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Linda_Gregory
07-21-2009, 03:57 PM
So, everyone who's a member got one, right? Did you complete it or is it still in your inbox? I will NOT hear about it being in your deleted folder.

Shall we discuss it amongst ourselves once you've completed it?

Keith_A_Howe
07-21-2009, 04:10 PM
Linda, I filled mine out right away. I have an opinion but I think I'll wait to hear what some other people thought of it before say anything.

Keith

Joe_Campanellie
07-21-2009, 04:53 PM
Filled mine out right away too.

Could be just me but I think maybe they are looking to take this whole thing digital. If so that creates the whole problem of how to display the images.

Of course I'm an old fart and think a lot of the process is knowing how to make good prints. There are several associations in this area experimenting with digital competitions. Most of the emphasis has been to lower costs and increase participation. I'm not sold on the digital competitions or the reasoning behind them yet. I think having to submit prints teaches you a lot about acceptable print quality...not only for competition but for client work also.

Or...maybe I'm just out of touch with all this new technology

Heather_L._Smith
07-21-2009, 05:18 PM
Linda - did you just get it today? I haven't seen one.

Heather_L._Smith
07-21-2009, 05:20 PM
Of course I'm an old fart and think a lot of the process is knowing how to make good prints.

hehehehe... I'm not an old fart and I still think a big part of the process is knowing how to make good prints :)

Linda_Gregory
07-21-2009, 05:23 PM
No Heather, it was a couple days ago. AN email with a link to the survey. I think my email is at home or I'd share the link with you.

Heather_L._Smith
07-21-2009, 05:25 PM
Hmmmm.... bummer! I got a survey for Professional Photographer magazine, but not print comp!

Keith_A_Howe
07-21-2009, 06:23 PM
Heather
Recheck your email and junk / spam for it. Mine came on Sunday.
Keith

mrbarton
07-22-2009, 01:07 PM
Time to get black listed:

The thing has a HUGE bias!!!! It says, Tell us what's wrong in a manner of speaking. Pick these 5 things that stink. BUT, there's no option if you don't think the system is broken. . . .

So, the results are going to be a dog pile saying that members wanted change right? What if some of us don't and think there are "other" problems at play.

mrbarton
07-22-2009, 01:07 PM
Oh yeah, there is a comment section, but we STILL have to click a tab and use answers that we possibly don't want with a bias before we get there. . .

George_Hawkins
07-22-2009, 01:38 PM
I got a reminder today! So, the email program knows I did not complete it immediately.

Linda_Gregory
07-22-2009, 02:22 PM
No, I got one too and did respond so it's probably sent out to everyone.

Keith_A_Howe
07-22-2009, 02:25 PM
I also thought that some of the questions did not have answers that fit. It also seemed that some of the question and answer options were structured in a way to get a certain result. I am sure that Helen would like to get feedback from everyone about their thoughts. Please take a moment to send her an email helen@helenyancystudio.com

Keith

Stephanie_Millner
07-22-2009, 03:37 PM
I agree with Michael. Perhaps a checkbox would have been better - selecting multiple options... And also, "comments" fields on each question is necessary. And in some cases the answers didn't even fit: "Why do you want a degree?" "i don't know, i just do"????

Peter_Bauer
07-23-2009, 09:31 PM
Hmmmm.... bummer! I got a survey for Professional Photographer magazine, but not print comp!

I also did not receive any such e-mail -- not even in my Junk mail folder. A search for all of the related terms (survey, print, competition, etc.) located no survey e-mail.
Pete

Marc_Benjamin
07-23-2009, 09:52 PM
Sad but I think that this supposed slanted survey is another indication that the transition into digital entries is like a train that will not stop.

This is like deja vu all over again when the "album" competition became a layout and design competition!

I think the pro labs and album companies should get together and threaten to pull their support if measures like these (transitioning away from the printed medium) keep popping up.

Missy50
07-23-2009, 11:13 PM
Being a new member and since I have never entered this comp, I felt inadequate to fill out the survey. I do want to enter next year, but I want to see entries first. I hope they do not change it too much.

I did fill out the survey. I just don't know how my survey would help.

Keith_A_Howe
07-23-2009, 11:59 PM
I also did not receive any such e-mail -- not even in my Junk mail folder. A search for all of the related terms (survey, print, competition, etc.) located no survey e-mail.
Pete

Peter,
Sam Gardner just got his today. I got mine on Sunday. I don't know what the purpose of staggering them would be but apparently that's happening. Maybe you will still get one.
Keith

Cheri_MacCallum
07-24-2009, 03:19 PM
I don't know what the purpose of staggering them would be but apparently that's happening

With large email blasts, some servers can't handle sending out to all recipients at once, so delivery is staggered.

I found that some of the questions needed more of a "check all that apply" option, because there were times when more than one answer was necessary!

Corrie_Zacharias
07-24-2009, 05:24 PM
Hmmm.... I didn't get one

John_Metcalfe
07-25-2009, 02:39 AM
I just filled mine out. I hope my multiple guess method gets me a passing grade.

What a load of waffle...

Jeff_Dachowski
07-25-2009, 03:19 AM
too was disapointed in the range of responses. For instance, one of the questions asked what are my reasons for competing. The answers were a typical variety, but did not include one reason that I thought was huge. It did not include to become a better photographer. It only included things about peer recognition, degrees, and how you rate amongst local competitors.

I also did not care for the question that no matter how I answered (7) my answer was going to be used to prove that a digital comp has to happen. All roads on this question lead to a digitla only comp.

I for one want to participate in a "print" competition, not a "file" competition. Having been burned once already by the monitor at a regional , I am not going to compete if that is where it goes.

PPA if you are listening, I dont want a digital comp ok??

Jeff

Sarah_Johnston
07-25-2009, 03:37 AM
I just filled mine out. I hope my multiple guess method gets me a passing grade.
..

John You crack me up!!

samgardnermcr
07-25-2009, 04:08 AM
I am very pleased to see that a lot of members are discussing this issue. I believe that we need to be "tested" on prints since prints are what we sell to clients. If we can "Master" the consistent creation of quality prints, then we can earn a "Master's Degree". To be "tested" on digital files only is just not as thorough as being sure that we can actually create good prints, time after time. I can hide things from the eyes of a juror in a digital file which would be revealed very clearly in an actual print. The printing process is a vital part of the business of photography. Either in house or through a professional lab, we must be able to create consistent imagery that meets a high standard for the clients we serve.

I understand that entering digital files instead of prints is less expensive, HOWEVER, real professionals can easily afford to make and ship four prints per year. It is so much less expensive now than it was in the pre-digital days. I hope we are all mentoring and creating new professionals who can earn a living from photography and understand the importance of ongoing image reviews by a group of trained peers. Continuing to enter our work for this anonymous critical review year after year is a vital tool to increase the quality of our work.

If we are trying to interest competition participation from overseas, then digital entries are more attractive due to the high cost of shipping a print case from Korea or China. I can understand this concern. I still believe that we need to have our print work judged to become Master's of Photography.

I enjoy the "new" digital world greatly and am so happy to have the tools available for my work now which were hard to imagine just a decade ago. I welcome new ideas and like the idea of digital file judging for local events and workshops as an attractive and affordable way to bring new folks into the world of print judging - just make sure it is still "on Paper" for state, regional and international judgings .. please please please.

And then we can start an aggressive marketing campaign to tell the PPA members about the merit and degree program. It is a great program and filled with education relating to image quality. It deserves the kind of attention that PPA has given to the many other facets of our industry these past few years. PPA has grown very successfully and wonderfully and now it's time to place an importance on the photography part of our world and not strictly on the business part.

Sam Gardner M.Photog.Cr. CPP

Sarah_Johnston
07-25-2009, 01:49 PM
Sam, Wonderful comments. Honestly.

I would like to clarify something about the survey for everyone. This survey was sent out for the purpose of gathering information for the task force. This was not written by or sent out by PEC.
Personally, I am glad to see that members are talking about it. Voicing their opinions pro and con. This thread and others are noticed.

Keith_A_Howe
07-25-2009, 02:30 PM
I would like to clarify something about the survey for everyone. This survey was sent out for the purpose of gathering information for the task force. This was not written by or sent out by PEC.


Sarah, I think everyone realizes this, but nobody knows who the task force is. It's pretty easy to find out who is on PEC. I think the hope is that if members get their thoughts and opinions to PEC, those comments will then be forwarded the task force. Also the overiding opinion seems to be that the survey set up to create results that reinforce an agenda already in place. Nothing about the survey made me feel they were interested in gathering information. It reads like they just want to get the answers they want.

Keith

RonNichols
07-25-2009, 07:43 PM
The Print Competition Task Force is made up of the following members:

Helen Yancy
Mark Garber
Ron Nichols
Dennis Craft
Farrah Braniff
David McKay
Jamie Hayes
Jed Taufer
Tim Walden

David Trust - Moderator

Resource Members

Scott Kurkian CFO
Lenore Taffel - PPA Dir of Events
Jim Dingwell - PEC administrator

Peter_Bauer
07-25-2009, 09:51 PM
I believe that we need to be "tested" on prints since prints are what we sell to clients.

Sam, are the types and styles of prints we see in competition really what we sell to clients? High-gloss, digital step mount? Is that the product that hangs on the walls of our clients and customers?
Pete

Michael
07-26-2009, 12:22 AM
Actually Pete for some this is what they show their clients and sell. But the point is not so much the presentation, although that is important, it's the education and the pursuit of the degree.

Heather_L._Smith
07-26-2009, 12:49 AM
Sam, are the types and styles of prints we see in competition really what we sell to clients? High-gloss, digital step mount? Is that the product that hangs on the walls of our clients and customers?
Pete

I was just talking about this the other day with a friend - while the actual finished product is finished differently (as you mentioned - high gloss, step mount, etc), the theory and practice to get it to "finished product" stage is not. I believe there is a huge amount to be learned through print comp - on every single level - from capture to retouching to presentation to finishing. I, personally, am not supportive of an all-digital entry competition.

And, if cost is the major issue, then let's talk about that for a second.

I pay approximately $30 to have a print comp print made from my lab (that assumes, of course, that I don't mess it up and have to have it reprinted).

I paid $100 to enter nationals this year, plus $20 in shipping.

4 prints x $30 = $120
entry fee = $100
shipping = $20

So, a grand total of $240... ONCE A YEAR. If it's hard to swallow all at once, then budget for it :)

I think cost is being used as one of the primary pushes to move to a digital entry system... but, frankly, $240 shouldn't break the bank, and if it does, then print competition shouldn't be at the top of your to-do list.

Michael
07-26-2009, 02:32 AM
Heather, very well thought out. It is indeed cheaper to enter now than ever was. I remember the days of spending well over $400 just for the prints. Now is a great time to enter.

Todd_Reichman
07-26-2009, 03:40 AM
There's also the issue of buying a print case - those are a few grand each, right? Then you need a separate one for locals/regionals and another one for nationals because they don't come back in time, right? Just sayin' :D

I only intend to submit digitally with albums. I see how people don't want to lose the "printed" print comp. I'd be fine with a digital judging in addition rather than in replacement of what exists today. Granted, I'd be gind with whatever because I'm hardly the person they are trying to please - others have far more stock in comp than I do.

Digital submission definitely would make it easier to get involved - is that a good thing of a bad thing?

- trr

Stephanie_Millner
07-26-2009, 05:42 AM
Just a thought... What about a second degree path. Master of Photography just for PRINTS... and maybe something "file-y" for those who elect to submit digital files. Sort of a secondary competition, if you will. It would, as Todd mentioned, get more involved... And I think if it were taken seriously we could start seeing some VERY cool things come out in digital that can't quite come out with a print. Perhaps people can start sending in slideshows (thinking about that Liquid Beckstead one, for example)... Or Flash, or whatever other crazy-cool digital manipulation they've come up with where the end media really IS intended to be digital. Since we're playing the "what if" game, and all...

(Can we all tell I have a concept? :D )

samgardnermcr
07-26-2009, 07:10 AM
These questions and comments are great! Thanks to everyone for discussing these concepts and ideas.
I think that one of the major reasons to enter competitions is to hone our skills and stay in touch with, and on top of our craft. Of course - most of us don't sell high gloss prints made to be viewed under bright tungsten lights. BUT, those are the conditions set for "EVALUATING AND EXAMINING" the great details of our work. No one ever said the images used in comp/judging are typical client work. They are a test for us to perfect and maintain skills with, so we are then better able to handle a variety of clients walking through our door. If you can please a panel of jurors year after year with a variety of images, then you have a much better chance of pleasing a variety of clients. This is one of the reasons so many of us already holding the degree continue to participate.

When the PEC determines that a panel of jurors can examine the details of an image capture by viewing the digital file on some sort of high quality monitor, then perhaps PPA and the regions could enjoy the benefits of "digital" judging. There are of course many details to work out, as we need to be sure we are having our work judged accurately. As professionals, don't we wish for high quality constructive yet critical feedback on our images??? I think this is the goal of the judging system that the PEC uses. Of course it is not perfect, but it is a great system and I believe the task force is sincerely trying to maintain the integrity of the "Exhibition Merit" while examining methods to keep the judging system alive and well. Wouldn't we all would like to see newer members of PPA interested in entering images and going after the degrees and the system of judging thriving in numbers?? At least here in my region-The Western States, we work very hard at marketing and publicity just to barely get enough print cases in to break even or at least not lose money. I do not know how the other regions are faring with entry numbers lately but I would like to see the participation growing each year for all the regions and at the International Judging.
We are very lucky to have a system in place for having our work evaluated under a strict guidline or set of standards-the Twelve Elements. Let's give the task force an opportunity to evaluate our system and perhaps improvements can come out of their work, and all our discussions and imput as well.
I had the chance to discuss much of this with Ron Nichols this morning and he assures me that nothing is in the works to eliminate print entries. The task force is looking at all aspects of the competition and trying to find ways to increase participation, particularly with newer members. The conversation was pretty interesting and actually really exciting.
I have high hopes for the future of our print competitions! Let's make it great.

samgardnermcr
07-26-2009, 07:17 AM
I agree wholeheartedly with Heather Smith... $240 once a year for a real working professional is not a big ticket item, especially if you consider it for the educational value of getting ongoing feedback throughout your career! Professional development is a must for our industry these days as so many aspects of our jobs change quickly. Entering competitions needs to be viewed as a part of doing business in a profession subject to such rapid change. Budget for it, plan on it, do it! Your work will improve whether or not your image receives a merit.

Michael
07-26-2009, 04:53 PM
Actually Todd, you can send your prints to Nationals in a cardboard box if you wish. Just remember that they will not be returned to you if shipped that way. It is an option though.

Stan_Lawrence
07-26-2009, 05:10 PM
There's also the issue of buying a print case - those are a few grand each, right?

I have several for sale, quite a bit less than a grand. Contact by email or pm. :cool:

Todd_Reichman
07-26-2009, 05:20 PM
I have several for sale, quite a bit less than a grand. Contact by email or pm. :cool:

Not interested, that cardboard box holds my DVDs just fine. :D No interest in entering prints - digital all the way for me. No waiting to get prints back from the lab, no reprints, print cases, setting up lighting, etc.

- trr

Keith_A_Howe
07-26-2009, 08:10 PM
At least here in my region-The Western States, we work very hard at marketing and publicity just to barely get enough print cases in to break even or at least not lose money.

So Sam along the lines of what you are saying here, maybe this is being approached from the wrong angle. In my studio when my goal is to make a profit on a particular product line and the numbers aren't adding up I have a few options. I can eliminate that product altogether. I can increase my sales per session in that product line. I can get more of that type of sessions. Or I can find a way to produce an identical product for less, money - upping my profit.

So if I think about print competition with those same options (and substituting break even for make a profit because I am sure we all agree, print competition is not something members or the BOD & staff wants to be a profit center for PPA), this is what I see.

Eliminate competition - I don't think anyone wants that to happen.

Increase sales per session - Well, print critiques do add to the "sales" per print case. But at this point I don't see off the top of my head how PPA could make more income per print case without rasing the case fee. Also the main reason I keep hearing for going to a digital competition is cost savings for members. So it follows that the general thought is it should cost less, not more.

Get more of that type of session - AHA!!!! Seems like that is the goal of the task force. Get more entries and it's a great goal. Not just because the extra entries would generate more cash to cover costs but also because it would mean more photographers reaping the benefits of education , marketing and artistic expression that comes with competiting. Those are all things that will ultimately benefit our industry as a whole. So right now the only suggestion I have seen to increase numbers is lower the cost. I have to go back to my own business. The way to get more people purchasing photography is to make them WANT photography. That's why price discounts and specials rarely work. Saving money does not make people want what I have to sell. The only clients I get who are motivated by the price discount are the ones who were ALREADY wanting a portrait. It seems to me if we want to increase numbers we need to create a desire. That is why I do not feel digital competitions as a way to lower cost of entry ( except on a local level where more entries are allowed, multiple times a year) is going to produce the desired results. If someone doesn't want a family portrait it doesn't matter if you lower the cost to $1, they still aren't going to want one. If someone doesn't feel the need or have the desire to enter, it doesn't matter if you lower the cost to $1, they still aren't going to enter.

Lower the cost to produce the product - Well, you can't ask the judges to take a pay cut. I know when I judge at national I barely get enough to cover my expenses. I am ok with that because the benefits I gain from judging are worth enough to me to give up a week of studio income and basically do it for free. But I can't spend money out of my pocket on top of that. The facility use is another big expense I would guess, but I know PEC has worked diligently to find an appropiate space at the lowest possible price in a location that makes it cheaper to fly in judges. I think that cost has already been cut to the bone. If we are looking to cut costs, then is investing in a bunch of moniters which I think run $1400-$1500 each, a good way to cut costs? How many more print cases would have to be entered to cover the costs of moniters for at least 4 more judging rooms at national? Where would be the break even point? Would there have to be an increase in print case fees to cover the cost of buying those moniters? If so then doesn't that kinda negate the cost savings of entering digital? the member may save on the prints themselves but would that savings be eaten up in a couple years by higher entry fees? I don't know if that's the case or not, but I would like to see some projections on how that would play out.

It looks to me like the only acceptable option is to increase numbers of entries. Without being privy to the big picture, I feel we need to be focusing on how to make more members want to enter. How can we create that desire? I don't know the answer to that. But from my admitted limited experience of talking to photographers (that don' enter) across the country, they don't understand what they stand to gain. If they can't see what they will get out of it, they don't want it.

Keith

samgardnermcr
07-27-2009, 06:18 AM
Keith, thanks for putting so much thought into the situation. I agree that we need to build desire for entering by more members. I would like to see PPA begin a strong campaign of marketing/advertising for members to enter competitions and go for those degrees. You and I know from experience that entering and/or serving as a juror provide countless benefits for our skills to take back to work and do stronger images with. Better imagery along with a good business plan can earn you more income!
I would like to see ppa.com have a stronger presence for our degree program as well as the competition portion. How about new items like a map showing the regions(soon to be restructured into "districts"). Also, perhaps since you are a member of PPA , the system could automatically highlight your region/district at log in. There could be a pull-down menu or link if you click on a region that would pull up the info such as salon chair, shipping address, a link to rules and forms Etc for each region/district. All these steps would make it easier and more inviting for members to participate. PPA could blast out emails by district announcing the upcoming deadlines, webinars and so forth much as they do now with those great emails like we get from "Vital Signs". I think one of the reasons for lower participation is a lack of awareness within the regions/districts. Let's encourage PPAs to advertise these events more powerfully and begin including programs at IUSA on "How to earn your degree". If these events were pumped with enthusiasm, perhaps attendance would pick up and the word would spread about the great learning potential of our judging system. And all of this is needed regardless of the method of entering images!
Let's get our degree and merit system back on track and popular so our newer members can learn high quality photography to go along with the great business skills we have been stressing for several years now.
Together, these skill sets can carry the next generation of professional image makers to great heights!

Jonathan_Brown
07-27-2009, 08:21 PM
Keith I completely agree that PPA needs to give photographers more reasons to enter. What if PPA took a different spin on this situation? What if instead of appealing to photographers they did more education to the general public? What I would love to see is PPA doing more advertisements to the general public to show the benefits of hiring a professional and what makes a true professional: Degrees and certifications being a great selling point.

Look at what the National Association of Realtors has done with a national advertising campaign. Imagine if PPA did something like that, I feel it would give more photographers reason to compete. We can all tell everyone how it makes you a better photographer, and how much fun it is but if you tie it into sales and marketing you can make it more "Real" and less subjective.

Just my thoughts on this as I read some of the comments.

Todd_Reichman
07-27-2009, 08:54 PM
I've pitched this before here but I think to encourage more people to enter print comp it would help to provide more access to the process. So many people that talk about how much they've learned from competition but I suspect that's not the entire truth. I don't think you learn as much from the competition as the prep in getting there. The comp itself is the destination but I think its the journey that benefits. I mean, my video critique was pretty useless and didn't help at all. I'm not knocking the process, but if I didn't learn anything in the build up to the comp that video wouldn't have made it worth it.

So I think there should be mentors available online for critique. I know people do this informally on the forum but I think it would be great if this type of work were available on a more formal basis. Perhaps there could be a competition-style Super Monday, where qualified judges made themselves available for online critiques - maybe even thorugh webinars or some other internet-meeting type things. Charge a small fee and help PPA make a few bucks. I don't know if there are any "judging merits" or anything like that which might help incentify the volunteer judges. But I think this might help people understand what the 12 elements mean, what makes a good image, what to look for in a comp image, etc.

There seems to be a pretty big learning curve to get into print comp, and a little more help upfront might increase enjoyment, learning and success which might help more people stay committed. It would encourage me at any rate.

Off topic but for the record, I don't think a digitial submission should cost any less than a print submission. I like having the choice but I don't think the entry fee should penalize/incentify the type of entry in any way.

- trr

Linda_Gregory
07-27-2009, 09:01 PM
I'm sorry your video didn't teach you much, all three of mine have really opened my eyes for what to look for in a great image. I know, I'm lucky that way!

Joe_Campanellie
07-27-2009, 09:39 PM
And that's a drop in the bucket compared to what it used to cost "old school" for those of us who were competing in the early 90's and before that. Was much more expensive and time consuming in those days.

Used to spend hours in the darkroom to get the perfect print. Then all the artwork that had to be done traditionally by my wife and then all the mounting and presentation.

Most of those hours can now be reduced to minutes and the click of a mouse.

Marc_Benjamin
07-28-2009, 01:35 AM
Hmmmmmm, from reading below, I'm getting reinforcement for my views that it's likely that the merits system (both print and teaching) is not as strong as it once was, hence participation (if that really is the motivational point behind the digital move and not cost) has not gone up as projected.

I think we should talk about how strong, weak or stagnant is the merit program/structure on a different thread (http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?p=208765#post208765).

CLICK HERE (http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?p=208765#post208765)

Keith_A_Howe
07-28-2009, 01:42 AM
Hmmmmmm, from reading below, I'm getting reinforcement for my views that it's likely that the merits system (both print and teaching) is not as strong as it once was, hence participation (if that really is the motivational point behind the digital move and not cost) has not gone up as projected.



Could you say this again in English???? I am confused at what you are getting at. Are you trying to say the move to digital is about strengthening the merit system. Are you saying that the move to digital has not increased participation? What move? It hasn't happened so how could it have gone up as projected?

Keith

Marc_Benjamin
07-28-2009, 01:52 AM
Could you say this again in English???? I am confused at what you are getting at. Are you trying to say the move to digital is about strengthening the merit system. Are you saying that the move to digital has not increased participation? What move? It hasn't happened so how could it have gone up as projected?

Keith

The way that I'm "reading it" that one of the main points about the proposed move to digital is that it will help increase participation. I think that if participation as it is is lacking, then perhaps we might want to examine or talk about the the merit system (the traditional motivator to participate) of today.

Keith_A_Howe
07-28-2009, 03:22 AM
Now I get what you were saying.

Michael
07-28-2009, 03:58 AM
There are lots of great ideas being thrown around on this forum. I agree that there needs to be some more education to the membership and the general public about the merits of the degree program. New technology has given us the opportunity to look at new ways to create this education. In the past we all used to get together and give opinions to each other about which prints had merit potential. This is even easier now with e-mail and forums. Remember also that most all judges who are qualified international judges are more than willing to offer suggestions and advice. Just ask them to look at your work at any judging and I think that you will be surprised at their willingness. Most times all it takes is a simple question. I know that I learned about the ins and outs of entering this way.

Patriciamathis
07-28-2009, 07:05 AM
Wow! lots of comments. I can totally understand the trend to take Print Competition Digital. I am a photographer 9 yrs in the business - started with film and medium format and went 100% to digital about 6 years ago now. I used to pay the big bucks for my Comp. Prints too so I know what that is like. That said, I think digital print competition, at least for earning your degree is a mistake for sure - we are image makers yes, and most of our images are printed as a final product.

So how do we come to something that preserves our craft but moves with the times? I propose the regionals go digital and if your image is sealed, you then make a print and send it to nationals for judging there for loan or showcase collections. If you choose to sub in a print to your case, (to replace one that did not get sealed at regionals), then you will need to print it and send it to Nationals. This will incourage folks to enter regionals since it is cheaper and they only have to print images that merit and send on to nationals. just my thoughts...

mrbarton
07-28-2009, 03:42 PM
Here's the skinny. The PEC manual has 5-6 pages devoted to lighting for PO print comp. The diagrams are very clear and very specific. The model of lights to be used is even given. Believe me when I say it's a VERY controlled environment. We've had digital albums for a bit now and sadly there is only a half page devoted to the setup. After all the specifics about the lighting for PO there is not even a value given for luminance. Calibration is not spelled out either. For that exposure and color presently vary WIDELY. This means that after spending months and months working on images or albums you hand a CD off and completely lose control of your images.

I can honestly say that a large part of my success in print competition is in the fact that I have followed the PEC manually and have a lighting rig in my studio that is to spec. When I view my images in my studio I see exactly what I'll see in front of a panel. That's a HUGE advantage but one I've come about honestly. I also use this lighting to view my prints for clients before they go out the door. I am EXTREMELY picky with my client's prints. Heck, I learned that from comp. I entered a digital album in February that was hit pretty hard for blown highlights. Well, I can honestly say that the numbers were spot on. The monitor was too bright. Frankly though, there's no way to avoid it without specs to calibrate to.

My point. If we've been doing digital albums for this long and still don't have it together what faith do we have that PO will be any different? We put a lot of care into creating our images. The same care needs to be taken when presenting them and we are not there yet. I might add that several critiques were lost with the new system. Imagine if those were merits for people that were eligible for their master?

Why not have a completely digital competition in Fall that is not merited. Give away prizes for categories and make it a different thing. If people do well there then they will most likely print their work and enter it at a region and then at nationals. That would spark interest and create a low pressure environment. It would also give a chance to work out the kinks in the system. If it was promoted properly it would create a surge in entries. It would also be a revenue stream. Heck, why not allow 8 entries instead of just 6. Charge per entry and help people narrow down to 4. This doesn't undermine anything as it's a completely different thing. If a ton of mistakes are made on the technical side then so be it at least it's not undermining the degree program. What people don't want more opportunities to earn awards? Also, you have now given people 2 chances to enter at an international level. Once a year is tough to get up for. I hate to say this on here, but WPPI has been doing this and it seems to be doing quite well.

2 closing points.

1: If you are offering digital at the national level you have to offer it at affiliates. They are struggling. Who's buying the gear? It's about $5000 minimum for digital

2: Affirmative Action is always a fun topic at holiday parties! Do we really want to be creating that environment for Masters?

Sarah_Johnston
07-30-2009, 02:13 PM
I think digital print competition, at least for earning your degree is a mistake for sure - we are image makers yes, and most of our images are printed as a final product.

I totally agree.


So how do we come to something that preserves our craft but moves with the times? I propose the regionals go digital and if your image is sealed, you then make a print and send it to nationals for judging there for loan or showcase collections. If you choose to sub in a print to your case, (to replace one that did not get sealed at regionals), then you will need to print it and send it to Nationals. This will incourage folks to enter regionals since it is cheaper and they only have to print images that merit and send on to nationals. just my thoughts...

I think that the issue with this is that prints do not always match monitors. I would be concerned that that sealed digital image might not be printed with the quality of a merit image. Then to send it to National it would hang in the print show- because it came in sealed- and not really portray what a merit image should look like. Thus giving viewers a less than stellar idea of what professional photography should look like. A wise person keeps telling me that "perception IS reality"

I think that eventually PPA could be a digital competition. I think there are many things that need to happen before it becomes the only way. But that's my opinion.

Michael_Gan
07-30-2009, 04:19 PM
The hardest aspect of print competition is not necessarily the image making, but the final print. That is why the majority of entrants rely on labs to "hopefully" get it right for them. In this day and age where entitlement is the flavor of the day, we have to ask ourselves, why are we doing this? To make it easier to get a Masters? To me, digital evaluation is a "dumbing down" of the process. I could quote Ansel Adams, ad nausium, but I won't.

Do we make things "easier" for people to enter? Is that really a good thing for our profession that is already struggling? A great number of photographers are barely making it. Most are relying on spouses income so they can go out and "play". They have no worries as to whether their business survives. To me, a digital only is pandering to that segment of our membership. Let's refocus and understand that we are a professional organization, and not a camera club. Our livelihood is still the print and it is the most important ingredient in what we do.

Sorta like the "steroids era". Do we put an asterisk by the names of the masters who got their degrees by meriting on digital evaluation alone? I could see that happening. All it takes is a movement of Master Photographers crying "this is so unfair". And with the affiliates becoming more like camera clubs across the country, how is this going to affect the education of our newer breed of photographers? Who will lead them if we alienate our Master photographers who are starting to stay away from their meetings?

The hallmark of leadership is to innovate, not copy. Following other organizations just because it's successful to them and it works for them just weakens PPA's position in this industry. There has to be a better way than to follow. The other organizations have been following us all these years and I really feel this is not the time for knee-jerk reactions.

Gregory_Aide
08-27-2009, 10:58 PM
I am copying this here from the PPA Today blog on ppa.com...

In February of 2009 the PPA Board of Directors appointed a task force to look into ways to include greater numbers of members in its annual International Print Competition. Recently, the task force surveyed PPA membership, and almost 3,000 of you responded! Thank you so much for your input.


The work of the task force is not complete yet--recommendations will be formally presented to the PPA board of directors at its meeting in October. But in the meantime, we thought you might like to get an update on where we are today.


In reference to the print competition, the task force has said:


The quality of the judging itself must not be diminished.
Prints will not be eliminated.
We must have a print exhibit.


You can read the whole statement here:
http://www.ppa.com/articles/252/Statement-to-PPA-Members-Regarding-the-Print-Competition-Task-Force.php

mrbarton
08-27-2009, 11:55 PM
Hey Gregory! Thanks for the post. I hate to be the one to say it but honestly, the survey told a different story to a whole bunch of us. Many of us feel like what's going to be done is going to be done. That's just being honest. As one that doesn't really have a problem with the system, I personally felt that I had no choice but to voice concerns that frankly don't exist in my realm. SO, when the numbers are crunched and the survey results are given I feel like it's going to say a WHOLE lot that is just not accurate and it will be used in a conclusive matter that will probably make many not so happy. There's a lot more at stake than just competition. Let's just say there's a lot of money in printing the whole gallery as opposed to just part. Perhaps I have said too much but I'm not certain that will make some of your sponsors too giddy.

So then, we have that 48% or so group of masters a bit bent about entering prints against digital entries and now you have sponsors and your core mad. So, the question is, who are we doing this for? This is all speaking hypothetically of course. Draw what you want from the survey but what's the point?

Just one person's opinion. Frankly, I'm up for my Masters and MEI in January. I guess it really doesn't matter now.

Jeff_Dachowski
08-28-2009, 03:32 AM
Gregory,
thanks so much for posting this.

On a side note, I would have liked the statement to say that
1,A digital comp will not happen beyond it's current album scope and that
2, PPA will make it a priority to illustrate to it's membership how they could benefit from Print competition beyond earning a degree, and
3, that they will spend the next 5 years working to educate the membership about the degree programs.

Could we get them to accomplish this by Weds afternoon? That would be great! Thanks!
Jeff

mrbarton
08-28-2009, 04:40 AM
WOW JEFF!!! I thought I was going to get flack for my comments and then. . . I can't argue with any of that. Let's face it, we live in a world where people expect to learn everything there is to know about photography for $19 and 5 hours. I once read a fortune cookie that said:

A true cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing

I hate to give it to a cookie but that's not half bad. I have put an insane amount of time and energy to get where I am. I know you have as well. I know there are many reading this who have in fact put in more! That said, on the spectrum, we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of we can do with a camera of digital imaging. It's all what we make it right?

mrbarton
08-28-2009, 04:45 AM
Anyone want to bring up the whole CPP + Master thing? Just curious. . . .

Keith_A_Howe
08-28-2009, 03:37 PM
Because I am an affliate juror and a councilor I recieved this preliminary report a day or two before the general membership. Just thought I would share my response to my fellow concilors and judges.

To my fellow councilors,

When I was a little boy and my mom would take me to the doctor's office, the nurse would hand me a lollipop before she gave me a shot in the hind end.

We all know that when a task force is appointed, they come up with a report that has some kind of recommendation. My understanding is the whole purpose of this task force was to find a way to revitalize competition. What we have in the preliminary letter is maintain status quo. So I am left wondering if this is just the lollipop?

For now I am adopting a wait and see attitude. I hope we get more lollipops. I was always fond of the grape ones.

Keith Howe

Todd_Reichman
08-28-2009, 03:50 PM
Alright, I should probably stay out of this completely but I have to ask. If as Keith states above the task force was formed to "find a way to revitalize competition" can we have some info from informed parties about what data was used to determine that revitalization was necessary? I guess it just seems like several folks are saying "there's nothing wrong with the system" or "we don't agree on what's wrong with the system" so I'd like to understand what was officially arrived at as the thing which needs to be addressed.

- trr

Linda_Gregory
08-28-2009, 04:18 PM
Todd,

You heard that right, the system works for a great many people but participation could be higher. How to get more to enter is-I think-the reason for the task force.

I don't know if participation is down, but so many DON'T enter. What would encourage them to do so?

Todd_Reichman
08-28-2009, 05:23 PM
I guess I see people saying participation could be better. How much better do they (who's they anyway?) want it? Does it need to be better? As is in there a financial ned to have more participation? I think I'm just trying to understand the specific root cause for wanting to analyze what's happening. I'm not a guy that subscribes to "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but I sounds like there is a root issue that the survey didn't make clear.

As far as what would encourage more people to enter I think that's been covered. Make it cheaper (probably not) make it easier to merit (probably not desirable) and more degrees or achievements (probably will dilute the process), etc. I think as Jeff pointed out education about the benefits is the only way to keep everyone happy and increase participation. I've often advocated more development and resources for aiding the in process of preparing the prints for entry.

What about creating more of an event for the judging. Where people went as spectators and there was more open critique and analysis of prints? I know that it probably gets a little more notice at WPPI because it happens at the convention and is rewarded immediately. Maybe giving people a reason to go to the judging (maybe a trade show, print specific seminars, round table analysis of loaned prints at the convention) would encourage people to take an interest and provide more opportunities to learn from the process. I'd be more interested in an event like that personally.

- trr

Betsy_Finn
08-28-2009, 05:45 PM
It was my understanding that the Korea + China PPA photographers have a low participation rate because of the cost to ship a print case internationally. Due to this higher barrier to entry, there are fewer international photographers entering than desired. Offering the digital option would give these international photographers a an opportunity to compete without having to pay exorbitant shipping fees.

But, we still return to the issues being discussed... whether the proposed changes would achieve this goal without diluting the value of print competition or devaluing the *printed* competition entry...

Linda_Gregory
08-28-2009, 05:54 PM
Betsy, That's a valid point concerning the international label. Everything is subjective but would it be possible to work with local (as in, this side of the world) vendors to have the printing done here? It is true the maker would not be able to okay the prints before judging and I'd seriously like some sort of standards for this..approved labs?? That would cut down on their shipping costs tremendously.

I know, I know...that's just one obstacle but hey, one at a time?

Betsy_Finn
08-28-2009, 09:14 PM
Then we'd encounter the issue of printing not being approved by the maker, I would think. Unless it was printed straight, with no density adjustments etc.

I wonder if there would be a way for the lab to print the image to match a proofing print airmailed to the lab. Would be less pricey than shipping the case.

Keith_A_Howe
08-28-2009, 11:29 PM
I don't know if participation is down, but so many DON'T enter. What would encourage them to do so?
Yes, participation is down.


I guess I see people saying participation could be better. How much better do they (who's they anyway?) want it? Does it need to be better? As is in there a financial ned to have more participation? I think I'm just trying to understand the specific root cause for wanting to analyze what's happening. I'm not a guy that subscribes to "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but I sounds like there is a root issue that the survey didn't make clear.

Well, at a certain point if there are not enough entries the case fees do not generate enough income to cover the cost of the judging. So yes there are financial considerations. More entries does amortize the cost over more cases with the end result being a lower case fee for everyone. But I have never heard that given as a justification for making changes. PPA & PEC have an obligation to the membership to be fiscally responsible. But that is never the driving factor. What's best for the membership is always the prime concern.

I agree with you that "if it ain't broke don't fix it" is not a good operating procedure. Just like we all do in our own businesses, even if something is working well and producing spectacular results, we still need to periodically re-evaluate to make sure there isn't room for improvement. Just guessing here but I suspect that declining entries were the early warning sign that something should be done, before it did become a problem.



What about creating more of an event for the judging. Where people went as spectators and there was more open critique and analysis of prints? . . . Maybe giving people a reason to go to the judging (maybe a trade show, print specific seminars, round table analysis of loaned prints at the convention) would encourage people to take an interest and provide more opportunities to learn from the process. I'd be more interested in an event like that personally.

- trr

All excellant ideas - and what already happens on the regional & state levels. What you are basically asking for to do this on the national level is a whole second national conference. Which then brings up issues of funding, schedualing etc that go along with any event of that magnitude The other option is to hold judging in conjunction with our current IUSA. That would open a whole 'nother can of worms. Just so you know, spectators are welcome at international judging. Heather Smith attended this year. Not every print is talked about, but I bet at least 25%-30% of the images that go through do get discussed. There is also the making of a merit print class that goes on at the same time as judging. While the class is a requirment to become a juror, it is open to any PPA member and many people take the class just to learn about competition. So your idea of print specific seminars and critical analysis does take place as part of that class. While there is no trade show, the other things you suggest are covered in some form.


It was my understanding that the Korea + China PPA photographers have a low participation rate because of the cost to ship a print case internationally. Due to this higher barrier to entry, there are fewer international photographers entering than desired. Offering the digital option would give these international photographers a an opportunity to compete without having to pay exorbitant shipping fees.


This idea occured to me several months ago. So I asked Ron Nichols directly. He told me that suggestion had never come up as far as a reason to offer a digital judging option. So I am guessing if foreign participation increased it would just be an added bonus.

Keith

Mark_Levesque
08-29-2009, 12:19 AM
Another possibility to reduce the shipping fees for the international entrants would be to send each country's entries together, obtaining bulk rates rather than n individuals each spending the single piece price.

Rick_Massarini
08-29-2009, 12:31 AM
Regarding holding the judging in conjunction with the annual convention, I would have to say that there would appear to be a lot of logistical issues in conjunction with doing that.

To understand the logistics, you need to look at the scope of the judging operation. The International judging takes 3-4 full days to complete while running between 4 and 6 juries at the same time and bringing in about 50 jurors plus volunteers to do the print handling. This requires a lot of space for the setup, judging and sorting of all these images. Since we use so much space (6 judging rooms, 3-4 critique rooms, large sorting area, plus setup office and storage areas) in relation to the number of hotel room nights that we would require, the cost of hotel space could be quite high.

For the last 8 years, the judging has been held at Colleges, in Sacramento, San Diego, Daytona, and this year at a college just Northeast of Atlanta. Prior to that, it was held in hotels in the Atlanta area and before that at the Winona school in Chicago. The judging is usually held at a location that is willing to allow PPA to use the space for a reasonable cost. Large areas of space and multiple rooms for judging, sorting, setup, and critiquing at a hotel or a Convention center for 5-6 days would be costly.

Holding the judging in conjunction with the annual convention would require a location where they could get the amount of space that would be required, and to hold this in a hotel or convention center area could be costly and could raise the cost of the entry fees. (I'm still reeling from the shock of the hotel fees and food costs associated with putting on our state convention this year - and that was only a three day event - how about a gallon of coffee at the hotel costing us $96. and a biscuit costing $5 !). So when you add up the cost of the space and the hotel rooms for the jurors, at a premium cost location - like where a convention would be held - the cost increase could be substantial.

A couple of other considerations...
- The national judging is an intense 4 days for 6 jury panels running generally 10 hours a day for 4 days, so if the judging were to be held at the same time as the national convention, it would run the entire length of the convention.
- If the judging were to be held during the convention, there could be no print exhibit since the prints would not have been judged yet.
- If the judging were to start just before the convention and be immediately followed by the convention, it would require the jurors who wanted to attend the convention to be away from their businesses for at least 9-10 days in one stretch.
- Some of the jurors are some of the same people who would be speaking at the convention, so they could not do both at the same time.
- Some of those who would be jurors might like to attend the convention as an attendee in order to learn a few things themselves and bring themselves up to speed on what's new, so they might not want to spend the entire convention judging.
- Getting volunteers to work the judging if it were to be held at the same time as the convention might be difficult as it would mean their missing the convention.

My suggestion for an educational opportunity is to plan to attend the national judging as a spectator, like Heather did this year. She got the opportunity to watch the judges debate the pros and cons of thousands of images over the 4 day period. She could watch prints being judged for Merit or watch merit prints being judged for Loan. She got to watch the wedding albums being judged and the Electronic Imaging competition too. The best educational opportunity you can get is to attend the national judging. You'll learn more during those 4 days about what constitutes an outstanding image than you can learn anywhere else in a year.

The suggestion to have the judging in conjunction with the national convention is a good idea, but it might turn out to be costly and a logistical nightmare.

Just my humble opinion, of course...

Betsy_Finn
08-29-2009, 01:13 AM
Hmm... that's an interesting idea Mark. I suppose they could theoretically get some volunteers to catalogue + package the prints in a shipping crate... and then ship the entire set of entries over. Of course, that would necessitate an earlier deadline for international than for U.S. entries. But probably would still be less expensive. I wonder whether that freight cost could be effectively divided.

Lol... maybe a more exciting option would be to hold the print judging abroad ;) -- then judges could get a nice vacation in too ;). (j/k)

Mark_Levesque
08-29-2009, 01:28 AM
Even if they sent the cases just as cases and not in a shipping crate, sending them all together should reduce the price. When you send one of something, you pay top dollar. When you send 100 of something, you get a much better price each.

Sarah_Johnston
08-29-2009, 04:44 AM
Lol... maybe a more exciting option would be to hold the print judging abroad ;) -- then judges could get a nice vacation in too ;). (j/k)

There is a judging in the spring in Korea. PPA judges have been invited to judge for at least a few years now. I would love to be invited for that panel!!

Todd_Reichman
08-29-2009, 06:03 AM
Hi Keith and Rick,

I know well enough to assume that there are good reasons why there isn't a second big PPA convention or a judging at IUSA. Having said that the question was how to get people more interested/involved in competition. And sure, I understand that folks can attend the acutal judging but its certainly not as evident or attractive as an option. I mean as it stands it feels like a judge's convention and classes for potential judges. Not the whole truth but probably how it feels to most. My only input was to find a way to make that event MORE attractive to participants. More classes, more critiques, more events for potential attendees.

I'm not taking the current system to task, just saying that it could definitely get more people interested and make the competition process an even more fruitful educational opportunity. Its probably the only thing WPPI has over PPA in regards to comp, I've seen it and people who had no idea that competition even happens definitely filter in and out and take a look at what's going on. Also, it makes for more buzz for the competition.

I know there are a ton of reasons why it won't work, what are the reasons that it will work or the potential benefits?

- trr

Rick_Massarini
08-29-2009, 06:04 AM
Hey Sarah,
I wouldn't jump too quickly on that panel - you know what happened to Sandy.... You just might get stuck over there... :D

Maybe you might be able to find someone on PEC to recommend you for that panel... :D :D :D

Rick_Massarini
08-29-2009, 06:44 AM
Todd,

I know that PEC is doing everything that they can do to get more people interested in print competition, and I know that there are PEC members who regularly monitor this forum and are looking for just those kinds of ideas, and every idea and comment is valuable - so keep them coming.

I wrestle with the same issues all the time - how do we encourage people to participate in the print competition. Even at our state print competitions, even with all of the promotion and encouragement that we do, we see a much smaller number of participants now than we did in the past. We're trying to turn this around by doing print competition seminars at our local guilds and we have even created an 8x10 print competition that we hold at our spring seminar just to get people excited. The number of participants, especially first time participants, was up this year at our state convention which was held just last week, so it's exciting that more are participating, but it is no where near the participation level that we had back in the 1980's and 1990's. It's been my experience that the more people that we can get to participate at the local level, the more will follow through on the regional and national level. I would LOVE to hear any ideas on how to increase participation in the print competition, because I would just LOVE to see Jim Dingwell totally inundated with print cases next year!

One thing that I've noticed is that a lot of people start out in this business thinking that they don't need to compete, that their work is unique and that no one would understand it so they couldn't really judge it - those people's daily work tends to stay at a certain level and never changes, then once they get started into print competition, and they start honestly comparing their work against their peers, they see that their stuff is not all that much more unique than anyone else's, they start comparing their work to what they see in the exhibits, and they immediately improve the quality of their day to day work - so the print competition has the effect of raising the overall quality standard of our art - always a good thing.

We had several newcomers participate this year and they did remarkably well, I believe that they have "caught the bug" and I expect to see their print cases at SWPPA and at national next year.

Any ideas, no matter what they are - throw them out - this is kind of a brainstorming area - so any idea you throw out may start someone else thinking and in a roundabout way, may give someone an idea that may work !

Also - please don't think that my post about having the national judging at the convention was negative in any way - I've just been helping there for a lot of years, and I just want people who have never been there to understand the scope of that judging - it is a mammoth undertaking... I also have another motive - I'm always trying to drum up interest in the national judging to get people to attend because it's a fantastic educational and networking opportunity (and you get to work with some of the nicest people in our profession) and I'm always trying to get people fired up to volunteer to come help us work at the judging as print handlers - once you get there, it's a lot of fun... or at least I think so... ;)