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John_Mireles
06-25-2009, 07:11 AM
After my first year of print comp, I'm left wondering: Is the purpose of print comp to score high according to some fairly arcane standards or is it to improve one's work so as to better compete in the marketplace?

I ask this because it seems that the judges are more focused on rewarding work that meets PPA "rules" than work that can actually attract clients. Every time I point this out, I keep getting told, "that's print comp" or "that's what it takes to score at state or national." So what's the point of print comp if the high score is meaningless in the real world?

John

Todd_Reichman
06-25-2009, 07:39 AM
I'm popping my popcorn and waiting for the show to start!




:D

Doubtless someone will claim that it promotes and recognizes excellence in photography. What you might be referring to is the fact that it might (I said "might" !!!) only reward and recognize a particular definition of excellence or perhaps not a broad enough definition of excellence. Hopefully there will be some non-defensive replies and thoughts on this issue.

- trr

D._Craig_Flory
06-25-2009, 01:46 PM
Hi John;

The average client has no idea about what constitutes a good image. If you keep on competing and learning all about the "rules" of art and photography you will raise your quality and also educate your clientele. I would much rather emulate a Master of Photography than lower my standards to what an average client thinks is a good image. New, different, and unique images are a good thing. But, if it breaks important rules the eyes of the viewer will not travel to the important part of the image. The panel may not "get" the intent you had in mind. I hope you compete often and learn from the experience. I suggest that you attend a print competition and watch the process.

Keith_A_Howe
06-25-2009, 02:24 PM
Every few months this same basic question comes up on this forum. . . and every few months I spend about an hour of time typing out a long response sharing my own real experiences on how competition helped me learn stuff I would never have learned, made me a better photographer, opened doors for me to pursue other goals, made me more money, etc etc. I'm tired of repeating myself.

John, based on your one experience of entering, your opinion is that PPA competition has "arcane standards" and that "the high score is meaningless in the real world". So IF I was to use the same method on you - forming an opinion based on one experience - I would think that you probably entered for the first time and did not score well. You are bitter at your scores and instead of admitting that perhaps your work has room for improvement, you instead want to find fault with the system that didn't reward you the way you wanted to be rewarded. I am sure that would make you pretty angry and you would think I was wrong to form such a negative opinion based on just your one post. You would be right, forming an opinion and publically bashing you based on one experience is unfair. So even though I have seen that exact same scenario literally hundreds of times, I am not going to assume that's what is going on in your case. Instead I challenge you to explain your viewpoint. Tell us how the 12 elements are arcane, explain how technical excellence, impact, composition, color harmony etc etc are outdated ideas. Show me examples of how the high scores are meaningless in the real world. Let's have a conversation here instead of just a bash print competition thread. Like I said in the beginning, I am tired of defending the system and myself, but I am very ready for a real discussion between open minds.

Keith

Don_Chick
06-25-2009, 02:27 PM
Again? .... sigh....

The answer is YES!

Don_Chick
06-25-2009, 02:29 PM
With that out of my system...

The judging criteria as the 12 elements. Not something PPA has invented. The 12 elements are principles or guidelines for good art.

Joe_Campanellie
06-25-2009, 02:51 PM
I've heard this in my own state organization many, many times. People don't do well for one reason or another or they don't understand the "system" and they want to bash print competition. They feel that the 12 merits of a merit print are something a bunch of old farts pulled out of a hat from PPA. And that the judges don't know what they are talking about.

I've learned over many years that it is a rare person who will actually sit down with an open mind and learn from those who are where you want to be.

Fact is those 12 elements are deeply rooted in the art world. And...if you learn them you will definitely look through your camera in a whole different way and yes...your work will improve.

mrbarton
06-25-2009, 02:56 PM
Hey John. Understand that pretty much like clockwork here someone gets PO-ed at their scores and posts some venom here. As a result you get to see the fun side of people in response. Honestly, that's what most people that post these threads are looking for. This said, there are also people on here that post genuine concerns and get to see the same "drama". I am certain in this light you can understand why this is a topic that gets interesting responses. Here's my take.

We are in a time when photographers are popping up ALL over the place. Sadly, this is in part an economic issue. People are losing jobs and taking cuts and seeking photography as an supplement. There's nothing wrong with that. As a result however it is getting harder and harder not to blend in and become just "another photographer". The way I see it, competition is a way to show your clients you are different.

I am not certain I would call my work "PPA" standard. This year I was fortunate to receive the merits I needed for my Master and Master of Electronic Imaging. In the process I loaned 5 prints and all 8 of my images merited. In return I have free press that I can't put a price tag on. If you want to get monetary I got $3000 in free stuff from Canon. If you want to continue with money one of my albums that went loan was created using client work AND I made thousands selling them. Literally.

Through competition my work has changed dramatically. I guess you could try and call me a "PPA Clone" but that's not really going to fly. They say that regular clients don't know the difference. Here's the gig, I really couldn't care less about the ordinary client. They are the one's fighting over all the other photographers that are popping up all over the place. I am looking for the minority client. The client that knows, pays, respects, and returns. THAT client LOVES international awards. That client knows the difference between good work and mediocre work.

In addition to all of this I entered images from Sedona, The Grand Canyon, Utah, and Philadelphia this year. I have used many of competition images to start a fine art line and new products that have made think different and well, made me more money.

So, if you are interested in free press, free cameras, free money, new friends, knowledge, and seeing more of the world, competition might be for you. If not, I don't think it will kill you or anyone else not to enter.

For the record, I don't think your post came off confrontational. For that I don't offer a defensive answer. That's not warranted. I have a lot of passion for competition and thought you deserved to know a little bit about someone that it is worked for. I hope this helps.

mrbarton
06-25-2009, 03:07 PM
Ah! I almost forgot. I am the self-proclaimed king of dumb analogies! Print comp is to photography what working out in a gym is to everyday life.

Let's face it, sitting in a spin class has nothing to do with reality. You sit their watching CNN and pedaling a fake bike. When you are working the bench press you are basically faking the act of lifting a car in a near death experience that is not real! Why? Because it makes real life better. Frankly, people can lift cars and ride real bikes. There's no muscle that can be created in a gym that can't be made elsewhere. Why then do people go to the gym?

It's a controlled situation with measurable results. The exercise fits into a routine and their are experts around to help and make sure people are developing. In short, it becomes part of a healthier life. There are hunters in Alaska that have never stepped foot in a gym that will live to be 100 and crush most people with their bare hands! There are skinny people like me that haven't seen the inside of gym for years (it shows). People in a gym will tell you that it enriches their life. It's hard to argue. At this I might add, I still don't go to the gym but swear I'll do it about once a month. Seeing as I'm typing this and not dead at the ripe old age of 33 I have to ask "what am I missing out on?"

Jack_Reznicki
06-25-2009, 04:00 PM
Ah! I almost forgot. I am the self-proclaimed king of dumb analogies! Print comp is to photography what working out in a gym is to everyday life.


Michael,

Actually, that's pretty good. I might steal it <s>

People who are deep into the print competition, from my experience, do it for some basic reasons.
It improves their work.
Photographers are the worse judges of their own work. No question. Getting outside feedback is always a good thing.
And people who have stuck with the competition see the quality of their work go up, their business improves as a result, and their lifestyle improves as a result of that. That makes them very emotionally attached to the competition. I think that's why this question always hits a nerve.

Are there flaws in the judging? Yeah, there are some, but very little. If you go to the National judging, see the process, hear the judges comments during judging, your opinion changes a lot. It's very impressive.

I had a judging in my studio once for APA (Advertising Photographers of America) when I was the NY President, in the early '90's. The judges were Elizabeth Biondi, art director at Vanity Fair magazine, the late Robert Sobieski, curator of the LA Art Museum's photo collection, Victor Scriebneski, legendary fashion photographer, and an art director from the Smolan Carbon agency, who had just done the signage at the Louve in Paris. Heavy hitters, very sophisticated judges. Listening to them go over images was an education. Images I thought would score high with them, they past over. They understood where the image was coming from, if it was derivative or a fad, or if it was an original vision. Their visual understanding was incredible.

I get the same feeling at PPA's National judging. The criteria is different, the type of work being judged is different, but the way it's done, the visual knowledge of the judges is carefully scrutinized, the ability to work on a panel has been looked at deeply. As a result, they do a fantastic judging, no question.

Simple answer. If you don't see the reason to enter, don't. But look at the photographers who do and try and understand their passion for why they continue to enter.

In short, the point of competition is - "for you".

KirkDarling
06-25-2009, 04:28 PM
So what's the point of print comp if the high score is meaningless in the real world?

What makes it "meaningless in the real world?" The judges are all very successful photographers in the real world, and are quite knowledgeable about what works in the real world.

What convinces you that their standards are not a realistic distillation of what works in the real world? Do you believe these successful real-world photographers are judging according to standards that they don't use in the real world?

What, specifically, convinces you that any merit print would not sell in the real world?

David_A._Lottes
06-25-2009, 04:32 PM
Is the purpose of print comp to score high according to some fairly arcane standards or is it to improve one's work so as to better compete in the marketplace?

Lots of great replies to this question John but I have to say I like Don's the best. The answer is YES!

Now I have to agree with John that the 12 elements are fairly arcane (meaning: generally a mystery to the public) but I also agree with others who have said in short, they are the things that make an image pop. Personally I never enjoyed competition much because I have obsessive compulsive issues but I know it improved my work. But the point is to understand those arcane standards better to help you compete in the marketplace. Like Don said...YES!

Keith just started another thread (http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?t=17255) that needs to be read as it relates to your question. Print comp can be a wonderful thing if you take full advantage of it as mrbarton has explained. I got quite a bit of mileage out of it when I was active. But it can also become an anchor and I think Kieth's other thread touches on that. If you spend too much time focused on the 12 elements you can start to make images that are technically delightful but emotionally empty. Eventually you start looking at thirds and ratios so hard your vision becomes like a chemistry formula. If that happens you need to take a break from it. Otherwise you'll start cranking out images that score 79-78-79-78 etc. What that should tell you is that you understand the "rules" but you've lost your joy. The joy is what got you started, the rules can make you better, when you can combine them you'll start scoring high, and your clients will still understand your work. Truth is the high scores are wonderful for the free stuff but I swear those who score low and stick with it or just sit in on a judging and listen to the comments learn more, grow their business more and become more competitive than those who score in the 90s at their first competition.

Pass that popcorn over here Todd.

On a side note mrbarton I think it's interesting that you consider the stuff "free". Truth is if your like me, between all the time and money devoted to the seminars, print cases, entry fees, shipping, classes, self study, registrations for conventions, membership dues, travel and equipment over the course of your career you could probably have several PHDs or one heck of a stock portfolio by now. But "FREE STUFF" sounds soooo much better.

Just another example of "Free (http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?p=206133#post206133)" as a great marketing tool.;)

mrbarton
06-25-2009, 04:59 PM
David, that is a fair reply. Perhaps free was an overstatement! What I meant is that we are not paying advertisers directly and don't have to pay for the press. Competition is SO much cheaper than it used to be however. A lot of photographers spend a lot of money on advertising. I use print comp and the buzz it creates to do a whole bunch of that work. Thank you for your thoughts. Well stated.

John_Mireles
06-25-2009, 05:03 PM
First, let me say that I'm not out to attack print comp. I think has the potential to be a great thing. I do want to understand it better because if it's supposed to do what I think it supposed to do, it's not doing that job very well. If I'm mistaken in what I think the goal of print comp is, then I'll leave well enough alone.


. So IF I was to use the same method on you - forming an opinion based on one experience - I would think that you probably entered for the first time and did not score well.This past year I entered three of the four print comps. I ended up in second place overall for the year so it's not like I did poorly. Had I entered all four print comps, I would have easily taken "Photographer of the Year."

I ask the question "what's the point" because if the point of print comp is to help people create work that will help them succeed in the marketplace, it's not doing its job. I've created a graph to help me illustrate what I see happening with print comp.

http://ventanaimages.com/dwf2006/standards_chart.jpg

The green line represents the quality of work created by a photographer over time. It starts out at the bottom and then, hopefully, rises to the top over years of experience.

The blue line represents the standard being used at PPA print comp judging. It seems to have remained static from some point in the past.

The yellow line represents the standard of work required to be successful in the marketplace.

What I'm trying to show with this graph is that if your quality of work is below that of the PPA standard, you will benefit from print comp. It will help bring your work up. If on the other hand, the quality of your work exceeds print comp standards, it will bring you down.

To be a successful photographer, the photographer's quality of work must meet or exceed the standard set by the marketplace. The farther the photographer can be above the yellow line representing the marketplace, the more money he/she can charge and the more bookings will be available to him/her.

Although the print comp standard may have at one time exceeded the quality of work required to succeed in the marketplace, it no longer does. Because the standard of work has remained the same, it hasn't risen along with the increased competitive standard in the market. (In case you haven't noticed, it's a lot tougher to succeed as a photographer these days.)

If print comp is to remain relevant, that blue line - the PPA standard - needs to start pointing uphill so that it exceeds that of the marketplace standard - represented by the yellow line.

In other words, the PPA standard is stuck in the past. If you are just starting out and your work isn't that good, it will help you. If you are experienced and want to do better, it will likely hurt you. If the purpose of print comp is to help us succeed as professionals, that needs to change.

Before I start to to try and change print comp, I just want to understand whether the point is to actually help us succeed as professionals or whether it's just to get a ribbon.

John
www.ventanaphotography.com
www.johnmireles.com

D._Craig_Flory
06-25-2009, 05:21 PM
Hi John; I will challenge your assertion that standards have remained static. I have blue ribbon images, from years passed, that would not get a blue ribbon now. Standards have risen and photographers must constantly get better to compete. Judges must really be impressed to reward the maker. If it is "old hat", if the technical aspects are lacking ... if it does not "blow their socks off" ... it probably will not do well.

John_Mireles
06-25-2009, 05:29 PM
Fair questions:


What makes it "meaningless in the real world?" The judges are all very successful photographers in the real world, and are quite knowledgeable about what works in the real world.

What I have seen is that the judges were successful at one time, however they are either retired, semi-retired or have enough repeat clients that they are no longer required to be competitive in today's market. If the judges had to build their businesses using the standards they promulgate at print comp, they would fail. Sure, their work was relevant 20 years ago (or more), but it's not now.

These guys are like Olympians from 1984. The standards that would have won a gold medal back then aren't even enough to qualify for the team today. Unfortunately, their standards - and the standards by which they judge the work of others - has not risen with the times.


What convinces you that their standards are not a realistic distillation of what works in the real world? Do you believe these successful real-world photographers are judging according to standards that they don't use in the real world?


Well, I'm a professional photographer with 20 years of experience working in the real world. I know that if I were to show work at the level espoused by the PPA judges, I wouldn't have a business. I know what it takes to shoot high-end weddings. I know what it takes to book national advertising jobs. I know what it takes to sell large wall portraits to clients who can afford it. And I can tell you, the standard of work I see being applied at print comp doesn't come close to cutting it.


What, specifically, convinces you that any merit print would not sell in the real world?

Great question. Here's a recent incident that perfectly illustrates my frustration with print comp:

The catering manager of a relatively new luxury resort in San Diego asked me to provide them with a sample book. When I dropped it off, the woman took me to the room where they meet with potential clients. She had several books from the usual high-end photographers that I compete against on a coffee table for people to look at. (Of course, none of the other high-end photographers in town are PPA members.)

As she was flipping through my book, I looked over and saw another album sitting off in the corner. I asked about what this book was doing away from the others as I walked over to flip through it. She told me, "I don't like that album so I keep it away from clients so that they won't see it."

The irony was that when I opened the book, I recognized this as an album that scored in the mid-90's at print comp! I remember thinking that it looked too posed and poorly designed when it came up so I wasn't surprised. Of course, the judges - mostly old guys who no longer actively compete for weddings and certainly not at the high-end - loved it.

I felt sorry for the photographer who was no doubt excited by her high comp score and happy to have her sample album at this high-end resort. Little does she know that her book is little more than an embarrassment and never sees the light of day.

I think that print comp needs to do better. Members deserve to know that if they're going to work hard to succeed at print comp, that success should carry over to the real world. Otherwise, what's the point?

John

David_A._Lottes
06-25-2009, 05:44 PM
To be a successful photographer, the photographer's quality of work must meet or exceed the standard set by the marketplace. The farther the photographer can be above the yellow line representing the marketplace, the more money he/she can charge and the more bookings will be available to him/her.


I would have to disagree. From my own personal perspective I think there are a boat load of mediocre to sub-standard photographers making way more money than what I consider to be the best. I agree that it has become much harder to earn a living solely from photography but I would argue that it's a result of a saturated marketplace as opposed to a raising of the bar. I feel like most of us are working harder and making less every year for several years now. This is of course my own perspective not an ultimate truth. If you feel that concentrating on doing well for a PPA competition distracts you from creating what you consider to be your best work then I would recommend not participating. If you want to improve your work based on your own perception of quality then find someone you admire and ask to study with them. But if you find the competition around you using PPA ribbons to cut into your slice of the pie then just be thankful it's so easy for you to get a few of your own to level the playing field.

Mark_Levesque
06-25-2009, 06:38 PM
If you think that "PPA standards" are static and rooted in the past, then I would suggest that you take a look at some of the loan collection books from, say, 10-20 years ago and look at them compared the current books. I dare say there are some older loan images that would find meriting an uphill battle. The standards are rising, which is what causes people to think that <insert competition here> judging was hard compared to other competitions. People expect that if they enter an image that is as good as another that they entered before that merited, that it should merit. There's no guarantee!

It is true that you can do well at print competition and poorly in the market place, but, if you are doing well in print comp with client images, then you should be EASILY making images that are good enough to sell. I see some people selling images that would embarrass me if they were mine. But they market like mad and find a ready supply of people who like the images because of who is in them rather than how they are portrayed. But when you do well in print comp, you are performing at a certain level, technically and artistically. This is not to say that every brilliant image will be rewarded in print comp to the extent it "should" be, but by and large they are rewarding the best images.

It is, however, possible to game the system, to do well at print comp without improving your skills to the extent you could if you were taking it more seriously. You do this by meriting images which are chiefly created by being in the right place at the right time, and not screwing up what nature gave you. So you go to a place of natural beauty at the right time of day and put your camera on a tripod and get yourself a good one that is properly exposed and crop it right and do sensible artwork to it and you have a merit. Do it 13 times and get some service merits, and you are a "master". But really being a master photographer (especially a portraitist) is about more than taking pictures of pretty flowers and exotic locales and interesting wildlife. Yes, you still learn stuff when you submit all those things, but they are not as readily transferable to your client work. It is when you submit meritable client work that you really grow as a photographer. Then your learning more directly affects what you do every day, rather than once a year when it's time to create some comp prints.

Print competition has made a major impact on my work, and I say this as someone whose merits to this point have mostly been "pretty pictures" with only a few client images. Since I've switched to submitting only client images, I've taken a beating in print comp, BUT the overall level of my work has gotten a lot better. I know how to take a picture of a place or a flower or a bird and make it meritable, but I don't sell many of those. What I sell is portraits, and making them better is why I am in print competition. Sure, I want the ribbon, but not for the bragging rights so much as for a waypoint on my path to better photography. In other words, it's not the destination, just a marker along the way. I see people who get their masters and then stop entering and I just don't get it.

Look at print comp as a tool that is available to you. You can make of it what you will. You can use it as a shortcut to a ribbon to show off, you can use it to improve your photography, or any of a number of things.

Keith_A_Howe
06-25-2009, 06:59 PM
This past year I entered three of the four print comps. I ended up in second place overall for the year so it's not like I did poorly. Had I entered all four print comps, I would have easily taken "Photographer of the Year."



John, Just to clarify where you are coming from, what are these 3 of 4 competitions you are talking about? PPA affiliated judgings happen once per year per region and once per year for national. So if there were 4 judgings, it was most likely a local or state competition, where PPA & PEC has no jurisdiction or input. Also if you did well enough to earn second place overall, I would assume that means most of those images had to be 80 and above, yet when I review the list of accepted prints from this year's national competition I don't see your name listed. Is that because you did not enter an actual PPA competition and just a local or state judging? If this is the case, then it explains a lot about where your misconceptions are coming from.

Keith

John_Mireles
06-25-2009, 07:09 PM
Keith:

I'm talking about my local PPA affiliate. We get a lot of judges from out of the area so I suspect that this isn't just a local issue however.


If this is the case, then it explains a lot about where your misconceptions are coming from. What misconceptions are you referring to?

John

Keith_A_Howe
06-25-2009, 07:41 PM
Keith:

I'm talking about my local PPA affiliate. We get a lot of judges from out of the area so I suspect that this isn't just a local issue however.

What misconceptions are you referring to?

John

John,
It may be a PPA local affliate, but that is not an affliated judging There is a huge difference between a local judging an an affilaite judging. Also at a local, I sincerely doubt there were affilate qualified jurors. I have never personally seen a local that can afford or is willing to pay to bring in affiliate jurors, especially 4 times a year.

As far as misconceptions, I am not dodging your question, I am trying to get some specific factual information and then I will respond. Unfortunately the person I need to talk to is not available until this evening. You should know I am a judge and also a member of the PEC action team. ( I am not on PEC but a seperate sub group whose main task is to provide accuarate information through forums and bring member concerns back to the attention of PEC).

Keith

John_Metcalfe
06-25-2009, 07:42 PM
John,

We share (I believe more) than just a first name. I too share in some of your analogies minus any charts, graphs or 20 8x10 glossy black & white pictures.
(that was a joke for those who don't know me)

A mind as studied in this subject as yours (I believe) would have come to a few different conclusions. For that reason, I have added my take to your chart.

Firstly, the PPA judging standards have changed. They change right along with the tides of change themselves even if however slight we consider them. What once scored say 5 - 10 years ago would have a much harder time scoring today. PS and the digital age are pressing boundaries that were thought of as unimaginable in decades past. Having stated that the PPA and PEC have held to their respective values while embracing the changing times. And as I have learned in this past year or so, just because we do not hear or immediately see the changes, I have sat in enough meetings and listened to enough debates to know many of these very subjects are constantly on the minds of our board of governors.

Second, the standards of work IMO replicates the judges standards, for they see the same advancements in the industry. And if I may so, the public views it in a much more sensationalized manner.

Finally... (as you I'm sure you already know) the quality over time of a photographer differs with each individual. But at different times a piece of information transforms that person and they jump/slide to the next level. This can happen a multitude of times (either way) throughout their lifespan and only stops when their will for it ceases or it is taken from them.

While I prepare for the coming rebuttal concerning my apparent trashing of your pristine chart, I would have you know that my experiences, knowledge I have taken from competition and the relationships forged, have come back to me three fold.

D._Craig_Flory
06-25-2009, 07:58 PM
Hi John;

For sub state sized pro groups, they generally don't require that the judges be Masters of Photography. I have been a print judge, twice, for a sub state sized group here in Pennsylvania. And, they only have 3 judges as well. I was only certified and had not yet gained the Photographic Craftsman degree. (one was a Master and one was a Craftsman I think both times) So, the standards for scoring are not up to state, Regional, or PPA Print Competitions. They do not have affiliated jurors who have had to take judging school as well as submit 20 prints for proof that their quality shows their expertise. Comparing a sub state sized group's print competition to regional or PPA competition is like comparing apples & oranges.

Todd_Reichman
06-25-2009, 08:08 PM
I wonder if John's discontent with competition stems less from the competition and its rules than the people who tend to enter and the work that they tend to enter? Granted, I guess they could market the competition more to try and bring some different folks into it, but at the same time its hard to fault the comp for the participants.

I think its hard to argue that there might be more...progressive competitions based on the images that I see out there. However PPA is the only competition with a strict and defined set of guidelines for judging, so you have to respect that. On the other-other side of the coin I continually see people say that you should show the judges something that they've never seen, but to be fair looking through the hanging images alot of it seems to be stuff we've all seen before, so I can understand where you are coming from.

I think it was said best by Mark - it is what you make of it. If you want your Master's and you earn the merits to get it, good for you. Hopefully having the designation will do for you what you want it to. If you want to enter for bragging rights or awards or press releases, I hope it works out for you. If you want to avoid competitions and put yourself above them and market that, I've seen that done with success also. If you want to stay out of it completely, more power to you. But I don't think anyone is going to give you an answer that will change your mind if you don't see the value.

Now, if you are arguing for a change or re-evaluation of competition because you feel it has lost its way or become a detriment, I'm sure we'd be all ears with some decent evidence.

- trr

John_Mireles
06-25-2009, 08:32 PM
I wonder if John's discontent with competition stems less from the competition and its rules than the people who tend to enter and the work that they tend to enter?

Actually, my problem is with the judging. The judges apply standards that are so far removed from what the standard that exists in the real world - both from the perspective of clients and top photographers - that their opinion and scores have a detrimental affect on participants.


Now, if you are arguing for a change or re-evaluation of competition because you feel it has lost its way or become a detriment, I'm sure we'd be all ears with some decent evidence.That's exactly what I'm saying!

I think competition has great value to help members to improve their work. I think that the 12 elements that PPA uses to judge the work are just fine. I realize that everyone, including me, isn't going to be happy with the results all the time. There is no such thing as a perfect print comp and there never will be.

But the current process as I've seen it is broken. While the standards use to judge the work may have risen, they haven't risen fast or high enough to match what's actually being done. The folks that are actually growing their wedding and portrait businesses laugh at the PPA standards. I'm sorry, but that's just wrong.

Whether I choose to participate in print comp really isn't the issue. (I don't need it at all for my work or my business although it doesn't hurt to be pushed.) I just think about all the up-and-coming members who don't have my experience or knowledge who are counting on the local print comps to help them. Someone has to look out for their interests. They - we - deserve better.

John

Todd_Reichman
06-25-2009, 09:01 PM
But the current process as I've seen it is broken. While the standards use to judge the work may have risen, they haven't risen fast or high enough to match what's actually being done. The folks that are actually growing their wedding and portrait businesses laugh at the PPA standards. I'm sorry, but that's just wrong.


I think this is an interesting comment, I know you posted an anecdote about a wedding venue and sample albums. Do you have any more expansive examples of this?

- trr

bob_hancock
06-25-2009, 09:38 PM
You can make money from Print competition.
I love photographing Pennsylvania country sides. Barns and horses and related subjects.
Competition has forced myself to improve my images to high standards. Those standards have made my Images sought after. We sell Images every week.
Its the most enjoyable part of my photographic career.

I am in no way an expert at competition, like others on this form. However competition keeps me learning and selling more art pieces!

John_Metcalfe
06-25-2009, 10:18 PM
You go Bob!

John Mireles:

"Whether I choose to participate in print comp really isn't the issue."

"I just think about all the up-and-coming members who don't have my experience or knowledge who are counting on the local print comps to help them."

"Someone has to look out for their interests."

"They - we - deserve better."

John, I separated these statements for others better to "see". And in stating "see", I mean to comprehend what you have written.

I see someone who is building a bridge. He has aged... and is filled with the experiences that has set lines upon him. He has labored. Labored throughout his life, for he is not afraid of getting his hands dirty to achieve the goal. But, this bridge is not intended just for him to pass, he is creating a passage for others that follow.

John, thank you for you last post. It has prompted me to reconsider my position within the organization and in this profession.

mrbarton
06-26-2009, 12:47 AM
Heck, more money to make?

I'm starting a whole product line of fine art images. Many of them if not a majority come from competition. For that reason, pretty much everything I enter is a client work. It is what you make it. If we consider what we spend on print comp versus what some studios spend on advertising it's a drop in a the bucket. I personally get results. If no one else does, heck, fine by me! My shooting room is littered with ribbons. My clients love them. Heck, sometimes they spend more time looking at the comp prints than the gallery. Also fine by me. Wanna talk averages?

Michael_Gan
06-26-2009, 01:02 AM
Actually, my problem is with the judging. The judges apply standards that are so far removed from what the standard that exists in the real world - both from the perspective of clients and top photographers - that their opinion and scores have a detrimental affect on participants. I'm sorry, could you explain to me what the standard is in the real world? For someone like Keith and myself who attained our degrees with actual client work, I'd like to hear this.

Looked at the graph. Metcalf's is more accurate in that straightlining via experience is usually not the case. When photographers don't continue to learn and improve through education, their work drops dramatically as they stay longer in this business. I happen to know a photographer who has the quality level go completely opposite in your green curve. That is, he started off as a hot shot, and now, he relies on a paparrazzi shot of an actress and tells people he is a photographer of the stars.

Other John M :D, I have written in several other threads about this perspective of print comp. Print competition nor the Master of Photography is not a license for being an artist. Just like in any other educational environment, consider print competition as a "test" to see what you know, and to see how your skills stack up with your peers. If you ever go through the Imaging USA exhibit, you will even see the difference between the general exhibit images and the Loan images. I hope you attend so that you can see what we are all talking about.

None of us are ever going to persuade you either direction to enter or not. You have to decide that for yourself. But, I will tell you, that any of the photographers you probably aspired from, whether from PPA, WPPI, Spider, etc. all were involved in print competition in some form. So, you have to ask yourself if you want to be a follower, or a leader. If you chose to be the former, you will be chasing styles for a real long time, if you can stay in this profession long enough.

My advice to everyone, not just you, is that these resources are available to you. If you want to change the way PPA does things, get involved and use your leadership skill to help make those changes. PPA can use a person like you to keep us "current".

Rick_Massarini
06-26-2009, 03:01 AM
Keith:

I'm talking about my local PPA affiliate. We get a lot of judges from out of the area so I suspect that this isn't just a local issue however.

John
Just a few questions so we can get a better read on from where your views are coming...
How large is this local affiliate where you compete?
What caliber of judges does the affiliate bring in?
Do they bring in qualified judges or just whomever was speaking at the meeting that month?
Have you ever participated in a PPA Affiliated Regional or PPA International Judging?
Have you ever attended a PPA Affiliated regional and watched the judging?


The judges apply standards that are so far removed from what the standard that exists in the real world - both from the perspective of clients and top photographers - that their opinion and scores have a detrimental affect on participants.

What standards did they apply that were so far removed from the real world? The standards they use are: Impact, Creativity, Style, Composition, Lighting, Subject Matter, Color Balance, Center of Interest, Technical Excellence, Technique, Print Presentation, Story Telling - these all seem pretty relevant to the real world....

John_Mireles
06-26-2009, 03:33 PM
Just a few questions so we can get a better read on from where your views are coming...

What caliber of judges does the affiliate bring in?

These are judges with lots of PPA experience and training. All master photographer types.


Have you ever participated in a PPA Affiliated Regional or PPA International Judging?
Have you ever attended a PPA Affiliated regional and watched the judging?
No.



What standards did they apply that were so far removed from the real world? The standards they use are: Impact, Creativity, Style, Composition, Lighting, Subject Matter, Color Balance, Center of Interest, Technical Excellence, Technique, Print Presentation, Story Telling - these all seem pretty relevant to the real world...Sure, the elements are fine, but their application is subjective. The key is what constitutes good impact, creativity, etc. We can have wildly different views on that.

Unfortunately, the judges tend to have a view of these elements that is no longer relevant to the real world.

I'm glad to hear that people are benefiting from local print comp. I think part of the problem may lie in the fact that Southern California is so competitive these days. Work that may be acceptable in other areas just doesn't fly here.

John

Michael_Gan
06-26-2009, 04:36 PM
Where in Southern Cal? I know that much of the quality in the San Diego area is driven by the print competition mentality. San Diego is a hot bed of Master Photographers.

Don_Chick
06-26-2009, 04:41 PM
I found this on johnmireles.com... Is that you?

"While commonly agreed to be the most artistically gifted photographer of his generation, John is also remarkably humble."

John, you're just messing with our minds here, right?

Don_Chick
06-26-2009, 04:49 PM
http://ventanaimages.com/dwf2006/standards_chart.jpg

I think the standards (yellow line) are actually going down, sharply. People are either ignorant or apathetic about "good photography".


Ignorant of what good aesthetic standards are..

Apathetic to learn them or having a "good enough" mindset.

mrbarton
06-26-2009, 05:07 PM
Honestly, I completely disagree with the graph is just about every way. Most photographers these days are plateauing. As for our standard. Heck no! It's dropping like a rock. People are shooting complete crap in most cases. Knowledge? Hmmm. . . It used to bother me when people didn't know their light patterns. Now they don't even know what a light pattern is. Can you imagine wanting to be a major league ball player but not wanting to step foot in the weight room? Seriously. THAT's where the industry is at the moment.

There is also the failed assumption that the goal is just to merit. There are many levels to comp as and far as I am concerned meriting is the starting line not the finish line. It is true that local competitions get a little less exciting over time. BUT, show me a single photographer that has gone 10 years in a row diamond and then we'll talk about standards slipping.

To top it off, while I was at nationals this year taking the judges workshop. I was

A: At nationals seeing how things actually work (Hey, I can actually talk about this stuff without guessing!)
B: I was learning the system with 17 other people. (Hey, I can actually talk about this stuff without guessing!)

PEC is working on a TON of new ideas. They are by no means being static. I am by no means going to say the system is perfect. Heck, I still don't care. John, this will soon stop, but I have literally merited every image I've entered this year at every level. That's 31 in a row. I guess I can stop entering right? Heck, I might as well just stop shooting. Why not? Apparently I've won the game. My point is apparently I'm living the graph. I still disagree with it. Its flawed.

Let's take it one step further. Quality of work is drastically declining. There are studios popping up everywhere. Businesses are going under left and right. Shouldn't we be thanking the PPA for an opportunity to differentiate? Just a thought. Works for me. You can throw all the graphs you would like up and we can pick on them all we want, but I still don't think you're going to care. Easy, just DON'T ENTER!!!!!

jonallyn
06-26-2009, 08:18 PM
I've heard this in my own state organization many, many times. People don't do well for one reason or another or they don't understand the "system" and they want to bash print competition. They feel that the 12 merits of a merit print are something a bunch of old farts pulled out of a hat from PPA. And that the judges don't know what they are talking about.

I've learned over many years that it is a rare person who will actually sit down with an open mind and learn from those who are where you want to be.

Fact is those 12 elements are deeply rooted in the art world. And...if you learn them you will definitely look through your camera in a whole different way and yes...your work will improve.

Clearly Joe, you have learned with an open mind. Your work has constantly improved and has reached a height that few will every obtain or appreciate. Congratulations on having your image chosen as the American Society of Photographers Gold Medallion Award for 2009.

jonallyn
06-26-2009, 08:42 PM
If it weren't for the education I received through PPA Print Competition, I wouldn't be a photographer today. It's that simple. The irony is that I shared a lot of the same feelings as those who question its value. When I first started entering in the 80's, I couldn't believe how blind those judges were. I was entering work that had brought in my biggest sales and it got pounded (and rightfully so). The clients were thrilled but the judges disagreed.

I differed from some of the posters in my conclusions back then. Rather than focusing on finding an excuse for my less than anticipated results, I decided to garner every bit of information I could get from the critique of my images. That was the hardest part. I wanted to learn about art and about lighting. I studied and I studied. And what I found out was that the judges DID know what they were talking about and that my clients DIDN'T know JACK about art or quality photography. All my clients knew was that if I was convincing enough during the sale, they would buy it and be thrilled with it. When I started this photography venture, 30 years ago, I was a much better salesman than I was a photographer.

After I realized that my photo skills weren't where I thought they were, I was hell-bent on becoming the best photographer I could be. That meant studying and learning every day and entering print competition was by far the easiest, cheapest and most effective education possible.

My suggestion is to put your ego on a shelf. Solicit the help of those who have gone before you. Embrace the process and enjoy the journey.

Keith_A_Howe
06-27-2009, 01:46 AM
Is the purpose of print comp to score high according to some fairly arcane standards . . .

I ask this because it seems that the judges are more focused on rewarding work that meets PPA "rules" than work that can actually attract clients.


This past year I entered three of the four print comps. I ended up in second place overall for the year so it's not like I did poorly. Had I entered all four print comps, I would have easily taken "Photographer of the Year."

. . . the PPA standard is stuck in the past. . . If you are experienced and want to do better, it will likely hurt you.



What I have seen is that the judges were successful at one time, however they are either retired, semi-retired or have enough repeat clients that they are no longer required to be competitive in today's market. If the judges had to build their businesses using the standards they promulgate at print comp, they would fail. Sure, their work was relevant 20 years ago (or more), but it's not now.

These guys are like Olympians from 1984. The standards that would have won a gold medal back then aren't even enough to qualify for the team today. Unfortunately, their standards - and the standards by which they judge the work of others - has not risen with the times.

I know that if I were to show work at the level espoused by the PPA judges, I wouldn't have a business. . . the standard of work I see being applied at print comp doesn't come close to cutting it.

Of course, the judges - mostly old guys who no longer actively compete for weddings and certainly not at the high-end - loved it.




The judges apply standards that are so far removed from what the standard that exists in the real world . . . that their opinion and scores have a detrimental affect on participants.
But the current process as I've seen it is broken.




Unfortunately, the judges tend to have a view of these elements that is no longer relevant to the real world.



Interesting, tell me John, those judges who scored your work so well that you came in second without even entering all 4 competitions, are those the same judges whose view "is no longer relavant to the real world" and who "apply standards that are so far removed from what the standard that exists in the real world " and also "are no longer required to be competitive in today's market". If that's the case I am left with one of two conclusions. Either you are right about those judges which means your work is not relevant to the real world and is far removed from current standards and would not make you competitive. Or else you are wrong and those judges rewarded you because they do understand everything you said they don't. So which is it?

When a person judges a whole group of people and attributes characteristics to the entire group, based on his or her experience with just a few of that group (and in this case not even actual members of the group) it's called predjudice. Predjudice is ugly and unfair. Find fault with print competition all you want, but quit insulting the PPA judges. They don't deserve it and it makes you look ignorant when you make statements that aren't true.

Keith

John_Mireles
06-27-2009, 01:52 AM
I found this on johnmireles.com... Is that you?

"While commonly agreed to be the most artistically gifted photographer of his generation, John is also remarkably humble."

John, you're just messing with our minds here, right?Hi Don:

Yep, that's me! And yes, that whole writeup is a farce. I don't have an overly friendly eastern European girlfriend either (I'm happily married to a damn fine photographer, Jennifer Dery (www.jenniferdery.com). It's an inside joke for art directors and people in the ad business. (The "Communicable Arts" magazine quoted is a take on Communication Arts which is the preeminent publication for the trade.)

For anyone interested, you're welcome to visit my www.johnmireles.com website. But I digress...

John

John_Mireles
06-27-2009, 04:15 AM
I heard a great quote today: "The last to discover water will be the fishes."

The point of it is that sometimes we don't see things that are right in front of us. I don't come to this discussion with years of PPA/print comp experience. As such, I'm able to see things from a different perspective from those who've been doing this from many years. Maybe that's good, perhaps it's bad. But my perspective certainly is different. Maybe it allows me to see the water that the fishes don't see. (Not that I'm calling long-time members fishes.)

I'm not trying to attack anyone or anything - my apologies if that's how I've come across. I think print comp has the potential to be a great tool and I'm glad to hear that people have benefited from it. I have no doubt that it's helped many, many folks. Indeed, for many affiliates in many areas, it may be working just fine. I'm just coming at this from a point of trying to make things better in my area.

So, what if there is a problem with print comp? For the sake of argument, let's say that there is a disconnect between what the judges think is good and what will actually work in the real world? Is this a problem worth fixing? Does anyone have suggestions on how to fix that problem?

We can get into a battle over who's right and what is good work verses what isn't, but then we're just pissing at each other. I'm not interested in butting heads and fighting; I just want to make print comp more relevant. I'd love to see my chapter grow instead of shrink (which is what's happening now). I'd love to see more people involved with print comp. I'd love to see currently successful photographers participate. I'd love to see more new photographers get involved so that they could learn how to properly run a business and not just drive down prices.

I think print comp has the potential to help drive all of that. Is anybody willing to offer suggestions on how to make it better?

John

Jack_Reznicki
06-27-2009, 05:55 AM
I think print comp has the potential to help drive all of that. Is anybody willing to offer suggestions on how to make it better?

John


John,

PEC has very talented, very dedicated people working on the competition. I think they're doing fine looking at improving and changing the competition and maintaing it's integrity.
I think what you think it is and the reality of it are a bit disconnected.

As you, not looking to butt heads, but to further discussion.

I went to your website. Nice, but I think if you open yourself up to the competition, rather than state it's not in touch with reality, you might benefit from it.

I've see a lot of images here in NY. We have a monthly salon where people come and we simply look at images. Jay Maisel, Howard Schatz are both part of the salon. In the past we're had all sorts of people from everywhere.
Nothing formal. Just looking at photos. Sometimes assistants and students show. Rookie photographers to the late Arnold Newman showed. Walter Ioos from Sports Illustrated fame and a bunch of National Geo shooters.
David Sacks showed some incredible personal work at the last one. Check out his website, I think you'd enjoy it. http://www.davidsacks.com/
What I'm trying to say is that I've seen a lot of images, well beyond PPA's print competition.

And I'll still say it's a fantastic competition and most photographers, including you, can benefit from the process. I have no doubts about that.

Photographers are their own worse editors and critics.

You might try having a salon in your area chapter. Not formal, but just a chance to have people show and look at work.
We're photographers. We love both sides- looking and showing.

Rick_Massarini
06-27-2009, 06:03 AM
I heard a great quote today: "The last to discover water will be the fishes."

... Is anybody willing to offer suggestions on how to make it better?

John

By your own admission, you have never participated in or attended an affiliated Regional or National Competition, and your only experience has been with your local group.

Using your own analogy regarding the fishes, your perpective seems to be that of a fish that has lived his entire life in a fishbowl on a shelf who is telling the world what is wrong with the oceans, lakes and rivers.

I would offer suggestions on how to make it better if I thought that there was anything wrong with the process. The PPA standards must be relevant since everywhere a print competition is held, they all seem to use some version of the 12 elements as their criteria for what is good.

Just my opinion, of course...

Joe_Campanellie
06-30-2009, 12:15 AM
This thread has probably run it's course but Don Chick asked me to post something here that I posted on another thread. While I am an ardent supporter of print competition I also feel that it is very hard to wage an argument with someone who does not believe in the system. I agree that is your choice but I also feel that you are missing a wonderful opportunity to improve your work.

I also believe that print competition is not about the awards and degrees. Those are nice...but...print competition is a totally personal and you and you alone have to decide what you want out of it and how you are going to achieve it.

When I first started competing all I wanted was to become a better portrait photographer. My mentor at that time was Ed Pierce. It was Ed who encouraged me to enter my first state competition. After the competition I was seriously questioning his advice. To be honest I was crushed. But...he pulled me aside and gave me some very very good advice...

He told me that I had two choices...I could dismiss what the judges said about my work and just tell myself that they were just a bunch of old fats who didn't know anything.

Or...I had another choice...to treat competition for what it supposed to be...a learning experience. And...as such take the comments made by the judges to heart and genuinely make a sincere effort to improve.

I chose number two and I think it was very good decision...for me...!

I also now treat competition as a way to keep myself fresh as well as discover new styles and venues of photography for me. What has happened to me over the last three years or so...I would say I'm living proof of what competition can do for you both professionally and personally. I have re-discovered my passion for photography all over again and my true love for nature photography.

It's quite a rush when passion kicks in...no matter what kind of photography you love to do.

Sarah_Johnston
06-30-2009, 01:44 AM
Thanks for the story Joe. Eds advice and your personal insights are wonderful food for thought. My hope is that it will inspire someone to give it a try.

Joe_Campanellie
06-30-2009, 03:31 AM
I think the secret is to find a balance between being able to develop a thick skin when people say things you may not like...and to not become totally disheartened and give up when you don't get the results you would like to see right away.

In my case it has been just plain ole perserverence. Maybe because I'm such a hard head when people say I can't do things. Makes me work harder.

You have to remember that judges are people too. That's why there are a panel of multiple judges. It's not a perfect system but it's a pretty good one.Having been on both sides of the judging panel it does give you a whole new perspective and appreciation for the process. Haven't judged at national but my wife and I have judged our fair share of state conventions.

Todd_Reichman
06-30-2009, 03:42 AM
Instead of just dismissing John's comments I've tried to go back and analyze what he's saying. I actually think he has a point. I agree with what people are saying here - that sometimes critique is hard to take but good for us anyway. People are saying that even if you don't immediately agree with the results or the commentary it can and should be used to improve your work going forward. And I can't doubt that folks have used comp in the way they've mentioned to push them further.

All of those things are true and yet I really don't think they address John's issue. He's saying (I think, correct me if I'm wrong :D) that sometimes things merit or are recognized by print comp judges that are out-of-style, behind the times, or flat out unsalable in given markets. Take his anecdote about the sample albums at the wedding venue. I've seen this before - albums or images that merit that sure as heck wouldn't be salable in my market.

So while everyone else is right, John still has a point that's worth discussing. Is every image that merits not only technically solid, but is it timely, relevant and representative of the best of what is capable today? I agree that comp can be good for most, I also agree that some stuff that merits is behind the times. Does anyone else see that side of it or am I just "wrong" as well? Perhaps what would address John's concerns or shed some light on the issue might be a discussion of how the style element (or maybe creativity?) is judged.

- trr

Jeff_Dachowski
06-30-2009, 04:15 AM
Take his anecdote about the sample albums at the wedding venue. I've seen this before - albums or images that merit that sure as heck wouldn't be salable in my market.

- trr


Just a fwiw....I only show clients my comp albums. My comp albums only vary slighty from a clients album. I have learned over the years to look at the way we were laying out albums in a cluttered way. Now, because of comp, we design the spreads to tell a much better story.

Jeff

Todd_Reichman
06-30-2009, 04:31 AM
I need to qualify my statement per Jeff's quote. I mean to say that I have seen particular examples of albums or prints that merited that wouldn't be salable in my market, not to say that ALL entries that have merited would be unsalable. If even one sample that isn't salable makes it to the merit position, what does that say about comp? Worthy question IMO.

- trr

Rick_Massarini
06-30-2009, 05:21 AM
Or...I had another choice...to treat competition for what it supposed to be...a learning experience. And...as such take the comments made by the judges to heart and genuinely make a sincere effort to improve.

IMO - Print Competition is without a doubt, the greatest learning experience that you can have - not only in the participation side, but even in the observation side.

Hey, if you want to have an INCREDIBLE learning experience, volunteer to be a print handler at the PPA International Judging. Just imagine spending a week listening to the jurors arguing the pros, cons, and the fine points of thousands of images. You come away from the event with an incredible education just listening to the comments and discussions - an education that you just can't get anywhere else (with the exception of maybe a PPA regional). Just ask any of the student volunteers who worked there this year and every one will tell you how much they learned just being there. And the coolest thing about the national judging, is that no one is competing against anyone else - you are competing against a set of image elements - these are the standards - and these elements are there to help us to improve our art - so there are no losers - only winners - the only losers are those who don't avail themselves of this great educational experience, since they've lost out on the education they would have received by participating (or even observing) !!! Again, Just my humble opinion.

John_Mireles
06-30-2009, 05:28 AM
I gave up on this thread because every response has been someone trying tell me that I'm somehow wrong. I do believe in print comp - that's why I'm hoping to start a discussion on how to make it better.


John still has a point that's worth discussing. Is every image that merits not only technically solid, but is it timely, relevant and representative of the best of what is capable today?Thanks Todd. I think that's an excellent point. Those three criteria are not part of the 12 elements, but perhaps they should be.

The challenge that I'm seeing at our local print comp is that the folks doing the judging aren't creating timely, relevant work that's representative of the best of what's out there. Nor do they have to because their businesses don't demand it - either because they're retired or coasting off referrals established many years ago. However, the folks who are slugging it out in this tough, ultra-competitive economy have no choice but to create timely, relevant, excellent work if they want to thrive.

I think the solution is to get more currently successful, market-leader photographers involved. While there's definitely a place for long-time master photographers on the judging panel, I also think that there needs to be a greater variety of folks and perspectives on there. That's the suggestion I'm going to make. We'll see if anyone listens.

John

Michael_Gan
06-30-2009, 05:49 AM
I agree that comp can be good for most, I also agree that some stuff that merits is behind the times. Respectfully, this is generally a comment from photographers being in this business for less than 10 years. Being "up to date" with current styles only leads to ridicule 10-15 years later. Look at the weddings in the 70's and boudoir in the 80's. Many of the photographers dropped like flies because they got so stuck in those particular styles. What has endured over the years, however, are images of timelessness. Portraits, for example that have little hints of the era other than the hair styles. Now that the "fashion forward" weddings have taken hold, I'm even starting to hear comments of how "outdated" PJ style is. The profession of photography is like a parent telling a child about life. You can tell them, but they won't get it. Same as our profession. I've seen photographers in the 70's, 80's and 90's all say the same thing as many of you "style forward" types. A great many of them have left the profession.

Next year, I am committing half of my images in print comp to traditional portraits. For example, I notice that there are very few family portraits that hang in loan, simply because no one ever thinks of entering them. I seem to have heard somewhere, either from a PEC member, or just somewhere, that a suggestion was made to enter more traditional work because no one is entering them. So, I'm taking up the challenge.

The point is, I really, really believe that it does not matter what you enter. I think the judges are so good, that they know what is good and what is bad, regardless of the content. Many people don't understand that it is not the style that holds them back, it is whether you know what you are doing that makes the PPA print comp so unique.

You have a contemporary style? Great! But many of the judges know where those new styles came from, and if you don't match up with the originator (and some of them are on the judging panel), then you will lose.

It's sort of like copying an Ansel Adams image and accusing the judges that they are out of touch because your copy got voted thumbs down. You could disagree and say the judges don't know what they are talking about, even when the panel of judges are John Sexton, Chris Ranier and Paul Caponigro (papa). In the end, it all comes down to a deflated ego, and that is when the learning process ceases.

JohnHeckler
06-30-2009, 01:17 PM
I need to qualify my statement per Jeff's quote. I mean to say that I have seen particular examples of albums or prints that merited that wouldn't be salable in my market, not to say that ALL entries that have merited would be unsalable. If even one sample that isn't salable makes it to the merit position, what does that say about comp? Worthy question IMO.

- trr

Its hard to debate the hypothetical ... do you have a real example to show us of an album that merited and is not salable? How exactly do you know it is not salable?

Stating a merited album is not salable might indeed be true, but an instance of that happening certainly does not indicate a trend and thus a negative influence to the industry caused by PPA competitions. If it is indeed a trend, folks should be able to flood this forum with specific examples.

Maybe I'm just not seeing it ... but what problem exactly are we trying to fix?

Keith_A_Howe
06-30-2009, 02:18 PM
I gave up on this thread because every response has been someone trying tell me that I'm somehow wrong.

I would be at the front of the line to support your right to have an opinion. But I will also be at the front of the line to tell you when that opinion is off base. What you have been told by several people here and you keep ignoring is that you are making assumptions about all judges and competitions based on your extremely limited experience of a few local competitions. Local competitions are not associated with PPA or PEC in anyway. PEC has no control over those locals or the judges they chose to use. I personally know most of the PPA affiliate qualified jurors. I can tell you for a fact that you are wrong about their being retired or coasting. This is not opinion, it's fact based on my knowing more judges then you do. Sorry but I have the superior knowledge in this one instance. My problem with your posts is you continue to make deragatory comments about a group of people that you don't know and have no experience with. Like I said before, if your work is so competitive, excellant and timely and the judges are stuck in the past, why didn't they score your work low? Your own story negates your statements.

So southern California is so competitive? Do you have any idea how cliche that statement is? I travel extensively throughout the US and everywhere I go, photographers are saying the same thing, that it's tougher where they are, more competititive and their cliental is more demanding then anywhere else. It can't be the truth everywhere. They can't all have the most competitive and demanding market in the country.

What you are missing here is that PPA competition rewards excellance whatever the style. I looked at your website. Your work is not a style that I personally like. But I would have no problem meriting several of your images. That's because as a PPA judge, I am trained to recognize merit quality images no matter what personal style the maker has. You on the other hand seem to want to toss out as worthless anything that does not match up to your definition of what's the fad of the moment. Look at the work of Philip Stewart Charis. Timeless and at a level of excellance few will ever achieve. Just because something is not a style you appreciate doesn't mean it's not excellant and shouldn't be rewarded as such. There are a whole lot of consumers out there. Some want your style of work and some want Charis's style. So your limited vision of what's saleable or relevant doesn't speak for the whole marketplace. And print competition doesn't just reward your version of what's saleable or relevant either.

Finally, how would you like it if I came into your studio, spent one afternoon with you and started telling you everything that was wrong with your business and how you should change it. You would be ticked off at me because in that limited time how could I possibly know what was right or wrong with your business. I wouldn't have walked the walk before I talked the talk. Until I really know and understand it, I couldn't form a worthwhile valid opinion. That's what you are doing here. You want to find fault with the judges and make a proclamation thatPPA competition needs to change, before you really know enough about the process. In fact you have zero experience with a PPA competition by your own statements. Your local comp has about as much relationship to PPA comp as a playground pick up BB game has to the NBA. I challenge you to get involved with competition on the PPA level. Go in with an open mind. Of course there is room for improvement and a fresh eye can sometimes see what others are too close to notice, but your suggestions will never be given any crediability until you have the background knowledge to back them up.

Keith

David_A._Lottes
06-30-2009, 03:43 PM
John, I think you may be confusing yourself even more. I think it's pretty obvious that not every print that scores an 80 in a competition will be salable to every client. What the heck am I gonna do with a 16x20 of a kitten? It's also very true that images that score in the low 70s can generate thousands in income. But you can't please all the people all the time. You can't dictate aesthetics. Either people will enjoy your work or they won't. The trick is not to make everyone the same (photographers or clients) the trick is to find the clients who understand you. Awards of any kind can attract a certain type of person. I would bet that if you won an award for baking pies and promoted it in a newsletter or press release there would be a certain type of client who would want to support your business because you bake pies. Likewise if you never enter a competition of any kind you can still find clients who enjoy your work. For that matter you could just as easily win every award on the face of the earth and not have enough paying gigs to keep your doors open. C'est la vie

Mark_Levesque
06-30-2009, 03:47 PM
Is every image that merits not only technically solid, but is it timely, relevant and representative of the best of what is capable today? I agree that comp can be good for most, I also agree that some stuff that merits is behind the times.

There are two sides to every coin, Todd, and I think this may be an instance where there are simply divergent viewpoints that are just not going to be reconciled. What is "timely and relevant" today is faddish and ridiculed tomorrow.

When prints that are "behind the times" merit, that is because they are excellent photographs that do not rely on being in a style that is au courant to make their statement. I have no problem whatsoever with the merits such images earn. Similarly, images that are well made in currently fashionable styles can often also do well. This is not to say that every panel "gets" every image. They don't. Some images rely on subtleties that are difficult to discern quickly. Some images are created so far outside the norm that they challenge the visual literacy of the panel. Most of the panels I've seen do a pretty darned good job, and they all take it very seriously, which is the best you can hope for in an endeavor that relies on human interpretation rather than simply measuring something. By and large you get a fair shake.

I don't agree that the standards are applied in such a manner as to preclude cutting edge photography from being rewarded. It might well not reward faddish or gimmicky techniques and presentations, but will those really stand the test of time, or will people in the future opine that "the judges then were idiots to have merited this kind of stuff"?

John_Mireles
06-30-2009, 04:37 PM
That's because as a PPA judge, I am trained to recognize merit quality images no matter what personal style the maker has. You on the other hand seem to want to toss out as worthless anything that does not match up to your definition of what's the fad of the moment. Look at the work of Philip Stewart Charis.I think this sort of nails it. I'd argue that PPA judges are trained to judge work on the basis of how it stands up to Charis. Work that is unique or different from that standard is unfortunately not recognized as being worthy of merit. And to the extent that work that deviates from the Charis standard is recognized, it's not rewarded at the same level as Charis style work.

(Just to be clear, I don't find fault with anyone working in that style or even the Charis style itself. I just view it as one style among many that make up the world of professional photography.)

It seems that senior PPA members don't really understand nor appreciate anything other than the Charis style. Yes, there's lip service to "recognizing merit no matter what (the) personal style" but I think in reality, there's a disdain for work that deviates from Charis. I can see it in Michael Gan's comment "Now that the "fashion forward" weddings have taken hold, I'm even starting to hear comments of how "outdated" PJ style is." I'm sorry but that just sound like sour grapes and it detracts from any confidence that I might have in his - or others who share his his views - ability to judge photography.

There's great value in many different styles of work. To say that I want to "to toss out as worthless anything that does not match up to (my) definition of what's the fad of the moment" is not true and doesn't match up with anything that I've said. I think there's a balance that can be found between being completely tied to a particular style rooted in the past and work that's new and interesting.


Your local comp has about as much relationship to PPA comp as a playground pick up BB game has to the NBA.My comments have been directed to making my local print comp better. I've tried to make that clear by specifically referring to "local print comp" in my comments. I do think however that some of the issues I'm referring to do carry over to the national PPA comp in that many of those folks who have judged locally are very active and successful on the state and national levels.

In any even, my goal is to make that "playground BB game" better since that's where the rubber meets the road with the new and aspiring photographers. There's not much I can do about national, but I do hope to help with making changes at a local level.

John

Stephanie_Millner
06-30-2009, 05:10 PM
John M. - I think what most people on this thread haven't said yet is that many of them (us) are almost taking this question of Print Competition as a personal attack. The OurPPA community is a surprisingly close-knit group of friends. Like "for-realzies" friends - not just online. And print competition, for many of us, has been the catalyst for that friendship. We have met through print comps locally - spend Nationals hanging out discussing changes to next years' comp prints - and come up with print concepts over breakfast. So while you very well might have incredibly honorable intentions for Print Comp in your area - many of your posts come off as very personal attacks to a group of people who have made some very close friends through print competition. Does that make sense? I'm sure this wasn't your intention but it is certainly why I have read this thread maybe 40 times and wouldn't respond until now. (Well, that and people like Keith and Michael and Joe are FAR more qualified to comment than I am!) It's a tough topic on this forum when so many people take it defensively, myself included.

To address your concern of relevancy – I’m actually someone who has shared that sentiment. In Virginia there’s a woman who does some VERY traditional (and in my humblest of opinions: “dated”) stuff. Totally not my style, and frankly – looks too Victorian for my taste. I like COLOR – lots of it – and super sharp texture, and lifestyle – and everything opposite…. When I first saw it, I thought there was no way she could be selling any of it. I live in DC for pete-sakes’… I was positive that this wasn’t sellable in my market. Well, what I didn’t know at the time (we had just moved here) is that apparently The South starts about 30 miles south of my house. As in “Ye Olde South”… where like, the North loses in Civil War re-enactments and people still fly confederate flags. And guess what… her work SELLS. Like crazy! Like – I WISH my work could be as “out of date” as hers! Moreover – there’s a reason she’s been a 3x (?) Diamond Photographer of the Year. While I personally might not like the style – her work is brilliant, her technique is exquisite, and her post-processing is nothing short of perfection. Remember – this is someone’s work I personally do not like but I can see that it is in every way deserving of every award garnished.

Like many others, I’m one of those people who have seen work improve directly as a result of print comp and this is really only my second year entering. I’m not someone with a million medals… FWIW, I have a measily TWO national merits, and those are from what? A week ago? Joe summed it up so well that there’s really no reason for me to ramble on…

Yes – there are problems with competition. It’s run by humans – humans who volunteer to take time away from their own busy studios… So yes, there won’t always be perfection. I know on another thread someone was told he had 2 loan prints, but really only 1 made it. On my own end, my own merit prints were left out of our state slide show – only person of course! But well… life sucks, and then you die, I guess? I know I would like to see improvements to my own state’s comp – for example, I’d like it if we had Photographer of the Year awards for VPPA, as well as highest scoring cases. Also, our case fee is rather high and I think that might be why only the same people enter year after year. But, again, I’ve only been at this two years, and maybe there’s a reason for that I haven’t seen yet.

So that said, if you were to become the print chair person, how would you like to change your state competition?

John_Mireles
06-30-2009, 05:40 PM
Stephanie:

I think you've made some good points. I can understand how people can feel like they're being attacked. I'm sure that many have attacked print comp in the past so now feels like there's a knee-jerk reaction to defend it when it's brought up. However, I think there's a big difference between saying "print comp sucks and is pointless" verses "what can we do to make it better?"

The latter question is what I'm trying to open up the discussion on.


So that said, if you were to become the print chair person, how would you like to change your state competition?I'm not familiar with state so I'll stick to the local comp. I suggest bringing in a broader mix of judges. In addition to the PPA masters, I would bring in judges from outside the PPA. I'd want to bring in photographers who are doing excellent work and have met with success in the marketplace. It would be great to have editorial and advertising photographers in the mix. Not all the judges have to be wedding or portrait photographers.

I'd also bring in judges who are not photographers. I'd occasionally like to see an art director from an ad agency or the art director of a local wedding magazine.

I think it's important to hear a mix of opinions and ideas. As I mentioned earlier, I think the idea of balance is important. Just as it would be inappropriate to always have an entire panel of 20-somethings as judges, it's similarly inappropriate to always have an entire panel of 60-somethings doing the judging.

When we bring everyone together and encourage a discussion of and between classic and innovative, then we all learn.

John

Michael_Gan
06-30-2009, 05:54 PM
Steph, very nice! Good candidate to be a moderator some day :D

John, I think you are still missing the point of all of this. The fact is, your conclusions are base on a local level of experience. Most of us have seen things on an international level (including going to Europe and Asia and attending their print comps).

And I think your work is good! Hardly new, and Anthony Barbosa taught me that stuff 30 years ago.

Here's a different perspective. Are you making a great California income from what you're producing (take home of a minimum of $125K after expenses)? Is your work that good that your competitors are left in the dust? Print comp will not solve all of this, but it will help you to get that extra edge over the other guy. Especially if the other guy has an even bigger chip on their shoulder. PPA is all about helping you become a better professional photographer in all facets. Like I've said, I, and Keith have seen over 30 years of this type of attitude. All you do with that is just get old. The alternative is not any better.

Oddly for you, I don't think many of us are trying to sway you to get involved on the national level. All of us have our own lives to live and we're all happy, thank you. If you're happy with your life and your work makes your heart sings, we're all here to cheer you on. That's what we're all about here.

TracyeGibson
06-30-2009, 10:46 PM
Oh my….do I wade in here or not? Oh what the heck!

(First of all on a side note, in Texas on the local and non-meriting state level we do use people other than just Masters as judges. We use the speakers whether they be photographers, inspirational speakers, businessmen, or PS Gurus who never take their own photos and use stock photography to create their art. This gives a little more of the ‘real world’ reaction, which can sometimes be a gut reaction, but is noteworthy none the less)

OK, I get what John is saying, and I agree with some of it. Although I am a new member to PPA and a first year competitor, I have been around off and on for years(since the early 90's). Back in the old days ;) before much PS was used I went to my first guild meeting and was appalled at the print competition. Not because of the work, but because of the process. The pictures were gorgeous but I knew good and darn well that all that most of the entrants did was snap the ‘correctly exposed and posed’ portrait. First the film was sent off to process, then on to a negative retoucher, then on to a printer who custom dodged and burned the print, then back to an artist to use dyes and pencils to correct the retouched faces and give the color some ‘oompf’, then back to the lab to mount and spray. Why the heck was ONLY the photog getting credit?!? Fast forward, now they have Open and EI and if a print gets a merit in Open it can still be reentered in EI by the artist. I thought, “Yay! Now we are getting somewhere!”. Fast forward again, now if any print has merited it can NEVER be entered again. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if too many people were reentering their own pics as the photog and artist (since that is now more often the case) and the purpose behind PPA Competition is LEARNING and the ‘powers that be’ decided if they reenter the same print, what have they learned, besides a quick way to get another merit? Or maybe they didn’t like having 2 of the same pic in the loan book in the same year? I really don’t know the reasoning and maybe some one who does can chime in here. So what I am really saying is that as far as print competition goes it is two steps forward, three steps back. Believe me, I get as irritated as the next person when I see a ‘technically’ spot on pic with minimal emotion get a merit and one that has GREAT emotional impact, but maybe a slight color shift in the shadows gets in the 70’s.

The 12 rules aren’t what bother newbies. Any artist, painter or photog, would see the merits in those ‘rules’. The problem is when the ‘unspoken’ rules (that do tend to be dated) come into play. Things like, “NEVER put a black border around a young child- that represents death”, “You MUST use super high gloss paper to compete or your print won’t get any where”(This one came about because the high gloss ‘in the old days’ was the best paper to make details and contrast pop), “You MUST have detail in the high lights and shadows!”(really? It’s a shadow for goodness sakes!)my new favorite is, “If you are having trouble meriting just photograph a homeless person and print it high contrast black & white”. (Ok, that last was more a sarcastic snarky comment often heard around print comp! Hee-hee!)

Again, like I said, the purpose behind print comp is to learn. Now maybe you don’t want to learn ‘that style’because it has nothing to do with your own ‘style’, but it is ALWAYS good to have more than one way of doing something. Maybe someone’s cool, edgy, blown out, over saturated style is what attracted the client, but what if they want something for grandma? Grandma with the BIG bucks? In all art forms, (photography, painters, actors, dancers, etc) you learn from some ‘master’. At first you copy, then you develop, with all tools at hand, your own style that won’t be a flash in the pan, here today gone tomorrow look. You learn to do classic, you learn to do edgy, you learn what you like, you learn what you don’t like.

As we all know, the real merits are green. In ‘the real world’ people don’t care about how many letters you have following your name (only other photogs), but they DO care about the skill those letters give you, even if they don’t know it. In this economy, isn’t it better to have more to offer your client, than less?

John_Metcalfe
06-30-2009, 11:11 PM
In this economy, isn’t it better to have more to offer your client, than less?

I can't come up with a situation that is better to go with the question as written...

John_Mireles
07-01-2009, 07:30 AM
John, I think you are still missing the point of all of this. The fact is, your conclusions are base on a local level of experience.No Michael, you're missing the point. As I've taken pains to point out, I AM talking about local print comp.

PPA is all about helping you become a better professional photographer in all facets.My initial question was: What is the point of print comp? Is it to help us improve or is it to earn a pretty ribbon?" Finally, I think someone has answered that question. It sounds to me that you're saying that the point of print comp is to help us improve in our work. Great!

However, as a photographer with experience shooting weddings from Japan to Jamaica, who's shot $100,000 advertising jobs for national ad agencies, who's shot million dollar weddings, who's sells $20,000 plus wall prints, who owns the building that houses his studio and who's won his share of high-falootin' awards, I can firmly attest to the fact that my LOCAL print comp does not go far enough to help participants improve. In many ways, it holds people back.

Tracye has brought up some good points that go to the heart of the matter. I'm happy to hear that her affiliate uses a wide variety of people as judges. I think it's awesome that her group is open minded enough to include non-photographers among the judges. Sometimes I think the trained judges get so caught up in the technical details that they lack the perspective to realize that they're looking at a great - or even lousy - image. There's no doubt value in having someone who can just judge an image based on whether it moves them or not. After all, that's what our clients do.

John

D._Craig_Flory
07-01-2009, 02:15 PM
Hi John;

I like local association print competitions for someone new to get their feet wet. But, as they get better I recommend competing at the state, regional, and Imaging competitions. The expertise of the judges tends to rise at each level. A local group does not have the funds to pay for affiliated national jurors. So, move up in where you compete is what I will tell you. Affiliated jurors must pass a judging school as well as submit 20 images to show that they are qualified.

Keith_A_Howe
07-01-2009, 02:47 PM
I AM talking about local print comp.

Perhaps you would get farther in changing your local competition if you held this discussion amongst the people in charge of your local. A discussion here will not change your local unless members of your local are involved in the discussion.


My initial question was: What is the point of print comp? Is it to help us improve or is it to earn a pretty ribbon?"

The point of print competition is whatever you want it to be. There is no right or wrong answer and that's the beauty of the system. Each can use it for their own purposes. Some use it as a learning experience. Some use it as a creative outlet and a way to stretch. Some use it for a marketing advantage to earn those ribbons and awards and then promote themselves as an award winning photographer. I personally have used comeptition for all of these reasons during different periods in my career. When I am talking to fairly new people in the business I encourage them to use competition for the education. When I visit with people who are at the same stage in their lives as I am, we are all mostly using competition to stretch our creativity, either with new styles, new techniques or for me recently it has been new subject matter. All my life I have wanted to photograph wildlife and it;'s just in the last few years that I've had that opportunity. It may not look like a stretch to someone who routinely photographs wildlife, but for me it is.



Sometimes I think the trained judges get so caught up in the technical details that they lack the perspective to realize that they're looking at a great - or even lousy - image.

Those local judges are NOT trained. That's the whole point I keep trying to get through to you. When you keep refering to them as trained judges, that's where the confusion is sitting in. It sounds like you are refering to national or regional competition because locals rarely if ever have trained judges. And trained judges do not make the mistakes you are refering to. When I am sitting on a panel and looking at an image that has great impact but a serious technical flaw, I do not automatically dismiss the image. I weigh the seriousness of the technical flaw against the positives of the print. Sometimes the flaw is so great it overshadows what is good about the image. Sometimes what is good outweighs the flaws. It's always balancing one against the other. It's never about ignoring one aspect and judging entirely on the other - good or bad. This is also one reason why there are 6 judges on a national panel, because some judges are more technical oriented and some judges are more emotional based in their decision making. That cross section of judges evens out the playing field and averages the diverse viewpoints and styles.

Another thing for you to consider as a possibility. When there is a challenge and a print is discussed, a judge who is against the merit will only speak about the reasons they are not in favor and a judge in favor will only point out the positives. Think of it like a debate, if you are trying to convince someone to take your side you don't state all the points in favor of their side. You just make the arguments that support your position. So when I judge a print that I am not in favor of a merit, I don't say in my comments, oh it had great impact and the composition was perfect to convey this message. I just might say there is an exposure problem and the subject is slightly out of focus. Doesn't mean that I don't also recognize that impact, composition or whatever was great. It just means that I am supporting my position that the flaws outweigh the positive on this particular print. To someone without a lot of experience in watching print comeptition, it would probably appear that I was so caught up on the technical details that I wasn't seeing the impact etc. I can see where it would look that way, but that's not what is going on. The same is true on the opposite side. If I am in favor of a print, I am not going to mention the problems I see when I challenge to raise the score. I am only going to point out the positives and so it might appear that I was oblivious to the technical flaws. Like I said, it could look that way, but that's not what is happening.

Keith

Don_Chick
07-01-2009, 04:21 PM
This discussion is like an ant who can see 1 inch in every direction climbing to the top of a blade of grass and declaring "There are no humans out there!"

mrbarton
07-01-2009, 04:59 PM
I think it is worth pointing out that judges need to learn as well. Local affiliates is where judges learn as well. If the point is to have more qualified judges then they have to start somewhere. It's kind of like baseball. If you watch a Single A minor league game are you going to get the best umpires? The umps are training as well. Frankly there are not that many of the umpires OR players from the minors that ever do well in the majors.

I hate to say it this way, but your difficulty with the local chapter is legitimate. I frankly agree. That said, by your logic of reformation however, inconsistencies at that level are a necessary entity using your system.

Michael_Gan
07-01-2009, 05:41 PM
Most importantly, is what Keith mentioned. John, in order to make things right, you have to get involved, instead of complaining the the system is wrong. It is amazing how just one person with the right leadership qualities can affect change in as little as a year.

So, the challenge to you is, do you believe in what you are speaking enough for you to get involved in leadership? If you business is that successful, you must have that in you. Think in terms of what you needed to do in order to turn you business into what it is today.

The reason I say this is because it is my strong interest is strengthening PPA from the local affiliates on up, and I know that many of the California affiliates are struggling, at least 15 of the 18.

John_Mireles
07-01-2009, 06:27 PM
Most importantly, is what Keith mentioned. John, in order to make things right, you have to get involved, instead of complaining the the system is wrong. It is amazing how just one person with the right leadership qualities can affect change in as little as a year. I agree! So the question is how can I best make that change happen? What have other people done to improve their print comps? (Maybe that's where I should have started - might have saved seven pages of posts. :rolleyes:)

John

TracyeGibson
07-01-2009, 06:45 PM
John, just a quick question; at your guild competitions what seems to be the main problem (other then level of judging)? Are not alot of people entering? Is the guild full of older members who are tired of local competition? Can you only enter 16x20 or can you enter smaller smaller sizes (I know cost is a factor for some)? At my guild every time you enter monthly print comp you are also entered for a drawing to win a scholarship to Texas School of Professional Photography at the end of the year.

Michael_Gan
07-01-2009, 07:08 PM
I agree! So the question is how can I best make that change happen? What have other people done to improve their print comps? (Maybe that's where I should have started - might have saved seven pages of posts. :rolleyes:)

JohnMany of the successful associations have a good volunteer base. Start there. Get involved in your association's print comp committee. Which group are you with? PP Los Angeles County? Orange County? I know all the leadership in all of the PPA affiliates, so I can direct you to the right people to talk to.

As an example, I was elected in my affiliate as the Print Comp Chair (2nd VP). I immediately started off by getting as many of the Master Photographers to participate in the judging. I also changed the standards to judge as closely to the PPA standards, instead of "photo club" standards by eliminating the judges comments of "I don't care how PPA would score this, I just like the image", which didn't tell a participant anything, it just gave the entrant a false sense of how their images would do at national. Getting involved will help you association change the culture of how print comp should be done. Network with the Masters and get their feedback.

I have a few "articles" in the Affiliate leaders section of this forum for more ideas on how to improve your association. Read them.

Now we're finally getting somewhere with this thread ;)

John_Mireles
07-01-2009, 07:14 PM
at your guild competitions what seems to be the main problem (other then level of judging)? Are not alot of people entering? Is the guild full of older members who are tired of local competition?Well, there's a few problems. We get decent participation although I've spoken with several people who are dropping out for the coming year because they're not happy with how things have gone. I am concerned that less people will enter and that the quality is going to drop further.

The work being entered is fairly weak because a) there aren't that many good photographers in the group and b) those that are good don't enter anymore. I think there's a vicious cycle going on: the talented photographers don't enter because the competition isn't that good and the good work isn't recognized by the judges. The less good work being presented, the less photographers (especially the talented ones) want to be involved.

What's left is a pretty low level of talent with an occasional standout. There's no prizes as I understand it but perhaps something meaningful might help. I like the idea. :)

John

mrbarton
07-01-2009, 07:15 PM
Worth noting, that I am living proof that the system can work. I never merited before 2007. My business is really building and I can attribute much of it to print comp and more over PPA. Seriously. I use the system to work for me. Maybe I'm just an anomaly. It can probably work better. I'm cool with that but it definitely worked for me.

TracyeGibson
07-01-2009, 08:24 PM
The work being entered is fairly weak because a) there aren't that many good photographers in the group and b) those that are good don't enter anymore. I think there's a vicious cycle going on:
John

Humm...sounds like it. OK, I am newbie competitor myself but I am definitely not shy about asking for help or calling someone up if I'm not sure about something. Michael made some good points. One thing with my own guild that I am not happy with is when the judges write a score on the ballots but no comments. Grrr!! A score really tells you nothing without a critique to back it up. So first off, let your judges know they NEED to write a quick comment or two as to why they scored how they did or what the entrant can do to 'fix' the print. Maybe your 'not so good' photographers are intimidated by your more experienced ones, and are afraid to ask for help. Is there a way to set up a mentoring system? We don't really have a 'formal' one at our guild but like I said, I am not shy and just go ask for help or a critique if I want it. Could you have one monthly meeting dedicated to talking about print competition preparation? You could have some of the experienced members who are willing to mentor or help out already lined up and there. Or maybe not one of the monthly meetings but a day workshop where the newbies could bring some of their work for critiques? I didn't enter anything in the state, regional or International comp without running it by some experienced photographers first. I am new to comp, but I wasn't born yesterday!


With my guild, each month you enter print comp not only are you entered for the drawing to Texas School (if you enter EVERY month they even give you some extra entries!), you also earn points toward the Fort Worth Fellowship, and even more points if you place.

Humm...what else?....Maybe some of the old timers need a challenge and the newbies need an 'assignment'. You could try having a 'theme' for each month. I don't necessarily mean 'album' or folio' month (again, too much expense if you don't already do this in your line of work), but have 'kids', or 'family', or 'pets', 'still lifes', 'Photoshop/Painter month', 'RED!", Hi Key, low key, Silliness, etc,etc. I have heard that not many people enter family groupings in competition anymore because it is hard to do well.

I don't know if any of these suggestions will help, but maybe they will spark some ideas. Good luck!

Michael_Gan
07-01-2009, 09:47 PM
John, here is the "essay" I wrote regarding your "vicious cycle": http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showpost.php?p=199438&postcount=18

The key is to have a reason for your Great photographer members to want to come to your meetings. Sounds like they have no reason to come.

TracyeGibson
07-01-2009, 09:58 PM
Wow Michael! That is a GREAT article!

Keith_A_Howe
07-02-2009, 01:25 AM
One thing with my own guild that I am not happy with is when the judges write a score on the ballots but no comments. Grrr!! A score really tells you nothing without a critique to back it up. So first off, let your judges know they NEED to write a quick comment or two as to why they scored how they did or what the entrant can do to 'fix' the print.


First off at your local do you have more than one judge each month? Do they give a writen ballot from each judge (assuming more than one judge)? I am asking because I have never seen a written ballot. I have seen when they don't have scoring machines that each judge holds up a slip with the score written on it and somebody at the end of the row sits with a calculator and averages the scores.

Next, again making assumptions here (which is probably dangerous) does your local use a numerical score like: Exceptional 100-95, Superior 94-90, Excellent 89-85, Deserving of a Merit 84-80, Deserving of Review 78-79, Above Average 77-76, Average 75-74, Acceptable 73-70, Below Exhibition Standards 69-00? If so that is your comment as to where the image stands, Look at the score - compare it to the category and you know where your image rated. I do not know how many images you have at your local but are you aware how long it would take to do a written critique for each image? I don't want to say it won't work but I do feel that a certian amount of responsibility falls on the entrant to seek out the judges and or experienced photographers and ask for a critique. I know that when I judge I always hope there is a specified critique time or I will spend my free time in the print show just for to be visable and available for anyone who wants to ask about scoring.

Keith

Joe_Galioto
07-02-2009, 02:22 AM
michael,
well said, sounds like many of the problems associated with our ppa affiliates are bi-coastal. your essay hits on several good points.
i always felt it was unfair to the print makers when some of the judges on the panel were not qualified to be scoring & making dumbass comments.
joe

Sarah_Johnston
07-02-2009, 01:48 PM
At our local we have 4 comps a year. We run them like PPA except we can only afford to have affiliate jurors 1 time a year. So in Feb we hire judges from surrounding states to come and do an "All Day" print comp. We time it so it is a great testing ground just before our regional. The other 3 during the year we use speakers and members that are Master Photog. Now, with that said we do have as members a few Affiliate Judges and now a couple "wanna be's" that just completed the class. But it has not always been this way. Because we used to just pull members to judge, the level was such that some of us got very frustrated and saw a need to improve upon what we had going. So we got involved. For me personally, I am now an affiliate juror and 1st VP of the group. oh and a thorn in Mr Bartons side!! kj
We also do have awards at the end of the year and for the all day. People like shiny things!
So I guess what my rambling is leading to is make change from within. Get involved. Do what you can to raise the level of your judges and inspire the members to enter.

TracyeGibson
07-02-2009, 03:11 PM
Keith,
We usually have a small number entering (about 6 on average), so it wouldn't be 'that' hard to jot a quick "To contrasty' or 'dodge in the forward hand' (they have actually gotten better about it). We do use the PPA number method but again, that doesn't tell you much, just a category. We don't have much time after the meeting because most people scoot out rather quickly since we usually go over. Like I said before, 'I' have no problem asking for a critique or for help, and do quite often. It would just be nice for the more quiet types ;) to have a little written down so they at least know the right questions to ask.

Oh! And we usually have 3 judges.

Joe_Galioto
07-02-2009, 03:18 PM
sarah,
i don't like it's neccesary to have affilliate judges at all state level compitions, but i do think they should all be masters. I have a problem when they throw potographers in there without any cridentials or ask vendors to judge. i also think craftsman or cpp should not be judging - it's a different animal.
joe

mrbarton
07-06-2009, 02:44 PM
For me personally, I am now an affiliate juror and 1st VP of the group. oh and a thorn in Mr Bartons side!!

Does that show up in your bio? In that order? Ha. Wannabe eh? Ha. We have a great group. I'm still working on getting fired.

John_Metcalfe
07-06-2009, 05:30 PM
Does that show up in your bio? In that order? Ha. Wannabe eh? Ha. We have a great group. I'm still working on getting fired.

OOOH Sarah! Can I help? I can throw rocks or something! He expects obscure and rude gestures already. He considers them a compliment from me...