there is no "I" in team, there in one in win, give me the ball" Michael Jordan. It's the individuals working together that makes a great team. Not recognizing the individual accomplishments doesn't make the team any better. Just a few thoughts....:cool:

I guess what I am trying to say is I trust the other members of TriCoast to take care of me when needed as they trust me to take care of them. Have I gotten burned by this "Concept" in the past, HECK YES time and time again, however a while back I was watching Pastor Joel Osteen of the Lakewood Church in Houston Texas, not for his message I am not one that follows his church but more to the fact Joel is a person who is a master teacher one that can get his thoughts across to 1000's clearly and effectively and as a teacher in the photography world I know I could learn from him in this area. He is a "master" at public speaking and someone I respect for that aspect. So while studying Joel one night he was going on about having a goal, setting yourself up with the right team and trusting that team, even though others will try and bring you down, do not worry about them, trust your team and stay on track of the goal. I could not agree with him more. There will ALWAYS be haters, the more popular you get the more haters will show up, by changing your values due to the haters you only set yourself up for failure. Teamwork is the key to TriCoast plain and simply, I make it no secret I am BY FAR the worst photographer in the group but I have the largest mouth so I am the public speaker :) I value our teamwork over everything else, if there is something I want to do but the team does not then I do not do it, even though I am the "boss" and we all move on from there. If I can help others my life is complete and I die a happy person. I know many other great photographers and leaders of the PPA have not been a Master Photographer and I feel they did an amazing job, Jack R. comes to mind. While some will say he is a lesser of a leader for not having that Master Degree, I feel those people are the hatters I just talked about and really do not understand or know who Jack is and how he truly helps out others. Jack as the President of the PPA lead us into many new areas and I know on this forum brought it in many ways up to date (as Michael Gan is still doing) Jack has ALWAYS been helpful to me even when we did not agree on the same subject, he was always professional and ethical. To me he was a great leader of the PPA the degrees he has or does not have makes no difference to me its the attitude and the ethics and the actions one takes that measure up a leader and Jack has all good ones.

I simply prefer to give as much as I can for FREE without asking for anything in return its just what makes me tick! I guess if I was Michael Jordan maybe things are different but since I am just some smuck with a camera I think I will stay how I am doing things for now :)

Again I am not trying to disrespect the Merits program I praise it in many ways it just happens to not be for us at this time.

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

Greg_Haag
01-19-2009, 09:32 PM
Mike,
I understand your concerns regarding protecting your team. I have had a partnership in a commercial real estate development company for 27 years and I think for a partnership to be successful it is very much like a marriage. Every decision I believe should be based on what is best for the relationship/business and that may or may not include degrees/designations. From all appearances you have a successful business and partnership those do not come easy and are worthy of protecting. By the way I enjoyed the class that you and Cody did at ImagingUSA.
Kindest regards,
Greg

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.

D._Craig_Flory
01-20-2009, 12:12 AM
I have to echo so much what Charity said. A few weeks ago I posted
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.

Hi Arlyn;

Do you own any of the General Collection or Loan Collection Books ? If so, do you dislike the images in there ? Have you ever heard a saying "you must first know the rules in order to break them". Once a photographer becomes a Master they are no longer forced to submit a 20X16 or 16X20. At that point a lot of Masters spread their wings, and try new things.

999 times out of 1,000 a photographer who progresses and keeps doing better and better in competition also continues to improve with client work. You said you would be embarassed to show a lot of merit images. Do you have any examples of the type images you are referring to ?

Arlyn_DeBruyckere
01-20-2009, 12:36 AM
Hi Arlyn;

Do you own any of the General Collection or Loan Collection Books ? If so, do you dislike the images in there ? Have you ever heard a saying "you must first know the rules in order to break them". Once a photographer becomes a Master they are no longer forced to submit a 20X16 or 16X20. At that point a lot of Masters spread their wings, and try new things.

999 times out of 1,000 a photographer who progresses and keeps doing better and better in competition also continues to improve with client work. You said you would be embarassed to show a lot of merit images. Do you have any examples of the type images you are referring to ?

Yes I have loan collection books. I've also been on the print team a half dozen times - usually photographing or editing the photos for the web. I don't have permission to post these images that I still have on my computer. If you want some examples check http://www.mnppa.com - three of the images on that first page (if they don't change) scored more than 80 but I would have thrown out. Another example - a photo of a Lady Slipper (MN State flower) that was hanging on the wall was suggested by Master Photographer as having possibilities if someone worked with it a bunch. Playing with it in Photoshop, using liquify and water colors until it was barely recognizable as a Lady Slipper but certainly didn't look like a photograph. I tossed it in as a last image because of the time we put into it. I figured it would score less than 70 - it scored 83. Guess which version hangs on the wall...

Michael_Gan
01-20-2009, 03:04 AM
if I followed the suggestions in Keith's post the client would walk away. Um, how do you know that?



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) I would too. I have a problem with photographers who got there merits on scenery and tell their portrait clients they are Masters. Its probably where you hear the statement from others "I know 'such and such', M. Photog. and he /she have incredibly mediocre work".

Look, a Masters degree is not a license for you to be proclaimed an artist. It's a learning tool to "Master" what you do. Get it?

Heather_L._Smith
01-20-2009, 03:01 PM
Okay, I'm sorry to hijack, Keith, but I couldn't help myself... and Charity, we're clearly on two very opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to comp, but I respectfully wanted to put my 2 cents in...


When prints are being judged on what is the best print for the client then I will enter prints.

But that's not what competition is necessarily about, really. It's about finding the best of the best of the best. We should be striving to make all of our client work the best of the best of the best. Now, this is coming from someone who makes their living on "bread & butter" images... lots of high-key white, lots of "regular" kids, etc. My clients aren't stunning models, and my images aren't necessarily the most inventive and creative things you've ever seen. BUT, the difference is that I strive to take a regular client in a regular setting and do it incredibly well. If I can tell a story - any kind of story - in my images, then I've done well, my client will love them, and they'll probably do well in competition. Who says you can't take the last 10 minutes of your session and do something "different"? You've already gotten the "safe" shots in the can, so why not stretch yourself for 10 minutes and see what happens?



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 very respectfully and wholehartedly disagree with this statement. I'm glad you said it, because I think there are lots of folks who agree with you. I, however, am on the other side of this fence. I want to provide my clients with the best possible work as well, and I do that by stretching myself and competition helps me do that. The ribbons and medals are a bonus for me.

I used to show horses when I was younger - I loved it. I loved to enter that ring and strut my stuff - to have a goal to work towards. I loved to have that blue ribbon hung on the bridle because for me it was evidence that I had accomplished a goal. It's the competitive spirit in me that pushes me.


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?
Your client spent money on it because it has an emotional connection for THEM - whether it was technically sound or not, whether it actually told a story or not. It's their child, their family, their dog, their wedding day, whatever... it already has an emotional tie because it's their life. You set that same image infront of 6 strangers and it needs to tell them something about that person's life to have any impact. I think it's the same with any image you use as a sample in your studio - it should have impact, right? Do you hang just any ole portrait on the wall as a sample? No. You pour through your images and find just the right one. What decision making process did you go through to choose THAT image to display?



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.

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.
The CPP process REQUIRES that you use client images for submission. It's a qualification process to ensure that you're capable of the primary functions of our profession. A Master's degree, or comp in general, is a process to reward those who go above and beyond "capable".


Then if you want to enter it in nationals, the price is nuts!
Keep in mind that PPA is a not-for-profit organization. They make no money on your print fees.


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!

Haha... at least there was a clear point of focus in the image. And probably impact, I'm sure. Sorry, I'm a chick and even I have to say that if it were executed well, then it probably deserved it. :D



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.
How about a 'brag wall'? It doesn't have to be a primary wall in your primary selling area - but what about in your shooting room or somewhere else? Clients like knowing their photographer is doing well. I've given some of my comp prints to the clients. It's not a 'traditional' portrait, but they love it.



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?

True, but when you're looking for the best of the best of the best, then that's what you should enter. Maybe the goal should be "how creative and interesting can I get at noon?" Marc Benjamin posted a wedding image not that long ago that he did with infrared and a fisheye... at noon (or maybe 1:00) that was incredible. I'll be surprised if that doesn't go loan. It's all about the mindset and what you can do with it.
[/QUOTE]


if I followed the suggestions in Keith's post the client would walk away.
I'm curious to know why? I think the suggestions Keith made would tell an incredible story.


Did I mention I have very pushy friends yes, you do! And see what it's done for you?? :D

D._Craig_Flory
01-20-2009, 03:54 PM
This is to address all the naysayers. Get into the habit of "creating a few extra images". On portrait sessions, and weddings, get into the habit of creating some images for competition or to just satisfy your creative urges. If a client balks just tell them it is costing them nothing extra and you are just satisfying your artistic side. If a Mom says you are backing up too far and her child(ren) will be too small just say she doesn't need to to order from those but ... if she ends up liking them she may place orders from them. Not only could you end up with a merit image but by trying something different or expecially by allowing a lot more room around subjects you may just get a big wall portrait sale. You will not get an order for a 30" X 24" from a close up but could with room allowed.

Start creating extra images for competition and / or creative artistic urges ... you will like it. Once you start you may find that your clients do like other styles you were not creating. Do up some samples finished a different way too.

Mark_Levesque
01-20-2009, 06:31 PM
I'm sorry, Keith. I know you would like to have this just be about comments and no responses, but I can't let this slide.


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.
I don't buy it. The fact that your clients will buy prints which would do poorly in competition does not mean that they would not buy merit worthy photographs, given the opportunity. But the truth of the matter is that many clients will buy inferior photographs simply because their loved ones are in them. However, and this is a big however, when you show that work to someone who does not know or care about anyone in the image, which image do you think is going to market better for you? The one the client bought, or the best image of the session?



#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 think you are missing the point of print competition. Perhaps to some photographers (none of whom I've heard admit it), print competition is about getting "that pat on the back from your peers." But almost everyone I've spoken to on the subject believes it's about learning to make the best possible images, both for us as artists and for our clients. A great many clients will happily purchase poorly posed and composed images, so long as there are identifiable faces of people they love in the image. What separates professionals from Deb off the street who bought herself "a great camera" is our ability to provide more than that. On demand. Consistently.



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?
For the reasons already stated. Most portrait clients think that any image of people they care about that is in focus and correctly exposed is "great". Of course, this means that most anyone off the street that buys a modern camera is able to make "great" photographs, because by and large, the cameras can do that much on auto. I don't know about you, but I want to provide more to my clients than what they will settle for, because they don't know better.


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!
I can't help but think that this is a gross oversimplification, or your local affiliate is run in an incredibly unprofessional manner. If awards were REALLY given "because of cleavage and nothing else" there would be an incredible influx of nude female images, by all of these photographers eager to "get a pat on the back from their peers." I don't know why you had an all-male jury; in NH we are really good at getting a great, well qualified panel with a nice mix of men and women. But even given an all male jury, if this was a real competition with at least some affiliate jurors or those trying to be affiliate jurors, there was a little more going for the photograph than mammary glands.



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.
Well, there are techniques one can employ to create flattering light regardless of time of day. If people elect not to utilize them, they are shortchanging their clients, and do not deserve to be rewarded, IMO. Part of what separates professionals from wannabes is that wannabes are hapless in the face of adverse conditions, and professionals employ techniques to make better images. I'm sorry, but images with raccoon eyes shouldn't merit, even if you can find someone to give you money for them. The bar NEEDS to be higher than that.

I can't say I'm thrilled by the expense of print competition, but the fact of the matter is that for me, it is an investment in the future of my studio as much as paying for a class or seminar is. The thing is, it's not really THAT expensive; a full case is less than the margin on a single 24x30. It's hard to imagine not being able to spare that much over the course of an entire year to invest in improving one's craft.

Michael_Gan
01-21-2009, 03:22 AM
I kinda crack up at the "expensive to enter print competition". If any of you competed even ten years ago, you all know what I'm talking about: "back in the film days"... My bill for a print comptition quality image from the now defunct Alfa Color lab was about $165 PER 16x20! On the average, I entered 10 various images per year to determine which would be the best for the final PPA competition. Now that is expensive!

Michael_Gan
01-21-2009, 03:48 AM
I've cross posted Arlyn and Charity's posts so that people visiting this discussion don't go go crazy trying to figure out what we're talking about.

Dave_Cisco
01-21-2009, 04:33 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charity_Reed View Post


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?


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


You will have a completely different attitude, and a much better product for your clients, when you finally figure these out.

I really am pulling for you.:)

Dave_Cisco
01-21-2009, 04:39 AM
I kinda crack up at the "expensive to enter print competition". If any of you competed even ten years ago, you all know what I'm talking about: "back in the film days"... My bill for a print comptition quality image from the now defunct Alfa Color lab was about $165 PER 16x20! On the average, I entered 10 various images per year to determine which would be the best for the final PPA competition. Now that is expensive!

You will feel so much better when I tell you that I spent almost $1000 on the third-to-last print case I submitted before getting my Masters......and wound up with a high print score of 77. A very expensive lesson that throwing money at prints was no guarantee of a merit.

Rick_Massarini
01-21-2009, 06:11 AM
Heather and Mark,

I think that the two of you have answered most of the issues brought up in an outstanding manner. I'm one of the biggest proponents of the PPA International Judging, and I couldn't have answered those issues more succinctly.

The only thing I can add is my standard comment - if you really want to know what goes on during print competition, and if you want to have one of the greatest educational experiences that you can get, why not join in and become a volunteer print handler at the annual PPA International Judging. Spend a whole week at the International Judging (instead of an hour or two at your local or a few minutes at your guild) listening to the best of the best judging all those incredible images submitted by some of the finest photographers in the world, and I'll bet that your impression of print competition will take a drastic turn. You won't find any images hanging there just because of "cleavage", and you'll learn more in a week than you can in a year anywhere else. Hey, Heather is gonna be there with us this year - and she's gonna be a whole lot better when she leaves the judging than when she arrived at the judging - so look out next year!!!

Just my humble opinion, of course...

BobSmith
01-21-2009, 09:21 AM
Many of the prints I've seen at conventions that scored above 80 I would be embarrassed to show.

I can wholeheartedly echo that sentiment. I spent a good deal of time going through the print exhibit this year. It's the first time I've done that. I spent several hours going through them. Time spent there pretty much killed any ideas I had of participating. I went back again the next day because I couldn't believe what I experienced the first day. I must have been dreaming. I wasn't.

Anne Geddes described what I was seeing perfectly when she discussed the danger of digital processes causing the photographer to lose the intimate connection with the subject. Images among the Master's display were the worst offenders. Don't get me wrong. There were many wonderful images in there but there were equally as many that I consider anything but worthy of being held up for emulation. Pixelated, oversharpened, over saturated, worked to death images that appeared to have probably started out as good ideas and good captures. (Do judges look at these things from thirty feet away?) They were all about process and rarely about concept, content, or emotion.

Good artwork is almost by definition controversial. Not everyone is going to enjoy it. I understand that. But what I'm talking about is seeing photographic and digital processes taken to the point that the process is on display more than the concept, the intimacy, the emotion... that inspired the photographer to capture this particular image. That's NOT what we should be promoting.

I found myself enjoying a much higher percentage of the images as I moved further back in the display towards the images that I assume scored lower... weren't loan collection or in the Master's display area.

Our local guild has an informal competition at each meeting where all members rank the images present. At one such event I submitted an image at the last minute that justifiably scored dead last in the members rankings. Our speaker that night was someone who had significant experience as a print competition judge. In his comments about the images he singled mine out as something that would probably go loan collection in PPA nationals. I realize judging is very subjective but I believe there's a serious disconnect here regarding what the objectives should be.

Keith_A_Howe
01-21-2009, 02:25 PM
(Do judges look at these things from thirty feet away?)

Bob, I say this with respect. You are completely entitled to your opinion, but lets try to keep this discussion about opinions and not about people. As a judge I am trained to always address the print and not the maker. For example, I may say "this print appears to be soft in focus." or "this technique does not enhance this image" I would not say "the maker didn't focus this image" or "the maker shouldn't have used this technique". I would appreciate if this discussion could be handled in the same way. Address the issues or problems as you see them, don't attack the judges. I have a hard time not taking your comment above personally because I probably judged many of the prints you disagree with. Thank you.
Keith

David_A._Lottes
01-21-2009, 03:22 PM
I was thinking about your thread all night last night Keith. It's so rare for you to ask for anything and so common for you to offer help to others. I'd really like to share the thoughts that have been running through my mind.

As you mentioned the PEC is discussing why the percentage of PPA members who compete is not larger in relationship to the overall membership. this first part contradicts my previous post in your other thread. I know I said the guidelines were laid out very clearly before but after thinking about it I realized the whole density/step mount issue doesn't get addressed publicly, (that I'm aware of). So lets start there. Is there some information in the guidelines that explain competition density and step mounting? I know the step mount is not required and some full bleed prints merit but in general the presentation does require a "treatment" to be taken seriously. Could an FAQ with examples on presentation be included in the submission guidelines? Maybe just a sheet or web page that shows an image with a variety of matting, step mounting, photo-shop bordered, and full bleed comparisons to give people an example. Same for the density, take three images with a variety of dynamic ranges and represent them "printed" at different densities with the optimal print comp density noted. Include a line about proper viewing light strength and distance (iso 100 f11 for 1sec from six feet?) I can never remember if that's the right standard and I'm not sure if that information is posted anywhere or included in the submission literature. Those are a couple of things that I think would be valuable to include as far as submission guidelines goes. ......Next!.....surely you didn't think I was going to stop there. ;)

What's in it for me? OK it's a learning experience, but how are you getting that message across? How about some testimonials in the PPA Mag - On the Web site - here on the forum - A Convention Program sponsored by the PEC that gives real world testimonials about how print comp directly benefited photographers bottom lines, a how to promote print comp Super Monday. I posted one example of a senior portrait that got me years of good referrals as a result of print comp in your other thread. I could tell another story about a print comp that resulted in the largest canvas I ever sold. I can tell another about a print comp that became a juggernaut of publicity I would never have imagined and resulted in monies from sales of the print, paid speaking engagements and job referrals for years after the buzz died down. I'm sure people could tell stories about the first time they saw a lighting technique, background, surface treatment, pose or a photoshop plug-in that resulted in a new product line or signature style. When a program's registration hits capacity it's (mostly) because the message has been clearly communicated. I'm not sure that can be said about print comp. Maybe a History of the Print Comp program at convention that explains the way it has evolved over the years with stories about the effects on the real world market place. The storytelling image comes to mind off the top of my head.

Finally.......:D.........I kinda think the horse is pushing the cart instead of pulling it. The emphasis seems to be on the awards and not the learning. This has nothing to do with the PEC. It's a perception among the membership. "I don't want to enter if I'm not going to win". The winning is perceived as an end to itself, it seems to me that the "winning" of an award should be perceived as one in a series of steps towards "winning" in the real world. In another thread there is some criticism of a recent widely published image. Several people have commented that the image wouldn't do well in comp. As if that were the end game. Personally I'd trade every award I've ever won to be standing in that makers shoes. I don't think this perception is something the PEC has been responsible for but I do think it is within their scope to examine. Maybe with a survey about perceptions like you started here.

OK I can go on forever. I just wanted to give you some thoughtful feedback Keith. I hope it wasn't a waste of your time. Thanks for all your help and time served.

D._Craig_Flory
01-21-2009, 03:36 PM
Our local guild has an informal competition at each meeting where all members rank the images present. At one such event I submitted an image at the last minute that justifiably scored dead last in the members rankings. Our speaker that night was someone who had significant experience as a print competition judge. In his comments about the images he singled mine out as something that would probably go loan collection in PPA nationals. I realize judging is very subjective but I believe there's a serious disconnect here regarding what the objectives should be.

Hi Bob;

At one time I entered prints in competition at a smaller than state sized professional group. When I moved up to and joined the state group I saw that the standards had raised. Then, standards raise even higher in regional and at Imaging. Members at a local guild may like what they see but don't have the training or knowledge to properly give a score or assessment of images. I have judged at "guild" or sub state sized groups as a CPP and Craftsman. I am not qualified to judge at most state groups since I'm not a Master. In Regionals and Imaging that goes a step higher requiring judges to be affiiated judges and to go through judging school.

I have seen the opposite of what you voiced. Many times I have seen an image challenged. The person challenging mentioned seeing artwork or pixelation or a soft image. Once the others went up and looked close they re-vote and down comes the score. (BTW ... judges sit 6 feet from the images)

How many times have you entered at a state, regional, or imaging competition ?

Dave_Cisco
01-21-2009, 03:46 PM
Finally.......:D.........I kinda think the horse is pushing the cart instead of pulling it. The emphasis seems to be on the awards and not the learning. This has nothing to do with the PEC. It's a perception among the membership. "I don't want to enter if I'm not going to win".



This really resonated with me and I think it's very perceptive. Most of the "older" photographers already have their Masters if it was in their destiny to have it. The younger photographers, however, are from a generation where the push to build self esteem dictates that everybody gets a ribbon....first place winner, second place winner, sixth place winner,.... 10th place winner. There was nothing in place to build a transitional bridge to adulthood where not everybody is a winner.:) That's sad because a lot of photographers are going to rationalize not competing, and thus miss out on one of the best learning experiences there is.
Not a popular view, I'm sure.:D

Ron_Jackson
01-21-2009, 04:05 PM
[QUOTE=David_A._Lottes;192813]
Finally.......:D.........I kinda think the horse is pushing the cart instead of pulling it. The emphasis seems to be on the awards and not the learning. /QUOTE]


As I noted in my first post, I don't care a bit about the scores, I only care about the learning. I want to know why the print scored what it did no matter what the score is. My problem is I can't usually be at the print competition so I am not able to be in the room to hear the comments. If each venue had the ability to provide an audio or video CD critique, I would probably enter a lot just for the learning. I am not at all interested in submitting if I am not going to get feedback. I just want to learn.

D._Craig_Flory
01-21-2009, 04:28 PM
As I noted in my first post, I don't care a bit about the scores, I only care about the learning. I want to know why the print scored what it did no matter what the score is. My problem is I can't usually be at the print competition so I am not able to be in the room to hear the comments. If each venue had the ability to provide an audio or video CD critique, I would probably enter a lot just for the learning. I am not at all interested in submitting if I am not going to get feedback. I just want to learn.[/QUOTE]

Hi Ron;

That is why I like entering our state competition ... being able to sit in on the judging. You gave me a great idea I will pass along to our state ... just changed a bit. I am going to recommend having a time at each two day meeting for members to bring competition prints they would like critiqued as well as images they are thinking of entering. I would like to see a few of our Masters who judge there to review them all.

Todd_Reichman
01-21-2009, 04:35 PM
I think Ron presents a very valid point. Yes, there is learning to be done through competition, but alot of times its not through the comp itself. In the few judgings I've seen the image in question got a score and no discussion. That's not wildly helpful. I know you can purchase the critique, but folks have expressed varying degrees of satisfaction with that process. I got one from last year, which was decent.

I would say the bulk of learning I've done through competition has been reviewing critiques on this site. I learned a bunch about composition that I'm very thankful for. I've also learned a bunch from the folks who were willing to sit down and review my books before entry. In fact, the actual competition was what I learned the least from. I'm not knocking it at all, but if you have the discipline to improve your work and the outlet to get it reviewed without needed the deadline of competition then comp is really not the only or potentially even the best way to learn. Please note again that I'm not against comp at all, just drawing a distinction between the act of judging and the act of learning.

I also don't think Dave's point is controversial at all - I don't want to compete if I don't think I can win. And with PPA its not really winning in the sense of doing better than anyone else, the competition is truly with yourself. Having said that, If I didn't think I could merit I wouldn't submit, what would be the point?

Once again I feel I need to preface my next statement by saying that I respect PPA's competition, but it is just one view of what makes a great image. Its perhaps the most informed and professional of the photo competitions out there, but there are also alot of great images that wouldn't fall into what makes a merit print. That doesn't mean comp is bad or irrelevant, just that if you are going to compete you should know what race you are running.

The issue that clients would love a "bad" image has been brought up and I'd like to sling my two cents in on that idea also. Its very easy to claim that just because something isn't comp-appropriate that its unprofessional or lacking in craft. This may be true, but that's not a given. What's wrong with an image that only the client would "get." The great thing about what portrait/wedding photographers get to do is create for a singular audience. That's a rather liberating gift. Sure, your work probably needs to have some amount of broader appeal to be marketable. But I would submit that its much more important to pleas a client instead of pleasing your colleagues.

And its funny, the 10 minutes of extra playing I do on most assignemnts seems to be what's least appropriate for comp. Just depends on what's important to you.

I would be interested in knowing who really feels that competition has helped them define their style. Has is driven you improve not just your craft but your approach and style?

- trr

David_A._Lottes
01-21-2009, 04:42 PM
There was nothing in place to build a transitional bridge to adulthood where not everybody is a winner.:)

Don't I know it! HA

Good point Dave. But here's where a substantive effort to help photographers publicize their continuing education could help. Not only would they get some good PR they could "feel good" about their effort. We both know clients don't know the difference between a Fuji Masterpiece and Cort of Gold. Some of the best PR I've ever seen came from wining the coveted "Gold Corner" ;)

Ron, Your point is very well taken and I meant to address it in my rambles. I was thinking about it last night. I think given the size of the organization the task is overwhelming. You've got the print mentoring and critics you can buy at nationals but I understand that doesn't seem to be cutting the mustard for many folks who have tried them. I still applaud the effort. It's a daunting job. I'm afraid the only realistic approach to getting detailed feedback on every image is for PPA members to join their local PPA affiliates. I'm not talking about a regional or in some cases even a state organization. Even some of those can be to large to give a person the individual attention they want. I mean the little guilds. I'm sure there is something like this near you. These groups don't have the talent pool that national does but they more than make up for it with their personal attention and thrifty fees. You can get some amazingly cheap/high quality education and mentoring from these little groups. There is a listing of affiliates on the PPA web site. I think it's probably the only way to get what you want. That said, testing the waters at a smaller group before entering nationals is another FAQ that veteran print comp players are aware of. It's more word of mouth than printed guideline. I think it would benefit participation in both small and large organizations to promote that idea more openly. I know in my case I didn't join PPA until I had prints from my state's comp that I wanted to send to nationals....man that sounds funny now considering I don't belong to anything but national now....but it's the truth.



I would be interested in knowing who really feels that competition has helped them define their style. Has is driven you improve not just your craft but your approach and style?

- trr

See that Keith!
I'm telliing you there is an audience for real world tales from the print racks.

OK Todd I knew a woman who saw her first high key image at a print comp at a small guild. She cornered the maker and set up a time for her to visit her studio. She copied her white psych wall and made it her signature style. I know it's hard to believe that there was ever a time or a market that hadn't seen a white psych wall before but there was. More recently I know a woman who is using Lucias or however you spell that Art effect as her signature senior portrait product. As you have often said the tools you use effect the way you work. Those are two examples of print comp having a direct effect on peoples brand. Personally I have swiped ideas from comps but never gelled a style or product line like those examples.

Dave_Cisco
01-21-2009, 05:45 PM
I can't say that competing defined a style, but it certainly helped refine it. It taught me to watch the details...the background, wrinkles in clothing, positioning of hands, expression, head tilt, etc. Moreover, I have had countless clients tell me that they came to me because they noticed my attention to detail in my sample(website) work.

David_A._Lottes
01-21-2009, 06:16 PM
If I didn't think I could merit I wouldn't submit, what would be the point? - trr

That hits the nail on the head.

OK so I have a hard drive full of images that I know won't merit so I don't enter them. Well......this is my opinion and as truly wise as I am it may be wrong. If I weren't so lazy I could invite a Master Photographer over for coffee and doughnuts (its amazing what most masters will do for doughnuts) and ask them to pick through the ones I think best represent my work and see if they agree with my assessment of the comp possibilities. Maybe they will find one or two that would have a chance given the right "treatment". So now I've got a couple of maybes and I enter them. After the comp is over they scored close but no cigar.....hmmm...what was the point. Well....I learned that I was right about not having anything that would merit. I did however learn how to prepare a print for evaluation. I learned the cost, the turn around time and the proper shipping method. Now if I only had a way to let my clients know all the effort I put into making myself a more competitive photographer. But wait a minute, my local guild is having an exhibition two months from now. I already know my prints are high seventies and that will get them accepted into that show. Who knows maybe even win me a ribbon. Then I could contact my clients and let them know their portraits were included in a show! Since it's a short drive to the convention I could go and maybe talk to some of the judges about my submissions.....maybe get some ideas from the other entries......maybe find out that with a little cropping on the left side my 78 could be an 87. Oh....now I'm getting tingly. :)

Dave_Cisco
01-21-2009, 06:57 PM
Oh....now I'm getting tingly. :)

That would be my que to change my diapers........:D

JK
Just one I couldn't pass up.

Rick_Massarini
01-21-2009, 06:59 PM
[QUOTE=David_A._Lottes;192813]
Finally.......:D.........I kinda think the horse is pushing the cart instead of pulling it. The emphasis seems to be on the awards and not the learning. /QUOTE]


As I noted in my first post, I don't care a bit about the scores, I only care about the learning. I want to know why the print scored what it did no matter what the score is. My problem is I can't usually be at the print competition so I am not able to be in the room to hear the comments. If each venue had the ability to provide an audio or video CD critique, I would probably enter a lot just for the learning. I am not at all interested in submitting if I am not going to get feedback. I just want to learn.

If that is your reason for not competing, then you have no reason for not entering the PPA International Judging. At the National, we offer video critiques of the entries. A juror will sit down with your images and tell you what is good about them and what you could do to improve them. We have so many people requesting critiques that we usually run three video critique rooms for four full days sometimes late into the evening in order to get all of them done. A lot of people take advantage of this opportunity, and we encourage even more to do so. The PEC jurors love to help others to improve, they give a lot of themselves at the National Judging doing all those critiques late into the night. Take advantage of what they are so willing to give. Their only reward real is in seeing their peers improve.

Rick_Massarini
01-21-2009, 07:07 PM
If I weren't so lazy I could invite a Master Photographer over for coffee and doughnuts (its amazing what most masters will do for doughnuts)

Doughnuts??? did someone say doughnuts???

Mark_Levesque
01-21-2009, 08:12 PM
I can wholeheartedly echo that sentiment. I spent a good deal of time going through the print exhibit this year. It's the first time I've done that. I spent several hours going through them. Time spent there pretty much killed any ideas I had of participating. I went back again the next day because I couldn't believe what I experienced the first day. I must have been dreaming. I wasn't.
I guess I don't understand this point of view. You think your images are better, but you don't want to enter them? I don't get that. All sorts of different images are rewarded. I spent hours in the print exhibit and looked at every single print. Yes, there were some that were rewarded that were heavily manipulated, but not all. There were some that were rather simple and intimate, but to be rewarded they needed to be well executed. If you are entering prints before affiliate jurors, the good ones are going to be rewarded. You might quibble a bit about HOW MUCH they are rewarded, but if you look at all the images entered, you'd be hard pressed to advance the argument that they aren't picking the best ones, IMO.


I realize judging is very subjective but I believe there's a serious disconnect here regarding what the objectives should be.
I would be very interested in what your opinion is for what the "right" criteria for judging competition photographs should be. Please expound on this idea, and I would love it if you would complete the thought by posting some actual images which you think should be rewarded in competition.

BobSmith
01-22-2009, 01:23 PM
to answer a few points

Keith, sorry to offend. I thought I specifically left personalities out of my post for exactly the reason you stated. I've donated hundreds of hours of my time to creative competitions in another industry. I'm fully aware and appreciative of the thankless efforts of the judges in any such endeavor. They're in a no win situation. I'm sorry if I didn't phrase my comments well.

Mark, My concern is not with what might go unrewarded. I don't see enough of that to know what's in that group. My comments were based on what I see that is rewarded and disagreeing with SOME of that.

I made a resolution to myself recently to put forth a more significant effort to try to get my personal photographic work... my artwork... not client commissioned work... into more venues... and I've made a successful start. This typically means participating in juried shows where a panel or a single juror selects from the entered pieces what will hang in the show. My reason for wanting to do this is primarily the learning process. If the show is one that consistently showcases work that I greatly admire then having my work included tells me I'm heading in the direction I want. If a particular juror is someone who produces work that I greatly admire then I value that jurors criticism incredibly. If a particular show or juror regularly features work that is not to my liking... for whatever reason... then having my work accepted or rejected by that show is far less meaningful to me... so why bother with entering that show. After viewing the work on display in Phoenix extensively I'd put it much closer to the latter category rather than the first. YMMV

My main beef with what's rewarded is that it seems substantially skewed towards very heavily manipulated imagery. I didn't make a scientific count but there certainly seemed to be fewer of those pieces among the non loan collection work so there would seem to be a bias toward rewarding it. I love and appreciate digital art but we're talking photography here. If a photograph NEEDS that much work to turn into something meaningful there's something seriously wrong with the original concept or capture. If the image NEEDS that much digital art to become merit worthy then the original capture is only incidental to the final piece. It may be a wonderful piece of art but should it be rewarded as an exceptional photograph?

I've been working with Photoshop since version 2 in '93 and shooting digital since '97. I embrace digital wholeheartedly. But I'm adverse to digital techniques on photos just for digital techniques sake... or as a means to salvage a weak original image. When technique is on display more than the message in the image, in my opinion the image suffers.

The "12 Elements of a Merit Image" used in PPA judging are good and very valid but I think the process is setup in a way that causes it to put ore emphasis on various issues of technique and less on Impact, Creativity, and Story Telling which to me should be paramount. I realize that the 12 elements aren't in a particular order but to me "Story Telling" should be at the top, not the bottom where it currently sits. Photography is about communication.

Experience in teaching/grading in an art environment tells me that no matter how much I'd try to do otherwise, when I start assigning a number score to a creative work I'd start looking at very objective technical aspects at the expense of impact or creativity. It's easy to assign specific number to specific "rules". It's harder to assign specific numbers to concept. I'd end up over rewarding works that met the "rules" while under rewarding something with greater impact and more significant creativity. I think some of that happens in the PPA print comp judging.

Experience with other judging systems puts me in the camp of those that prefer judging be done without any conversation between the judges. When judges confer, one stronger personality on the panel will ultimately skew the scores of the other. Often the stronger judge is one with more experience but when judging art often a fresh opinion is at least as valuable as previous judging experience. I've watched numerous very talented fresh judges be completely swayed by a vocal more experienced colleague.

My suggestions: Don't applying a numeric score. Strictly up/down this is a merit or not based primarily on Impact, Story Telling, and Creativity (without other good techniques those things won't happen). Get rid of titles as a part of the judging process. Don't let the judges discuss their thoughts.

D._Craig_Flory
01-22-2009, 02:05 PM
to answer a few points




The "12 Elements of a Merit Image" used in PPA judging are good and very valid but I think the process is setup in a way that causes it to put ore emphasis on various issues of technique and less on Impact, Creativity, and Story Telling which to me should be paramount. I realize that the 12 elements aren't in a particular order but to me "Story Telling" should be at the top, not the bottom where it currently sits. Photography is about communication.

Experience in teaching/grading in an art environment tells me that no matter how much I'd try to do otherwise, when I start assigning a number score to a creative work I'd start looking at very objective technical aspects at the expense of impact or creativity. It's easy to assign specific number to specific "rules". It's harder to assign specific numbers to concept. I'd end up over rewarding works that met the "rules" while under rewarding something with greater impact and more significant creativity. I think some of that happens in the PPA print comp judging.

Experience with other judging systems puts me in the camp of those that prefer judging be done without any conversation between the judges. When judges confer, one stronger personality on the panel will ultimately skew the scores of the other. Often the stronger judge is one with more experience but when judging art often a fresh opinion is at least as valuable as previous judging experience. I've watched numerous very talented fresh judges be completely swayed by a vocal more experienced colleague.

My suggestions: Don't applying a numeric score. Strictly up/down this is a merit or not based primarily on Impact, Story Telling, and Creativity (without other good techniques those things won't happen). Get rid of titles as a part of the judging process. Don't let the judges discuss their thoughts.

Hi Bob;

Not all of the dirty dozen are weighted equally. The three most important to how a judge feels about an image ARE Impact, Story telling and Creativity. I have seen images lacking in other areas do well because just the story and impact hit so hard. After viewing hundreds of images, if one comes around that makes the panel sit up that is a good thing because it means the impact got them.

Also, you are incorrect about scores at Imaging. Scores are NOT given. The judges give a thumbs up or a thumbs down and the image needs at least 3 thumbs up out of 5 to merit. Scores are given at associations below PPA Imaging including our state group.

Ron_Jackson
01-22-2009, 02:35 PM
I agree with much of what Bob has said. Especially with the numeric score process. Of course changing that would be met with the standard phrase, "Oh but that's the way it's always been." I've seen that in so many business situations where stale or failing business practices have met resistance to change because it's always been that way. I don't mean to imply that this judging process is failing but I might accept that it's possibly stale. Doesn't mean that change to a different method isn't a better way, it needs to be explored by those with open minds.

I would like to see three possible scores, Up/Down and Exceptional. The first two are obvious, either a merit or not. Exceptional are those rare gems that are just that, exceptional and are set aside to be considered for loan in a separate judging.

Stan_Lawrence
01-22-2009, 03:19 PM
"My main beef with what's rewarded is that it seems substantially skewed towards very heavily manipulated imager"

No matter how much things change, they remain the same. Back in my competing days, the big debate was should the photog get the merit or the retoucher that made it a merit print? Folks thought prints should be entered without any retouching, so the photog would be responsible for how it looked. Of course, the retouching was done "under the photog's supervision", or was supposed to be. Seems we've replaced "retouching" with "heavily manipulated." At least it's usually the maker doing the work.... the debate continues on....:cool:

Keith_A_Howe
01-22-2009, 05:33 PM
Couple points I would like to talk about some more.

Bob, The only time judges discuss the print is when there is a disagreement. I am really confused on how no discussion would be the fairest process for the maker. If you had three judges for and three against and no discussion - then what would be the final result? How would you see that being settled? You have obviously given this a great deal of thought and probably already have a solution that I can't think of on the spur of the moment here. Next it also concerns me because alot of what I have been reading here is people want more feedback not less. No discussion would mean no feedback and I would guess less learning? I will also tell you that like D. Craig said imapct is probably the most important element of a print. But amazing impact will not excuse very poor technical skills. Now I am going off topic but that's the biggest mistake I see new people make when they are competeting. The think the judges just didn't "get" their artistic vision. Believe me, judges get it. They just won't except sloppiness in execution. It's easier for a beginner to feel like a misunderstood artist then to admit they need to hone their technical skills and learn how to light, expose, compose and focus their images. The other thing you might not have realized Bob, the first several bays in the show at IUSA were EI entries, in those cases the images were judged on the work that was done. So yes they were very heavily manipulated - that's what that competition is all about. Also, the only comment in your previous post that I objected to was the slam about looking at images from 30 feet away.

Ron, I would also like to hear you go into more depth about the idea of "Up/Down and Exceptional". That really surprises me that you would be in favor of such a system because you are one of the biggest supporters of more feedback. I guess if I had a print that was a down - I would want to know if it was nowhere close, somewhere in the middle or almost there. So to me, getting just a yes, no or exceptional would mean I was getting less feedback. Right now the score is the only guarenteed feedback you get - Is the print an average score, above, almost a merit, etc etc. Any feedback beyond that is the resposibility of the maker to seek out. I know for a fact that the idea of changing the scoring would not be met with the resisitance you think of "the way it's always been". If that was the case we would still be scoring numerically at national. The scoring system has changed many times since I have been participating. One of the big objections PEC would get to going to the system you suggest is every state or region that presents any awards based on highest score or cummlative case score would have to rework their whole awards system. It would also mean that each state or region would have to purchase new scoring machines that worked like the ones at national - red light/green light, instead of the numerical machines they all have now. PEC has to take that into consideration too - how it effects each judging down the line. So changing the scoring system is not out of the question, but what sometimes looks to us like a simple fix, the PEC who are "in the know" see that it has much bigger ramifications. It's not that PEC won't change stuff, it's just that they have to consider whether the benefits outweigh the problems the change will create.

Thanks in advance to both Bob and Ron for any further thoughts either of you can share.

Keith

Michael_Gan
01-22-2009, 05:43 PM
I agree with much of what Bob has said. Especially with the numeric score process. Of course changing that would be met with the standard phrase, "Oh but that's the way it's always been." I've seen that in so many business situations where stale or failing business practices have met resistance to change because it's always been that way. I don't mean to imply that this judging process is failing but I might accept that it's possibly stale. Doesn't mean that change to a different method isn't a better way, it needs to be explored by those with open minds.

I would like to see three possible scores, Up/Down and Exceptional. The first two are obvious, either a merit or not. Exceptional are those rare gems that are just that, exceptional and are set aside to be considered for loan in a separate judging.PPA is way ahead of you. The judges on the national level have been judging this way for a better part of 10 years! This might have been part of the "get rid of the sacred cows" that has been the hallmark of PPA since David Trust took over as CEO.

I have to add that I really don't think style, which most of you are alluding to, is a bane to judging, has anything to do with how the judges make their decisions. It's the refinement of your style that makes your work stand out. If you were to look at my work, most would say "how could his work have made the loan collection" (at least I do anyway...;))? I guess you would say I am a living example of where following your own style will eventually work in favor of the judges. Remember that education is a two way street, and even the judges learn how to judge the newer stuff that comes to the table. That's why they are required to take a refresher course every two years (and they are required to enter on a regular basis as well).

But, most importantly, it's not that final medal that is the reward, it actually is the journey. The triumphs and failures that you experience throughout the time you are creating and modifying your work. Ultimately, it is you who makes the final decision of your images, it is you who decides whether you can sway the judges to agree that your work is indeed merit worthy. Just like your clients, it is you who has to communicate your ideas properly.

Even more importantly, is how much your ego can stand a bit of punishment, and that's what it comes down to: Do you feel that you are that good that you don't need anyone's opinion? Do you feel that you are that good that there is no more room for growth? Do you feel that you are that good that your customer base will love you 20 years from now? Competition is life, whether it's on the same playing field of the print competition arena, or in your hometown with the multitudes of amateurs with a camera.

And maybe this is where PPA competition's strength lies: How do you separate yourselves from the masses of others in order for your business to survive? Even in certification, the judges have their critics too as each quarter, better than half of the submissions are rejected. There has to be a standard of excellence in all phases of our profession. If we didn't, we'd be analogous to giving out "A's" like candy in the grade schools - and we all know how bad our literacy rate is in this country.

Keith_A_Howe
01-22-2009, 07:08 PM
Remember that education is a two way street, and even the judges learn how to judge the newer stuff that comes to the table. That's why they are required to take a refresher course every two years (and they are required to enter on a regular basis as well).



Just for clarification Michael - the refresher course is every three years. And we are required to merit a print at least every other year. The reason it is not every year is because there can be circumstances like illness, hurricanes, etc that take priority over entering and PEC does not feel a judge should be removed if something like that happens. Also every time we judge at an afflaited competition, the JC fills out an evaluation on every judge. And each judge fills out an evaluation on the JC's. Those go into our record. Judges get removed from the approved list more often then you would believe. Bob said in a post "one stronger personality on the panel will ultimately skew the scores of the other". Believe it or not that is one of the things a judge can be repremainded or ultimely removed from the list for - if they try to over ride or intimidate a panel. A judge will also come under scrutiny if they are too easily swayed. PEC is looking for open minded judges who will listen and change thier score when appropiate but stand firm if they truly believe - after listening to both sides - that they are right in their original scores. That's why it is so hard for me to hear that PPA judges are narrow minded when we are trained and evaluated to NOT be. I am glad to be a Master and pretty happy about my POTY dIamond this year but I can't say I am proud of those accomplishments. that's just stuff I did. But I am proud to be a juror because I know how hard that was to achieve and how once you get there you can't rest - you are constantly having to prove you belong on that list. It was way harder to become a judge then it ever was to get my Master's. And once I got my master's it was mine to keep, I don't have to keep proving I deserve it. I am both humble and proud to be associated with the people who are on that approved judges list.
Keith

Ron_Jackson
01-22-2009, 07:24 PM
Ahh, some very good points from both Michael and Keith. I like the way as you say Michael, that the National judges score. And the fact that with Nationals, you can get a video critique. Something I will definitely look into. I don't have an ego about my work. I love critique. It is how I learned at Brooks and continue to learn today. I am often my worst critic but I want to have others who's opinion I value, critique my work so I can learn where I am weak and keep moving forward. Thank you both for more insight into this topic.

Carl_Bromberg
01-27-2009, 10:33 PM
LoL, I'm basically a "nobody" in the world of PPA or even photography, but I love photography, I love being able to eek out a living doing what I love. Someday hopefully it will be more then eeking out a living. LoL That part is getting better though, last year was much better then the first 3 thanks in a major way to what I've learned on these forums and through PPA as a whole.

I started entering 3 years ago, have had a couple of 80's at state and with WPPI, but still lack that PPA merit print. That part really and truly isn't important to me, what is important to me is getting feedback on my work, what I could have done better, it's a learning process that for me will hopefully never end as long as I am able to pick up a camera. Some of the best "education" I've gotten was just sitting in on the print judging at state, listening to what the judges have said about not only my prints but prints of others. It was much more valuable to me in my own growth then several seminars and programs I've been to, I learned A LOT! When I look back at my overall client work from 3 years ago to now, I can see improvement, that is important to me as I want to give my clients the best I can give them. I still break out the cd critiques from the international comp from 3 years ago, 2 years ago and last year and review them, I VALUE the feedback from those of you here on my work. It all adds up to me being able to produce better quality images for my clients. I do thank all of you here that have given me advice in the past and hope you will continue to help me in the future.

I guess in a nutshell I believe that competition (yes it can get pricey) but it's an investment in my education that for me has paid off more then most workshops I've attended as far as my personal growth and quality of my work goes. (For those that give workshops, I'm definately not dissing anyone, so please don't take it that way, but as far as personal learning goes, I get more out of competing and doing instead of listening and taking notes) I'm not where I want to be, but with dedication and some hard work I will get there. Competing is a tool I believe that will help me achieve my goals in improving my work.

Just the ramblings of a photographer in a frozen land called Iowa.

Happy shooting and have a great day!

Michael_Gan
01-27-2009, 11:08 PM
LoL, I'm basically a "nobody" in the world of PPA or even photography, but I love photography, I love being able to eek out a living doing what I love. Gosh, aren't we all? ;)


but still lack that PPA merit printAs you are constantly improving, this too shall come to be. Trust me on this one. It took me a long time to get my degree with client images, but the satisfaction level was high when my wife draped that degree around my neck.

Carl_Bromberg
01-28-2009, 01:20 AM
Thanks for the encouragement Michael! :)

Rick_Massarini
01-28-2009, 03:11 AM
Quote:
"LoL, I'm basically a "nobody" in the world of PPA or even photography, but I love photography, I love being able to eek out a living doing what I love.
Gosh, aren't we all?"


Michael - you ARE a somebody - get over it and go do great things for us all !!!:)

Peter_Bauer
01-30-2009, 07:18 AM
When I first read Charity's comments, my thoughts went not to content but to presentation. What we submit for competition is indeed substantially different in presentation from what is submitted for CPP. And what is submitted for CPP is typically what most of us deliver to clients for matting and framing. No digital step mounts, no gloss sprays, nothing but the print.

As I read through the thread, I also noticed a couple of comments that made me reflect on content as well. Lucis Art, for example, has been a popular effect in competition for a while now, but is it something that we present to clients? (It's hardly flattering to the individual who is the subject of the image.)

Having attended the PPA Judging Clinic this past summer, I had the opportunity to not only participate in the judging process, but also to watch portions of this year's actual judging. (And, of course, to spend some time with Keith and Rick and so many others who graciously contribute their time and thoughts to these threads.) During that process, I watched some incredible images go down in flames simply because they were outside the comfort zone of those doing the judging. Commercial and fine art photographs presented before studio photographers, in particular, suffered. (This happened in both the clinic and the print competition, but I will say that experienced judges in the actual print competition were far less dismissive of images outside their own professional experience.)

That being said, I am a strong supporter of photographic competition, both PPA and other. Here's why:
--Success in competition can be a wonderful marketing tool.
--Failures on the road to success can help us better evaluate our imagery, both in processing and during capture. (Do you REALLY know how much of the frame is presented in your camera's view finder?)
--Recognizing what elements of a specific image contributed to its success or failure in competition help us recognize similar elements in our daily work.

But you can't learn from the experience of competition unless you know the "why" of a print's success or failure. Video critique, ImagingUSA mentoring, Judging Clinic are all great paths toward understanding why some prints merit and others don't.

And please keep in mind that it's the peer recognition that makes PPA degrees valuable marketing tools. If our (professional) peers deem us worthy of a specific honor, then who is the (not-a-professional-photographer) client to denigrate that honor (not that a client would ever do such a thing)?

PPA degrees may not be the goal of every photographer, or even every member of PPA. But even for those of us who shoot outside the box, these degrees can not only be a good marketing tool, the process of earning the degrees can be enlightening and educational.

Sign me off "Already thinking about the next print case,"
Pete

Keith_A_Howe
01-30-2009, 02:55 PM
During that process, I watched some incredible images go down in flames simply because they were outside the comfort zone of those doing the judging.

Peter, respectfully, you are making assumptions. I could not let your comment about "outside their comfort zone" go because that is simply not true. That is the kind of comment that perpetuates the thinking of PPA judging as narrow minded.

To you they were incredible images. But that's your one opinion against 6 trained jurors. You do realize that on a commercial panel there are working commercial photographers that are qualified to judge commercial images? So to say those images suffered because they were judged by studio photographers is simple not true. They were judged by the people who create commercial images for a living. Unless you heard every judge say "it's outside of my comfort zone so I vote no" you cannot know why they did not judge it a merit. Also there have been many images I have desperately wanted to merit or even push for loan, but on close inspection there were grave technical issues that more then outweighed the initial impact. Again, unless you were seated in the actual chairs and had the opportunity to inspect the image more closely, you don't know what that panel saw or why they did not merit the image. Your evaluation of an image as incredible is just one opinion and obviously there were not enough judges who evaluated it the same. Are you suggestioning that you are a more qualified judge then all of them? I am sure that's not what you meant but that's how it could come off.

This all goes back to audience perception. A lot of how we judge ( not the scores but the procedures we follow) is based on audience perception. Peter you saw an image that from your viewpoint was incredible. It did not merit. So your perception is that you are correct in your evaluation and that the reason it failed is because it was outside the judges comfort zone, not because they (as trained judges and working commercial photographers) saw something that you didn't. Perception is not reality. Even though I respect your experience and abilities I am more inclined to believe a group consenus by 6 trained jurors.

I apprecaite all your other comments in support of the system.

Keith

Peter_Bauer
01-30-2009, 05:00 PM
Keith, let's go with the FULL quote:
" I watched some incredible images go down in flames simply because they were outside the comfort zone of those doing the judging. Commercial and fine art photographs presented before studio photographers, in particular, suffered. (This happened in both the clinic and the print competition, but I will say that experienced judges in the actual print competition were far less dismissive of images outside their own professional experience.)"

YOU were not in the Judging Clinic. YOU did not hear the discussions in the Judging Clinic. YOU were not present to hear prospective jurors actually use the term "out of my comfort zone."

Nor did YOU have the individual one-on-one discussions I had with "trained jurors" after I watched judging. YOU were not involved in these discussions in the Clinic, so YOU are perhaps the one making assumptions, don't you think? Yes, Keith, I DO actually know why specific images didn't merit because I ASKED the jurors and I participated in the discussions. (Oh, and by the way, it wasn't my opinion against six "trained jurors" for most of the images with which I have problems, it was my opinion and two or three "trained jurors" against three or four "trained jurors." Here's your actual quote: "But that's your one opinion against 6 trained jurors." Rather presumptuous of you to assume that all those decisions were unanimous, don't you think?)

I have a tremendous amount of respect for you, Keith, and I respect your experience and point of view. But how many "trained jurors" who participated in the judging last summer are actual commercial photographers? How many are primarily fine art photographers? What percentage of the "trained jurors" do you think make the bulk of their income shooting portraits, weddings, seniors, babies? What percentage earn the bulk of their income with product shots? What percent have ever earned a dime shooting product rather than people? How many "trained jurors" produce the bulk of their income with landscapes and flowers and sunsets and abstracts?

Keith, I am no stranger to print competition -- heck, I'm no longer even a stranger to PPA judging procedures. And, based on MY experiences at the Judging Clinic and discussions **I** had with "trained jurors" after watching actual judging session, **I** can say with full confidence that some jurors didn't "get it" when it comes to fine art and commercial photography. (Ask Helen or Dennis what happened when Jack Reznicki's "The Apprentice" spun around in the Clinic. Ask them about my own florals. Ask about two of my images that had merited in PPA competition the year before but scored in the 60s in the Clinic.)

So, Keith, since you were not in the Clinic and you didn't have the discussions I had with "trained jurors" after judging, I don't think it's quite right for you to disparage my position so readily. It's great for you to stick up for the process and your peers, but to try to dismiss my comments without knowing how I formed my opinions and gathered my evidence to support those positions is inappropriate.

Michael_Gan
01-30-2009, 06:36 PM
I dunno,

It seems like both regionally and nationally, scenics generally score higher than portraits in competition. ASP awards went our to a lot of "fine art" instead of portrait art. One of my portraits was beaten out by a point to a landscape at regional which kept me out of the ASP regional medalion, and in general, you will see very few portraits make it into the highest score category.

fullerroyal
01-31-2009, 04:51 PM
As a former high school teacher I know the value of competition and its positive effects on the learning environment.
I entered my first print competition in 1991 and have entered ever since. Unlike many Master's, once I attained that degree in 1999, I continued entering. I love to see what judges say bad or good about my work. My heart still pounds when a print of mine makes the turn on front of the panel.
Criticism keeps me grounded and puts a sandspur in my tail that make me work harder than ever before.
Two years ago, I entered prints in our state competition (PPNC) that were so-so. They bombed. The chief juror met with me and told me what I had done wrong. My chief sin was complacency.
Within a week, I had four new 11x14 prints for SEPPA competition. They all merited. One won first place in men's portraits and made it to the PPA Loan.
It took competition to kick my butt out of a rut I didn't even know I was in.
Look, when you learn how to play ball in print competition and you learn how to get the best of a panel of judges, then there is no client you can't satisfy no matter what is thrown at you.
I have always photographed a few extra images in most sessions for potential competition. Sometimes they are too extreme for regular customers.
But, whenever those prints are displayed after competition, the clients will often say "You didn't show me that one." "Yes I did. You said you didn't like it."
I sharpened my skills and developed a lot of technique through state, regional and national competition.
I recommend print competition to all.

treasures1
01-31-2009, 08:21 PM
I dunno,

It seems like both regionally and nationally, scenics generally score higher than portraits in competition. ASP awards went our to a lot of "fine art" instead of portrait art. One of my portraits was beaten out by a point to a landscape at regional which kept me out of the ASP regional medalion, and in general, you will see very few portraits make it into the highest score category.

Thanks for saying that! It is something I had suspected- that it is quite difficult to earn awards for portraits as opposed to scenics. I am worried about this because I don't do scenics- only portraits and this may be one other reason I haven't competed yet. It seems us portrait only people have a long row to ho.

Keith_A_Howe
01-31-2009, 08:36 PM
I have put a portrait into loan collection the last three years in a row, all three were from regular client sessions. None of them were photographed with competition in mind. The one image is the exact same as hangs in the client home - even the same watercolor paper. I think perhaps there are more "art images" in the show then portraits. Maybe that's because there are more art types images entered then portraits? So law of averages?

Keith

Joe_Galioto
01-31-2009, 08:45 PM
keith,
do you have a problem with photographers who shoot for compitition?
i've heard others through the years scoff at shooting for comp, what's your thoughts.
joe

Dave_Cisco
01-31-2009, 08:51 PM
It seems us portrait only people have a long row to ho.

The word here should be hoe...a "ho" is something entirely different.:D

D._Craig_Flory
01-31-2009, 08:52 PM
Over the yeas I have seen a lot of images in the Loan Collection Books that are a combination of portraits and scenics. David Peters is known for creating this type portrait, It gives me a feeling like paintings by Andrew Wyeth ... a woman small in a large scene fpr example. This type portrait can do very well ... a beautiful scene with a person or persons captured well within it.

David_Schneider
01-31-2009, 09:20 PM
I don't enter print competitions because I need to spend the time marketing rather than improving my skills. That doesn't mean I don't need to improve my skills because I surely do, but I need to get my marketing skills up first. For me, right now, marketing is much, much more important than creating better images. The most important piece of equipment I have is the telephone. And if people aren't calling me then all the skill in the world isn't going to be of value to me.

Keith_A_Howe
02-01-2009, 12:02 AM
Joe, What a great question, I hope everyone answers and not just me.

I think I have posted this before but when I was chasing my Master's I couldn't afford to do sessions just for competition. Film and processing was expensive. (which is why it' so hard for me to hear how expensive competition is from people who have only entered since digital has been around! They haven't seen expensive! LOL!) So my Master's is all client work. In retrospect I am glad I did it that way but at the time it wasn't any ethical reason, it was purely financial. I mentioned in my post above that those three loan images were client work because I wanted people to know you don't have to photograph just for competition. You can enter the same stuff your clients want and have success in competition.

So now days I have a little more spending money and sometimes I do stuff just because it's an idea I'd like to try or a location that interests me. Maybe that results in a competition print and maybe not. There will be one of those images in my case this year. We'll see how it does.

I don't think there is a right or wrong to shooting strictly for competition. I think it depends on what you want to get out of the process. There is nothing wrong with stretching creatively by doing stuff specifically to enter. There is nothing wrong with wanting to enter just images from paying jobs. Nowhere in the rules does it say what your motivation is supposed to be. And as a judge or a fellow entrant, I don't get to decide what the motivation should be either. I can't control what anyone else chooses to do, I can only control myself and decide what feels right for me. In the end, it's all about progess, getting better every time around. I think that happens with paid assignments or with self asignments. Eventually the client benefits either way.


Really the only thing that bothers me is when a talented photographer finds an image that works and scores well and then enters the same thing year after year after year. It doesn't make them wrong but it does effect my opinion of them. I just want to say "come on - show us what else you can do". The photographers I really admire do just that, constantly show me new and different stuff. Those are the people I want to emulate.

Again, great question Joe, I hope you (and everyone else) will tell us how you feel about it.

Keith

Keith_A_Howe
02-01-2009, 12:05 AM
Over the yeas I have seen a lot of images in the Loan Collection Books that are a combination of portraits and scenics. David Peters is known for creating this type portrait, It gives me a feeling like paintings by Andrew Wyeth ... a woman small in a large scene fpr example. This type portrait can do very well ... a beautiful scene with a person or persons captured well within it.


Nothing wrong with that style and it can sell large images. However the last three portraits I did well with were 2 head and shoulders and a 3/4 length - all in studio. So it can be done.

Keith

Dave_Cisco
02-01-2009, 03:09 AM
I would guess that half of my merits came from client work and the rest were from ideas I just wanted to see if I could pull off. Like Keith, the only thing that really irks me are photographers who stumble across a particular image/presentation that scores well and they repeat it year after year. I guess another irritant is a photographer who markets themself as a Portrait Specialist(or whatever) but only competes with exotic scenes taken on expensive vacations....what do beautiful scenes have to do with marketing yourself as a Master Portrait Specialist?

Todd_Reichman
02-01-2009, 06:49 PM
keith,
do you have a problem with photographers who shoot for compitition?
i've heard others through the years scoff at shooting for comp, what's your thoughts.
joe

I'm glad Keith opened this up for others to comment as I'd be curious to hear what people think also. I mean, it is an industry designation essentially bestowed by our peers so the perception of our colleagues is at least of some importance.

I have an academic Master's degree, and frankly other folks who went through the same program probably took "harder" classes to complete theirs. Some else with a comparable degree might have had an easier or harder time earning theirs, but we all have "the same" M.A. Right?

I personally wouldn't ever go out just to shoot for comp, mostly because I would have no earthly idea how to do that. I still don't "get" comp and what they are looking for. Having said that, if I figure out what the judges are looking for why shouldn't I execute on that plan - after all the point is kinda to satisfy what the judges are looking for right? My goal is to earn a Master's through wedding albums from actual weddings. I can't very well go out and stage a wedding just for comp, so I have to use client work. Having said that, I can't typically submit actual client books because they include things that the judges don't want to see in comp, so while I get the "client work" argument, and subscribe to it to a certain degree, I can't see how a significant portion of comp work isn't going to directly apply to practial work 100%.

I'd like to hear people's approaches to exploration more. Folks say things like spend a few extra minutes per session playing and use that for comp. I find the stuff that I shoot "for me" or in exploration is typically the stuff that wouldn't stand a chance in comp. To me, shooting for comp seems less about free exploration and more about being very careful and trying not to break any rules. Just my take though, remember that I'm pretty ignorant :D.

I'd also be interested in hearing thoughts on Keith's "show us what you can do" comment. I don't disagree with the sentiment, but are you all entering prints to show what you can do? Are you entering to establish a style or make a photographic name for yourself through 5 prints? Given the rules of print competition it would seem that the goal of the judging is to prove that you can execute the 12 elements. Other competitions (that shall not be named :D) that seem to have less defined rules seem to be more about showing what you can do and being surprising and memorable and showing your stuff. I'm not raising those competitions up or knocking PPA's down, just pointing out that it seems like, at least until you get your Master's, the judging is making sure you can execute the basics and the judging/reward process seems to enforce that. Not that I don't get that Keith respects those that want to transcend that, I'd just like to hear more about the motivations for entering and what you are really trying to accomplish. I know that we all say, "I don't care about the merits I just want to learn!" but come on - there has to be a little more to it than that, right :D! What are the selfish reasons that you enter?

- trr

Ron_Jackson
02-01-2009, 06:58 PM
Seriously Todd, I only care about learning and I really don't care about the merits. I will not submit to any competition that I can't get judges critique. I am very busy and don't have time to go to the conventions to watch judging so "if" I enter comp again, it will only be to Nationals so I can order the judges critique. I honestly have no other agenda.

Michael_Gan
02-01-2009, 08:05 PM
I'd also be interested in hearing thoughts on Keith's "show us what you can do" comment. I don't disagree with the sentiment, but are you all entering prints to show what you can do? Are you entering to establish a style or make a photographic name for yourself through 5 prints? Given the rules of print competition it would seem that the goal of the judging is to prove that you can execute the 12 elements. Other competitions (that shall not be named) that seem to have less defined rules seem to be more about showing what you can do and being surprising and memorable and showing your stuff. I'm not raising those competitions up or knocking PPA's down, just pointing out that it seems like, at least until you get your Master's, the judging is making sure you can execute the basics and the judging/reward process seems to enforce that. Not that I don't get that Keith respects those that want to transcend that, I'd just like to hear more about the motivations for entering and what you are really trying to accomplish. I know that we all say, "I don't care about the merits I just want to learn!" but come on - there has to be a little more to it than that, right! What are the selfish reasons that you enter?This is my view of the process of obtaining the Masters: To "Master" the standards of excellence based on the 12 elements as it pertains to the photographer's ability to communicate those 12 elements. I've said this before in various threads: The Masters is really an attainable degree for the common professional photographer, not for the hotshot photographic genius'. Let the hotshots get their degrees and then go for the ASP fellowship, or the Imaging Excellence awards.

As a Master, we are "Charged" with sharing our expertise and knowledge to further the profession. This is why I have been shying away from entering what I had entered in my pre-masters days. It's more of an exploratory dicipline into seeing what new standards can be reached in our industry.

I'm one of the few who does not subscribe to the "One for thee, one for me" concept. I feel that all of my "me" work should be desired by my clients. After all, what point is it for me to create work that they've hired me to do, only to have them pick images that some other photographer can do? It's the reason I almost got out of this business 12 years ago.

Keith_A_Howe
02-01-2009, 08:24 PM
I'd also be interested in hearing thoughts on Keith's "show us what you can do" comment. I don't disagree with the sentiment, but are you all entering prints to show what you can do?
Todd you missed a word the quote - "else". I said show us what ELSE you can do. I was refering to photographers who enter almost identical prints from year to year. If I can use you as a hypothetical example of what I am refering to. You are a wedding photographer. I would expect you to enter wedding albums every time. But I would be disapointed if they were the same poses in the same locations year after year, in essence cookie cutter photography. I want you to insire me with the constant evolution of your work. There would be nothing wrong if you found a "formula" that consistantly scored well and kept repeating the formula, but it wouldn't make me admire you or want to emulate you. What I was trying to get at is different people use competition for different things. I am not gonna judge their motivation and what seems wrong to memight be acceptable and even applaudable to someone else. But I can choose to admire or not admire someone for the way they conduct themselves - in competition or anywhere else.


Other competitions (that shall not be named :D) that seem to have less defined rules seem to be more about showing what you can do and being surprising and memorable and showing your stuff.


Surprising and memorable = impact - that's the first of the 12 elements. I think I have said many many times on this forum that impact can overcome minor technical flaws, but impact alone is not enough to overide bigger issues like out of focus or totally blown highlights and blocked up shadows. As far as other competitions, I believe ( and you may not agree) that PPA has a more organized and evolved competition, having been at it a lot longer. So what may seem like rules is really just a more evolved set of suggestions and guidelines. I also think that PPA has a different motive with their competition sysytem, that being to improve the work and raise the standard of what qualifies as the best of professional photography. If I am guessing at the correct "nameless" competition, I believe their motive is to keep the entrants happy so they keep spending money to enter. While I have never judged at any of those nameless comps, I do have friends who have. Several of them have told me the same story. The instructions they recieved were that everyone gets an 80 unless it's really bad because they don't want to discourage anyone from continuing to enter. Granted this is just hearsay, but I've heard the same thing from several sources that I trust. So if this is what's going on, its not that the other nameless competition is more rewarding to creativity. Instead it's that they have no standards for technical excellance. I don't think it's too much to ask that anyone who considers themselves a professional photographer should have technical skill along with their creative vision.


Keith

treasures1
02-01-2009, 08:37 PM
The word here should be hoe...a "ho" is something entirely different.:D

You're absolutely right! Sometimes I hit SUBMIT before I check my typing. Thanks! :D

Rick_Massarini
02-01-2009, 09:33 PM
Given the rules of print competition it would seem that the goal of the judging is to prove that you can execute the 12 elements.

Other competitions (that shall not be named :D) that seem to have less defined rules seem to be more about showing what you can do and being surprising and memorable and showing your stuff.

- trr

If you look at the print competition judging criteria of the next most populous photographic organization you will find that their judging criteria list 9 of PPA's 12 Elements in the exact same words (just listed in a different order) as being their criteria for judging. Two other elements are alluded to using different words, but carrying similar meanings (instead of subject matter and center of interest, they list posing and expression). The only PPA element that is not listed is Color Balance for which I assume is replaced by Print Quality (basically the same meaning).

So, since the PPA Competition has been around longer than any other, it seems that the other association's "less defined" standards are basically the same as those that have been used by PPA juries for many years.

It just goes to prove that the same timeless basic photographic and compositional elements of an image that make it good are the same no matter who you are, no matter what the name of your organization. No matter how you slice it or dice it or name it - what makes an image good is the same no matter where you go !!!

----PPA:
Impact
Creativity
Technical Excellence
Composition
Lighting
Style
Print Presentation
Center of Interest
Subject Matter
Color Balance
Technique
Storytelling

----The other association - What Judges Look For:
Creativity
Impact
Storytelling
Technical Excellence
Lighting
Posing
Expression
Print Quality
Composition
Title
---- Additional clarifications are provided under subtitles:
Technical Aspects
Composition and Posing
Creativity
Impact
Style
Presentation Tiops
Lighting
Communicatin Values
Print Quality
Titles

Todd_Reichman
02-01-2009, 09:58 PM
Todd you missed a word the quote - "else". I said show us what ELSE you can do.

A valid point and shameful oversight on my part, Keith! :D


If I can use you as a hypothetical example of what I am refering to. You are a wedding photographer. I would expect you to enter wedding albums every time. But I would be disapointed if they were the same poses in the same locations year after year, in essence cookie cutter photography. I want you to insire me with the constant evolution of your work

I can agree with this to an extent, a potential issue is that current entries aren't judged against previous entries. I would think it should be "harder" to get the last merit than the first perhaps? Like maybe evolution should be taken into account? Obviously that can't be done under the current system.



There would be nothing wrong if you found a "formula" that consistantly scored well and kept repeating the formula, but it wouldn't make me admire you or want to emulate you. What I was trying to get at is different people use competition for different things. I am not gonna judge their motivation and what seems wrong to memight be acceptable and even applaudable to someone else. But I can choose to admire or not admire someone for the way they conduct themselves - in competition or anywhere else.

AHA! So here we're getting to what I was looking for. Clearly, at some level there is something to competition beyond personal learning and development. I'm curious how many folks are entering to inspire others or to be admired? I'm not judging that at all - I think its unfair to assume that anyone would enter any competition if those things weren't in some way compelling. Obviously being an industry designation how people feel about you earning it or the method through which you earned it have to matter. I think its kinda presumptuous to think I could inspire anyone with what I would submit, but I'm really interested in honestly how much this type of motivation plays into anyone's submissions.


Surprising and memorable = impact - that's the first of the 12 elements. I think I have said many many times on this forum that impact can overcome minor technical flaws, but impact alone is not enough to overide bigger issues like out of focus or totally blown highlights and blocked up shadows. As far as other competitions, I believe ( and you may not agree) that PPA has a more organized and evolved competition, having been at it a lot longer. So what may seem like rules is really just a more evolved set of suggestions and guidelines. I also think that PPA has a different motive with their competition sysytem, that being to improve the work and raise the standard of what qualifies as the best of professional photography. If I am guessing at the correct "nameless" competition, I believe their motive is to keep the entrants happy so they keep spending money to enter. While I have never judged at any of those nameless comps, I do have friends who have. Several of them have told me the same story. The instructions they recieved were that everyone gets an 80 unless it's really bad because they don't want to discourage anyone from continuing to enter. Granted this is just hearsay, but I've heard the same thing from several sources that I trust. So if this is what's going on, its not that the other nameless competition is more rewarding to creativity. Instead it's that they have no standards for technical excellance. I don't think it's too much to ask that anyone who considers themselves a professional photographer should have technical skill along with their creative vision.


This has been my observation too. I just think some comps decide to reward what looks good or trendy at this point. While I believe that the PPA is more organized and evolved I haven't been around long enough to know whether the point for PPA comps is to execute on the 12 elements or to find "new" and "interesting" methods of executing those elements. I'm not a fan of the other competitions by the way.

Todd_Reichman
02-01-2009, 09:59 PM
No matter how you slice it or dice it or name it - what makes an image good is the same no matter where you go !!!


I don't know - ever sat in on both sets of judging? They're definetly looking for different things!

- trr

Rick_Massarini
02-01-2009, 10:27 PM
No, I've never sat in on the other associaton's judging - but I have seen our PEC jurors hang merit and loan status on a lot of really edgy images, and I've never seen them hold back rewarding images just because they are edgy.

The whole thing may just be a matter of perception, or because of a different mix of people submitting images or the style of the images being submitted to the judging. For example, if 95% of the images submitted to a competition are edgy images, then you'll find a higher number of edgy images being rewarded. If 95% of the images in the competition have an airy "west coast" feel, then you're going to see more of those images in the print show simply because if the jurors will choose the best of the best of what is presented to them (and, looking at the list of criteria, they are using the same basic set of criteria to judge what is good). If the members submit a higher percentage of traditional work, then you're going to see a higher number of traditional looking images in the show. It all depends on who is entering the competition and what is submitted.

The thing that is difficult to compare are numerical scores across the two competitions since they use different numerical scales for the differing quality levels.

Keith_A_Howe
02-01-2009, 11:56 PM
I can agree with this to an extent, a potential issue is that current entries aren't judged against previous entries. I would think it should be "harder" to get the last merit than the first perhaps? Like maybe evolution should be taken into account? Obviously that can't be done under the current system.

Todd, Perhaps I was misleading in what my thoughts are. PPA and PEC have no way of knowing or do they care if a maker submits nearly identical images from one year to the next. Each image succeeds or fails on it's own merit and the judging is anonymous. I didn't mean to suggest that I thought they should compare makers images from one year to the next. What I was saying was just my own personal thoughts on what makes me admire someone's competition images. I don't see it as a PEC issue or problem to address.

It's an interesting idea though, comparing a previous years entries to the current ones and judging them based on progress, rather than on how they stand on their own. If followed to it's logical conclusion you would expect a beginner to do better in competition then a more experienced photographer, because the beginner has more room for impovement. If progress is the measuring stick then someone who makes the biggest improvement will score the best. I would expect that later in our careers, growth comes at a slower pace. Next it makes me wonder how you measure growth in creativity? I think that it is easier to decide that an image is artistic and creative, than it would to decide if an image is more or less creative then the previous one. I guess maybe each entrant has to deide on their own if they are progressing. If they choose competition as the measuring stick for that progress, then an improvement in scores would be the way gauge growth.



I'd like to hear people's approaches to exploration more. Folks say things like spend a few extra minutes per session playing and use that for comp. I find the stuff that I shoot "for me" or in exploration is typically the stuff that wouldn't stand a chance in comp. To me, shooting for comp seems less about free exploration and more about being very careful and trying not to break any rules. Just my take though, remember that I'm pretty ignorant

I didn't respond to this before, but I have been thinking about it. This is gonna be long winded so I apologize in advance. First of all we have the 12 elements. These were not invented by PPA or PEC but are concepts that come to us from the art world. Some of them are worded to apply to photography, but the basic concepts are not PPA inventions. PEC gives us those guidelines, but they do not tell us how we have to achieve them. For example take composition. Over and over we hear about the rule of thirds, Bakker saddle etc. PEC has never said "you must use the rule of thirds to get a merit" What they ask for is an understanding of composition and using it to enhance the print. Every image has a composition, whether the maker is aware of it or not. In evaluating composition we simply look to see does the choices made help the image or hinder, regardless if it follows a conventional composition type or not. (I just judged in Maine. The two highest scoring images had pretty much dead center composition. They were not rule of thirds. They were the right choices for those images.) Same way for subject matter - we aren't told you can only enter beautiful people, but if the story of the image is beauty, then does the choice of subject support that story. For presentation - nowhere does it say you have to use a step mount and a stroke. But as a judge I ask myself does the presentation chosen help the image or hurt it. ( Another high scoring image in Maine had a bright white surface mat. Again, it was the right choice for that image.) I get frustrated when people talk about following the rules for competition. The only rules are how many prints and what size and deadline for submission etc. The 12 elements are NOT RULES. They are the things we look at. Each maker decides how they present those 12 things. So when I go out to photograph a creative self assignment, yes conciously or subconciously I am thinking about the 12 elements, but not as to following them as a rule to win points. Instead I am thinking about them in how I use composition and technique and color harmony etc etc to create the image on paper the way I feel it in my head. This is not really what Todd was asking, but it explains why I don't feel photographing for competition is limiting. Whether you aknowledge it or not, you are making choices about every one of those elelments every time you create an image. PPA judging is not about saying "you have to do it our way". PPA judging is all about "did the ways you choose to do things improve or hurt the success of the image". And then as a judge we have to ask ourselves how it all stacks up. You may be very very successful in one area, but a complete failure in another. We have to weigh each success and failure and come to an overall evaluation. Just because a print does not merit doen't mean it didn't have great impact, but maybe the techniqual aspect were so poorly executed the print can't overcome that flaw. Anyway enough of this soapbox.

As far as photographing for comp not being as creative, here's another way to look at it. Say you are told "go out today and create an image" you could come up with something original pretty easily. But say instead you are told " go create an image but stay within these guidelines". How much more creative do you have to be to come up with something unique and original within a set of guidelines? I think it's probably a bigger stretch and more thought has to go into it then if you are given completely free rein. I have always thought a very interesting competition would be to give everyone a very prescribed set of circumstances and they all have to create an image using those limitations. Like maybe it's a woman in a red hat photographed on a school playground at noon. Wouldn't that be exciting to see how many different ways the same thing could be presented. Imagine how each photographer would stretch to make sure their image looked unique from everyone elses. I think thats when true creativity would come out.

Keith

Dave_Cisco
02-02-2009, 03:37 AM
Keith

I hope all will read Keith's last post more than once...there is a lot of experience in there.

Carl_Bromberg
02-02-2009, 05:06 PM
As far as photographing for comp not being as creative, here's another way to look at it. Say you are told "go out today and create an image" you could come up with something original pretty easily. But say instead you are told " go create an image but stay within these guidelines". How much more creative do you have to be to come up with something unique and original within a set of guidelines? I think it's probably a bigger stretch and more thought has to go into it then if you are given completely free rein. I have always thought a very interesting competition would be to give everyone a very prescribed set of circumstances and they all have to create an image using those limitations. Like maybe it's a woman in a red hat photographed on a school playground at noon. Wouldn't that be exciting to see how many different ways the same thing could be presented. Imagine how each photographer would stretch to make sure their image looked unique from everyone elses. I think thats when true creativity would come out.

Keith


Wise words Keith, I like this part is especially interesting for me as I also belong to Photoworkshop.com. On there each week they have a weekly assignment which gives you a guidline as you talked about. I've found that for myself working within the guidelines of the topic for that week it forces me to think outside the box. It makes me get out of my comfort zones, and to think creatively. It's also very interesting to see what others produce within the guidelines of the topic. I'm not saying I'm successfull every week, but I have found the practice of doing this HAS helped me to think more creatively when I'm out with my paying clients. Kind of like an exercise for my mind, gets rid of the cobwebs and keeps me thinking "how can I do this better". So for me it's another tool I use. As I use the advice in the forums here.

When I first started competing about the same timeframe as when I started participating in the above weekly assignments, I was stuck in 75 / 76 land, now I seem to be stuck in 78/79 land. Ok it's not 80/ 82 land yet but it's improving, my client work is improving, my business is improving. I've gotten a few 80's at the other comp, and at state, but hopefully soon will be getting 80's at nationals and regionals. My motivation is in part I want that Masters, but more important I use it as a "report card" for how I'm doing. What do I need to improve on, etc.

Anyway just the ramblings of a photographer in the frozen land they call Iowa!

Dave_Cisco
02-02-2009, 05:53 PM
Carl,
I like your thought process...probably because it's the same one I used to get my CPP and Masters several years ago(11, but who's counting?). I will guarantee you that the skills you develop in the quest for blue translates nicely in the amount of green you acquire.:D

Todd_Reichman
02-04-2009, 04:58 PM
One thing that has kept me from entering prints is really "getting" what a comp print looks like. I don't know how to choose an appropriate image. Last year I asked someone who had been successful in print comp to help me choose seom entries. I sent over about 20 images. They threw them all out and took 8 images off my blog that they thought were better. I just couldn't see the reason why. I don't yet "get" it. I think it would be very helpful (and I've pitched this before) if there were some kind of formalized online mentoring system to help folks evaluate their work as it relates to competition.

- trr

Michael_Gan
02-04-2009, 05:09 PM
Print comp is one of those things where you don't "get it" until you enter. It has to do with the difference between theoretical application and the actual act of doing it. Sort of like marketing your business. You can only find out if you're on the right track once you put your marketing in play. Theories never get anything accomplished until put into practical applications.

Dave_Cisco
02-04-2009, 05:28 PM
One thing that has kept me from entering prints is really "getting" what a comp print looks like. I don't know how to choose an appropriate image. Last year I asked someone who had been successful in print comp to help me choose some entries. I sent over about 20 images. They threw them all out and took 8 images off my blog that they thought were better. I just couldn't see the reason why. I don't yet "get" it. I think it would be very helpful (and I've pitched this before) if there were some kind of formalized online mentoring system to help folks evaluate their work as it relates to competition.

- trr

I'd say you gave your prints to someone who was skilled at doing, but weak in teaching. Do the same with SEVERAL accomplished printmakers and average the answers.:D I took my work to EVERY Master Photographer in my city(and others) who would give me the time of day. For some photogs, the light just suddenly comes on. For me, it was a long period of the light slowly getting a little brighter each day/month/year.

jenniferfeeney
02-04-2009, 05:55 PM
I can't remember where I saw it...where do you buy a copy of the Loan Collection and General Collection books?

Thanks!

Oops! put this in the wrong place! Don't mean to hyjack the thread...but if you know...

Todd_Reichman
02-04-2009, 06:05 PM
Print comp is one of those things where you don't "get it" until you enter. It has to do with the difference between theoretical application and the actual act of doing it. Sort of like marketing your business. You can only find out if you're on the right track once you put your marketing in play. Theories never get anything accomplished until put into practical applications.

Not being able to actually attend the national or my local judging, I'd tend to disagree a bit. I think the learning is in the prep, and if you get something from the judging then great. Say you enter a print locally, and get a 77 - what do you take from that if you can't get direct feedback on why?

- trr

chelane
02-04-2009, 06:17 PM
I want to enter, but the barrier is cost. I need to buy the print
case (looks to be about $90). I need to get images printed up
at 16 x 20 (about $30 each with mounting), then there's the
entry fee. I haven't yet found a typical entry fee, but since the
cost of the "Print Competition 101" is $95 and all of that will be
applied to the entry fee, I have to conclude that the entry fee
is more than $95.

So, am I going to sign up for the webinar series? I just don't
know at the moment. I suppose it depends on how big of a
print order my latest client places.

Also, its been suggested that I start at the regional level.
That means another $300 membership fee.

That's alot at my stage of the game.

Keith_A_Howe
02-04-2009, 06:28 PM
I can't remember where I saw it...where do you buy a copy of the Loan Collection and General Collection books?

Thanks!

Oops! put this in the wrong place! Don't mean to hyjack the thread...but if you know...

Contact Marathon Press
http://www.marathonpress.com/store/default.php/cPath/62_65_68

Phone is on their wed site also
Keith

Michael_Gan
02-04-2009, 06:43 PM
Not being able to actually attend the national or my local judging, I'd tend to disagree a bit. I think the learning is in the prep, and if you get something from the judging then great. Say you enter a print locally, and get a 77 - what do you take from that if you can't get direct feedback on why?

- trr Not like you've disagreed with me before :D I've had the luxury of being in California, where there are 20 local PPA affiliates plus the state, plus western states. The local affiliates generally meet each month, and that's where the feedback begins. Bottom line is that attending the competitions is vastly different then just submitting your work. Great example was the California Web cast of the state print competition. Big kudos to Stewart Schultz, M. Photog. CR. for putting this all together. This is a big win win for our state members!

Michael_Gan
02-04-2009, 06:46 PM
I want to enter, but the barrier is cost. I need to buy the print case (looks to be about $90). I need to get images printed up at 16 x 20 (about $30 each with mounting), then there's the entry fee. I haven't yet found a typical entry fee, but since the cost of the "Print Competition 101" is $95 and all of that will be applied to the entry fee, I have to conclude that the entry fee is more than $95.

So, am I going to sign up for the webinar series? I just don't know at the moment. I suppose it depends on how big of a
print order my latest client places.

Also, its been suggested that I start at the regional level. That means another $300 membership fee.

That's alot at my stage of the game. I guess for those of us who went to college, and even for those who went into graduate studies, going after the masters of photography is a drop in the bucket, comparatively.:)

D._Craig_Flory
02-04-2009, 07:20 PM
Hi Jennifer;

Marathon Press sells them. Plus, you might watch for used ones for sale. About a year ago I bought a year I didn't already have. It was at an Open House with a lab rep. he had an indoor "flea market" and I bought one for $5.00. So, besides buying new ... watch out for anyone selling older ones.

Keith_A_Howe
02-04-2009, 07:25 PM
It's come up a couple times on the other thread, that the reason people don't enter is the cost. Here's my thoughts. Print case - around $90 (amortized over 5-10 years but it's still a start up expense) 4 prints @$30 each & print case fee usually around $95. So a first time entrant will shell out about $305 to enter. I think that if $305 is too big an expense for you, then you are probably right that you shouldn't be entering. You have bigger problems to address then print competition. Instead you should be focusing on what to do to make your business profitable so that you can afford that $300 once a year. This might sound harsh but this is not a great deal of money. If it's a problem for you, you have some other issues you need to worry about. Spend your money on Studio Management services. The workshop starts at $349. If it's not that you can't afford the $300 but that you don't feel it's worth the investment, that's a different story. FWIW you DO NOT need a case to send your prints to national so that's $90 less. You can send them in a box, but they will not be returned.

Keith

Michael_Gan
02-04-2009, 07:30 PM
Someone once told me that if you act like a poor person, you will be.

Ed_Conner
02-04-2009, 08:17 PM
Left one major item from my earlier Human Factor rant.

To many of us are emotionally tied to our work and don't want to hear what others may say especially less than positive no matter how constructive or true.

Just got my prints for PPWV this weekend. Can't believe I missed some things I should have seen and would have if not for being in love with the image. :(
I'll fix them for July.


Ed Conner

Keith_A_Howe
02-04-2009, 08:21 PM
I'll fix them for July.


Ed Conner

June - national judging is early this year.
Keith

Todd_Reichman
02-04-2009, 08:44 PM
It's come up a couple times on the other thread, that the reason people don't enter is the cost. Here's my thoughts. Print case - around $90 (amortized over 5-10 years but it's still a start up expense) 4 prints @$30 each & print case fee usually around $95. So a first time entrant will shell out about $305 to enter. I think that if $305 is too big an expense for you, then you are probably right that you shouldn't be entering. You have bigger problems to address then print competition. Instead you should be focusing on what to do to make your business profitable so that you can afford that $300 once a year. This might sound harsh but this is not a great deal of money. If it's a problem for you, you have some other issues you need to worry about. Spend your money on Studio Management services. The workshop starts at $349. If it's not that you can't afford the $300 but that you don't feel it's worth the investment, that's a different story. FWIW you DO NOT need a case to send your prints to national so that's $90 less. You can send them in a box, but they will not be returned.

Keith

If the price of prints is too high enter electronic albums. If the entry fee is $95 then I probably got away spending $100 total last year. 4 cd-rw's, 4 jewel cases, a reused whcc box and a couple bucks postage got me entered and participating for just about 3 figures. You can enter portrait albums, landscape albums, whatever.

Seriously, what's a hundred bucks? :D

- trr

D._Craig_Flory
02-04-2009, 09:13 PM
I want to enter, but the barrier is cost. I need to buy the print case (looks to be about $90). I need to get images printed up
at 16 x 20 (about $30 each with mounting), then there's the entry fee. I haven't yet found a typical entry fee, but since the cost of the "Print Competition 101" is $95 and all of that will be applied to the entry fee, I have to conclude that the entry fee is more than $95.

Also, its been suggested that I start at the regional level.
That means another $300 membership fee.

That's alot at my stage of the game.

Hi Chelane;

For your 1st ever competition I suggest that you #1 borrow a print case from someone near you. #2 I suggest that you look at sub state sized groups. Our Pa. state group costs $210.00 a year dues for all nine days. One sub-state group I used to belong to in the mid 70s' was a small amount & then you just paid for any of the 3 meetings you wanted to attend. All 3 meetings had print competition. I have judged at the pro group's print competition twice and they usually have one Master and then the other two are at least C.P.P.s and / or Craftsman Degree holders. So, the entry fee at a group like that has to be lower. At out state level last year a print case fee for a member was $50.00 and for an out of state non member it was $60.00. If you can't join your state,.or sub state sized group yet you can look at entering another state's competition. Here in Pa., the convention and print competition are this April. Let me know if you want more info. #3 I do suggest joining a group somewhere ... whatever size group that will work.

Arlyn_DeBruyckere
02-05-2009, 12:35 PM
For me it is not about the cost, but the value, the time spent without return and the frustration.

1) I have entered in the past, I don't have the time to count them now but my reasonable guess would be that I made 30 entries. Of those 30 entries I have 2 albums that scored 80 or more. I have about 20 images and albums that scored 78 or 79. I have a one that scored 76 and one that scored 74. With all these entries except for the first 4 I have requested and paid for the critique. I cannot say that I have learned anything positive. The critiques never tell me what I have done wrong except for one that was totally messed up - he must have been looking at a different album because his common complaint was that I should not use so much on camera flash when NONE of the images had the flash on the camera or even near (within 6 feet) of the camera. The other critiques seem to revolve on completely changing the photo like the one I got from Keith http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?t=15189

I cannot imagine doing what he suggests to this image. It would totally change the style, the content, the impact, the purpose of the image. If I had an image like what he suggests I would not enter it. I do not enter images that I would not like to hang on my wall for others to see.

2) I've seen many images merit that I would not want my name attached to. The two albums that I have that did merit were both last second throw ins, ones that I pulled of the shelf to complete the set of 4. They were ok albums but nothing special except for the presentation. The quality of the photographs, the impact, the story telling were far below the others in the same case that scored 78 and 79. No one has been able to explain to me why.

3) When I was actively entering (I can't say about the last few years - I haven't paid any attention) the vast majority of prints that got a merit were scenics. Images that these photographers would never sell. Images that I cannot imagine would impress any clients. Many of these images in my opinion were "purchased". By that I mean the images were so distorted from special effects that it was difficult to recognize them as photography.

4) Now this might be because I'm just to ignorant about photography to recognize quality. It might be because I'm not intelligent enough to understand the factors involved in the special 12. Whatever the case after more than 20 years as a professional photographer it is apparent to me that under the current system competition has no benefit to me. I just know that images that excite me, images that I think are outstanding, don't make the grade and the people who do the judging can't explain to me why in a way I can understand. As long as this is the case I see no point in entering.

5) If I want to learn how to improve there are many places where I can do that more effectively than PPA print competition. I'm here to sell to the average Joe or Jane. What they think counts. I can get that feedback on many places on the net. I can't get that feedback here or in competition.

Mark_Levesque
02-05-2009, 03:19 PM
Not to derail this, but I would love it if you could post some images that you are particularly proud of to illustrate the sorts of merit worthy images which are not rewarded in competition. In other words, what are examples of "images you would like to hang on the wall for others to see"?

Dave_Cisco
02-05-2009, 03:40 PM
For me it is not about the cost, but the value, the time spent without return and the frustration.



If your approach to competition is to ignore what you hear and simply wait out the process until it comes over to your way of thinking, then you are wasting everybody's time.

Heather_L._Smith
02-05-2009, 03:54 PM
I'm here to sell to the average Joe or Jane. What they think counts.

Not to beat a dead horse, but print comp isn't about average. It's about amazing, unique, spectacular, top-of-the-game fantastic.

I had an image win the PPA Mag cover contest that did NOT merit at Nationals. Why? Because it made a great magazine cover, it was very cute and great for that publication, but it wasn't right for print comp. It was a 'bread and butter' image that was very good, well executed, but not unique, amazing, top-of-the-game fantastic. And you know what? I'm totally okay with that (well, the fact that it won out of over 50,000 entries helps, too). But more importantly, I LEARNED something from that.

Frankly, I think it's 90% attitude. If you go in to it with a learning spirit and have the drive to get your prints published in that Loan book each year, then you're going to learn something from it. If you go in with the expectation that your amazing work must be rewarded, then you've already set yourself up for failure.

Call me naive or simple, but that's my take on the world of print comp. The amazing thing is... over the last several years my work has drastically improved. I look at what I entered 5 years ago and what I entered last year and you wouldn't even believe they were the same photographer. But, I guess the learning aspect was important to me, enough so that I made it a priority.

Okay, I thought I was done with my rant, but I thought of something else. The other key here is that I looked for advice and opinions - both before and after the competition(s). I looked to my mentors, I got advice from this forum, and I took the most common elements that came up over and over and I worked with those. I WORKED. Hard. And it made me better. And I'll continue to do that because I find great reward in it.

Louise_St_Romain
02-05-2009, 04:25 PM
Not to beat a dead horse, but print comp isn't about average. It's about amazing, unique, spectacular, top-of-the-game fantastic.

I had an image win the PPA Mag cover contest that did NOT merit at Nationals. Why? Because it made a great magazine cover, it was very cute and great for that publication, but it wasn't right for print comp. It was a 'bread and butter' image that was very good, well executed, but not unique, amazing, top-of-the-game fantastic. And you know what? I'm totally okay with that (well, the fact that it won out of over 50,000 entries helps, too). But more importantly, I LEARNED something from that.

Frankly, I think it's 90% attitude. If you go in to it with a learning spirit and have the drive to get your prints published in that Loan book each year, then you're going to learn something from it. If you go in with the expectation that your amazing work must be rewarded, then you've already set yourself up for failure.

Call me naive or simple, but that's my take on the world of print comp. The amazing thing is... over the last several years my work has drastically improved. I look at what I entered 5 years ago and what I entered last year and you wouldn't even believe they were the same photographer. But, I guess the learning aspect was important to me, enough so that I made it a priority.

Okay, I thought I was done with my rant, but I thought of something else. The other key here is that I looked for advice and opinions - both before and after the competition(s). I looked to my mentors, I got advice from this forum, and I took the most common elements that came up over and over and I worked with those. I WORKED. Hard. And it made me better. And I'll continue to do that because I find great reward in it.

*clap*
You said what i was thinking (sort of) but couldn't put into words. I 've haven't been entering in competition for long (just under a year), but the feedback I've gotten has been a huge help (I do cringe a little at what I entered a year ago). However, getting my case back from Mid-East, seeing the blue ribbon and seal on an image that I had taken advise at the PPAofPA convention on how to improve it, was a great feeling. :) Competition forces you to reach outside of the box and not just stay with the tried and true.

Michael_Gan
02-05-2009, 04:26 PM
I have about 20 images and albums that scored 78 or 79.
Ha! is that all? 60 and counting for me :D

I'm sure we can never convince you to turn from the dark side ;). Print comp is a member benefit just like anything else in this great association of ours. If you feel you've reached the pinicle of art in your work, so be it. Like I said, Print comp and the Masters degree is for poor, regular slobs like me who needed the wisdom of others in order for me to advance my art. With the everyday rigors of running a business, I often lose track of what matters most, and that is my art. Print comp reminds me that I need (actually, I want) to further my art and explore new things to make others think (including the judge). Our work is a form of communication and if I'm not communicating properly, or creating completely new work, then my soul dies.

After 30 years, I do know this. If you don't grow and change, you die (sorry to use the same word twice in one post). I can't tell you how many "generations" of photographers don't survive because, their style, and their clientele all got older and the new crop of kids thought of their work as "old school". It happens to everyone, even when you go beyound the 20 year mark (the 15-20 year mark was the sweet spot in my business - but that was the tail end of the film era).

It's sort of like childhood. You can yell and scream at a child all you want, but they finally understand when they have kids of their own. The lightbulb takes that long to turn on.

Arlyn, I'm not advocating that you are wrong. I think what you said did get those who have put a lot of their heart and soul in this learning process, standing up on their seats. But, another advantage of being in this profession for the time I have is that you can't get every horse to drink. For an average photographer like me, I have to have the input. I can't imagine where I'd be if I dug my heels in and told the rest of the world they are wrong.

Todd_Reichman
02-05-2009, 06:21 PM
I'd be interested to hear how many people are perhaps turned off by comp because they feel that their style or approach isn't what they see reflected in what's hanging at IUSA or displayed in the loan collection book?

- trr

Arlyn_DeBruyckere
02-05-2009, 07:24 PM
I feel like we are speaking different languages. The characters (letters) and the words are familiar but the combination of the words make no sense as we try to share them.

1) I do NOT feel like I've reached the top of my game - I just don't think that PPA competition has anything to offer me to improve my game.

2) Things that match the definition of "quality photography" in the eyes of the PPA judges does not match my definition of "quality photography". Again a case in point check the MN PPA site http://www.mnppa.com I know the images change at regular interval so I cannot speak about the ones you might be seeing. Just before typing this one of the images is of a boat in a lake. I say images, not photograph because in my view it is not a photograph. It might be an interesting painting, it might be digital art but I cannot get myself to see it as a photograph. I am NOT suggesting that the maker doesn't have the right to make such images. I am NOT suggesting that this image doesn't have the right to get a merit under the current rules. What i am saying is that more and more I see this kind of image getting photography merits and as long as this trend continues I will not spend the time, money or effort to be any part of the process. The question of the forum is Why do you or DON"T (emphasis mine) you compete. I'm trying to answer the question so the folks that asked the question know where I am in this situation. I don't expect to convince anyone of my viewpoint. I don't expect the rules to change. I expect that the people who asked the question are honest enough to accept the answer and understand that if they want people like me to participate something will have to change.

3) Competition in PPA (I still compete in other arenas) provides me no valuable feedback. Two examples in addition to ones I have already provided. One of my images titled "Full Moon Rising" clearly showing the moon with maria and other features visible received the following critique "The sun in the image is severely underexposed. The black of the sky while interesting has no detail and the Photoshop effect of the light streaks doesn't add any visual interest." On a wedding album "There are too many images in the album and too many settings. While it looks like the wedding couple is having a good time the number of locations and images must certainly detracted from their day. Many of the images have a water color edge effect that detracts from the sharpness of the image and the printing on linen reduces the sharpness and contrast of the images." These kinds of comments give me no information on how to improve the images. They only fuel in me the thought that the judge didn't pay any attention to the images.

A third point - in Keith's review of my image most of the comments were about completely changing the image, the tone, the impact, the focus. From my point of view the only constructive comment was on the brightness of the shoulder. I think it is an image of a beautiful young woman with many issues. I can see many stories in her eye (not eyes) and expression. Keith didn't think it was worthy a merit. My impression of his comments are that the concept itself is not worthy of a merit. I'm glad he was honest with me and saved me the time of entering the image. I do feel that this image has more impact than any other image I have taken this year. This includes more impact than the image of the hockey player with his feet above the goal and his head about even with the goalie's as the puck goes in the net. More impact for me than the football player lifted off the ground and tilted back about 30 degrees from the collision. Maybe I have other images that would be more likely to score well but I don't have one that tells ME a better story. If this one doesn't stand a chance I'll save my time and effort. If some other image I tossed in scored better I'd be very disappointed in the process again.

Again the PURPOSE of my post is to answer the question "Why I don't compete". I don't expect you to agree, I don't expect you to change the rules , I'm not trying to convince you to stop competing. I'm trying to give information that was requested and have it accepted. I know that I am not alone in my feelings. I DO expect that since my input was requested that it will be received. I do expect that people won't verbally beat me for my decision and try to get me to join the group. If you ask the question you need to be ready to hear the answer. Jumping on me because you don't like my answer isn't going to change my answer, isn't going to cause me to "join up", but might cause me to go away. Trying to understand my answer might even get me to participate more in a discussion and maybe all of us would become more educated.

Keith_A_Howe
02-05-2009, 07:32 PM
I'd be interested to hear how many people are perhaps turned off by comp because they feel that their style or approach isn't what they see reflected in what's hanging at IUSA or displayed in the loan collection book?

- trr

Todd,
I think that could be a very real possibility. It's not my experience though. Usually when I hear someone say that their style just doesn't fit with PPA competition the real reason they don't do well is because their work is lacking in technical aspects. It's easier to say you are misunderstood then to admit your work is technically weak. People who truly do have an innovative style or unique approach are usually well rewarded in PPA competition. I could list names here. As a judge when I see a totally new look or viewpoint, that's what draws me to the edge of my seat. Why do you think I like judging so much? It's because I literally get to see the best work of hundreds if not thousands of photographers. Think about what all that input does for my own work. The same old by the book images do not excite me. It's the truly different, that I occassionally get to see, that keeps me hoping for more. When I see an amazing image that breaks all the boundries I find myself hoping that the maker followed it through skillfully. As I get out of my chair to take a closer look I am praying that it is in focus and properly exposed and that there isn't sensor dust or clone tracking marks. I am keeping my fingers crossed that there isn't some glaring technical flaw that I just can't overlook. And then my heart drops because I see it - the big boo-boo that a professional photographer should not make. It makes me sick to my stomach. So I have to punch a score below merit level. You know what happens then? The maker goes around to anyone who will listen and says that the judges just didn't get it. Like I have said a thousand times, we got it alright. We also got that the maker fell short technically. If this is a professional competition how can we justify meriting images that do not display an ability to control basic technical skills?

Anyone who feels their style or approach is radically different then what you are currently seeing in the exhibit - I challenge you to make your work as technically excellant as you can - still expressing your unqiue viewpoint and then enter it. Instead of saying that PPA comp is too restrictive or narrow minded - be the breathe of fresh air. Instead of complaining that PPA doesn't get you - show us why your work is wonderful. Be the instrument of change if you believe change is needed.

Keith

Todd_Reichman
02-05-2009, 07:52 PM
Thanks Keith,

That's not so much my opinion but something that was forwarded on another forum this morning. There was a perception that "old school" images were rewarded instead of innovative stuff. I think your explanation is valid. I wonder if the perception has more to do with the marketing of the PPA comps? Its not that there is a problem inherently with the competition, just a perception based on who is currently entering. Keith, do you have any insight or opinion on how competition is currently being marketed and if there should be any reconsiderations or changes to that in order to address your concerns about why people are or aren't participating?

- trr

Keith_A_Howe
02-05-2009, 08:49 PM
Thanks Keith,

That's not so much my opinion but something that was forwarded on another forum this morning. There was a perception that "old school" images were rewarded instead of innovative stuff. I think your explanation is valid.

I knew you were asking as a general question, not necessarily as your own opinion, and my answer was a general response, not to you personally. We both know that but in case someone else thinks we were speaking personally to each other it's probably good to be clear.


I wonder if the perception has more to do with the marketing of the PPA comps? Its not that there is a problem inherently with the competition, just a perception based on who is currently entering. Keith, do you have any insight or opinion on how competition is currently being marketed and if there should be any reconsiderations or changes to that in order to address your concerns about why people are or aren't participating?

- trr

I don't know Todd, in any case I think it's a good idea to understand why people don't enter before PPA would pursue any active marketing to change those minds. I wouldn't say I am concerned why people don't enter, more just interested. But I do think if people don't enter because of misconceptiuons, then perhaps somehow those misconceptions can be corrected. And if there is a particular misconception that is the most common . . . well that's where to start first with any marketing or re-education. I am curious to see what impact the upcoming competition webinar series will have and if it will change anyone's perspectives. At the very least every one should agree that it shows that PEC does listen to the members and responds. The membership wanted more information on how the whole thing works and the response is a 4 part series that looks to be pretty comprehensive. I hope they get huge participation. The cost is the same as the print case fee for national and you get the case fee included as part of the series, so it's like free.

Keith

Heather_L._Smith
02-05-2009, 09:15 PM
Again the PURPOSE of my post is to answer the question "Why I don't compete". I don't expect you to agree, I don't expect you to change the rules , I'm not trying to convince you to stop competing. I'm trying to give information that was requested and have it accepted. I know that I am not alone in my feelings. I DO expect that since my input was requested that it will be received. I do expect that people won't verbally beat me for my decision and try to get me to join the group. If you ask the question you need to be ready to hear the answer. Jumping on me because you don't like my answer isn't going to change my answer, isn't going to cause me to "join up", but might cause me to go away. Trying to understand my answer might even get me to participate more in a discussion and maybe all of us would become more educated.

Arlyn, in the spirit of keeping things friendly, I just want to be clear that I see this thread as a healthy debate of the 'why' and 'why not' with no ill intent. Hope you don't stop participating.

chelane
02-05-2009, 11:47 PM
I guess for those of us who went to college, and even for those who went into graduate studies, going after the masters of photography is a drop in the bucket, comparatively.:)

I very much appreciate that, having one bachelors degree done
and nearly a second (that I'm not going to finish) under my belt.

Hopefully I will be comfortably able to spend the money for competition
next year, when my clients this year gush about my images to friends.
(I saw a friend of my last client today who mentioned that her
daughter is going on 3 and really needs a nice portrait, so the word-of-mouth
ball may be starting to roll.)

chelane
02-06-2009, 12:03 AM
>For your 1st ever competition I suggest that you #1 borrow a print
>case from someone near you.

That's a good idea, on the assumption that someone nearby isn't
going to use their print case. Hopefully there will be someone at
the local group who fits the bill.

>#2 I suggest that you look at sub state sized groups.

The local is quite affordable, and I'll join them and we'll see how
that goes (they do community critiques but not competitions).

>If you can't join your state,.or sub state sized group yet you can look at
>entering another state's competition. Here in Pa., the convention and print
>competition are this April. Let me know if you want more info.

Yes, I may be interested in entering that way. I'll get back to you
once I figure more out myself.

Thanks!!

Michael_Gan
02-06-2009, 04:34 AM
Yes! Yes! Join your local pro association! You well learn many things in addition to improving your photography, like *ahem* raising your prices ($29 for a 20x30 is not a good idea, for example)

chelane
02-06-2009, 04:47 PM
Yes! Yes! Join your local pro association! You well learn many things in addition to improving your photography, like *ahem* raising your prices ($29 for a 20x30 is not a good idea, for example)

Clearly, I don't agree about the pricing. I'm not a boutique photographer.
I'm aiming at the folks who have rarely or never gone to a pro.

Nevertheless, when I can afford the competition I will enter because
whoever my clients are deserve the best I can do for them.

Michael_Gan
02-06-2009, 04:54 PM
OK, let me say this one thing then I'll shut up for this thread. I can safely assume that you are relying on another person's income, or you have a full time job. Consider this: If you had to survive purely on these prices (.60 for a 4x6, $2 for 5x7), do you think you can survive? Considering the cost of sales of an 8x10 is around $70 for an at-home studio? Are you selling your image, or are you selling the paper they are on? IRS would look at your books as a hobby, not a business.

Stan_Lawrence
02-06-2009, 05:08 PM
Michael, you might want to move this to another thread, it's getting pretty far away from the original topic. :cool:

Keith_A_Howe
02-06-2009, 05:45 PM
So what you are saying with your prices is that your 4x6's are worth less then the cost of a candy bar and your 8x10's are worth about the same as a fast food lunch. Everybody knows what their own work is worth. It just makes me really sad that you don't feel your time and talent is worth more then a burger and fries.

Chelane, you have to know Michael and I have anything to gain by jumping on you about your prices. There is no fun in "hey lets scold the new girl!". What either of us say is out of deep concern for your potential success. Please sit down with a pen and paper. Make a list what an average order would be. Add up what the client would pay and subtract your cost to make those prints. Then subtract anything else that went into producing those prints, like a bag or box to put them in, a price list you gave the client, anything that was actually out of pocket expense. Then start thinking about your other expenses that aren't directly related to just that session but still have to be covered by all the sessions you do in a year. For example your camera, your computer, your overhead for whatever space you are working out of - even if it is your home you still have utilities, wear and tear etc, your telephone so clients can call you, website hosting, insurance, etc etc etc. Total that all up and divide it by the number of sessions you do in a year. Whatever figure that comes to also gets subtracted from that total order. Next if there is anything left for profit, you have to pay taxes on that. So now when you are all said and done what do you have left? How many hours did you work on that session, booking, photographing, prepping files, sales session, ordering, assembling the order once it was printed, and delivery. Divide what you have left by the number of hours it took and you will see how much per hour you actually made or lost. This is a really simplistic explanantion, but if you actually figure this all out, I think it will be a real eye opener for you.

Keith

Keith_A_Howe
02-07-2009, 03:57 PM
A post on the other thread brought something up I'd like to discuss. State and local competitions are where new people learn how to be a judge. It's kinda like their residency or student teaching or internship. So sometimes on that level you get very experienced judges who have gone through a lot of training and sometimes you get beginners who have never judged beforeand because of that are more prone to mistake. Of course that affects the judging. Is that fair? Probably not, but if every state and local suddenly decides they will only have affliate jurors on their panels, then where do beginning judges go to get experience?

The other issue is print case fees for those state and locals comps. Many people on here have already complained about the cost to enter. Associations are trying to keep the case fees as low as possible so judges don't get paid very well. I was recently asked to judge a state competition. I needed to fly in the night before, judge all day and fly out the next morning. So I would have had 2 nights hotel, a plane ticket and a few meals as expenses. The state was going to pay me $250. That wouldn't even cover my plane ticket. So in cases like that the only people they can get to come are local so no plane tickets, or aspiring jurors. Aspiring judges are willing to pay their own way so they can get one of their required judgings in to gain affliate status. So you have a panel of beginners again. Nothing wrong with being a beginner, everybody starts there. But that's when you see more of the issues that have been brought up as objections to competition.

A couple times it's been mentioned about judges getting bleary eyed or glazed over and there being a run of 78's & 79's. Here's something to think about. When you shuffle a deck of cards hopefully they are randomly mixed. But sometimes a bunch of aces and face cards will end up clustered together. Sometimes a bunch of 4's & 5's will come up in a string. It happens. Same thing in print competition, sometimes you get a run of "just missed" all in a row. Sometimes you get a run of high scores back to back. That doesn't mean that they were mis-scored. It just happens. Not saying it isn't possible for judges to get in a rut and a good jury chair will do everything they can to avoid that. At affiliate judgings they rotate frequently and if there are two panels they will often mix up the panels just to keep everyone fresh. At national judging the panels are also rotated every 10 minutes and mixed up four times a day. I don 't know what more could be done other then bring in a whole new panel after lunch each day. I don't think anyone wants to cover that extra cost in their print case fee but it would be a solution.

Keith

william_clark
02-22-2009, 01:31 PM
I'm a real believer in the Toastmasters program, how they operate and strive to help each member improve their communication and leadership skills. The foundation of Toastmasters is to help each individual club member with the entire organization built on this premise. What happens at a club where a member critiques anothers speech? More than likely that's the last time you will see s(he) at the club or s(he) will not want to ever speak again.

How about instead we give print evaluations. Let each judge find something positive and constructive to say about the print and make one or two recommendations for improvement, (to entice the person to go out make better images and come back again), finally ending the evaluation on a high note, stating a point or two what you see as positives in the print. Can't find any positives, find them, that should be your job. Do you think someone says I'm going to submit the crappiest print because that's all I can do? You be the judge! Do a sandwich evaluation and watch your submissions grow & grow and people who want to get better & better with their photography.

Has anyone thought about organizing the PPA along the same lines with a program that, has in mind, helping each individual member? Making it an agenda item at every meeting?

How about it beginning at the local club level? Why not have as a cornerstone the idea that the organization exists to help improve each and every members photography skills?

I can go on with this but I will quit for now and see if anyone is listening or cares.

Michael_Gan
02-22-2009, 03:53 PM
Has anyone thought about organizing the PPA along the same lines with a program that, has in mind, helping each individual member? Making it an agenda item at every meeting?

How about it beginning at the local club level? Why not have as a cornerstone the idea that the organization exists to help improve each and every members photography skills?PPA is already doing this with the Mentoring at IUSA.

One problem is that as you go down the ladder of affiliate associations, the experience pool of judges start to dwindle. There is a discussion starting in the affiliate leadership section of this forum addressing what one of the problems is with the local affiliate (http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?t=16036): (http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?t=16036%29:) Lack of photographic leadership visioning in the local level. Even you mentioned "Club Level", and that's the problem. A professional association of any kind needs to be a "trade" level. There is a huge difference: The club level mentality can be more of an admiration society while a trade level can be more of a "tough love" process.

william_clark
02-22-2009, 04:51 PM
Michael, you should attend a Toastmasters meeting, you can try them out for free and see what I mean. We work very hard at providing a non-combative atmosphere every time we meet. And it is very important at the club level where each member starts out. We are here to help each other with our speaking and communication skills. Speaking is an art just like photography. Evaluations are very important as they nurture growth for each member and we have manuals and training to help with this. I consider each meeting a laboratory, an environment where we can experiment, realizing we won't be pounced on with someone who says it's bad and I don't like it.

It's the type of environment that should/needs to be present every time a print is evaluated.

Well I've said enough. I don't want to take hostage with this thread with Toastmasters. I thought, since they seem to be successful, some of the stuff they do would help the print area.

Michael_Gan
02-22-2009, 06:21 PM
I don't disagree with TM.

My point is that the level of expertise has eroded at the local level because of the camera club mentality. What happens is that there are fewer Masters in the local level for the various reasons I'm outlining in the Affiliate Leadership section. Consequently, there becomes a problem of the "blind leading the blind. If you ever go to a higher level competition such as regional and states, you will find more constructive criticism because of the increase of qualified judges. Most local associations cannot get a good enough judging pool from their locals, so there is no reference on how to judge images appropriately.

Citing your TM example, even then, you can't learn anything if you don't receive any feedback on what you're doing wrong. Somewhere along the line, there has to be some sort of tough love policy in place. Very often, the combativeness doesn't come from the judges, but the entrant who takes criticism personally.

william_clark
02-22-2009, 10:05 PM
Well that's where Toastmasters is different. They don't do criticisms but, rather, they suggest one or two areas to improve on. That's what I was hoping to read here. Take the sandwich approach. Start out with some positives, make recommendations on one or two items to work on when you go make new prints to submit for competition the next time and end on a high note with a few more positives. That's what I was getting to by recommending that evaluations might be a new and better way for the PPA. Does anybody listen?

If Toastmasters operated with "tough love" they would have far fewer members. And conversations like this one here.

At any rate, I think it's a lost cause here, like pushing water up hill, with the mind-set of photographers relative to print submission, purpose & judging.

Whatever.

Michael_Gan
02-22-2009, 10:22 PM
William, I don't know if you're getting at what I'm saying. In the upper reaches of print comp (state, up to national), you have the qualified judges where they do exactly what you are requesting. Unless you have a good pool of Master photographers on the local level, that's not going to happen. This is why it is so important to raise the bar on the local levels. Many, like you go to the local competitions and wind up getting a low opinion of the judging process. I would guess that many who have had a poor experience in print comp (bleary eyed, combative, etc) and are bad mouthing it have only the local experience to thank for that.

D._Craig_Flory
02-22-2009, 10:46 PM
To add to what Michael said ... I have been a print judge twice for a pro group below the state level. I was still just a C.P.P. & these times were before I got the Craftsman Degree. Instead of five judges they only have three. And, they normally only have one of the judges be a Master. At the state level. PPA does not require that all judges be Master but here in Pa. we always do.

The further up the chain you go, the more prints are entered. That also means that there is progressively more time involved in judging and less for discussion. The time for discussion, and suggestions, is at Print Critiques held at levels below Imaging.

Rick_Massarini
02-23-2009, 12:28 AM
...PPA does not require that all judges be Master but here in Pa. we always do...

PPA has no say in what the qualifications are for a judge at a local or state group competition - those qualifications are set by that state or local photographic competition committee.

The PPA-PEC does, however, set the standards for Regional Affiliate Competitions and the International Competition (any competition that can bestow a PPA Seal-of-Approval to an image). ALL PPA JURORS ARE MASTERS.

PPA has only one standard for jurors, and those requirements are set by the PPA-Photographic Exhibitions Committee (PPA-PEC).

All PPA-PEC Jurors must be Master Photographers. In addition, they must have an additional number of merit prints past those required for their Masters Degree, they must also attend a week long PPA Judges Class (held in conjunction with the annual International Judging) and get a number of evaluations of their judging ability by other PPA-PEC jurors as they judge at various State level competitions - all this before being able to apply for their Affiliate Juror status.

So while you may not have to be a Master to judge at a State or local judging; to be a PPA AFFILIATE JUROR, you must first be a Master.

Keith_A_Howe
02-23-2009, 01:08 AM
What I think William is getting at is when people post images here on the forum, that we need to take more time and use a gentler approach. State some positive things about the image, make a couple of suggestions on how to improve the next time the maker is photographing and end with a positive note so that we are less discouraging to makers. I think his suggestion has merit to a degree in this competition thread but has more appropriate in the other threads like portrait, wedding, senior etc. that makers ask for CC on.
On this competiton thread, most of the time makers are looking for ways to make this paticular image into a competition image that will hopefully merit. An image that is deserving of merit is one that is better than just above average, of all of the images entered (remember photographers are entering what they feel are their best work, not their average work). It is not an easy thing to achieve, having images deserving of merit. For clearification When judging and an image gets challanged, as judges we only talk to the issues that are in the direction we want the image to go (for the image talks to the possitive points and against the image talks to the negitive points) the reason is if we want the image to go higher why would you point out the problems you see, for all you know the other judges maybe hadn't seen those points and you are giving reasons not to increase the score. Also there is a time issue, we have to judge all of the images in the time allotted, as fairly and honestly as possible.
When we are ask in person to critique an image we will take the time to talk about the positive things as well as what we see that could have been improved upon. Here on this thread alot of time we get to see images and are ask "will this work for competition?" or "What about this image?" . I try to state some positives but I know that I have been talking more about the issues I see within the image and making my suggestions without taking time to state positives that do not need additional attention. I am long winded in my post most of the time anyway. Most of the time on this thread, I find I am pointing out the problems as to why it will score less than a merit and making suggestions as to how to improve a given image to counter the problems and make it stronger.
That may be a problem with a forum vs in person, I would say more in person but to type it all out and try to have it taken with the meaning I intended and not be misunderstood or misread. To me this has become a major consideration.
Keith

william_clark
02-23-2009, 01:21 AM
I was only suggesting the sandwich method of evaluation to help.

As a board member with the TCPPA we started in 2007 at our October meeting members can bring prints to have them evaluated by a Master Photographer.
We start off our October meeting with the stage set up with lighting and we have two people (it's been David Grupa & David Jones) inform all attending on how to prepare a print for judging. They educate and add some spice to their presentation with some humor! They make the seminar interesting & fun.
We can can bring prints to have them evaluated by a Master Photographer after the seminar on helping to prepare the print for judging. We set up 8 foot tables with one photographer/judge at each. We usually have 5 or 6 people with prints to be judged per. We will have around 7 to 10 tables depending on participation and judges. The purpose of the meeting to help prepare our images for the November print competition.

At the November Print Competition Meeting we have at least 4 judges and a person who oversees the event. This has been Bob Dale and he has done a wonderful job. Very professional.

This year I volunteered to announce each print as it came around the turnstile!

I commend all those who have participated and who have volunteered at this important event. It is very well done.
I've entered several prints and each learned from each judges thoughtful remarks.


I was only trying to suggest that the sandwich method of evaluation/critique/judging may be an approach to consider. We have a pretty good turnout at all of our TCPPA monthly meetings but October and November are really terrific as each and every member can participate and learn from this.

I hope everyone has a very successful 2009!

Keith_A_Howe
02-23-2009, 03:04 AM
William,
Something else to consider with your suggestion of a positive comment, a couple suggestions for improvement and then finishing with a positive. Most people ask for a critique - at least in the competition area - with an intention of entering the print. Sometimes a print will be posted that has multiple challenges to it's success. I used to do as you suggest, basically sugar coating the issues. I would try to find something good to say, mention just one or two things to improve and try to end by finding a way to make the photographer feel good about themselves. So then it would never fail, they would say to me "So if I fix this and that, then you feel it will merit?" How do I answer that? Should I say "well no, it also has some more problems."? Should I instead try to leaving them feeling good with what I know are false hopes and let them get a rude awakening at the actual competition? Is that better for them? I have gotten to the point where I just spit out the truth as clearly and plainly as I can. If there are many problems with an image, I try to state them all, so the maker knows why the image won't succeed and aren't left thinking it was just one small issue that they were overly penalized for. If there are many good points I try to touch on all of them. I don't want to discourage people from entering but I also want to be as upfront and complete as possible. More information is hopefully always better. This is another reason why I always want to know what someone's expectations for print competition are. It tells me how to word my responses. You teach to the level people are at.

Keith

Mark_Levesque
02-23-2009, 04:33 AM
One thing that I think is different about public speaking vs image making is that public speaking is mostly a matter of having self confidence. It is because of this that it is problematic to be frank about the shortcomings of speakers, because if you are direct you undermine the most critical component of public speaking. It is not quite the same with creating photographs. Photographs stand on their own regardless of the photographer. While is it a help to be able to hear criticism of one's work without withering, it is quite possible to be incapable of enduring such criticism and yet be capable of creating astounding photographs. Not so, with public speaking. This being the case it is not terribly surprising that these two endeavors are treated differently when it comes to helping practitioners improve.

Louise_St_Romain
02-23-2009, 12:23 PM
William,
Something else to consider with your suggestion of a positive comment, a couple suggestions for improvement and then finishing with a positive. Most people ask for a critique - at least in the competition area - with an intention of entering the print. Sometimes a print will be posted that has multiple challenges to it's success. I used to do as you suggest, basically sugar coating the issues. I would try to find something good to say, mention just one or two things to improve and try to end by finding a way to make the photographer feel good about themselves. So then it would never fail, they would say to me "So if I fix this and that, then you feel it will merit?" How do I answer that? Should I say "well no, it also has some more problems."? Should I instead try to leaving them feeling good with what I know are false hopes and let them get a rude awakening at the actual competition? Is that better for them? I have gotten to the point where I just spit out the truth as clearly and plainly as I can. If there are many problems with an image, I try to state them all, so the maker knows why the image won't succeed and aren't left thinking it was just one small issue that they were overly penalized for. If there are many good points I try to touch on all of them. I don't want to discourage people from entering but I also want to be as upfront and complete as possible. More information is hopefully always better. This is another reason why I always want to know what someone's expectations for print competition are. It tells me how to word my responses. You teach to the level people are at.

Keith

I was fortunate enough to have you do the critique for my case at National last year (which was the first competition that I entered). I found it to be straight forward and one of the best critiques I have gotten. I was able to take what you said and apply it to what I'm working on. It has been almost a year since I've sent in that first case and I've seen a huge improvement in my overall work. That is what I've gotten out of competition (getting some pretty blue ribbons hasn't hurt either :D )

william_clark
02-23-2009, 01:22 PM
Where it begins is at the local level. This is where we all should work on getting folks to submit prints over and over again and again, working on improving them each time. It's the sandwich approach that could be most effective at that level.

By the time a makers print moves up, then the critique, at each level, has tougher standards. At the national level the standards should be the toughest because it is this level that the best of the best should be qualified to enter.

Why not try it, at least at the local level. Give it a year or so. See if the number of entries goes up and the number of people re-submitting prints that gets better and better scores goes up.

Maybe it would help us all do better.

By the way, in Toastmasters it is only at the local level that we verbally give evaluations. Competitions beyond the club level are all judged with forms filled out on each speaker. Only the winners from each level get to go on and compete until the 8 best from the World compete at Toastmasters International, once a year, to determine the best speaker, at least of the bunch that made it, in the world.

You would find that it's mostly average people who belong with some competing and a few getting to the top. Those that stay around for a while seem to like it. Is it perfect? Heck no. I just thought that, particularly at the local level we'd get more people involved and make it easier, as the prints get better when you get to the nationals.

Thanks for reading my thoughts. Just trying to help.

Fuzzy_Duenkel
02-23-2009, 02:09 PM
I'm jumping in late here, so forgive me of I didn't read the previous posts... it's 23 pages!!!!

But at our local group, I initiated digital comp. Just bring your images in on a USB Jump drive. It re-invigorateted paticipation.

We also have monthly Image Critique and Enhancement (ICE) instead of competition. Each image is discussed and enhanced as a group. Very edicational for all members.

Stan_Lawrence
02-23-2009, 03:22 PM
"public speaking is mostly a matter of having self confidence"

That's only one factor, the others are easily learned. Eye contact, speaking clearly, dynamics (changing volume), removing the "ums" are all likely part of what Toastmasters teaches. Likely one of the most important things they teach is effective communication, which is often less is more.....:cool:

Michael_Gan
02-23-2009, 05:45 PM
Where it begins is at the local level. This is where we all should work on getting folks to submit prints over and over again and again, working on improving them each time. It's the sandwich approach that could be most effective at that level. This is what I'm getting at. But before you can instigate this, you need to have to have the right kind of experience levels on the local associations, otherwise it's "who's teaching whom"? And that is what the fundamental problem with struggling local associations across the country. This is what my primary aim is in my term: To strengthen PPA through the strengthening of its affiliates. Otherwise, you wind up with just the very complaint about the competition process that many on this thread are complaining about. This is why I'm recommending that the primary vision process for struggling associations is "photographic excellence". This cart as simply as getting more certified photographers in the associations, then building up from there.

Mark_Levesque
02-23-2009, 06:19 PM
I think that is a great idea, Michael. The more you get around to other affiliates, the more you see the variability in them. Encouraging the weaker associations to try some of the things that have been successful for other associations should strengthen them. And I do think that increasing the ranks of certified professionals is a good thing. Technical competence is the bedrock on which professionalism begins. Certification kind of forces the issue, and that can only strengthen the profession in the long run, by increasing the separation between professionals and the legions of "photographers" who think ownership of a DSLR is all it takes.

WendysPhotos
03-10-2009, 08:45 PM
Hello

I just joined PPA for the first time and saw this thread while browsing. Would you like to know why I do not think I will ever compete again?

I was strongly encouraged to try it in the Fall of 2009 at our state competition. I thought 'why not'. I knew nothing about it, had aless then two weeks to read the rules, prepare images, get them printed and enter. I did and THREE of my images recieved scores high enough to merit. I thought that was pretty cool, since 2 were fairly high and only 1 boarderline. So since I won a free case to the Regional competition I thought 'lets do this again' with my two high scoring going exactly the same and the marginal one played with some, and a new fourth. at regional, NOT A SINGLE PRINT MERITED:eek:. If judging cannot be fair and balanced from one competion to the next, why bother. I'm not spending the money to be told one time this is great and the next this is crap. I thought each print was suppose to stand on its own?

I also think it is very unfair that the 'Masters' ( I think thats who they are) are allowed to enter a print any size or way they like, yet others are held to strict restrictions. Then as soon as a 'Masters' comes up every judge knows that one of thier esteemed peers. Who in the hell is not going to merit it? Everyparticipant should be held to the same restrictions and if not then it should be a competition for 'Masters' and then one for all others.

Well, print competion is out for me, so then I guess getting any certification, but oh well, my brides like my work.

Wendy Burk

Michael_Gan
03-10-2009, 09:12 PM
Wendy, we all feel your pain as all of us, not just you, have gone through this process. There are different levels of judging and the difference between your state competition and regional is that your images are going to national caliber judges, whereas, the states have judges who are trying to qualify to be national judges (not all of them, but usually some of them). As we have said throughout this and many other threads, you have to look at this as a learning opportunity, and not a bruised ego one.



Well, print competition is out for me, so then I guess getting any certification, but oh well, my brides like my work.

Have you ever come across an "older" photographer who's work, you would characterize as "old, stale and outdated"? I'd be surprised if you hadn't.

Well guess what? Those same photographers said the exact same words as you early in their careers. So, what are you going to do when the current styles have changed? Many are now suggesting that the "PJ" style is on a sharp decline as "out of style". Where will you go then? How will you learn the new style? Sure, you can be book smart about it and take some courses, but how would you match up with those who are already doing the new style?

Use print comp to keep yourself up-to-date, or suffer the same fate that many others that many newer photographers such as yourself suggest. Certification is a tremendous first step, but print comp can help you define your style and learn to be a leader in your marketplace. Not a follower.

Fuzzy_Duenkel
03-10-2009, 09:46 PM
Wendy, sorry you had a bad experience, but really, NO judge is a machine. What is the exact, correct score for your prints? THERE IS NONE! It's all subjective. Granted one would expect a close difference from on panel to the next, but generally, the higher you go, the better the panel should be.

Our local group gave one of my prnts an 86, yet it didn't merit when better judges scored it. I understand that they are human, and we are asking humans to put an exact number on a photograph. Can't be done. All we can do is expect a reasonable range.

At our group a woman was miffed that WPPI gave it a score in the 80s, yet it didn't score well at our group. I agreed with our group... the print was interesting, but not well done.

About the master's size restrictions.... TRUST ME Just because a non-standard size comes up DOES NOT mean they get preferential treatment!!! Some judges are harder on them than a 16x20 because masters are expected to know better. Would you yell at a 2nd grader for not spelling correctly? But a high schooler... you bet I'd be all over their case.

Hang in there. We NEED ticked off people like you to shake things up!

Michael's right though... we've all thought the system was messed up, and to blame for all evils of the world. After a while you'll grow to see the wisdom in much of it. The rest of it? Yeah, it stinks.

BTW, were it not for print competition, no one here would know my name.

Dave_Cisco
03-10-2009, 10:13 PM
Then as soon as a 'Masters' comes up every judge knows that one of thier esteemed peers. Who in the hell is not going to merit it? Everyparticipant should be held to the same restrictions and if not then it should be a competition for 'Masters' and then one for all others.

Well, print competion is out for me, so then I guess getting any certification, but oh well, my brides like my work.

Wendy Burk

This sounds more like sour grapes than something you have collected supporting data for. If I were inclined to judge Masters differently from those without the degree, I might judge them more strictly because their work should be an example to others.
BTW, I have my share of images that didn't merit after I became a Master...and they didn't deserve to.:)

Jonathan_Brown
03-11-2009, 12:04 AM
This sounds more like sour grapes than something you have collected supporting data for. If I were inclined to judge Masters differently from those without the degree, I might judge them more strictly because their work should be an example to others.
BTW, I have my share of images that didn't merit after I became a Master...and they didn't deserve to.:)

Dave,

I thought the purpose of this post was to garner input on why people did or did not compete in the print competition. I do not think calling someones point of view sour grapes is going to really help the situation OR help get more open and honest feedback. I know Wendy personally and that may be part of the reason I am quick to post here but I think that comment was out of line and truth be told part of the reason that some people leave print comp. She expressed her point of view, made her feelings known and out of the 3 responses 2 were understanding and helpful and one called it sour grapes.

Put yourself in her shoes: she is new, never had a merit, never entered print comp before. She gives her feelings. Which is then called sour grapes. How likely do you think she is to enter again? I know she may have said something you disagree with and I do not think that many judges are swayed by the masters size but can you not see her point?

Could this be part of the reason so many people quite and never some back?

Just making my observation to add to the discussion!

colorcharging
03-11-2009, 12:07 AM
Recently moved to Sf, NM and would if any of you Senior Guys & Gals can recommend a mentor to me...:D

Dave_Cisco
03-11-2009, 12:20 AM
Dave,

I thought the purpose of this post was to garner input on why people did or did not compete in the print competition. I do not think calling someones point of view sour grapes is going to really help the situation OR help get more open and honest feedback. I know Wendy personally and that may be part of the reason I am quick to post here but I think that comment was out of line and truth be told part of the reason that some people leave print comp. She expressed her point of view, made her feelings known and out of the 3 responses 2 were understanding and helpful and one called it sour grapes.

Put yourself in her shoes: she is new, never had a merit, never entered print comp before. She gives her feelings. Which is then called sour grapes. How likely do you think she is to enter again? I know she may have said something you disagree with and I do not think that many judges are swayed by the masters size but can you not see her point?

Could this be part of the reason so many people quite and never some back?

Just making my observation to add to the discussion!


Chill.
I see her point, but I think it was appropriate considering that she felt that judgings are rigged. We both expressed somewhat extreme opinions...what's not fair about that?:)

Keith_A_Howe
03-11-2009, 12:47 AM
I know that no one will believe this, but when you are actually judging and seeing hundreds of prints come through, the odd size does not even register. You are so focused on everything else that you don't even think about the fact that it's a master's print.

Keith

Rick_Massarini
03-11-2009, 01:18 AM
Wendy,

Don't let a conflicting score from two different judgings turn you off from competing. When you sent your print to the regional judging, you had a group of seasoned PPA affiliate jurors judging them. All of the jurors at the regional level must be PPA-PEC QUALIFIED. At your local or state judging, your panel of judges may not have been as qualified as the panel of jurors at the regional judging. In some cases, the judges that were on the panel may have been convention program talent and not PEC QUALIFIED Jurors - they may not have even taken the judging class yet, as those requirements are not held by some states. In order to become a PEC Juror, a judge must judge at a certain number of state judgings and accumulate evaluations from the PEC Jurors who were there. Once they have attended the judging class, have accumulated the required number of exhibition merits over those required for the Masters degree, and accumulated their judging evaluations, then they can apply to be considered for PEC-Juror status. So the state judgings are a kind of "training area" for national level Jurors.

Opinions vary a lot from person to person, but once a person reaches PEC Juror status, he or she is usually a much better judge from when they first started down that road. The question you need to ask in your mind is where on that road were the members of the panel who judged your work? Experience means a lot. The members of your state panel may have contained some inexperienced judges, so it's kind of hard to compare state level judging to that of an affiliated regional competition. And even if your panel did have some affiliated jurors present, opinions vary from person to person - judging art is always rather subjective.

As far as size goes, I have heard it two ways from many of the PEC Jurors that I know. The answer about odd sizes is either that they just don't notice the odd size, or that they tend to judge the odd size images a bit harder on the presumption that they might be able to forgive a minor flaw on a non-Masters image, but since this was an odd size print, thus a Master, then they just couldn't forgive an obvious oversight coming from a Master, simply because a Master should have known better. In fact, I know a couple of Masters who submit standard 16x20's for that reason - they figure that if they made it odd sized, it would be judged more harshly, and they figure that they have a better chance of hanging a print if the judges don't know that it is from a Master. I've never heard of a Juror judging a print more leniently just because they knew it was from a Master - usually it's the opposite - Masters get held to a higher standard.

Don't let that score conflict turn you off - after all - it's all about the education.

D._Craig_Flory
03-11-2009, 02:47 PM
Hi Wendy;

It has been my experience that judging gets tougher the further you go up the ladder. To add to what has been said about experience / qualifications of judges at the different levels ... at a sub state pro ptotog. association, here in Pennsylvania, they only have 3 judges and not all must be a Master although they have at least one and usually two. I judged there twice and I was only a C.P.P. at the time. I had not yet received my Craftsman Degree. So, there, you only need to be certified. In our state group all must be a Master but not necessarily an affiliated juror. As has been said, in all Regionals, jurors must be affiliated jurors ... having gone through judging school as well as submitting 20 8X10s of their work.

I always expect to have my images judged more closely at each level.

WendysPhotos
03-12-2009, 11:46 PM
Have you ever come across an "older" photographer who's work, you would characterize as "old, stale and outdated"? I'd be surprised if you hadn't.

Well guess what? Those same photographers said the exact same words as you early in their careers. So, what are you going to do when the current styles have changed? Many are now suggesting that the "PJ" style is on a sharp decline as "out of style". Where will you go then? How will you learn the new style? Sure, you can be book smart about it and take some courses, but how would you match up with those who are already doing the new style?

Use print comp to keep yourself up-to-date, or suffer the same fate that many others that many newer photographers such as yourself suggest. Certification is a tremendous first step, but print comp can help you define your style and learn to be a leader in your marketplace. Not a follower.

I am sorry, but I do not feel that not doing print competition is going to be detrimental to my business. The comment about my brides is yes thye like my work, so they can be my judge. and as far as getting stale and old fashion; don't plan on it happening, I attend alot of seminars, go out with other photographers to see what they are doing and make it a mission that everytime I pick up my camera at a shoot, be it a wedding or for my own personal reasons, I try to do something new and different.

Thank You Johnathan for your support!!!! and yes, you may convince me to try again and I think you know which picture I am mainly referring to.

As for my comment on the Masters sizes, all your responses have merit, but as with any kind of a judging (I am very familiar with horse judging) when you know something is by a definite peer you look at it different. I will concede that many of the Master prints I saw were VERY merit worthy. There was one that was pretty awesome in my opinion and a judges favorite. But I also saw a couple that merited that I personally and a couple people with me were going 'What?'. I will also concede that it is all an opinion. BUT when there is a 19 point spread between one competition and another. Sorry, not going to spend a couple hundred to see 'IF' this set of judges likes my stuff.

You asked for opinions from people and when only Master Photographers are responding then maybe you should ask why the newbies are dropping out after trying it.

ALSO: If they wanted to improve it. They would provide a written response to why it was tagged where it was. Even if it was a few lines: such as 'possibly a little oversaturated' or 'focal point not defined enough' etc. Just giving me a random number is 'UGH'.

Thank You
Wendy Burk

Michael_Gan
03-13-2009, 04:33 AM
I am sorry, but I do not feel that not doing print competition is going to be detrimental to my business. The comment about my brides is yes thye like my work, so they can be my judge. and as far as getting stale and old fashion; don't plan on it happening, I attend a lot of seminars, go out with other photographers to see what they are doing and make it a mission that everytime I pick up my camera at a shoot, be it a wedding or for my own personal reasons, I try to do something new and different. Fair enough. Although, I can't tell you how many other photographers have said the same thing and have all gone stale with their work after about 20 years in this business.The funny thing, is that if you let your clients be your judge, most photographers start to say "aw, they don't know what they are talking about" when you've had those amounts of years of experience. Funny how that's what they used to say about the PPA judges! But, I understand. But I won't beat my head up against the wall just to get people to enter, I just know where I wouldn't be without it, and mediocrity is something I fight with every day. When you don't have that leading edge with your peers....I dunno, I just don't believe in being a follower.

I guess I can sum all of this up: I can talk to my 32 year old daughter and tell her what would be important to her life, and she won't understand it to save her life. Then, she would turn to me and say "I can't figure out why I can't get through to my 12 year old daughter". I'm sure I frustrate the heck out of my parents too! Bottom line is, you'll have to live through life to understand what others are saying. ;)

Keith_A_Howe
03-13-2009, 05:38 AM
I know I am quoting Wendy's points here but she raise good questions and I am trying to elaborate for all and not trying to put Wendy or anyone on the spot.

But I also saw a couple that merited that I personally and a couple people with me were going 'What?'. I will also concede that it is all an opinion. Wendy Burk

Wendy- I am not trying to persecute here but am asking, did you happen to approach any of the judges and ask them why the image scored where it did? (I recomend asking as many judges and or masters at a competition (ask them one at a time to get indiv. opinions instead of a group agreeing with the most outspoken person) ask on any images you have questions on, not just your images).



BUT when there is a 19 point spread between one competition and another. Sorry, not going to spend a couple hundred to see 'IF' this set of judges likes my stuff. Wendy Burk
If you want to get a more accurate scoring, then enter only affiliated judgings (your regional and the international competitions). I really would be surprised if you recieved an identical score from 2 different judgings because it is an average of 5 jurors scores / opinions but I agree a 19 point spread is much bigger than I would expect and hopefully is pretty rare though I know it happens.


ALSO: If they wanted to improve it. They would provide a written response to why it was tagged where it was. Even if it was a few lines: such as 'possibly a little oversaturated' or 'focal point not defined enough' etc. Just giving me a random number is 'UGH'.
Wendy Burk

I know that a number score may seem random to you. If you take a look at the score chart and consider that photographers are entering what they feel is their best work and when you look at the catagory that the score represents it gives you an idea where the image falls in the best of photographers have to enter.
As for a written suggestion for every image images the man hours for aprox 8-10,000 images. The video critique at the international judging is the best answer at this time (though PEC is always looking at better / affordable options). This is also why at other judgings I recomend seeking out the judges after the judging is over and asking for opinions.


Keith

andiegoodman
03-14-2009, 04:03 AM
ALSO: If they wanted to improve it. They would provide a written response to why it was tagged where it was. Even if it was a few lines: such as 'possibly a little oversaturated' or 'focal point not defined enough' etc. Just giving me a random number is 'UGH'.

Thank You
Wendy Burk

Wendy, if you are entering a state or regional competition, once judging is over and prints are hung, you can always speak to the judges and get a critique on your images and suggestions for how to improve the image.

For the national (international) competition, you can order an electronic critique that will be returned with your prints.

You can always get feedback on your prints, even if it is from a fellow photographer.

(and I am not a master)