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Angela_Lawson
04-13-2009, 07:07 PM
Hi all.

As many of you know, this year I entered my first competition in the MidEast Regionals. I was okay with the scores I got on 3 of them for a first time out
(2-76's and a 77). I know they won't make it for International Print Comp then, but I'm really struggling with something. I'm striving to create great client images, but am having a hard time with the issue of impact in a client image. As I go thru all of my images, I look at them thru the client's eyes, and see the reason's they like this one or that one, but when I look at them thru the eyes of a possible print judge, even if technically sound, I'm stuggling with the issue of impact in the portrait. For instance, in another thread, I posted the image of a baby (the 77 score), and asked if there was anything that could be done to boost the score any at Internationals. The response was that it was a great client image, but lacked impact. So, my question is...How do I get that impact out of portraits? I want to work toward my masters, but want to do it with what I shoot...portraits. My goal is for my client images to benefit from competition, that's why I was thinking in those terms. Or should I go out and try other stuff for competition?

Please help. I won't be able to enter anything for this year now, but I'd really like to be ready with some great images for next year.

Thanks.
Angela

D._Craig_Flory
04-13-2009, 07:26 PM
Hi Angela;

There are a few factors that I see effecting impact. One is composition. If you have static, boring, composition that doesn't help. But, if you use a dynamic composition that draws the viewers eyes right to the main subject that is a big boost. If your image has a lot of story telling going on (easily recognized by the panel) that also helps. If your title easily explains the image as well as getting the judges sitting up and eager to see that image that goes with the title that also helps. Does your image illicit emotion ?

I hope I helped a little.

Angela_Lawson
04-15-2009, 01:38 AM
Okay everyone - I know it's a busy time of year, but I'd really like some more input on the subject of making my client work into competition work.

Thanks DC for your input.

Angela

Rob_Wilson
04-15-2009, 01:41 AM
Hi all.

As many of you know, this year I entered my first competition in the MidEast Regionals. I was okay with the scores I got on 3 of them for a first time out
(2-76's and a 77). I know they won't make it for International Print Comp then, but I'm really struggling with something. I'm striving to create great client images, but am having a hard time with the issue of impact in a client image. As I go thru all of my images, I look at them thru the client's eyes, and see the reason's they like this one or that one, but when I look at them thru the eyes of a possible print judge, even if technically sound, I'm stuggling with the issue of impact in the portrait. For instance, in another thread, I posted the image of a baby (the 77 score), and asked if there was anything that could be done to boost the score any at Internationals. The response was that it was a great client image, but lacked impact. So, my question is...How do I get that impact out of portraits? I want to work toward my masters, but want to do it with what I shoot...portraits. My goal is for my client images to benefit from competition, that's why I was thinking in those terms. Or should I go out and try other stuff for competition?

Please help. I won't be able to enter anything for this year now, but I'd really like to be ready with some great images for next year.

Thanks.
Angela

It can be anything really, show us the images.

Todd_Reichman
04-15-2009, 02:19 AM
I for one would love to see some judges weigh in on this. I realize that impact seems to be one of the most important elements being judged, and I also realize that I don't have a clue what impacts a judge. I've seen rather pedestrian images (just my opinion :D!) be labelled as impactful and striking images not be acknowledged, so I think that impact doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. So are there any judges out there who might be willing to explain and show what impact means to them and how they judge it?

- trr

heritage
04-15-2009, 02:02 PM
I too would love to hear some responses...

Angela, you put words so perfectly to a question I am having. Thank you.

Keith_A_Howe
04-15-2009, 02:51 PM
I am very very busy right now and getting ready to leave town for awhile but I wanted to give at least a quick answer.

Impact = evoked response

Anything that creates a response, emotional, physical, intellectual, that's impact. That response is not always positive, it can be a negative, sad, angry or distressful response. I remember a print by Randy Taylor that I judged last year. I successfully challenged the print to 100. When it spun around on the turntable the hair on my arms stood up, a physical response. Not only was it a beautful image but he so perfectly captured the moment before a tornado hits. I could almost feel that drop in barametric pressure. That's impact. That strong response can be created through subject matter, composition, expression, technique, color etc. or a combination of any of those. If it sounds like I am listing off the 12 elements it's because I am. The highest impact prints usually employ many of the different elements to create that response.

I know this sounds condescending and I really don't mean it to be, but impact is one of those things that once you get it, you just get it. Impact is probably the most difficult thing for a young photographer to understand. They enter a head and shoulders portrait of a beautiful woman and score a 76. Then they see another H&S portrait of another woman score well into the merit catergory. It's hard for them to understand how that can be. But there is probably something in the merit image, the expression that connects with the viewer, the lighting or something else that evokes a response.


Can two judges see impact differently? Absolutely and that's why we have 5/6 judges on a panel. Because each brings a different viewpoint to the discussion. So what happens when one judge sees impact and another doesn't? A challenge usually. That's what happened with the print by Randy Taylor I mentioned above. I saw the impact from the start. Some of the other judges, maybe the ones who don't live in tornado alley, didn't see that as clearly. So I challenged and was able to explain why this print evoked such a strong response. Sometimes the rest of the panel ends up agreeing and sometimes not. That's waht makes our system so strong, that it is an average of scores, not just one person's opinion.

An impactful print you walk away from and it stays with you for days or years even. A non impactful print you won't really remember tomorrow. It just blends in with all the other dozens and dozens of prints you saw that day.

If I can find the time later today I will post two images of mine of similar subjects and try to point out why one has impact and the other doesn't. Maybe that will help.

Keith

Heather_L._Smith
04-15-2009, 10:57 PM
Hey, Angela. One of my biggest challenges is finding comp-worthy prints in my everyday client images. I do a TON of high-key white, and it has taught me a very, very important lesson. In a high-key image, there isn't anything to look at except your subject. There isn't any pretty scenery, there isn't anything additional to add to the story - it's just your subject. That subject absolutely MUST be compelling - that subject must have a story to tell or an expression that is unforgettable. If it doesn't have that (on top of being technically sound), then it won't do well in comp. Keith gave me some great guidance recently - he told me that when I was looking through my possible images, to look for the technically sound images first, then look for the expression next. If it's an expression or a story that has something to say, then it will do better in comp.

I photograph primarily children. Moms usually want the smile image. I usually want the more artistic or storytelling image. When I'm shooting a client image, I try to get both - I get the safe shots in the can first, then try new stuff or explore new ideas. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, and I don't do it with every client that comes in the door.

If I actually get my act together and get my prints ordered, all of my images being sent in this year will be client images. I'm not sure how they'll do, but once again, it's been a great learning experience. I went into print comp this year with a completely different mindset - because I know what makes a good comp print, and I was much more critical of my own work as a result. It was great in that I caused me to change some things in my regular every-day client work that made things even more consistent and raised the bar on my "regular" work even higher.

I've always held strong to the theory that comp is a learning experience and I plan to keep learning till the day I die. This year has been no exception. I won't embarrass myself, but I'm keeping my expectations low :)

Todd_Reichman
04-16-2009, 12:41 AM
So I see how Keith relates the impact he sees in the tornado image to the way that the elements were used to create that impact. But is impact the least objective of the 12 elements? It would seem that in order to strive for impact we ought to consider the makeup of the "typical" judge. How old are they, what is the average background? Obviously, for an image to have impact it must resonate in some way, which seems to me a personal reaction.

- trr

Jeff_Dachowski
04-16-2009, 12:53 AM
Angela,
Have you ever seen the movie Seven?, or Hannibal?

If the answer is yes to both of these, do you remember the part where they open the box in Seven, or when Hannibal prepares and feeds that special meal to the FBI director? These images haunt and stay with you a long time. That is impact. Now, notice how if you saw the movie a second time, the impact is quite a bit diminished. It doesn't make you skin crawl nearly as much.

This is why commonplace subjects such as babies, brides, families are harder to have impact with. Now...when we place commonplace subjects in situations that a step removed from the norm, the image might tend to have more impact as it has not been seen before. Does that make sense?
Jeff

Tss1203
04-16-2009, 01:02 AM
Angela,

This is why commonplace subjects such as babies, brides, families are harder to have impact with. Now...when we place commonplace subjects in situations that a step removed from the norm, the image might tend to have more impact as it has not been seen before. Does that make sense?
Jeff

this is a great explanation and makes fabulous sense to me :)

Todd_Reichman
04-16-2009, 01:07 AM
Angela,
Have you ever seen the movie Seven?, or Hannibal?

If the answer is yes to both of these, do you remember the part where they open the box in Seven, or when Hannibal prepares and feeds that special meal to the FBI director? These images haunt and stay with you a long time. That is impact. Now, notice how if you saw the movie a second time, the impact is quite a bit diminished. It doesn't make you skin crawl nearly as much.

This is why commonplace subjects such as babies, brides, families are harder to have impact with. Now...when we place commonplace subjects in situations that a step removed from the norm, the image might tend to have more impact as it has not been seen before. Does that make sense?
Jeff

<Devil's Advocate hat on>

So if we want to have impact in our competition images should we create more and more outlandish scenarios for our images? Kinda puts the PJ folks (I know, I know, on this forum that's worth a "boo" and a "hiss") out of luck, eh?

Hat off :D

- trr

Rob_Wilson
04-16-2009, 01:08 AM
this is a great explanation and makes fabulous sense to me :)

Is there any competitions with portraits that represent consistency? Let’s say…take a family of 5 and do 20 different poses and get judged on that. Now that I would be into!

Jeff_Dachowski
04-16-2009, 01:17 AM
<Devil's Advocate hat on>

So if we want to have impact in our competition images should we create more and more outlandish scenarios for our images? Kinda puts the PJ folks (I know, I know, on this forum that's worth a "boo" and a "hiss") out of luck, eh?

Hat off :D

- trr

Todd,
I am not one who is down on PJ at all. I think if someone wants to pursue their craft in a particular way, then cool!! Now, if I have to agree with someone that thier craft is particularily brilliant, then that is another story!

But to answer you question...no it does not need to be outlandish at all. I have loaned a wedding candid, and a super simple childrens shot. It's just that if you want to increase your chances of making merit images, it is a good place to start at a point that is more likely to impress a judge rather than at a point where the judge has likely judged a lot of similiar looking images.

Jeff
Jeff

Cassandra_Sullivan
04-16-2009, 01:26 AM
Is there any competitions with portraits that represent consistency? Let’s say…take a family of 5 and do 20 different poses and get judged on that. Now that I would be into!

My State (MA) and Regional (New England) have a "Folio" category - A group of images from one session. I love entering in that category. Unfortunately that category doesn't exist in the National competition.
You could try entering a family session in album form, too.

Todd_Reichman
04-16-2009, 01:52 AM
OK, stupid question, ready for it? I've seen folks say that you want to show the judges something that they've never seen before. So what haven't the judges seen before? I know its foolish to ask a question about what they haven't seen before, but I'm genuinely curious about what a photographer that wants to submit client work should be looking to choose.

- trr

Keith_A_Howe
04-16-2009, 02:39 AM
<Devil's Advocate hat on>

So if we want to have impact in our competition images should we create more and more outlandish scenarios for our images? Kinda puts the PJ folks (I know, I know, on this forum that's worth a "boo" and a "hiss") out of luck, eh?

Hat off :D

- trr

Absolutely not true. Imagine an amazing PJ type image that captures the emotion of any moment in the wedding so that it resonates with a complete stranger to that couple. That image has impact. If I can feel the love or the joy or the humor without personally knowing that couple then it has impact. In fact that kind of captured emotional moment has a greater chance of doing well in competition then a obviously posed image that has to create the same emotion artificially. The biggest problem I see is photographers who use PJ style as an excuse for having poorly exposed, poorly composed, poorly lit or even out of focus images. Then they complain that the judges didn't "get it" or didn't understand thier "style". Like I have said before, we get it plenty fine, we just won't accept PJ style as an excuse for technically poor work. So imagine that perfect moment captured that I talked about at the beginning of this paragraph. It may have the definitive moment of the expression or action taking place, but how much more impactful is it wioth correct lighting as opposed to flat light. How about that same image a little under exposed? or just a tad out of focus. As a judge we weigh EVERYTHING. PJ style is extremely impactful when done well. Because it is challenging to capture a moment without intervention and still have the right light, exposure composition . . .


OK, stupid question, ready for it? I've seen folks say that you want to show the judges something that they've never seen before. So what haven't the judges seen before? I know its foolish to ask a question about what they haven't seen before, but I'm genuinely curious about what a photographer that wants to submit client work should be looking to choose.

- trr

This has come up many times before but maybe it was prior to you being active on this forum Todd. Something new and different has impact just because it is new and different. Something that has been done a million times has to create impact on it's own. Sometimes that impact comes from absolute technical perfection. Sometimes it comes from amazing expression. Sometimes it comes from extraordinary subject matter. And so on and so on.


It would seem that in order to strive for impact we ought to consider the makeup of the "typical" judge.

You are mistaken here. There is no such thing as a typical judge and that's the point! That's why there is more then one judge on a panel. If every judge was the same and you could predict exactly what to enter for that "typical" judge then every image in the show would look the same. Imagine how well that would go over? I know I am a judge and as such maybe a bit defensive but I don't think you are giving judges enough credit. There have been many times that I have looked at an image and thought, not my style, not my way of doing things, not a concept I would ever consider. Yet I can judge that print completly on it's own merits. I can look at images that I find personally disturbing and still give a fair score. I have given very high scores to images I didn't personally like but understood to be amazing images. Just like I can appreciate the highest level of opera or say gourmet level Indian cusine, or Olympic level figure skating without liking it for myself. That's what I and EVERY affliate juror has been trained to do. Evaluate the image on the merits of the image, not based on my own personal preferences. I guarentee that any juror, who lets thier personal preferences effect the accuracy of thier scoring, will not retain thier affliate status for long. Yes, on the tornado image, I did understand the impact maybe better then another juror who does not live where tornados occur. But I challenged the image and explained to them. In this instance they understood and agreed and the print scored 100. That's what a good juror does, listens and then decides.

Todd, It may not be your intent but to me it feels like you are starting out with a chip on your shoulder trying to find the flaws in the system. Kinda like that commercial about the new Version home phone where the Mom is making paella and the kid video phones back "I don't know what it is but I'm not gonna eat it." that kid isn't even gonna give it a chance. I am sure this is not your intent though, based on a conversation we had at IUSA. I just don't want anyone else to misunderstand your meaning. I suggest you learn about the system by doing. Don't try to figure it out before you jump in. It will be so much clearer to you if you learn through experience and not try to master ( no pun intended ) it intellectually before you go for it. You didn't learn how to drive a car by only reading a book and asking questions of other drivers. If you really want a good learning experience, work a print crew at a major competition like a regional or national.

Keith

Todd_Reichman
04-16-2009, 03:02 AM
You are mistaken here. There is no such thing as a typical judge and that's the point! That's why there is more then one judge on a panel. If every judge was the same and you could predict exactly what to enter for that "typical" judge then every image in the show would look the same. Imagine how well that would go over? I know I am a judge and as such maybe a bit defensive but I don't think you are giving judges enough credit. There have been many times that I have looked at an image and thought, not my style, not my way of doing things, not a concept I would ever consider. Yet I can judge that print completly on it's own merits. I can look at images that I find personally disturbing and still give a fair score. I have given very high scores to images I didn't personally like but understood to be amazing images. Just like I can appreciate the highest level of opera or say gourmet level Indian cusine, or Olympic level figure skating without liking it for myself. That's what I and EVERY affliate juror has been trained to do. Evaluate the image on the merits of the image, not based on my own personal preferences. I guarentee that any juror, who lets thier personal preferences effect the accuracy of thier scoring, will not retain thier affliate status for long. Yes, on the tornado image, I did understand the impact maybe better then another juror who does not live where tornados occur. But I challenged the image and explained to them. In this instance they understood and agreed and the print scored 100. That's what a good juror does, listens and then decides.

Todd, It may not be your intent but to me it feels like you are starting out with a chip on your shoulder trying to find the flaws in the system. Kinda like that commercial about the new Version home phone where the Mom is making paella and the kid video phones back "I don't know what it is but I'm not gonna eat it." that kid isn't even gonna give it a chance. I am sure this is not your intent though, based on a conversation we had at IUSA. I just don't want anyone else to misunderstand your meaning. I suggest you learn about the system by doing. Don't try to figure it out before you jump in. It will be so much clearer to you if you learn through experience and not try to master ( no pun intended ) it intellectually before you go for it. You didn't learn how to drive a car by only reading a book and asking questions of other drivers. If you really want a good learning experience, work a print crew at a major competition like a regional or national.


Maybe I should get defensive now? :D

I don't feel that I'm looking for flaws in the system at all. But I think if you want to play a game you ought to understand the "rules" both written and unwritten, right? I ask because the OP seemed to be a question about understanding what it takes to make things better. Just like Angela, I've entered some stuff with varying degrees of success, and wasn't left with much understanding of what it takes to improve the scores for next time. So I don't think its an issue of looking for the problems in the system as much as trying to learn to be successful within the system.

In my opinion, having only one stab a year raises the stakes a bit, so folks might not be so cavalier about entering without understanding how to get better at it. I for one don't want to invest the time (the most important aspect) or the money to enter into something without feeling prepared or adequate. Then again this is the umpteenth time I've been accused of being "too intellectual" on this forum, so I'm sure my input isn't worth much.

So in an effort to get back on track, have you got those impactful examples to show?

- trr

Keith_A_Howe
04-16-2009, 03:58 AM
Maybe I should get defensive now? :D
I don't feel that I'm looking for flaws in the system at all.
My comments were not about what you were trying to do. My comments were about how it looks to everyone else. If you read that paragraph you quoted you will see that I said "I am sure this is not your intent though"



But I think if you want to play a game you ought to understand the "rules" both written and unwritten, right? You ever played any sports or a musical instrument? Did you just read everything you could and ask every question you could think of before you started? Or at some point did you have to just get in there and actually go through the motions? Continuing to learn a bit more each time you tried?


Just like Angela, I've entered some stuff with varying degrees of success, and wasn't left with much understanding of what it takes to improve the scores for next time.
Do you understand it any better at all? Or are you completely in the dark with no more idea what to do then if you had never tried? I entered for 4 years before I ever merited a single image. But each time I got a little closer. Maybe you are expecting too much from one experience. If it were as easy as entering once or then knowing everything there is to know, every single person who enters more then once would hang all 4 prints every time. I'm sure the second wedding you ever photographed was probably better then the first, the third a bit better and the fourth even more so.



In I for one don't want to invest . . . without feeling prepared or adequate.

And that explains everything.



Then again this is the umpteenth time I've been accused of being "too intellectual" on this forum,

I don't think you are being too intellectual. I think you are trying to find the magic pill so you can avoid taking any risks. Nothing really worth having is ever gained without taking a chance.


So in an effort to get back on track, have you got those impactful examples to show?

- trr

No, I shouldn't have even taken the time to write these posts tonight, I am too busy trying to get everything done before leaving for PA and NH. It's not like I have them easy to get at a click of the mouse. And at this point I don't think it's worth my time to show those examples because no matter how much time and effort I put into trying to explain something I can't seem to make it clear for you. I am obviously not able to give you the answers or guarentees of success that you are looking for. Perhaps you should consider taking the "Making of a Merit Image" class or more commanly known as the judging class. It's most often taught by Helen Yancy, the head of PEC and a couple other PEC members. Maybe with thier teaching skills and experience they can explain to you what I am failing at helping you see.

Keith

Michael_Gan
04-16-2009, 06:02 AM
One of the things I realized when creating "competition" images of my clients is that I approached the sessions differently. That is, my shooting (hate that word) habits are much slower and more deliberate. That's when I learned to slow down when handling all of my clients because I decided that all of my sessions should be competition worthy.

It's sort of like something I learned in a psychology class in college: Learning how not to hurry. We walked for 2 miles in the poring rain at a rate of about 10 feet per minute. Amazing how your awareness level amps up by a lot. But anyway, this is something I learned to carry over into my photography. By slowing down, you will find that you are more attentive to details. All of a sudden, you start to notice glitches in posing, composition, positioning.

The moment I started to realize all of this is when I started to hang 3-4 images per year.

Ashley_Short
04-16-2009, 07:22 AM
This conversation is slowly creeping towards a question I've got. You all talk about impact, something the judges haven't seen before, etc. My question ties in b/c I have an image of a woman giving birth. Very PJ, obviously ;) but I caught the moment insanely.... blood, umbellical cord, hands in the air, everything. It was the very moment the baby came out and the mother was reaching for it. I'm sure this is something the judges have never seen submitted... it's no wedding, that's for sure. I guess my question is, is this too far? Where is the line drawn? I've never even shown the image to anyone, b/c my hubby gringes every time he sees it. lol (now that's impact!)

Keith_A_Howe
04-16-2009, 01:38 PM
Uhm, sorry but it has been entered before! Not often I agree (and as such would be unique and create an impression) but I have a merit image of our youngest son being born 19 years ago. It was one of those moments that you just capture and instinct takes over because I certainly wasn't thinking technical at that moment. I stood up, noticed the light shining down, flipped my strobe out of the way so it wouldn't effect the amazing available light and snapped. The doctor's hands and the nurse's hands are reaching in. You see a sliver of Holly's stomach, Schuyler's face in perfect rim light profile, a little blood and cord and those sets of hands reaching for him. When it came up for judging, the response from some judges was exactly like your husband's. They had a hard time looking at it, but they realized the impact and scored it accordingly. So I would tell you to look at the image. See if it is impactful because it captures the emotion and drama of the moment or is it just shocking because of the blood. Would someone who was not there and does not know the people involved still feel the emotion of the moment? Is it technically good? How about the light? Light almost more then anything else sets a mood/story for the image. Then ask yourself if it is too revealing and personal that the that the mom wouldn't want it shared with the general public. If you can answer those questions satisfactorially then go for it. If you feel comfortable I would love to see it. Send it to me in a private email, imager410@hotmail.com
Keith

D._Craig_Flory
04-16-2009, 01:56 PM
Hi Todd;

Keith touched on this ... there are enough judges on a panel that hopefully one judge will "get" your image. That is all it takes. If one feels strongly enough about an image they can fight for it by making a challenge. If it doesn't get a high enough score up through Regional they can challenge and then make a pitch for why it should score higher. If it does not get the requisite 3 thumbs up, at Imaging, they can ask to have it sent on to one of the other panels. (I think there are a total of 5 panels) Other judges can be swayed if the print's attributes are properly argued.

Keith_A_Howe
04-16-2009, 01:58 PM
I didn't answer Ashley's question of what is going too far. For me it would be an image that is degrading to the subject matter or any group of people. I think that images can depict suffering, horrible circumstances or events, or even immense sorrow. If those images are created to raise our awareness of those situations then I have no problem. I don't agree with images that are horrific just for shock value. To me that's like a 12 year old using curse words just to shock people, it's juvenile and sad. I have no objection to sexual oriented images that are trying to tell me something about that human condition. I do object to sexual images that are created just for titilation. Any intelligent person should have more to say then just sticking an image in competition to give the judges a gut check. Don't just show me horror, tell me something about why it's horrible or why I should care. Then I may still have my stomach turn over, but I will be thinking at the same time. This is just my personal opinions, now for my understanding of PEC policy. We as judges score what is in front of us. There have been very high scored images that maybe cross a line. PEC is adopting the guidelines of the Smithsonian and reserves the right to not display images that are too explicit or too disturbing (not sure that is the exact wording they use) for the general public. Our print shows are open to the public of all ages. There is a certain responsibility to consider the potential viewers.

Hope this helps,
Keith

Keith_A_Howe
04-16-2009, 02:05 PM
If it does not get the requisite 3 thumbs up, at Imaging,

At national judging it takes 4 thumbs up. There are 6 active judges on a panel at national (plus the alternate) rather then 5 like at regionals so 4 thumbs are needed for a majority. Again, the more judges the more varied viewpoints and the fairer chance the image gets. That's why loan panels have at least 10 or 11 and usually even more. When a panel is split 3 and 3 then the jc will always call for discussion even if no juror actually challenges the image.

Keith

mrbarton
04-16-2009, 02:10 PM
Let me just throw this out there from someone who hasn't been doing this for very long. I've been entering for 3 years and went from an 0-4 case to something different. There is a system to all of this. I hate the fact that people talk about "competition images" and "client images" like the judges get the good stuff and we shaft our client. I see it this way. I shoot competition for me and not for the judges. I refine my work for me with the judging in mind. It's a process of giving them less to pick on. I compete a lot. Honestly, I don't send out blown highlights, images without shadow detail, or images with obvious technical flaws anymore. The quality of my work has gone up dramatically and so have my order averages. The print quality is better and my everyday work has more impact. Forgive me for pointing out that the system works. I realize that is not very sporting. I belong to a group of photographers that is constantly hammering on each other about our work. ALL of our work has dramatically improved over the past 3 years. DRAMATICALLY. We score, we win, we have a bunch of stuff to take home. That's not the point. We are also the ones creating work that people talk about. OOhh, Ahhh. Who cares? Well, my clients do. I don't really worry about the rest.

I like press releases. I like parties. I like having my stuff published. It makes me money. It gets people talking. Want to know how to score? Easy. Don't photograph where the industry is. Photograph where the industry is going. Don't photograph what is. Photograph what could be. From there, just hammer your work and take away ANYTHING judges can complain about. Seriously.

You know, there are a lot of people here that post and say things like "I know the shirt is blown out and the light is flat, but it's a GREAT expression". See ya! WAY to easy to pick on from a judge that you are literally PAYING to pick on your work. That's what they are there for. It's like complaining about a speeding ticket when you are going 25 over yet people still do it! So the question remains: Do you really want your clients to have work filled with obvious technical flaws? Why not use this opportunity to learn to refine your work and pass it along to your clients? Don't they deserve it?

Keith is not lying, once you see it you see it. Sounds elitist. Maybe. Want the proof? Spend less time complaining about judges and more time listening. Spend less time defending flaws and learn from them. I'll say it again. Competition is designed to show the front edge of the industry. The 75-79 range is above average believe it or not. 80 or above by definition actually means "Master Level" work. To be a master, you must think like a master. Why is that such a bad lesson to learn? If you think it's BS send your stuff to other competitions where everyone wins. What's the point?

Question: Who deserves Master Level work more, judges or your clients?

Clay Blackmore: Compete to learn, learn to compete.

Lastly, Tim Kelly, Audrey Wancket (I'm sure I spelled that wrong), and Gordon Underwood. There's 3 that make client work look insane and score big. It can be done.

Keith_A_Howe
04-16-2009, 02:17 PM
Let me just throw this out there from someone who hasn't been doing this for very long. I've been entering for 3 years and went from an 0-4 case to something different. There is a system to all of this. I hate the fact that people talk about "competition images" and "client images" like the judges get the good stuff and we shaft our client. I see it this way. I shoot competition for me and not for the judges. I refine my work for me with the judging in mind. It's a process of giving them less to pick on. I compete a lot. Honestly, I don't send out blown highlights, images without shadow detail, or images with obvious technical flaws anymore. The quality of my work has gone up dramatically and so have my order averages. The print quality is better and my everyday work has more impact. Forgive me for pointing out that the system works. I realize that is not very sporting. I belong to a group of photographers that is constantly hammering on each other about our work. ALL of our work has dramatically improved over the past 3 years. DRAMATICALLY. We score, we win, we have a bunch of stuff to take home. That's not the point. We are also the ones creating work that people talk about. OOhh, Ahhh. Who cares? Well, my clients do. I don't really worry about the rest.

I like press releases. I like parties. I like having my stuff published. It makes me money. It gets people talking. Want to know how to score? Easy. Don't photograph where the industry is. Photograph where the industry is going. Don't photograph what is. Photograph what could be. From there, just hammer your work and take away ANYTHING judges can complain about. Seriously.

You know, there are a lot of people here that post and say things like "I know the shirt is blown out and the light is flat, but it's a GREAT expression". See ya! WAY to easy to pick on from a judge that you are literally PAYING to pick on your work. That's what they are there for. It's like complaining about a speeding ticket when you are going 25 over yet people still do it! So the question remains: Do you really want your clients to have work filled with obvious technical flaws? Why not use this opportunity to learn to refine your work and pass it along to your clients? Don't they deserve it?

Keith is not lying, once you see it you see it. Sounds elitist. Maybe. Want the proof? Spend less time complaining about judges and more time listening. Spend less time defending flaws and learn from them. I'll say it again. Competition is designed to show the front edge of the industry. The 75-79 range is above average believe it or not. 80 or above by definition actually means "Master Level" work. To be a master, you must think like a master. Why is that such a bad lesson to learn? If you think it's BS send your stuff to other competitions where everyone wins. What's the point?

Question: Who deserves Master Level work more, judges or your clients?

Clay Blackmore: Compete to learn, learn to compete.

Lastly, Tim Kelly, Audrey Wancket (I'm sure I spelled that wrong), and Gordon Underwood. There's 3 that make client work look insane and score big. It can be done.


Amen!

Keith

Betsy_Finn
04-16-2009, 04:09 PM
Let me just throw this out there from someone who hasn't been doing this for very long. I've been entering for 3 years and went from an 0-4 case to something different. There is a system to all of this. I hate the fact that people talk about "competition images" and "client images" like the judges get the good stuff and we shaft our client [...] The quality of my work has gone up dramatically and so have my order averages. The print quality is better and my everyday work has more impact. Forgive me for pointing out that the system works.

I completely agree. Competition not about just wining -- it's there to make you a better photographer. My first competition ever, I squeaked by with one merit print. I wanted to find out how to do better. I started asking questions -- and yes, I pestered M.Photogs. I wanted to know what was "lacking" in my images to put them over the edge.

I started seeing the differences, the improvements waiting to be made. And I tried to fix those problems on an everyday basis. My client work improved because I was taking the concepts from print competition and applying them to my "everyday" work. Not every client image is going to be competition worthy. But it's very likely I'll be able to find a competition-worthy image from that session -- kind of like Heather said. The parent might not buy it... so I shoot for the smiles... and then I shoot for the creative artistic images I think deserve to be created.

Does competition improve the quality of your work? Yes, definitely. Last year I was fortunate enough to go 4for4 -- let me tell you, I never would have gotten to this point if I had sat around waiting for my work to get "good enough" to enter.

Ashley_Short
04-16-2009, 07:12 PM
Keith,

Thank you. I'll pass it on.

ashley

John_Metcalfe
04-17-2009, 02:31 PM
I have not looked at the other people's answers. I can only imagine what they stated. My answer may be crude and altogether not very eloquent, but I what to give you an analogy.

Go to to the encyclopedia (book or on the computer) and look up a word, then look at the picture next to it.

This image defines (in an image) the utter meaning of this word.

There is your impact.

There is not much more to tell other than something on a personal note and is often overlooked.

Please remember you do not always have to make the viewers/judges happy.

I do my darnedest to unsettle or upset them, make them argue, giving them a reason to have a discussion.

Every image I had this year luckily was challenged and was driven up in score because of this. I understand that not all wish to photograph this in this style but one has to remember you are trying to stand out, not blend in.