PDA

View Full Version : Buying into a system



John_Metcalfe
04-30-2009, 03:52 PM
For some time my efforts had been spent striving to achieve a merit, believing all along that I could get my degree with client work.
(A noble thought one would think...)

I did fair enough, scoring in and around the deserving of a merit category.

Even up till 2 years ago and having gone 4 for 4 at nationals, I felt I still was struggling to make the mark.

Until a few or so trade shows back, my friend Michael and I were walking around and we stopped and talked with Jim Chagares.

He questioned us concerning our intentions for our prints in competition.
(I'll ask you the same.)

What do you get when you attempt to score an 80 and fail?

Answer: You’re sent packing that's what.

Now... what do we get if we try to score a 100 and fail?

Answer: A merit.

He said to us,
"Have higher aspirations for your work."

Have higher aspirations for your work?

Those words rang in our ears and changed everything, especially the way we approach competition. (Every aspect)

Combined with a few others, we have bought into that system and devised a formula.

There is hardly a day that goes by that we are not talking about it.


Having said that, over the past 2 years a dramatic change have taken place, the most obvious coming last year.


My highest score ever was lower than 3 of the 4 scores from last year’s MARC competition. This year same thing. All four were well at the high end of scoring making my highest scoring print case to date.

This is not attempt to get everyone to see my scores or a way to get my name out. To think such would leave you much mistaken.

No, this is an attempt to let others know it can be done and it is possible to do consistently.

If this is received well (sometimes I have the feelings of being a thread killer here) I would be happy to share.

Have higher aspirations for your work.

Stephanie_Millner
04-30-2009, 07:26 PM
Ah, John, you've piqued my interest again... :) I noticed your SEPPA scores, and would love to see the prints.

Angela_Lawson
04-30-2009, 07:38 PM
Okay - I'm interested. How do I have higher aspirations for my work? Currently I would like to see my client work improve as I watch for those competition prints, which always seem to allude me, for one reason or another. I sent a case for the first time ever to Mideast Regionals, and was okay with the most of the results, but in all honesty, I was hoping for better. Now I really don't have anything to send to Internationals. That said, while my main goal is to please my customers (all were very happy with the images I used in print comp.) I would really like to aspire to that of Master some day - from client images. So, to take you back to the question you posed, "how do I have higher aspirations for my work"? Please share.

And thanks for always being honest in your input. I appreciate it.
Angela

John_Metcalfe
04-30-2009, 08:40 PM
Ah, John, you've piqued my interest again... :) I noticed your SEPPA scores, and would love to see the prints.

I didn't enter at SEPPA. I guess there is another one of me running around... SCARY!

And because you have asked, I have created an album for you to view.

Thanks again...

Stephanie_Millner
04-30-2009, 09:31 PM
Yeah um... after I posted that I realized I had you and that guy you're friends with (Michael?) confused...

mrbarton
04-30-2009, 09:53 PM
Me at SEPPA. John at home. No worries! Ha. The duck is in Jacksonville, Illinois. A bit confusing. As long as the camera is in Batavia I'm happy.

John_Metcalfe
04-30-2009, 09:57 PM
The duck is in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Not for long...

KirkDarling
04-30-2009, 11:30 PM
What do you get when you attempt to score an 80 and fail?

Answer: You’re sent packing that's what.

Now... what do we get if we try to score a 100 and fail?

I was told, "The guy going for the bronze will always lose to three guys going for the gold."

JohnHeckler
05-01-2009, 01:58 AM
Although I totally agree with the philosophy, I still think it is difficult if you don't know *how* or *why* you are not scoring higher.

I still think there is a missing element to your formula ... which is feedback. Or coaching ... or mentoring. I mean even the best athletes in the word have coaches, trainers, mentors, etc. Why? To give them feedback.

So, the formula is more like an algorithm to me:

Step 1: Attempt to take a 100 image

Step 2: If 100 then congrats! Goto Step 5

else, goto Step 3

Step 3: Get feedback as to why the image didn't score higher

Step 4: Gain insight on how to create stronger images and apply it to your photography

Step 5: Repeat

At least that seems to be the formula I am on :-)

Betsy_Finn
05-01-2009, 02:40 AM
Angela, the single most important factor in my competition success/improvement has been asking others for input. I don't just ask "if this would merit" -- but I would ask what was keeping it from scoring higher. What imperfections there are... how I could improve the print.

I would do this with every image. Seeing the score alone won't help you grow. It's examining the image with a mentor and learning to see the flaws (and more importantly, learn how to fix them or prevent them in the future).

John_Metcalfe
05-01-2009, 04:22 AM
[QUOTE=JohnHeckler;202399]Although I totally agree with the philosophy, I still think it is difficult if you don't know *how* or *why* you are not scoring higher.
My answer is to delve deep into the matter and learn everything I could about *why*. Then you will be able to come to much clearer conclusions.

I still think there is a missing element to your formula ... which is feedback. Or coaching ... or mentoring. I mean even the best athletes in the word have coaches, trainers, mentors, etc. Why? To give them feedback.

There are many missing pieces. This little snippet was just a starting point and believe me there is plenty of feedback to be had.
As a matter of fact by the time you bleed your way through the critiques the competition will be considered a day in the park...

Do you every wonder why so many are here asking questions and they are so few real answers for them? I do all the time.
Giving a critique or a suggestion to fix a problem is often merely a patch.
It's kind of like using a band-aid to fix a flood.
The truth of the matter is that the solution to many competition imaging elements should be resolved before the image is exposed.
My main reason for posting was to start the beginnings of returning the favor. (building a bridge if you will)

I realize that what I stated earlier wasn't enough...
We can look at this as being too big of a task and wonder some more
OR we can start chewing.

There is much more I would like to share. I'm just looking for those who hold a similar passion.

mrbarton
05-01-2009, 04:24 AM
Straight up. The first step to being great is deciding that you want to be great. Without that it's rare that it occurs. I know that it is difficult to believe that simply deciding to score will make the difference. I will say this, with this decision you remove two words from your vocabulary:

"Yeah, but"

I'll leave it at that for now. Believe it when I say that it can be taught. It's about learning to see differently. Keith stated the point that over time a person learns to know impact and just see it. Anyone that might want to counter this might consider that this is exactly what judges are asked to do. Learn to think like one. Most of the time it's not about refining an image it's having the restraint to not enter it.

Angela_Lawson
05-01-2009, 04:39 AM
Most of the time it's not about refining an image it's having the restraint to not enter it.

So, if I'm understanding this statement properly Michael, are you saying that if you really feel that an image won't make it, don't enter it just for the sake of entering something. Work harder and push yourself to have something for next time?

Angela

Barbara_Adelman
05-01-2009, 05:03 AM
Hi Angela -having heard their comments before, here's my translation- they are saying (and have said previously) -sometimes it is necessary to not enter a print because once you distance yourself from the image and look at it through a judge's eyes, will it deserve a high score? Don't merely enter one of your good prints, but load every barrel so that each print excels. Learn to see it objectively.

Problem being - there is a learning curve not in just creating an excellent print, but in seeing an excellent print (one that stands on it's own - not because of the situation it was created under, but alone and apart from it - in all respects - all elements - no "buts" - no explanations - no technical objections) - I know I am still in the process and have a lot of gaps and should be asking more questions. - it takes time, effort and dedication

Angela_Lawson
05-01-2009, 06:02 AM
THanks Barb. That makes sense. Boy, I wish I was closer to you guys. I've gotten more help from you Illinois folks :) than anyone here in Michigan, except Betsy, of course. Course' that could be because everyone is busy vacating the state in droves.:D

Talk soon - I'm off to bed finally.
Angela

Keith_A_Howe
05-01-2009, 01:17 PM
Straight up. The first step to being great is deciding that you want to be great. Without that it's rare that it occurs. I know that it is difficult to believe that simply deciding to score will make the difference.

I agree. What you expect to happen usually happens. What you believe becomes real. There is a great quote that says "At the moment of commitment the universe conspires to assist you".


Most of the time it's not about refining an image it's having the restraint to not enter it.

Kinda depends upon what your goals are or where you are in the learning curve. I think there is a great deal of learning and understanding that comes from the process of refining an average image. Maybe no matter what you do, you can never get it to merit level, but in making those changes and adjustments you see how the image does improve and that helps for the next time. You learn how to look for things before you trip the shutter, refining the image before it is created. That learning process, in my opinion, is what competition is all about. Early on for me it was about participating. I entered prints with a hope and a prayer. I always always filled my case - even with "iffy' prints that I knew had no chance to go anywhere - because in my state there are awards based on cummlative score. Then it changed to be about education and even if I was unsure about a print I would still work on it and enter it for what I could learn. Sometimes I have entered prints that I knew were risky but I wanted to see if I could hang a commercial print, or a regular studio head and shoulders. So I would never tell anyone not to enter unless the print will definately merit. Sometimes there are other goals besides just high scores. On the other hand, if you are maybe a little farther along in the process, have a better grip on what makes a good image or your goal is for high scores, then is the time to do as Micheal suggests here and ask yourself if the print is worth entering or if you should choose something else.

My point is while winning is really sweet, sometimes what you are trying to win is not just four high scores. That's the great thing about our system. Everybody can decide what it is they want out of it and use it for their own benefit.

Keith

John_Metcalfe
05-01-2009, 01:29 PM
I came back to John's mentoring question again...

Without any doubt this a vital part. The difference between your coaches, trainers and mentors and for instance our little working group of miscreants is that the gloves are off.

You know the saying, "surround yourself with people smarter than yourself"?

I have a saying:

I shall punish thy images because the more thou sweat-est in preparation, the less thou bleed-est in competition.

While critiquing a colleague's image do not favor their feelings. Because the more flaws found now, the less will be taken off later.

By allowing others the ability to tear down your image repeatedly and assist you in redefining your stance on the image itself may very well bring you to a whole new level.

Know this:

You are responsible for every pixel on that board. Therefore every one of them must be scrutinized.
Before the prints turns on the easel, you want to be so sick of languishing over it that the calling of the title is a welcome release.
Not to say you despise viewing the image at all, but you have expended every resource in the making of it.


Thanks John!

mrbarton
05-01-2009, 01:39 PM
Most people forget that judges only have a very short time to score an image. They are paid to be impartial. It is amazing to see how many images are into competition with obvious flaws. Poor exposure, poor color, poor focus, poor printing, just to name a few. Essentially these are all things that will keep an image down and are easily fixable. When all is said and done a big part of this is to simply take away a judge's ammunition. Take away any obvious things that are really easy to comment on. A high percentage of images never even get the subjective points we like to talk about. Most of the time there is something "condemning" right out of the gate. This happens because we are viewing the image as a make not a judge that has a short period of time to score it. The reason all of our "yeah buts" seem foolish is because we don't have platform to say them. When we make excuses we get schooled by someone who didn't make any.

There are frankly a handful of things that people do that take a split second to keep an image from the merit category. The sad part it, if these things are present, the judges will never even get to the image or the point behind it. Lest this sound unfair imagine reading a Doctor thesis that starts out:

"Um, like, yo, Dude, the thing about Quantum Mechanics and stuff is like, um. . ."

This is a bit exaggerated but frankly how is a reader ever going to take that person seriously? Kind of like "Really? This person wants to be a master and enters an image that is out of focus? Really?" your response: "Yeah but. . . " Proper technique is like proper English. We are never going to see what you are trying to say unless you let us get past all the "yeah buts". Again, I repeat it, THAT'S WHAT WE PAY OUR JUDGES TO DO. I will also repeat, a 77 is a good score! It's just not typically the one you want.

When in doubt ask this question: "What would we want from a master?" Don't get that confused with what would a master do. Don't get me started on that.

mrbarton
05-01-2009, 01:44 PM
Keep this in mind as well:

We all have to start somewhere. We don't have to stay there. The only way to get where we want to go is, well, to know where we want to go.

As Joe Jackson said: "You can't get what you want until you know what you want".

John_Metcalfe
05-01-2009, 02:03 PM
Keith,

I missed your post while posting my own.

Yours was very thoughtful, well drawn out and worthy of record. The reasoning for one to enter will change over time, that is true.

The original fire that compels me to compete (though for sometime had diminished) has returned due to the interest shared by others to take step with me. Otherwise (most likely), it would have faded completely...

I feel like many here, the wish to find the "why" and the "how". Some of the answers have been found. Now, we have to ask the right questions.

mrbarton
05-01-2009, 04:05 PM
Perhaps I got ahead of all of this. I have a tendency of jumping in! I like this thread and I think it's great that John has taken the time to start it and invest in this group. Why not get a little more basic and start from the beginning:

Mr. Metcalfe: How does one find the right subject or the right image?

John_Metcalfe
05-01-2009, 04:23 PM
First of all, I hope it is a long time before the next person decides to call me mister.


Subject Matter:

“Subject matter should always be appropriate to the story being told in an image.”

Find a subject that optimizes the very meaning of your image.

I like to use the "encyclopedia" method.

Look up a word and see the image next to it. You want that image to be the very meaning of the word.
It doesn't matter what you are trying to achieve, the crucial thing to take from this is that you have an image that takes hold of the viewer.

John_Metcalfe
05-01-2009, 06:25 PM
Okay - How do I have higher aspirations for my work? Currently I would like to see my client work improve as I watch for those competition prints, which always seem to allude me, for one reason or another.

Angela, I am in a similar situation...

I have a friend who frequently (in so many words) asks, " how can it be that you are considered one of the most dominate competitors with spectacular imaging and your client work be so lame?" Now I don't consider myself a slouch, but that question struck me. My friend then continues by asking (in so many words), "why can't put the same effort into your sessions?"

Now, I could defend my daily work to no real resolve or I can reevaluate my current set up and deliver an image that quiets the questions. What is it that separates the two, what refining factors, what applications are applied differently?

Angela,

Let's start by making a list of the process of each and see what we come up with.

Mark_Levesque
05-01-2009, 06:41 PM
Do you come up with a concept first and then find a suitable subject, or do you evaluate a subject and see what concepts come to mind?

John_Metcalfe
05-01-2009, 07:19 PM
Do you come up with a concept first and then find a suitable subject, or do you evaluate a subject and see what concepts come to mind?

Good question Mark!

Before answering, I need to ask a question. What is the first impression a judge gets of your work?

Answer: Your title

I have pages of what I deem "impact filled" working titles.
(Most of the titles have some form of duplicity)

It is often said that you want to make the judges/viewers happy, sad or mad.

I take a different approach.

I want them to argue or at least I want to give them as many reasons as possible to discuss the image.

Why? Hardly an image of over the score of 84 goes unchallenged.

You want a challenge.

And by starting with an interesting/controversial title or the concept of one will get you closer to getting them to discussing your image.

That is my starting point.

Mark_Levesque
05-02-2009, 12:08 PM
That makes sense, but still leaves open the possibility of choosing an interesting or controversial title after creating the image. But for the sake of argument, let's say that you have the title first. Next comes what, brainstorming concepts to manifest some aspect of the title?

BTW- I appreciate you sharing this. It's very interesting.

John_Metcalfe
05-03-2009, 05:46 AM
[QUOTE=Mark_Levesque;202513]That makes sense, but still leaves open the possibility of choosing an interesting or controversial title after creating the image.

Yes it does and you may do so to your little ole heart's desire...

For me I find the building from a title more fun! It is also why I have to have so many titles or pre-concepts at the ready.

My next step is to find a subject to fit.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that you have the title first. Next comes what, brainstorming concepts to manifest some aspect of the title?

Yes again... You are good!

The better part of that is there might be many! This is why you should start early and expect failure.

(just to note, the past 2 times I was working on my images right before the comp and it dearly cost me!)

Mark_Levesque
05-03-2009, 01:29 PM
Ok, so then I should infer that you may have to create several times in order to get one successful image? And that when the casual observer sees you going 4/4 with big numbers, it is not because you create masterpieces on demand, but because you develop lots of concepts and actually submit only the best, yes? Sounds like a good way to increase your odds to me. So you don't go through your existing images, wondering which of them may be best worked into a comp print. You develop images specifically for comp.

John_Metcalfe
05-04-2009, 03:45 AM
Ok, so then I should infer that you may have to create several times in order to get one successful image?

Create what, concepts, images, formulas?

If your reasoning is directed towards any of these, you would stand correct. For a concept is required and a formula is also needed for the tasks set before us. But many times they projects are left unfinished due to some lacking or un-derived element. It also may be the case while working on one project that another idea takes shape leaving the current looking a bit bland.

And that when the casual observer sees you going 4/4 with big numbers, it is not because you create masterpieces on demand, but because you develop lots of concepts and actually submit only the best, yes?

When the plan comes together, yes. But here lately it has not gone that way. The past comp had only days remaining and hadn't even taken a shot. But having sketched out plans and having had talked with enough clients, I scheduled sessions and filled the case. This could be considered a bit nerve racking, but I knew what I was looking for and what to do to achieve it. (both in technique and presentation)


Sounds like a good way to increase your odds to me.

So you don't go through your existing images, wondering which of them may be best worked into a comp print.

I have and will if in a pinch.

However, I believe one will pay a price in doing so.

You develop images specifically for comp.

Not nec-a-celery.

We develop images for "self assignments". A self assignment can take many forms. It is NOT just for print competition.

John_Metcalfe
05-04-2009, 04:24 AM
Angela, the single most important factor in my competition success/improvement has been asking others for input. I don't just ask "if this would merit" -- but I would ask what was keeping it from scoring higher. What imperfections there are... how I could improve the print.

I would do this with every image. Seeing the score alone won't help you grow. It's examining the image with a mentor and learning to see the flaws (and more importantly, learn how to fix them or prevent them in the future).

I went back and read over this message again. And it is true that one of the ways to improvement is through "seeking out others input". It is also true about the score and learning to see flaws and find ways to fix/prevent them. (all good advice so far)

Let's go further... I am in the belief that people (including myself) want to know "how".

This my friends is a "learned" skill.

It is a combination of a foundation of basic skills, problem solving techniques, combined with knowing your audience and the subtle science of learning what strings to pull at the opportune moment. And no matter what is written here before or after there will be some things that cannot be explained. They have to be experienced. You have to step away from your comfort zone, seek alternatives and take risks.

Who knows what you may find?

Rick_Massarini
05-04-2009, 06:14 AM
Angela, I am in a similar situation...

I have a friend who frequently (in so many words) asks, " how can it be that you are considered one of the most dominate competitors with spectacular imaging and your client work be so lame?" Now I don't consider myself a slouch, but that question struck me. My friend then continues by asking (in so many words), "why can't put the same effort into your sessions?"



I am of the belief that once a person achieves a "Print Competition Mindset", that one no longer has to do "competition shoots". Once you start to focus on print competition, you will start to treat every session as a "competition shoot" and the overall quality of that person's daily work will improve. Once you start shooting for competition at every session, you start to look through your viewfinder like you are looking at a competition turntable, and you will start to notice those little defects before you trip the shutter, and fix them before you hit the button. Sometimes it's just a matter of refining a light or adding an additional accent light or changing the color of a background that makes the difference between a "competition quality image" and an "also-ran". Once a person starts shooting for competition all the time, in many cases, the overall quality of the work will improve to the point where they can create a "competition quality" image out of just about every session - and the client can see it - and that's the whole point of print competition in the first place, isn't it... to improve your craft so that everything that you produce is merit worthy.

You just can't hang 90's on your studio wall for the client to see, then deliver 70's to the client from their session. I approach every session with the mindset that one image from that session has to go into my competition image folder - so there is no such thing for me as a "routine daily session". Every time a client is in front of my camera, I'm looking to create something for the judging, so there's always that focus to every session - and that focus is what keeps clients referring your studio. Just my opinion, of course...

vanaken
05-04-2009, 12:08 PM
The above thought is smart and doesn’t require any further addition. It’s perfect thought from my side.

vanaken

Cheap Deals (http://www.cheapdeals247.com)

John_Metcalfe
05-04-2009, 01:04 PM
[QUOTE=vanaken;202613]The above thought is smart and doesn’t require any further addition. It’s perfect thought from my side.

vanaken

You would like to think so... And to move solely in that direction would seem like a good idea one would think at first.

While I agree with showing the same care and delivering the caliber images that one shows, I also feel that in making a competition image all the pieces must fit.

There are elements that you are not always in control of during a customer's session. You may argue the point of who's session is it anyway, (the customer's or yours?) You may think it is yours, but I am afraid the the customer will disagree.

My theory when you stumble across a potential image is to ask them to do something for you after...

After what? After their shot or shoot. From the very first attempt at this, my images changed and so did I.

You have better if not full control of the outcome and the participant(s) are fully aware they are working for you, not the other way around.

I understand you might only get one crack at a shot... By all means take it! That is what you are meant to do. If done well you will be rewarded.

The gist of the matter is if you take up this challenge you will find a plethora of ideals, suggestions and outcomes.

See what is out there pay attention to everything offered, test as many of them as possible, ask questions, then make up your mind and DO SOMETHING.

Barbara_Adelman
05-04-2009, 04:49 PM
Ok John - explain then - are you opposed to using client images?
Do you photograph extra during a session? - if so do you tell them why?
Do you ask them back with an explanation of why?
Do you seek out specific people for specific images you have thought about?
Most importantly - you have explained how it has changed your competitive outlook, but how has it changed your day to day sessions? - do you feel the way you look at them and the work you perform for them has improved/changed?

John_Metcalfe
05-04-2009, 05:02 PM
Ok John - explain then - are you opposed to using client images?
Do you photograph extra during a session? - if so do you tell them why?
Do you ask them back with an explanation of why?
Do you seek out specific people for specific images you have thought about?
Most importantly - you have explained how it has changed your competitive outlook, but how has it changed your day to day sessions? - do you feel the way you look at them and the work you perform for them has improved/changed?


Finally

4 pages later...finally more questions.

Good, better and great questions (all deserving of answers). By my hand or others, you will have them. I'm traveling now, so I'll pick up with this when I get in.

John_Metcalfe
05-04-2009, 07:18 PM
Ok John - explain then - are you opposed to using client images?

Not at all... I just find they are flawed in some ways. Up until 2 years ago, they were all client work.

Do you photograph extra during a session? - if so do you tell them why?

I try not to. The reason I'll give here is because you are still working for them. I will consider all aspects and see if all the pieces fit.
Your mentality should be bent towards your clients needs, but I will consider an image situation if:
If they are current clients and are already aware of my style.
When the setting cannot be duplicated
When they listen during the consultation and follow through with plans
If I get hit in the forehead with an opportunity and my golden finger and eye are working in unison.

Do you ask them back with an explanation of why?

When booking a session (as mentioned before), it is your job to please the client, correct? We are expected to be professional, but it simply is not possible to control a client session the way we would a self-assignment.

Self-assignments also allow us an opportunity to photograph people we wouldn’t normally have as clients. Money, style, and creative ideas are no longer an issue and there are no client expectations.

Which allows us to put 100% of ourselves into the assignment.


Do you seek out specific people for specific images you have thought about?

YES!!!!!

Most importantly - you have explained how it has changed your competitive outlook, but how has it changed your day to day sessions? - do you feel the way you look at them and the work you perform for them has improved/changed?

YES!!!!!

Now to answer your last 2 questions again. Do I seek out certain people, yes. It is a part of the puzzle which eliminates the dreaded 'hey, but".

You are looking for the right setting, using the most alluring lighting style, on your best subject, properly placed to suit your needs.

Do I feel the way I view things and the work I perform for others has improved/changed?

I love/hate viewing old photos. I see them and wonder,"what was I thinking"? Other times I'll try to figure out why I don't do that anymore.

With the constant desire to find out who I am and the drive I have to find the light, each change has led me to where I am and has defined me.

I hope this has shed a little light and more questions follow.

John_Metcalfe
05-05-2009, 07:09 PM
All righty then. Moving on...

COMPETITION

You’ve cropped & PS'd, pouring your heart into them, sent them off to print.
Your case is ready, great titles, just waiting for all to see.

One by one, they come:
"78”

Followed by silence, then

“77”
Nothing.

Then
“79”
Your heart breaks.

The first question you have is:

What could I have done better?”


The second is:
“Why didn’t they say anything?”

Whatever has happened to you in competition, know you’re not alone. All entering have had these experiences to some level & it will not be an isolated incident.

Why do images fall short?

We'll just say it for you, “Love”.

We love our prints. We get attached and lose site of the flaws.

The goal of competition is to send a message.

A successful image has immediate impact.

It is the job of a judge to find imperfections.


Our theory is:
Don’t get attached and you won’t be heartbroken!

By distancing yourself, you will see them differently.



A judge’s difficulty is “to give a non-biased opinion of an image.”

It is the task of a jury to score an image by a list of 12 elements correct?

So, examining an image is a necessity. If there are flaws, they must find them.

I would find it tough to be inspired while looking for imperfections.


Different Perspective:

When we enter images, we are not showing a large body of work, correct?

It should be our best.

But it is not uncommon for a viewer to see an image and think:

“Is that it?”


Judges want to be inspired, and they are supposed to find faults.

Judges have seen a lot of images, many are similar.

We all should understand the difficultly in this.

You’ll also most likely notice that the “Best of Show” image is usually one that is different, inspiring, and has fewer flaws than the rest.

The real question is why so many photographers refuse to follow this logic.

Giving a panel an image to root for is what it’s all about.

The only way to inspire someone is to be inspired. Find your niche.

If you get a panel excited good things will happen.

Being different is a good thing!

Competitions are full of prints and only a few ever stand out.

Make sure your prints are on the list.

Todd_Reichman
05-05-2009, 07:56 PM
What makes a print stand out?

Does it necessarily follow that what inspires you will inspire other photographers?

- trr

John_Metcalfe
05-05-2009, 10:19 PM
What makes a print stand out?

Does it necessarily follow that what inspires you will inspire other photographers?

- trr

I think that is a hit or miss. Leaving such a thing solely to interpretation is an added risk.


Let's put it a different way. Think back to your last competition...

If you're like many, you talked about or heard talk of a few images that stood out even well after the competition. To this day, there are still images I discuss from competitions past. I've said it before, when trying find impact and looking to inspire, think of looking up a word/phrase in the encyclopedia and seeing your image next to it. In every way, your image should epitomize that word/phrase.

John_Metcalfe
05-06-2009, 04:28 AM
What makes a print stand out?

After thinking about it for a bit, I didn't feel I gave a complete enough answer. As subjective as the question is, I'll attempt to hit a little closer to the mark.

Everyone says they like to have there images stand out from the rest, but very few actually do.

The truth is, unique ideas in images aren’t common, they are the exception.

Original images get noticed and are given more recognition.

Most people just tend to copy what they’ve seen before and go with that. Following what worked for others is a good plan, but once an idea is established the playing field evens out and your left with the same dilemma.

Great scoring prints have refinement and a finished look to them.

They do not have any unneeded parts.

They lead and keep the viewer in the image.

They are technically sound and have a style or flair that surpasses the expectations of the panel, especially when they rest against the other prints in the final rounds of competition.

John_Metcalfe
05-06-2009, 11:51 AM
Things to look for:

Remember getting back your images with no explanation?

If you were in the room during the scoring, most likely you would have thought: “My print didn’t look that way!”

Competition images have a way of changing in front of the panel. Flaws are enhanced and new ones surface!

Explanation:

There is no hiding! Competition lights are brighter than most conditions.

Viewing your images under these lights will effect your prints.

To make adjustments under these conditions will have a dramatic affect on your scores.

In normal conditions, if your print looks like your regular images, it will be too bright for comp.

Print your work down. It isn’t uncommon to see prints a stop (or more) below the optimal range of a client’s.

Often a print doesn’t come to life until it is under print competition lights. Many times details come to life that goes by otherwise unseen in normal viewing conditions.

Answer:

Work your images for and in "print competition lighting". Not by the kitchen window, not outdoors, but under competition regulated lighting.

There have been many writings on what these lights are and their adjustments settings (if I'm not mistaken) are listed on this website.

Your best results are achieved by crafting your in this manner.

It doesn’t matter what they look like anywhere else but in front of the judges.

If you don't have them, buy them or find someone who does have them.


More observations


Metallic Paper – When it works, wow! But the problem with metallic paper is it has color shifting issues. I once had an "87" as an 8x10 turn to a "76" under the lights when made into a 16x20. "OUCH"

They have less depth and black is never quite black. Most metallic prints would score higher printed on glossy paper.

Lustre Spray –If you enter lustre, make sure that your finish is even. Competition lighting will show every flaw.

Lustre prints will not have the depth that glossy prints have.

Glossy Paper-There is a reason why this paper is the standard in print competition. It can take the lights and has depth.

When in doubt, glossy under the competition lighting will have the greatest dynamic range.

John_Metcalfe
05-06-2009, 01:53 PM
Still stuck on what makes an image stand out....

At the core of print competition is the ability to tell a story that is not often told. That's where "creativity" comes to bat. Conveying an idea, message or thought is your avenue.

Remember... judges see a lot of images spending a very short period of time in the initial viewing. This is where the voice of your image must sing! Depending on your style, your image's voice needs to stir or entice the judge to comment, discuss or debate. All the while bring the panel closer to your work.

A judge sits on a chair... They should find no comfort in the chair. While viewing your image they should be on the edge of it, stirring in it, leaving it, or using it for protection.

You have four entries in your case. They should treated as your best.

John_Metcalfe
05-08-2009, 12:43 AM
I trust you’ve noticed there’s more to print comp than just entering “pretty pictures.”

The PPA has developed a system for objective judging. But here is one little flaw to the system: Judges are human.

They have strengths,weaknesses, carry different levels of experience, and expertise.

It would be too much to ask every judge to be proficient at every style of photography.

Although the 12 elements are a very good system and print judging is a well-oiled machine, it’s important to know that every panel has a unique personality.

The blending of different perceptions and viewpoints is what makes judging so enjoyable and challenging.

Experienced, award-winning photographers know the tendencies of many of the judges.

Some may say that this is a problem, but again, can we ask people to no longer be human?

Instead of crying foul, use it to your advantage!

Over time you will start to see many familiar faces.

The panel is posted months in advance.

Along with a list, you’ll find biographies, awards and even links to the websites of each juror.


But beware this can come back to bite you!

In short: Know thy panel!

If a judge is a well-known portrait photographer, they likely will judge more critically than one that is not.

However, the same judge may know little about digital manipulation and blow the top off the score.

This is where sitting through many competitions comes in handy.

Ultimately the only way to truly master the art of competition is to enter!


In sitting through many print competitions it never ceases to amaze me how many prints lost points for easily avoided mistakes.

Print edges:

Make sure your print is mounted straight on the board. If they are not, sand them!

Dressing your edges and making them look clean is an overlooked aspect of presentation.

In addition, be sure that your edges match your print. Remember that the edge of your print is the first thing the judges see.

Print surface:

Use metallic sparingly, it tends to get milky. If you spray your prints, make sure they are sprayed evenly.

Use finishes that don’t take away from the depth of your print under the lights. When in doubt, use glossy paper with a glossy lamination.


Matting:

For starters, you don’t have to use the entire board. Yes you have to submit a 16x20 if you’re in the non-master category, but your image can be of any shape and size. The exception is for Master Degree holders.

They may submit images of any shape and size on a mount board a minimum of 80 square inches to a maximum of 480 square inches, with the largest dimension no longer than 24".


So, crop your print to the appropriate size and then put it on another background in Photoshop.

Choose a matt that is not distracting or competes with your image. When in doubt, stay neutral.

If you use black matting, make sure it looks COMPLETELY black under the lights.






Key Line:

Often called a stroke, a key line is the outline that separates a print from the background. This one is a big one!

People make SO many mistakes with such an easy element to presentation. Here are 3:


1. Rounded corners
2. Too many pixels
3. Distracting color

Rounded corners are print killers. When you created a stroke in Photoshop, set it to create “inside” your image.

This will make sure your corners will always be corners. This may sound small, but it is another step that makes you look like you know what you are doing!

Pixels! HUGE key lines are another killer.

Although the exact size of a key line will depend on the image and resolution try not to go above 15 pixels. Stay between 6-10.

Remember to keep them skinny! The only purpose a stroke serves is to add separation from the matting.


Color:

KEEP IT SIMPLE! This is another one that takes a bit of practice and there are even fewer absolutes.

Avoid pure black or pure white, a stroke with either will show as the point of most contrast in your presentation.

Have you ever heard a judge say “that’s an alright print, but check out that stroke”! You are more likely to hear “that’s distracting!" or "I want to like the print, but I can’t.”

An easy trick is to use your color picker to select a color from your center of interest.

Also make sure it doesn’t blend with the image around the outside of the print.

This will tie your print together as well as create separation from your matting.




Summary

Be a competitor.

Do not be afraid to push the boundaries.

Punish your images in preparation.

No excuses. EVER

K.I.S.S.

Never assume.

Everything comes down to what you put in front of the judging panel.

Strive to WIN and there WILL BE A COST.

John_Metcalfe
05-08-2009, 06:23 PM
It has been brought to my attention and I am laughing because for
the 3rd time it has been discussed with me that my ways seem a bit militant where competition is concerned.

Is that true?

What I find funny is we have just started questioning the finer points of preparing for comp.

If so, I guess the requiring of dedication, observation, the study of the rules, past competitions and judge's habits, the hands on learning of your equipment (not to mention others), the study of light and it's effect on the subject, the applications of camera to computer to paper & the means to produce the highest quality of print, laid with the best possible plans to create an impact filled image, I can see where one would call my approach militant. I would prefer analytical, but even anal would suffice.

I cannot disguise my passion for competition and my wish to help others to achieve their goals. But I refuse to suppress another person's views, nor will I press upon anyone that my way as the only path. It is all things accumulated into a print case that makes your journey.

Angela_Lawson
05-08-2009, 07:00 PM
John,

I've been out sick (again/still dealing with issues from surgery), but have been trying to read and keep up with this thread. I haven't said much, but am following along with great interest, both from your input, and the many varied questions and responses. So, today I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the time you are taking to put all of this information down for everyone to share in. If certain people find it harsh/militant, they can choose not to read your way of doing things, or can add their own insight to help others. Either way, I'm finding all the information enlightening, and think that when I'm given the go ahead to begin shooting again, I've already got some ideas on how to go about shooting for my client and getting some competition prints. I know that this year is too late, but I'm going to be prepared with a full case for both regionals and Internationals next year, with a goal of at least one merit.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing, and please continue.
Angela

mrbarton
05-08-2009, 10:56 PM
Keep the fire John. Keep the fire.

dana_nordlund
05-09-2009, 02:02 AM
Can I get an Amen?

Thanks John

Mark_Levesque
05-09-2009, 04:30 AM
Militant? I would call it playing to win rather than playing for the social outlet. Nothing wrong with it at all. There is much to be learned.

John_Metcalfe
05-11-2009, 11:40 AM
Okay...

But before continuing a couple things are to be known.

First, my past message was not a scream out or a yell for help. I thought it was funny... I know this thread will die and most will go back to doing things as they see fit.

But for the select few who take a chance, you will find an avenue in which the competition parts (at least) come all the clearer.

Second, these thoughts and writings are not all together my own. They are a shared view and to keep answering them with our combined thoughts and writings without acknowledging this would be a form of plagiarism.

We have combined our efforts to find the answers, have tested the waters, challenged the system and to say it floats would be an understatement.

Alright, now that's said...


I have a question.

What is the first impression received from your image?

Please those who know my answer give the others a chance. Anyone else, fire away!

John_Metcalfe
05-12-2009, 01:45 PM
Too rich! So far after many views there have been no posts... Ha!

However, I have received a couple calls and a few e-mails and the answers stand as such:

the title: 3

the image: 2

the edge of the image: 1

Jesus: 1

All fine answers for sure, but still not correct. Sorry.

I am looking for brave souls to answer. No cheating, I have traps set. HA!

Miranda_Welch
05-12-2009, 05:42 PM
Just had time to read through this whole thread. Very informative thank you, I learned a lot.

Sorry John I wouldn't even begin to know the answer to your question, but maybe someone else will.

John_Metcalfe
05-12-2009, 06:28 PM
Thank you Miranda and thank you also for your honesty.

But not so fast. I want you to give an answer.

Here's a direction to seek it. (I'll slide just this once)

Think about any game or competition you have participated in. What do you have to do in which to play?

Remember, this is an all play...

Miranda_Welch
05-12-2009, 07:06 PM
You have to know the rules.

So I guess the answer to your question is, the first thing a judge sees or asks himself, does the print follow the rules?

mrbarton
05-12-2009, 07:54 PM
Paperwork. Rules. Your case. Wait, the mailing label. The $20 you taped to the case?

John_Metcalfe
05-13-2009, 04:13 AM
Thanks Michael. Spoiler...
(That $20 in this economy might not be a bad idea. Though you'd need enough green to make it through 3 panels and I don't think $20 will buy them all a soda. Nice try! HA!)

Paperwork is the answer.

If you don't follow the rules, fill out your paperwork and/or submit your case on time, your images don't see the turntable.

What next?

John_Metcalfe
05-13-2009, 12:12 PM
Okay...
We covered a mish-mash of things so far really with no real direction. Let's just from frying pan into the fire and discuss even more objective stuff!

The 12 Elements

Here they are!

Knowing them is the only way to truly succeed in print competition.

Impact
Creativity
Style
Composition
Print Presentation
Center of Interest
Lighting
Subject Matter
Color Balance
Print Quality/Technical Excellence
Technique
Story Telling

And here’s the heavy hitter... Great work of all kinds incorporates each element.

Preparing for competition is a discipline that will help us master many facets of photography that will only make us stronger.

We'll work on a few at a time. (This way it won't be too overwhelming)

Impact:

They say it is the first impression a viewer gets from your image.

Is that true? What is it are you empowered with to first make an impression in a print competition? .

We already mentioned this...

First: To fill your paperwork out properly and on time. They don't see it if you didn't do it.

In addition, make sure your labels are placed in the right location. It is not uncommon to see a print placed on the turntable incorrectly.

Second: Your title. (my favorite part)

Here’s another dirty little secret. Judges start off by scoring prints with their first impression of your image. There will be those that argue this and have done so with me in the past.

This is not to say that the other 11 elements are void, but consider this fact: *Judges have A LOT of prints to view*

Combined with the prints being scored in about 10 seconds should effect the way you present your image...

As mentioned before, the ability to make the panel laugh, cheer, cry, or fume is a very valuable skill. Giving a judge something to go to bat for is what will get your prints challenged and will rarely go to the next level without one.

We'll have time to create more opportunities for challenges later, that in itself is an entire article.

John_Metcalfe
05-13-2009, 01:09 PM
Creativity

“Creativity is the external expression of the imagination of the maker by using the medium to convey an idea, message or thought.”

Right on the money, but I fear it needs translation from a judge's chair:

“For the love of all that is holy! We’ve been sitting here and how many times have we seen this same shot?"

Naturally, the best place to learn about print competition is sitting in the audience.

In doing so, you’ll notice that many of the images look similar. You’ll also find that they score between a 77 and 83.

All the more reason for creating an image that sticks in a judge’s mind.

Being the “odd ball” might sound a little scary, but you’ll also notice that one of them almost always wins. Do you want to blend in or stand out? What changes can you make to effect the outcome of your image in a way to make it stand out? (Any image, no matter the subject matter?)

John_Metcalfe
05-13-2009, 02:21 PM
Style

This falls right along with creativity.

If you have the chance to view several competitions from the same region, you’ll most likely be able to predict the makers of many of the images, also the ones who are scoring well and winning.

Great scoring prints have refinement and a finished look to them.

Know this: Entering pretty pictures isn’t good enough! Have a point of view and take it to the judges! Your image's story whatever the mood should grip the panel.

Many (most professional photographers) are ever ready to point out our images worth.

Face it, we are lacking in our work. Our images are not always the things we long them to be.

But instead of tripping over this find another way. Bring forward an air in your images and force the panel to answer what they think. In other words, find ways to inspire them to talk.

This is a major step in driving up your score.

I'm sure (I asked this question myself) the next question is... "how?".

John_Metcalfe
05-13-2009, 03:48 PM
Composition

“Proper composition holds the view in the image and prompts the viewer to look where the creator intends.”

Let’s translate this into judge’s logic:

“Does this person really know what they are doing?!”

Remember this: Judges complain! Heck, we pay them to find things to pick on.

SO, don’t give them anything.

If you enter a traditional portrait, they are going to judge you as such, opening the door to a bunch of nit-picking.
(likewise with most other styles to some degree, a few being more severe than others)

Watch your thirds!

If you are to have straight lines, level them up! And if you choose to break rules, shatter them.

We can discuss more to look for later...

More than anything else, avoid entering images that has you saying:
“Yeah, but. . .” There is no time or a forum for excuses in print competition.

You have about 10 seconds to get it right. Don’t blow it.

That will do for now.

Angela_Lawson
05-13-2009, 05:14 PM
John,

Thank you for taking the time to break these down. In reading the list as stated by PPA is hard to get the gist of their meaning sometimes, when you have little experience with print competition. Your explanations are making it a little easier to define each point.

Thanks, and I look forward to the rest.
Angela

Jeff_Dachowski
05-14-2009, 07:35 PM
Hi John,
It is nice to see someone passionate about something!!

I know this will sound picky, but I will say it anyway.

In the current judging system we do not take points off of any image. We arrive at a category based on our experience and then decide where in that category we are to arrive at a final score. So if the print is a strong merit, but we do not feel we can justify an "excellent" score, we might score it an 83 or 84, just shy of the excellent category. Where if an image is just barely in the merit category, we might score it an 80. In days past we used to deduct points off prints for various reasons but that is not how we do it today.

Also you mentioned in one of your replies that judges are hired to find fault. I disagree with this statement. This might not be PEC's take on it, but when I arrive at a judging where I am on the panel, my wish is to see 260 100's. We all know that the possibility of that is unlikely, but that is certainly my hope. My point is that I do not feel compelled to find faults, I merely determine my score, and find faults, or attributes to justify my scores to the fellow jurors. There is a big difference in this appproach, as I am looking at what is presented, and making a determination, not taking the attitude of "what did the maker do wrong"

i know these are two minor points, but they are a big deal to me.



Jeff

John_Metcalfe
05-15-2009, 01:39 AM
Hi Jeff!


Don't worry about being picky, I'm glad you posted. It just amplified some of my reasoning...

I need a bit more time than I have, so I'll hold off my response for now.

Good to see you on this thread!



BTW, You owe me a phone call...

John_Metcalfe
05-15-2009, 01:36 PM
Jeff, I quoted you a bit, I hope you don't mind and likewise I "re-idioterated" my own quotes.

Jeff quote:"In the current judging system we do not take points off of any image. We arrive at a category based on our experience and then decide where in that category we are to arrive at a final score".


John quote: Judges want to be inspired, and they are supposed to find faults. Judges have seen a lot of images, many are similar. Giving a panel an image to root for is what it’s all about.

Know thy panel! If a judge is a well-known portrait photographer, they likely will judge more critically than one that is not. However, the same judge may know little about E.I. and blow the top off the score.

Though it may be argued how a score is derived, no matter how they are taught, each individual has the own method of scoring. (the human factor) This is where impact, story telling and technical excellence come into play.


"Jeff quote:So if the print is a strong merit, but we do not feel we can justify an "excellent" score, we might score it an 83 or 84, just shy of the excellent category. Where if an image is just barely in the merit category, we might score it an 80. In days past we used to deduct points off prints for various reasons but that is not how we do it today."


John quote: You’ll also find that they score between a 77 and 83. All the more reason for creating an image that sticks in a judge’s mind.

This where making opportunities for discussion in your images is vital. Your title, the mood of your image, the placement of your subject/s, and the use of space, etc... all play a part in stirring a panel member discuss your image.

"Jeff quote: This might not be PEC's take on it, but when I arrive at a judging where I am on the panel, my wish is to see 260 100's. We all know that the possibility of that is unlikely, but that is certainly my hope."

John quote: Most judges simply want to learn and be inspired.
When we enter images, we are not showing a large body of work. Correct? It should be our best. But, it is not uncommon for a viewer to see an image and think, "is that it?”


My hope is that when a panel comes together they begin with your "wish", but I feel that after a while of judging there is no amount of coffee, soda or candy that will keep the whole panel as inspired as you, Jeff... (again, the human factor)

"Jeff quote: My point is that I do not feel compelled to find faults, I merely determine my score, and find faults, or attributes to justify my scores to the fellow jurors. There is a big difference in this approach, as I am looking at what is presented, and making a determination, not taking the attitude of "what did the maker do wrong"

John quote:Judges are human. Every panel has a unique personality. They have strengths and weaknesses and carry different levels of experience, and expertise. It would be a stretch asking every judge to be proficient at every style of photography.


My approach in this thread, though driven to improve scores... is not intended to deflate or diminish the value of being a judge. I have made it known that since my first competition that I have aspired to become one. I can think of no better place to collectively view, learn and share imaging in our professional at such an intimate level.


Jeff quote: i know these are two minor points, but they are a big deal to me.

This makes me glad. Knowing this empowers my thought of confidence in the judging system.

I also believe we need more involvement from this generation of photographers. Our path has been laid by our mentors and it is up to us to carry on for the next to come. This is a very impressionable time in our field and though it is hard even keeping up, it honestly could not get much more exciting!

Thanks Jeff!

John_Metcalfe
05-15-2009, 03:22 PM
Print Presentation

This one like Composition, This one might translate into:

“What the heck is this person thinking?”

Presentation is such an important part of print competition.

That said, we’ll brush on a few concepts.

Many prints have been MURDERED by poor presentation!

Judges are not looking for “good”, or even “above average”.

Judges wanting to see the BEST work you can bring…

If so, you should treat it that way.



3 EASY things to avoid:

• 1. Make sure your prints are mounted straight.
• 2. When using a stroke or border on your prints, make sure you have square corners.
• 3. Dark matting? Darken the edges of your board. If you are entering a high key print, make sure the edge of your board is white.


In short, take your presentation seriously and make your prints look like it! Remember, you are responsible for every pixel …

John_Metcalfe
05-15-2009, 03:25 PM
Center of Interest

This one could also be called: “Get all that junk out of your shot!”

A common problem in print competition is “over propping”.

You need to have a central focus to your prints.

Judges have to know what to look at.

There are a lot of ways to approach this, but here are two simple tricks.

Edit your prints upside down.

If you look at your intended subject upside down, the judges will look at your subject when it’s right side up.

We get used to our prints and we take for granted that others see our images the way we do.

Viewing them from different angles means that we no longer see the image in the manner we are used to.

This is a great way of seeing our images from a different view.


Squint your eyes at a print.

If you view your images out of focus your eye will ALWAYS go to brightest area.

Make sure that it’s where you intend it to be.

John_Metcalfe
05-15-2009, 03:27 PM
Lighting

It’s impossible to talk about lighting without getting into dangerous territory.

It is true that lighting can be fairly subjective.

There is no absolute rule to lighting


As a rule: make sure that your lighting is appropriate for the style of photography that you are presenting.

As with other facets of competition, if you want to break a rule, shatter it!

Make it very obvious that you are knowingly using unorthodox lighting.

More importantly, make sure that you know!

mrbarton
05-15-2009, 03:27 PM
This might get me trouble! It is my fundamental belief that we have a good judging system that works. It is not a perfect system because it is run by people. People are not perfect. In addition, not every judge has the same motivation for judging. Not ever judge is as consistent and has the same motivation as Jeff or Keith. Knowing that is the start to learning how to exploit the system and it's faults. It's just like anything else.

I realize that judges are not supposed to take off points and do any of that but realize also that there are "things" that will keep a judge from going to another category. In essence it's very similar and the logic still works. Basically, don't do stupid things that keep people from going to the next category!

I don't agree with everything John is saying, but I have to say I agree with a whole bunch of it. I agree with a lot of it that is not entirely politically correct as well. I've seen prints score out of a merit "because of the matting". If this is the case then why have I never seen a print score a 90 BECAUSE of the matting? It may happen, but it's not as likely. Just one example.

Simply put, most people make it WAY TOO EASY to score a print below an 80. I'm amazing at how often the issues are focus, exposure, color, and composition. To play right into the picking a category approach that is used these are things that will nuke a print right out of the gate. It's like shooting ducks in a barrel. They are all things photographers enter using the excuse "yeah, but. . . " It just doesn't work.

Lastly (sorry for a long post. Been saving it). There is a magical thing that happens here and pretty much everywhere else. People scramble around and go looking for the their best images and work a bit until they end up going right up to the deadline and then throw up images saying "I'm not really happy with my case, but we'll see". Ah, the magic part. The "will see" turns into "those judges don't know what they are talking about about! What the heck do I have to do to get a merit in this stinking system!!!????" All the sudden they are upset as, well, there is some kind of injustice. What happened to "will see". I'll tell you, the "yeah, buts" and "will sees" got rewarded with the score they deserved. Ouch. But wait, isn't that what is supposed to happen?

I've seen people merit that had no idea about any of this. I've seen high scores from the same. I have, however, never seen a 400 case from someone that was doing the same. Isn't a 400 case the goal? I've certainly never done it. Keith mentioned that everyone has different goals. I agree. After all, the 400 case truly isn't the goal now is it? Fair enough. The goal is usually "we'll see". Well, then quite complaining about the scores!

Last point. I don't know this for certain, but I would guess Keith, Jeff, and others don't succeed by guessing. They also don't succeed by just throwing a case together. I could be wrong. I can say that I certainly do not just throw a case together. I'm already working on Nationals for next year. I know that the others in my region that stand on the podium more than most are doing the same. It's how we learn. It's how we grow. Frankly, it's how we win.

Then again. What do I know. I'm not a Master.

Jeff_Dachowski
05-15-2009, 09:13 PM
John, and Michael,
You have some good comments here.

I want to point out a postion though that I have recently taken regarding print comp, and it expands a bit more on what John is saying about the human factor.

When I first started entering, I was not entering because I was going to learn a bunch of stuff. I entered becuause the other photogs in my area who I looked up to were entering. I have a state with some big shoes to fill- Don Chick, Steve Bedell and Jessica Giovagnoli to name a few. I started entering to be like them.

So...when my obviously 400 case scored everywhere from a 76-81, I was a bit taken aback, and was certain that not only the judges were stupid, they must also be blind!

Fast forward 5 or 6 comps and where am I at? Well, I enter cases at Nationals, a case at PPANE and a case at NH. I no longer expect high scores. In fact I now have no expectation in regards to scores for a couple of reasons, like the human factor of a jury and my emotional connection with an image. a jury can come in anywhere in the range depending on many factors. Now if a print scores a 78, it probably really deserves a 78.


One thing I find pretty interesting is that many times a panel has scored some of my prints high, and another one has scored it lower. The really cool thing is when three panels score a print all with in a point. That is pretty cool.

My point you might ask?

Now I am ok with a high score or a low score. I am now involved in the process to learn how to see better. When I look at a great composition, I now start thinking of where that might exist in my area. Maybe how I could accomplish a mood like that. Or maybe figure out in my head how to light it.

Steve Bedell once said in a critique, "People...this is your best work from the whole year!" We should be working on our prints now for next year!! So get one it.


Yes I know this was a rambling note. JUst mark me as ignore ok?
Jeff

John_Metcalfe
05-18-2009, 11:39 AM
Subject Matter

“Subject matter should always be appropriate to the story being told in an image.”

Find a subject that epitomizes the very meaning of your image.

I spend a lot of time with this one. It is one of the core ingredients to getting your image recognized/remembered by the panel.

It has also released me (for the time being) from my comfort zones.

The struggle to find interesting character studies (which is my preference in competition)
has forced me to approach individuals and build relationships with whom I would have never before made an attempt.
(Especially with some of my "hair-brained" ideas... HA!)

It has also encouraged me to mix lighting equipment and styles.
Often I will design my own light set ups and modifiers to accommodate my subject which produces a unique or conflicting light patterns.
This also goes along with some of the other methods utilized to stir the panel to discuss the print.

I've said it before, think as if you're looking up a word in the encyclopedia. You want to see your image next to it.
Whatever you are trying to achieve having the right subject matter amps up your image in the minds of the panel.

John_Metcalfe
05-18-2009, 11:48 AM
Color Balance
Color balance is HUGE!

There is no way of expressing just how important color theory is to print competition and photography as a whole.


Earlier "I MENTIONED" how quickly judges score prints.

Along with impact, color balance is another element that jumps out when a print is turned.

Color goes far beyond your choice of background and clothing for your subject.

It is important to make sure that you use harmonious colors and that everything flows.

More importantly, keep reminding yourself that you are responsible for every pixel in your image.

This is all fairly straight forward, but there are a few print killers looming in the color realm.


Color shifting? Ouch

High ISO?

Bad print quality?

Shooting with a FUJI? Guilty

Over sharpening? My advice: Hide it with Photoshop.

Color casts: Watch for light bouncing around and reflecting goofy colors.

Again, cheat and hide with Photoshop.

Ugly matting & strokes: Make sure your presentation colors are spot on.

Skin tones: Unless they drink WAY too much carrot juice, people aren’t orange!


Horrible printing gets horrible scores.

Saturation: Rule of thumb for color images:

Push the saturation until it breaks and then slide it back a little. . .

John_Metcalfe
05-18-2009, 11:50 AM
Print Quality/Technical Excellence

Well, truth be known, color balance fits into this category as well.

MAKE SURE YOUR PRINTS ARE PRESENTED WELL!!!

Print well. Mount well. Make sure your Photoshop is SPOT ON.

Nothing sinks an image in competition like bad Photoshop.

More than anything, make sure black is black and white is white.

If blacks are coming out milky gray, get a new printer for your competition images.

Know that you may very well have the greatest image ever conceived, but judges can ONLY work with what they have in front of them.

John_Metcalfe
05-18-2009, 04:03 PM
Technique

????

Doesn’t technique sounds a lot like Technical Excellence?

mrbarton
05-19-2009, 05:29 PM
John, I see what you are saying. i don't think people completely understand how important printing is for their images. HUGE!!! I am amused at how people "cheap out" on printing then spend $95 + Shipping to enter their prints. Even more curious is to know that there prints are going before and after prints made by people that have been doing this for years. I hope that I am giving my clients the absolute best images I can have made. Learning to do the same for a judging panel can only feed that.

I'll say it again, there are so many little things that can just slaughter a print right out of the gate. That said, isn't the point that we see other people's work and examine it in detail? Aren't we supposed to go to the gallery and get ideas? From there shouldn't people that have been doing this for a longer time have an edge? It seems that all you are talking about is a "culture" around image making. I can't imagine trying to learn what it's like to be French by reading 12 things that French people do. Just a thought. Typically people that perform well in competition are the one's that hang around it a lot. Working print crew is a great start.

I have really learned workflow and color management from competition. That's not a bad thing. I hate when people talk about images with respect for comp. It's like we are saying, "I'm going to lower my standard for my clients". I'll say it again, it's a shame to think that the judges get the best stuff. Not that judges aren't worth it, but that doesn't seem like much of a business plan.

mrbarton
05-20-2009, 01:24 AM
Subject matter is one that gets me. Why? Seriously? How the heck can anyone say what is appropriate to the story being told? I understand the point but frankly it's difficult to question subject matter for another person's print. This, my dear friends is why much client work is not going to score. Lay it on me, but you can put forth babies and puppies until the cows come home and then you'll see an album of bears eating salmon in the middle of nowhere shot with an 800mm lens and then ask "why did I not score very well?" It's not comparative, BUT, when dealing with subject matter do one of 2 things:

1. Show the judges something they've not seen before
2. Show them something they've seen and present it in an extraordinary way

Then again, that sounds a whole lot like storytelling. . . . Wait . . .

John_Metcalfe
05-20-2009, 12:00 PM
In reference to your "I am going to lower my standard for my clients" thought...

I find myself keenly aware of what's going on, and I would feel like a jerk if I told the world I didn't put as much effort into my customer's images. Maybe I am a jerk? But I also know enough about myself and about the the battle for perceived photographic excellence that I need to explore the ambivalence.

What is this thing in me - and in most photographers - that just don't want to step too far away from what we believe or know? Is it too much? Is it too hard? Is it too much work?

"Photography is easy". Isn't that pretty much the message you've heard from others and had to live with all your life? With competition, we have a means to prove "our worth". Not to mention, (if we continue challenging ourselves) the gains we make for our studio and competition work in the process.

John_Metcalfe
05-20-2009, 12:47 PM
"Subject matter is one that gets me."

"How the heck can anyone say what is appropriate to the story being told?"

"that sounds a whole lot like storytelling. . . . Wait . . .


That's not all...

There are many things going on here which have the ability to create quite a bit of confusion if one would let it. You ended your post with "that sounds a whole lot like storytelling". What about “Print Presentation” sounding a whole lot like “Technical Excellence” and “Technical Excellence” sounding a lot like “Technique”. And if “Technical Excellence” is about print presentation, then why do we have “Print Presentation”as a category?

John_Metcalfe
05-21-2009, 11:53 AM
(Deep breath...)

Back to “Technique” which involves choice of lighting, but there’s another category for “Lighting” which most definitely affects “Impact” and well, “Style”. But couldn’t we argue that “Style” would involve a personal choice that might be counter to a judge’s perspective on “Lighting”?

In the end would that not all be trumped by “Creativity”?

There YA go, clear as mud! It’s like maddening the unhelpful…

As far as technique goes, just don’t guess.

Use the right lens, the right camera, the right light, the right color palette, with the right subject matter for the story being told, on the right paper, and keep those judges stirring in their seats.

John_Metcalfe
05-21-2009, 12:46 PM
Story Telling

The last couple posts kinda covered it already, but let's revue...
Story Telling refers to the image’s ability to evoke the imagination, right?

The more time a judge spends thinking about your print, the better your scores are bound to be.

Getting a judge raving about an image almost always pushes a score WAY up
and plants a seed in a judge’s mind.

It needs to make a statement, have a strong emotion, using complimentary colors.

A Strong mood with an image builds an emotional response challenging the judge’s imagination. Being memorable will give you an edge!

John_Metcalfe
05-21-2009, 02:31 PM
Well...

I'm as glad as anyone viewing this thread that part of the discussion is over!

The "REAL DEAL" here to note is great work of all kinds incorporates each element.

Yes, our preparing for competition "is a discipline".

Mark said it earlier in the thread, "I would call it playing to win not a social outlet".

"It is a competition", whatever/however we choose to deem it , what course we take or how we utilize the experience.

Be a competitor.

Do not be afraid to push the boundaries.

Punish your images in preparation.

No excuses. EVER!

K.I.S.S.

Never assume.

Everything comes down to what you put in front of the judging panel.

Strive to WIN and there WILL BE A COST.

mephotosa
05-21-2009, 02:41 PM
John,

How do the judges approach monochrome images? Any work that I would consider entering into competition would be either B&W, Sepia, or monochrome tinted (all planned from the beginning).

Thanks...
Ed

John_Metcalfe
05-21-2009, 06:13 PM
In 2008, I entered 3 out 4 images as black & white. I received "MARC Photographer of the Year". This year I entered 2 black and white, 1 partial black and white and one color. The black and whites scored 95 & 92 respectfully and I received "Illinois Photographer of the Year".

I would encourage the utilization of black and white. (in some form) YOU'RE DARN TOOTIN' I WOULD!

Keep in mind though, if your state has a black and white award, you may not select any tinted images for that category. It is strictly for black and white only.
(However, it can be argued there is some tinting in every black and white. That too, I have seen exploited.)

Black and white for me follows the line of "give them less to look at". You can exchange " look at" for "look for" or "look to count against" depending on your point of view.

Good question!

mrbarton
05-22-2009, 02:42 AM
We can get away with a WHOLE lot more in post if an image is in black and white without worrying about a color shift. But if you read the 12 elements, technically speaking we are really in trouble if we enter black and white. . . .

I have heard a judge comment on the color harmony of a high key black and white print! Ha. I couldn't listen to a word from that judge from that point on. . . .

John_Metcalfe
05-22-2009, 12:06 PM
I have heard a judge comment on the color harmony of a high key black and white print! . . .

I wonder if that person didn't mean "rhythm of light and shadow"? (which is something that so far has been missing from this thread)

mrbarton
05-22-2009, 01:53 PM
Not one of the 12.

John_Metcalfe
05-22-2009, 04:21 PM
Rhythm of light and shadow is most definitely a part of the 12. They are just going under different headings.

Impact - The rhythm of light and shadow and their intensity definitely effects impact.
Creativity - Creating a rhythm of light and shadow throughout your image will give it that finished/polished/defined look.
Style - Using distinct lighting patterns definitely sets the stage for the style of the image.
Composition - The rhythm of light and shadow can assist in the placement of your subject/s.
Print Presentation - same as above, plus and help set the tone for your image.
Center of Interest - There has not been a time when the rhythm of light and shadow hasn't been used for defining the center of interest.
Lighting - duh!
Subject Matter - see center of interest... and replace "center of interest" with"subject matter".
Color Balance - The rhythm of light and shadow
Print Quality/Technical Excellence - see all of the above
Technique - ditto
Story Telling - I.M.O. - The rhythm of light and shadow sets the benchmark for the quality of the image. Without it we wouldn't have much of a story.

mrbarton
05-22-2009, 05:08 PM
Why not just make it the 1 element then??

John_Metcalfe
05-22-2009, 09:23 PM
Why not just make it the 1 element then??

You'd be putting the 6 fingered man out of a job, that's why! HA!

Nah...But if would be cool if Mr. Bob Hawkins updated the 12...

In all truthfulness, it takes very little to impress a panel. With EXTRA impression on "very little"! Let me explain.
Most times, the more you add the less they like.

explanation: The more you give them the more their eyes wander/wonder...

Equally so, the less you have, the more of a statement that thing needs to make.

Clear enough?

mrbarton
05-22-2009, 11:42 PM
Devil's Advocate: If the 12 elements are so confusing and you haven't taken the judge's workshop, how do you manage to be consistent?

John_Metcalfe
05-24-2009, 06:49 PM
MB quote: If the 12 elements are so confusing and you haven't taken the judge's workshop, how do you manage to be consistent?


HA! Image competition and being a judge are 2 very different things. I cannot say much about the workshop for the reason already mentioned. However, not having that knowledge has freed me from over thinking as an image unfolds.

I really wanted to take the upcoming class, but plans change and I look forward to next year. I am certain that some of my opinions will sway once I have a chance to experience the inner workings and the thought process that goes with it.

And to back up a bit... the 12 elements are only as confusing as you let them be. Honestly, seeing is believing. It has been stated before, there will come a time when you recognize "impact" in an image. The images that win stand out from the others and have more of a finished look to them. I follow from the "idea of a title" to the "reading of that title" a prescribed plan. In between those two events everything possible is questioned.

John_Metcalfe
05-27-2009, 05:35 PM
Alllllrighty then...

Enough chit chat.

Your image opportunities for this year's IUSA are all but dried up. Moving on...

We're walking, we're walking, we're here! It is time to start planning for the next event. If you've already started, that's great! GO TEAM! If you've nutt'in going on so far now's your chance.

HOMEWORK: You need to some.

1) THE COMPETITION What were the meriting images in your state's, regions events last year? Which ones won? Find them, study them break them down. What category were they in? What applications did they use/not use? What were the makers strong points/weaknesses in the image.
Get to know them and their makers.

2) IMPACT FILLED IDEAS Find yourself a tablet and keep it close. Begin writing down every idea for images and titles you have. (no matter how weird or stupid) Keep compiling your ideas and after you have a good number start implementing them in your day. Find out which ones float. Talk to people you find fit some of the qualities you need and to contact professionals/willing participants who can get what you need to achieve the image you have in your mind.

What are you still reading this for? Get going!

That's what I'm doing right now!

John_Metcalfe
06-01-2009, 02:02 PM
:cool:
So I've got the "theme" for my case and one nailed down for one of my images. Now I'm not sure if the case will go as an E.I. or normal, but I'm running with it just the same...

I've talked to 4 possible people I have previously photographed and have set up times for them to come in and go over the details of this particular shoot. I've also contacted a couple other professionals whom I trade work with to critique my hair, make-up and the over-all design ideas. Just by my mentioning this project has sparked interest and has gotten me some attention at their shops. (very kool!) I know it sounds elaborate... but part of my approach with this case's "theme" requires assistance, at least where the design is concerned.

Tomorrow, two of the girls will be in and we'll do a facial analysis and some other imaging that they need for their portfolios. The other girls will be in later this week, hopefully.

My goals are simple. I am looking to find a face to fit the expression I am going for combined with the body language needed.

Maybe I can do a beginning to end thing with this. That would be extra KOOL!

carolcoronios
06-03-2009, 09:22 PM
WOW - my first time here - and first thread I opened. Amazing amount of info - food for thought. Thanks John - and others contributing.

Carol

John_Metcalfe
06-04-2009, 04:55 AM
Cheers Carol! Hope to see you and your images more around here...

Finished editing the 2 model's tests and am having a hard time sticking to the task at hand. While viewing all the expressions I asked them to do I found myself coming up with new ideas! Normally that's a good thing and I'll certainly hold on to some of them, but now that the editing is finished I await tomorrow's consultation with the models. Two more models to go later this week. After that, I will show the hair and make up people the images so they can comment and make suggestions towards my ideas.

John_Metcalfe
06-05-2009, 06:25 AM
Today, I had the unexpected pleasure of working with a friend of my associates (Scott). He called her when the model that was supposed to try out didn't show. With Scotty's help she blew the doors off the test! She had waist length hair, so after her facial analysis we tried adding a wind effect. I also broke out the ring light with all it's adapters. Too much fun! Editing is going to be somewhat of a bear, but I have definitely now know the design approach I wish to take for the case.

John_Metcalfe
06-05-2009, 01:11 PM
Here is the ring light portion of the testing. We used all the modifiers and combinations. ( beauty dish, bare bulb and soft box)

I normally don't add effects for the initial viewing, but this morning I found myself in a particularly good mood...

mrbarton
06-11-2009, 01:48 PM
This is just shy of 2000 views. Say something controversial John. Say something controversial. . . (Impact is king, Dachowski is under-rated, "Dude, Where's my Car is a Great Movie", 40 pixel key lines with rounded edges are the ONLY way to fly, metallic paper is the BEST option. . .)

John_Metcalfe
06-11-2009, 08:44 PM
Thank you MB for pointing that out... But is that the point? Nahhh

Besides, most of the time my points are viewed as boring, unproductive or thought of as untrue.
And being one of the few if not one of the only here that have had the pleasure of knowing me (for however a brief period of time) that I wouldn't want to rock the boat.

NOPE. Not gonna do it!

For those not in the know, that was sarcasm.

BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED THREAD

John_Metcalfe
06-11-2009, 08:50 PM
Photographed more potential models facial analysis sessions. It seems they are telling their friends. I have now photographed all but red and blond hair plus I still need Asian skin for my stylist. Once we have enough we'll start working on design and pose refinements.

I have a session tonight at 7pm and she has shown interest in participating with one of my projects (her friend told her). So maybe before the end of the day I'll be able to scratch blond off the list.

John_Metcalfe
06-12-2009, 12:23 PM
Well, almost needless to say last night didn't go as planned. Storms that have been harassing the St. Louis area for this past week decided to stick around and we had to bail on the 7pm gig. But!!! Another cool thing happened! I found another element. Wind! I know that doesn't strike many as exciting, however my personal goal is to create as much motion and/or emotion in the image. Scott, my associate (who btw is the next big thing to hit Brooks Institute) worked with different methods of creating controlled blasts of wind. I know we did it before, but this time it just wasn't him swinging a piece of insulation... After a few tests we were hitting 5 out of 6 shots in quick succession on target. (My fuji will only save 6 at a time) Kudos Scotty! It won't be much longer before I can start giving up images to the design.

dana_nordlund
06-15-2009, 02:54 AM
So Dear John (which is not the same as John Deere)

Where are the images, inquiring minds want to see.

John_Metcalfe
06-15-2009, 01:51 PM
So Dear John (which is not the same as John Deere)

Where are the images, inquiring minds want to see.

I'm sure you would! But it will have to suffice for now to only message about them. I have considered a separate site like my blog for instance. That way judges and others wishing to shield their eyes can do so while others wishing to see their progress may do so at their leisure. My only real issue is giving up too much about the image here. I'm sure some are saying why do it at all? OR we really don't care! whatever... I think it's fun and it is challenges me to create from conception to print case a body of work and stick with it. Something I must say is much more challenging than designing them 2 weeks before the deadline (which is what happened this spring).

John_Metcalfe
06-17-2009, 06:10 PM
Okay...

I have posted the images on my facebook page. Below is the link.

My intent with these images are to visualize the effects of an x-light pattern on a female form leaning forward with arms out in different positions. In addition to the light, wind from 2 directions were added to bring out more motion/emotion in the images.

Other than color/level adjustments, a few blemishes removed and a crop on one to remove the edges of the paper, the images are SOC.

I look forward to any C & Cs. You may post them here or at the image site.

My next step is to add another element... fire or water?


http://www.facebook.com/home.php?filter=app_2305272732#/album.php?aid=2015791&id=1285046707&ref=nf

John_Metcalfe
06-18-2009, 01:33 PM
Water
Our next step was to go to our town's new water feature. We went there to see the effects of water in the image and on the skin. We also worked the light in at different angles. I have included a link if you wish to view.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2015842&id=1285046707&ref=nf

Our next steps since it's suppose to rain I think will be: more expressive movements or action in the x-light, lens selection and maybe if holds up, mixing in some fluorescent lights.

John_Metcalfe
06-19-2009, 07:28 PM
After a session, we photographed a young lady (Meaghan) jumping and spinning. My attempt was to see the movement of the hair while jumping and turning. Below is the link.


http://www.facebook.com/editphoto.php?aid=2015931&success=4&failure=0#/album.php?aid=2015931&id=1285046707&ref=mf

John_Metcalfe
06-23-2009, 01:18 PM
Well it's been a few days since I've shown anything from my project. I haven't been idle though. I have procured a couple more items on my list of needs. Colored eye contacts and various colors of metallic paint. I have 2 more individuals who are willing to participate taking me to six. I think they all have some of the characteristics I am looking for. I'll now give their images to the stylist along with my ideas and let them tell me what they think...

Now it's time to get busy building a foundation. I'm looking for textures that fit the project.

John_Metcalfe
06-30-2009, 02:57 PM
Happily, I have been putzing along photographing textures and looking for on-location sites to photograph. I want to consider on-location along with in the studio for a few reasons. First, it adds an element of realism to the images. Second, it will incorporate what I spend most of my time doing and if need be, I can learn to combine the them to get to the final cut.

Happy Tuesday!

Mark_Levesque
07-01-2009, 11:04 AM
Very interesting stuff, John. Thanks for bringing us with you.

John_Metcalfe
07-01-2009, 12:50 PM
What! Someone is reading this? I was using this for my memiors. HA!
Thanks for posting...

samgardnermcr
07-27-2009, 04:33 PM
John,
I appreciate your words of wisdom shared here. Too many times we aim for that "high" mark of 80 and "fail" at 79. You are right on with aiming higher.
We need to set our goals just out of our reach , but not out of sight. Aim for 90+ with all your work and then 80 is so well within our reach and vision.
This attitude and the resulting efforts will improve all our work, which benefits our clients certainly as well as our businesses. Yes, and then merits will follow from that.
Sam Gardner, M.Photog.Cr. CPP

John_Metcalfe
07-27-2009, 09:37 PM
Thanks Sam.

Recently, I hit a road block of sorts... I have 2 of my main lenses in the shop and am having to rely on friends/rentals to get me by till a decision can be made on what to do. Since that is the case, I have loosened up a bit on comp ideas. But hold the phone! I haven't relented entirely. I received a tutorial last week from Thomas Rousse that might be the very thing I need to put me back in gear!

John_Metcalfe
09-28-2009, 01:59 PM
Well it's been 3 months since I've touched my competition work. SAD, but true. However, I am going to bite down on the folio comp at our state event coming in October. There I will enter some of my sample projects and hopefully I'll hear a review or two. By then I guess my last lens will be back from Nikon. Once the dust settles from there I'll have spring comp back in sight.

John_Metcalfe
11-11-2009, 08:45 PM
Ahhh... Peace and Quiet.

If there's one thing I can't stand for more than 5 minutes top IS P & Q!

I have made a decision.

While on another post "How do we get more people involved", I found myself drawing back my determination to compete this coming year. Yes, I was wavering. If you ask Michael Barton, I do this every year...HA! This year I was serious though. It still might be the case that I will not make it to the affiliate judging, but it won't be w/o a valiant effort (and of course encouragement from my band of misfit friends).

In that before mention thread I saw my original fire regenerate and the riot that compels me to find interesting subjects start revving up. Titles started flowing freely almost faster than I could write down.

Now, I am looking for a few people to get on the bus and put the bowling shirt on...

mrbarton
11-12-2009, 12:31 AM
Weenie. . . .

HA

Bowling shirt you say? What bowling shirt John? Of what do you speak?

John_Metcalfe
11-12-2009, 03:07 AM
Mr. Weenie. Thank you very much.

S&C

Tss1203
11-12-2009, 04:09 AM
Ahhh... Peace and Quiet.

In that before mention thread I saw my original fire regenerate and the riot that compels me to find interesting subjects start revving up. Titles started flowing freely almost faster than I could write down.

Now, I am looking for a few people to get on the bus and put the bowling shirt on...


I must admit that thread reminded my why I love photography. Brought back the passion that I was starting to lack. If I can only act on that before it leaves again, lol!

I've always been one to enjoy a good challenge :)

Now if I can only find interesting subjects that are willing to pay, also....

John_Metcalfe
11-12-2009, 05:07 AM
Now if I can only find interesting subjects that are willing to pay, also....

You are putting the cart before the horse...

Paying customers are nice, yes. But if you read again, you will see as soon as they are paying customers (you work for them)... Now, if they assist you on reaching your goal and then want to come back or better yet combine that with telling their friends and they bring their checkbooks, then you have something!

Tss1203
11-12-2009, 11:35 AM
oh, I was just thinking out loud :)

I'm a little obsessive so all I've been thinking about this past week is a few new ideas. Now I only have to find a way to culminate those ideas into reality. We shall see if succeed :)

mrbarton
11-12-2009, 12:49 PM
Amy, keep your foot on the gas and put the pedal to the floor. Just make sure you a driving in the right direction. That's what friends are for. They duck in the back of the car screaming when you are headed for a tree.

John_Metcalfe
11-12-2009, 01:12 PM
The last thing I want to see in that situation is a floor mat.

I'd rather see the look on your face!

Tss1203
11-12-2009, 01:22 PM
Amy, keep your foot on the gas and put the pedal to the floor. Just make sure you a driving in the right direction. That's what friends are for. They duck in the back of the car screaming when you are headed for a tree.


lol, except that sometimes my friends are the ones that make me drive towards the tree!

just look at my expression in my avatar, I've been headed towards trees (or the edge of a cliff, as I like to say) for my whole life :)

John_Metcalfe
11-12-2009, 02:15 PM
just look at my expression in my avatar, I've been headed towards trees (or the edge of a cliff, as I like to say) for my whole life :)

If your not on the edge you are taking up to much space...

John_Metcalfe
12-31-2009, 05:05 PM
Well to say I have been negligent concerning comp would be an understatement. Have to say my heart isn't in it. It's always this way in December though. BIG TIME BURN OUT...

But I probably don't HATE my case as much as Jeff Dachowski does. (for sure)

Still holding on to a couple titles and designs for that matter. Thinking about turning over to E.I.

Looking forward to Nationals hoping the photo bug will bite me. Anything else tries to bite and I'm smacking it in the chops!

Tss1203
01-16-2010, 01:25 AM
hmm..may I revive this thread?

I just spent some time rereading this, and I think something clicked in my head. At least, I hope it did ;) I'm motivated to spend time creating the best images I can. My hope would be along the way this will help me create better client images. I'm tired of allowing my work to be 'good enough' just because someone is willing to pay for it. Granted, I am constantly focusing on improving my skills and am the first to point out my mistakes, which I often do, lol. But I want to really focus on finding those flaws and fixing them before I take the image. I think I'm going to embrace this little bit of seasonal down time to create the images that I want to create.

So my goal this week is to start with finding my inspiration, lol!

Keith_A_Howe
01-16-2010, 03:16 PM
I'm motivated to spend time creating the best images I can. My hope would be along the way this will help me create better client images. I'm tired of allowing my work to be 'good enough' just because someone is willing to pay for it. Granted, I am constantly focusing on improving my skills and am the first to point out my mistakes, which I often do, lol. But I want to really focus on finding those flaws and fixing them before I take the image. I think I'm going to embrace this little bit of seasonal down time to create the images that I want to create.

Thats Great! 100 bonus points for recognizing this. :)

John_Metcalfe
01-21-2010, 02:18 PM
Good for you Amy!

I was bit also. Just not the way I hoped.

I didn't feel well the entire trip. Arrived recovering from food poisoning, lost my voice on Monday and did not recover till last Sunday.

Had a good time while I could, but for the most part I stayed quiet and out of the crowds.

Tss1203
01-21-2010, 07:30 PM
what a bummer John!

It was nice to actually be able to physically see the prints in the exhibit. I think we both(my husband and I) have a better understanding of the quality required to achieve our goals.

For us, the focus lately has been on growing our business and making money. It's taken away from our creativity and we've forgotten why we choose to do this. Sometimes we have so much pressure on a job that we get a little sloppy. Not that we are turning out complete crap, but if I can look at something and point out several flaws, then I need to work harder next time.

So I have two projects; creating photographs to make myself happy, and figuring out where we are lacking at skill-wise and learning the techniques to sharpen those skills-especially under pressure. I think I need like an assignment of different things to photograph or different techniques/styles to try to give me some sort of goal to reach for. So that is step number one.

I never want to be complacent that I'm "good enough".
Anyway, enough rambling. I'm hoping I actually follow thru with my projects, but we'll see ;)

John_Metcalfe
02-22-2010, 02:47 PM
After reflecting on IUSA, I am finding more good to work from and my bid to repeat at this year's competition will be most challenging.

This past weekend was our affiliated competition and I didn't enter. Meaning, there will be 4 untested images in 2 possible cases.

To my surprise I am not uneasy about this. The title pool I am working from needed a bit more time not to mention our comp came a month earlier than normal. HA! This time last year I was just starting to shoot... Can you spell procrastination?

Even though I would have loved to compete and to have doubled up on the MARC award before it becomes no more would have been KOOL. The release of pressure to produce has allowed me to delve more deeply into the finer aspects in the making of the image. Hopefully my refinements and the extra time given, will produce images worthy of recognition and remembrance...