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mrbarton
11-03-2009, 12:02 AM
I have built my business on print competition in more ways than I can count. I use press releases, FB updates about scores. I have ribbons all over my studio and a bit of crystal. I have a bowling shirt devoted to competition. I also have a clicker that turns on a PPA lighting rig 5 feet in front of my desk at this very moment. Why? Competition has made me a lot of money and it has given me a strong name in my community. I have branded around it and it has given back. Perhaps I come off a bit negative here. Forgive that I just take all of this very seriously and it works if we make it work for us. I'm truly a positive kind of guy! I get a little twisted when negative things come around competition because I believe so strongly in it! I am a fan of the Gospel as well. I like to spread that so, let's spread the Gospel of Print Competition.

What say yea? I believe there are people out there that are in need of some print competition. Many people don't get it, don't know it, and don't see the value. I can honestly say I'm a poster child of how all of this works.

SO!!!! Let's spread the word! Education is key to making all of this work. Here's my challenge to everyone here.

1. How to we spread the word about competition?
2. If you are not entering, what can I do to convince you that it works?
3. I will volunteer John Metcalfe's hair to be shaved if we can see to it that numbers go up 25% next June at the International Print Competition.

Post all of your thoughts here.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 12:03 AM
I am full of many, many bad ideas. Let's start with an idea that may or may not be:

More competition classes and programs at all levels. Let's have people talk about what works, what doesn't, and most importantly what it's done for their business and their craft.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 12:04 AM
Another idea. Same vein. How about a panel of 5 of the top photographers in your region discussing the same and showing their best and worst scoring images?

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 12:05 AM
How about more articles about competition that can be passed around and posted in Affiliate magazines and journals?

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 12:06 AM
How about promoting mentoring small groups at the local level?

Todd_Reichman
11-03-2009, 12:09 AM
2. If you are not entering, what can I do to convince you that it works?


Gauntlet thrown...prove it will make me money.

Convince me as to why competition is a good way or even the best way to improve ability.

- trr

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 12:40 AM
Gauntlet thrown...prove it will make me money.

Convince me as to why competition is a good way or even the best way to improve ability.

- trr

It's a great way to improve your ability, as to making money, no. That has to do with sales and marketing. If you market your participation in print comp effectively, cool. It's no more valid than marketing your customer service, your hair color or anything else. If you can demonstrate a customer benefit, you can market it. :cool:

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:15 AM
The customer benefit comes in where you challenge yourself to stretch and create new work that is beyond where you are presently with client work. I created an album last year that went loan titled "Gerber Daisy". They were just little girls with flowers shot with one light and reflector. They were unposed. I set the images to a poem and then added overlays. I then sold $3000 worth of books in 2 hours. That was all completely free and clear of all the other money I made off each session. A complete up sell. I'm now working on 3 more collections. People really want to make more girls with flowers but now they have to pay for the full studio session. The fact that their girls are in an international traveling collection makes all the difference in the world. That's money, marketing, and I became a better photographer.

We live in a time where differentiation is harder than it's been in years. Frankly, descent images aren't enough anymore. This is an example of how I have used 1 entry to change my business and stand out. It's one thing to have client recognition, but peer recognition is a whole new level of respect. If you look at many of the studios that are succeeding these days they usually involve a "wow" factor. Awards are one way of doing that but honestly challenging ourselves to up the ante on our craft is where it's at. We have to be great to stay alive this day and age.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:20 AM
I might add I won the Canon Par Excellence Award for EI at Seppa the next month and was given a 5D Mark II, a lens, and a chance for one heck of a press release. I could pay thousands and not get what I get in free press from these.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:22 AM
Todd, there is not absolute way to improve or market. This one just works for me and can work for others.

Todd_Reichman
11-03-2009, 01:24 AM
Why is competition such a great opportunity to create new work? Why is client work not the place to do this?

Why is peer recognition worthwhile?

I keep seeing print competition touted as an answer to so many "problems" that photographers have (e.g. differentiation, growth, artistic satisfaction, challenge, success, etc). I suppose I'm looking to Michael and his enthusiasm for the subject to give me a reason why competition is so high on the list of potential ways to address these issues? Certainly, there are other ways to get to the heart of these issues, I'd like to hear why comp is the preferred way for some folks.

I guess it could be construed that I am taking this in a negative direction, which is not my intention - I just would like to hear someone's solid opinion on the subject. I get selling a product created and marketed on the notoriety gained through being entered in a competition. Doesn't really work for my business, but I get that. I'm just looking for more of the concrete and rating competition's value over other ways of growing, stretching, differentiating, etc.

- trr

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 01:26 AM
The customer benefit comes in where you challenge yourself to stretch and create new work that is beyond where you are presently with client work.



No, that's your benefit. :cool:

Todd_Reichman
11-03-2009, 01:26 AM
Todd, there is not absolute way to improve or market. This one just works for me and can work for others.

I was just looking for some ideas/examples of it working or being as valuable as you claimed. Your story about the flower/portrait book was a good one.

- trr

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 01:27 AM
I created an album last year that went loan titled "Gerber Daisy". They were just little girls with flowers shot with one light and reflector. They were unposed. I set the images to a poem and then added overlays. I then sold $3000 worth of books in 2 hours. .

2 hour session? 2 hour sale? :cool:

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 01:32 AM
We live in a time where differentiation is harder than it's been in years. Frankly, descent images aren't enough anymore.

For some reason, I have to keep disagreeing with you.... I think it's really easy right now. Customer service is so bad in so many industries, even average service stands out. Excellent service puts us in another league. I have nothing against getting better at your craft, I just don't believe it's that big a part of a successful business. I've seen too many average photogs making a mint, and great artists going broke. It ain't the picture, it's how you run the business. :cool:

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:35 AM
It IS my client's benefit! They will have all of their images for generations. Our prints last longer than our clients. If we are not shooting as well as we possibly can we are not doing our job. They deserve the absolute best we can give. If we stop believing that there is a high chance of burn out. They might also go somewhere where someone does believe it. Heck, I'd take playing Wii more than practicing here and there.

The sessions were 15-20 minutes and the unveiling was 2 hours and included the sale of the books.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:38 AM
Todd, I've got plenty more! I had a loan print titled "Bluesman" featured in Professional Photographer. It is framed in my studio with a copy of the magazine cover and page hanging underneath it. Not everyone gets published in an International Magazine for photographers. That makes an impression. I might add the subject is a member of 20,000 member church. He's featured not me. It's him in the image not me. More than anything it's just a really cool thing that happened for a great guy. No one talks more than church people.

Todd_Reichman
11-03-2009, 01:42 AM
Todd, I've got plenty more! I had a loan print titled "Bluesman" featured in Professional Photographer. It is framed in my studio with a copy of the magazine cover and page hanging underneath it. Not everyone gets published in an International Magazine for photographers. That makes an impression. I might add the subject is a member of 20,000 member church. He's featured not me. It's him in the image not me. More than anything it's just a really cool thing that happened for a great guy. No one talks more than church people.

OK, so that's the benefit of being published...is it better to be published through competition than being published through other means?

(sorry to press so hard, Michael! Unfortunately you have the dubious honor of trying to post a positive thread about getting people going in competition. I've been waiting for someone to illustrate some specific ideas as to the tangible benefits for a while and I think you might have some beneficial ideas for the people who are on the fence.)

- trr

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:43 AM
Stan, I never said we didn't need to learn how to compete. They have the AN-NE awards as well. We are in a period when photographers are popping up all over the place. We are also in a strange economic time. I am not going to take any chances! I'm going to make sure that I'm sharp at everything I can get my hands on. If we only enter competition we are going to fail rather quickly. There's far more to the equation.
As for marketing I'll take marketing great images over mediocrity any day of the week.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:45 AM
Todd, publish EVERYTHING!!! Do it all. Run press releases any time you get a chance. Carrots are really good for us. It we only eat carrots however, we'll die before too long.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:49 AM
Other money. Alright. I have a pretty good collection of award winning images that are going into an art gallery in an affluent community. They will be sold as individual works and also paired with portraits as a collection. In the art community, the more that can be talked about the better the odds of a sale. Photography is not just portraiture.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 01:51 AM
Another: "I can't wait to tell my Son that I booked a session with a Top 10 Photographer in Illinois". An exact quote.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 02:14 AM
I have used this analogy before and I think it works quite well.

Man people go to the gym to lift weights, run on a treadmill, and workout. They do so to stay healthy, look better, and live better lives. Many go every day, others once a week, there's lots of different philosophies. Frankly, it's hard to argue that gyms aren't good places to work out. All this said, there are hunters in Alaska that could kill even the most devout gym-goer with their bare hands. Many of these hunters have never even seen a gym! This being the case, does it mean that people should stop going to the gym? Does this make them any less valid?

Jeff_Dachowski
11-03-2009, 02:27 AM
Doesn't really work for my business, but I get that. - trr

Todd,
Your'e joking here right? Someone who is so gifted in a clear thought pattern, and someone who develops programs for marketing sales and execution of firm ideas does not see how press and acolades could potentially benefit your business? I am not saying this as an attack, I just doen't believe you could possibly be serious about it knowing you as little as I do.
Jeff

Todd_Reichman
11-03-2009, 02:43 AM
Todd,
Your'e joking here right? Someone who is so gifted in a clear thought pattern, and someone who develops programs for marketing sales and execution of firm ideas does not see how press and acolades could potentially benefit your business? I am not saying this as an attack, I just doen't believe you could possibly be serious about it knowing you as little as I do.
Jeff

Hey Jeff,

When I said "doesn't work for me," I was specifically referring to Michael creating a book from a client session, submitting and scoring with the book and then selling it to the client. I'm not sure how that would work with my business.

I recently submitted to a non-PPA competition and was named one of the Top 30 wedding photographers in the world. Sure, its been a significant benefit to me. Granted, any client can understand what top-whatever means. Explaining a merit or loan takes alot more explanation.

- trr

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 03:40 AM
Ah, a marketing tip from the Indigo book: Slow them down. The more time they spend in the studio, the more time they have invested in the end result. I've got time to explain what any of it means if they ask. They ask about the letters a whole lot as well. They are conversation starters. They are things for them to tell their friends.

Honestly, none of this is meant to be a something to copy directly. That's not the point. My goal is to inspire people to find their own way. I frankly love doing really cool stuff for my clients. I'm working on a book of the most inspiring woman 2 towns over. My Gerber album got me thinking of other projects that may or may not make it comp. It doesn't hurt to photograph the Mayor's Wife, Alderwoman, the DA, or other people of the sort from a town of 160,000.

If you consider the Top 30 thing. First off, congratulations! That's great. Let 'em know. There are plenty of other competitions out there. Enter them. Heck, learn anywhere you can learn. Gain recognition where ever you can find it. It is, however, our responsibility as PPA members to help educate photographers and build the businesses of others. To me, our competition is a way to do that. Let's face it, most of us go straight to the bio page when we are at a program. Sometimes, frankly, we do wonder if we are watching the same person! Ha.

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 07:10 AM
It IS my client's benefit! They will have all of their images for generations. Our prints last longer than our clients. If we are not shooting as well as we possibly can we are not doing our job. They deserve the absolute best we can give. If we stop believing that there is a high chance of burn out. They might also go somewhere where someone does believe it. Heck, I'd take playing Wii more than practicing here and there.

The sessions were 15-20 minutes and the unveiling was 2 hours and included the sale of the books.

A two hour sale? Not sure how efficient that really is.... As to your client's benefit, let's look at that. Your prints last longer than ? Other photog's? That would be hard to document, without a direct comparison. Your client's own prints? Maybe, for it to be a benefit, it would have to last longer than another artist. If we aren't photographing as well as ...we are not doing our job? What is your job? Mine is to create a portrait that my client will enjoy for generations. Print comp doesn't guarantee that. They deserve the best? I agree, the issue is, unless they go to you and another photog, they can't compare. How do they know? Your awards tell them you've done some good work, how do they know you'll do well with them? Sorry, it's not about your work, it's about how you care for your clients. It's about perception. If it's working for you, great, I'm not sure I'd sell the idea as a guarantee of good business. :cool:

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 07:13 AM
Todd,
Your'e joking here right? Someone who is so gifted in a clear thought pattern, and someone who develops programs for marketing sales and execution of firm ideas does not see how press and acolades could potentially benefit your business? I am not saying this as an attack, I just doen't believe you could possibly be serious about it knowing you as little as I do.
Jeff

Actually the press is great, the reason for the press isn't as critical. Name recognition could be from awards, or from getting arrested. After a period of time, folks recognize the name, likely don't remember why. The benefit of pr is tremendous, and can be acquired in a variety of ways. :cool:

Jeff_Dachowski
11-03-2009, 10:42 AM
Actually the press is great, the reason for the press isn't as critical. Name recognition could be from awards, or from getting arrested. After a period of time, folks recognize the name, likely don't remember why. The benefit of pr is tremendous, and can be acquired in a variety of ways. :cool:

Stan,
I agree with you 100% on this. That you do not need print competition to get pr, and specifiaclly good pr. The one thing that print competition does though, is it gurantees ( depending how many times you might enter various state, regional, national comps,) that you have something to use as a press release.

Jeff

Ron_Jackson
11-03-2009, 01:17 PM
This topic surfaces here on the forum every so often with fairly predictable replies. I have been following this thread since it began with intrest.

My thoughts are still the same as they were the last time this came up. I know that education in this craft is key. That education encompases everything from business and accounting to posing, composition and lighting. The photographic technical and artistic part of education can be enhanced through competition. I get that. However, competition just doesn't work for me and my reason is very simple. I can not make it to the various PPA sanctioned events to watch the judging and to speak with the judges afterwards. Currently as far as I know, the only judging that gives a judges critique via written form or DVD is Nationals. I entered SEPPA a couple of years ago and when the prints came back, I felt empty. It wasn't the scores at all, it was the fact I knew nothing more than when I sent them up there. I said before, it would be like taking a crucial 100 question test in med school and getting a score of 78 or 92 or 81 and not knowing what questions you missed. It's the knowing "why", that you learn from. Why did my print score the way it did. Doesn't matter if the score is 78 or 92, why did it get that score?

If I could get critique with every submission, I would enter all the time. I don't care about the ribbons or the press releases or even the peer recognition, I do care about the learning. I spend every day either working on client work or learning something. When I don't have client work, I will spend the extra time trying new things either with the camera or with post processing. I know for me to grow and become increasingly successful, I must continue to learn in every aspect of my business. I think competition is a great learning tool for those who have the time to attend and find out why their prints got the scores they did. When state and regional competitions change to a format such as nationals where I can get feedback without actually being there, then I too will participate.

Todd_Reichman
11-03-2009, 01:36 PM
I think Ron and I are on the same wavelength with regards to comp. Its not that we don't respect it, its that it seems to work magic for some and be less-satisfying for others. But, there are interesting things coming out of the discussion.

Personally, I don't feel creatively hampered at all in my client work, but some people do and competition gives them and outlet. I have gotten many things published this year and feel good about that, but some people use competition to get their work out there - great! I'm not too worried about chasing press releases because most of my work happens outside my local area, but for those dependent on the local market the press releases generated through competition can be very valuable. Some people feel very comfortable with self-learning and can grow on their own, some people like to use competition as a goal to strive towards.

I've heard a bunch of people say that competition is the best thing in the world, but if you ask them more specifically why they say just enter and you'll see. Some folks do enter and don't see, but I think some things have cropped up in this thread that explain some of the potential benefits.

I'd personally like to hear more thoughts on the peer recognition issue. I can see down the line if peer recognition leads to certain other things, but is it in and of itself so valuable? Just curious as to people's thought on the subject.

- trr

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 01:54 PM
I've heard a bunch of people say that competition is the best thing in the world, but if you ask them more specifically why they say just enter and you'll see. Some folks do enter and don't see, but I think some things have cropped up in this thread that explain some of the potential benefits.


I'm not sure if comp is the same now as when I was competing, I was lucky enough to belong to a local with some of the best photogs anywhere. I competed locally against folks like Victor Avila, who had more merits than I had hair at the time. I took second in portrait one month, Victor took first. My print went loan. Tough competition, you either quit or got better. We had master photogs judging our local, with very specific critiques. I learned a ton. The educational value really helped me develop as a photographer. I'm a big proponent of print comp for developing skills, it just isn't a substitute for business skills. :cool:

Keith_A_Howe
11-03-2009, 02:14 PM
I'd personally like to hear more thoughts on the peer recognition issue. I can see down the line if peer recognition leads to certain other things, but is it in and of itself so valuable? Just curious as to people's thought on the subject.

- trr

When you go in for a job interview the person hiring doesn't know you, so you dress appropiately, put together the best resume you can, show up on time etc etc, in short anything you can do to make a good impression. You are trying to tell the interviewer something about you before he/she even really gets to know you. When a potential bride comes for a consult, I assume you don't show up dirty and sweaty from just mowing the lawn. I assume wherever you meet it sets the scene for the impressione you want the bride to have of you. Again, you are doing everything you can to help her know something about you before she even has the time to get to know you.

My degrees tell other people something about me before they get to know me, in the same way the clothes I choose to wear, the haircut I get (or don't get) the bumper sticker I may have on my car - all clues to who I am before a person has time to get to know me. It's just one small part of who I am, so it's just one small clue. It's not the whole picture but it's part of the picture. How important those degrees are to what your peers think has mostly do to with what your goals are. What you hope to accomplish in this lifetime. For me the degrees were a by product of a different goal. Now that I have them, they act as an introduction and open some doors for me to accomplish some other goals. Someone who is a stranger to me, already knows something about me because of the degrees I hold. It's not their final impression, but it's a start. So to answer "is peer recognition important in itself?" - We could twist the words around and around and I would say it is crucial because that recognition lets me accomplish something that is important to me personally, to my sense of satisfaction and contentment with my life. You could counter that no, the recognition is not in itself important, it's that other goal that it leads to where the importance lies. We would both be right.

Keith

Jeff_Dachowski
11-03-2009, 02:44 PM
If I could get critique with every submission, I would enter all the time.

Ron,
I know you know this, but I will point it out. Every year you can enter the PPA international print comp, and get a dvd critique every time. I ask this not to be smart, but did you enter last year?
Jeff

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 02:44 PM
Stan, if you can tell me how to have a party for 70 people, unveil an album, and make a sale to each in under 2 hours I'm all ears.

There are still great photographers out there competing. Here's something to think about. I do realize I'm going to get an obscene amount of flack for stating this but here goes. An 80 is an 80. A 90 is a 90. A 76 is a 76. It is not about what everyone else scores. It's about the print on the rack. Everyone has a chance to score 100 every time. There are variables I agree but who cares who else is entering? When my print is up that's what I'm focused on. This year I entered 49 prints at different levels and had a merit level score on 47 of them. That is just shy of 96% accuracy. I say this not to brag but to point out that I don't honestly know too many people that can do that. I set high goals for this year in comp and failed twice. That sucks.

BUT, that is also to say that I can pretty much enter and merit at will by now. Cocky? Sure, why not, but that's not the point. I see differently and have learned what a merit print looks like. I print differently for my clients. I don't like small things slide and I do it all very quickly. I can see it in other people's work and I have a different set of eyes. If you look at my studio over the last 3 1/2 years it has changed radically. Say what you want about it but the fact is MANY of my friends are out of business. Many more are well on their way to going under. My business is still around. Do you honestly think that print competition did all of that? HECK NO!! (I censored that myself). I learned the business. I have a business plan and I work hard to keep that electric bill paid. I am going to take every step I can to make sure I am razor sharp for my clients. I am going to make sure they know my name and that my name stands out amongst my peers. Frankly, I'm going to make sure that anyone that opens a studio in my town knows I'm there first. We can't do what we used to do in this business. AND since people seem to get hung up on numbers I'll point out that I spent more time apprenticing before I opened my doors. I am a newbie. I am not kidding when I say it. It is a fact. Why then do we not get the newbie result? Discipline and education. This is not a time to take chances.

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 02:52 PM
Stan, if you can tell me how to have a party for 70 people, unveil an album, and make a sale to each in under 2 hours I'm all ears.

There are still great photographers out there competing. Here's something to think about. I do realize I'm going to get an obscene amount of flack for stating this but here goes. An 80 is an 80. A 90 is a 90. A 76 is a 76. It is not about what everyone else scores. It's about the print on the rack. Everyone has a chance to score 100 every time. There are variables I agree but who cares who else is entering? When my print is up that's what I'm focused on. This year I entered 49 prints at different levels and had a merit level score on 47 of them. That is just shy of 96% accuracy. I say this not to brag but to point out that I don't honestly know too many people that can do that. I set high goals for this year in comp and failed twice. That sucks.


That's why I loved competing against Victor, he never missed. Every print he entered hung. Party for 70? Never...you're working too hard.....I can sell a family portrait in 30 minutes, and gross a bit more than your two hour marathon. ;) You're obviously enjoying what you do, so I see no reason for you to do anything different. We all chose how hard we want to work, when I realized I could work a lot less and make more, I refined the system. As I said, if yours is working, more power to you. :cool:

Stan_Lawrence
11-03-2009, 03:04 PM
Do you honestly think that print competition did all of that? HECK NO!! (I censored that myself). I learned the business. I have a business plan and I work hard to keep that electric bill paid. I am going to take every step I can to make sure I am razor sharp for my clients. I am going to make sure they know my name and that my name stands out amongst my peers.

The real reason your business is doing well....you learned the business. That's the message the new photogs need to get. Pictures don't sell, you do. "My work sells itself" is usually followed by "would you like fries with that?" That's the thread I'd love to see.... working the plan..... :cool:

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 03:12 PM
The party for 70 was AFTER the original sale. It was in March and generated more buzz than I can imagine. It has brought in a long line of referrals. Take your gross, add $3000 on top and then add appointments to your calendar from it for 2 hours. This was 2 hours among a year with over 8000 of them I'd hardly say that I've given any insight as to the rest of my business plan. If it ain't your thing, no worries.

I appreciate all of the comments. It kind of feels like we have 6 people in a room with many not chiming in. The comments are great but we are only going to get so much out of 6 people. What I'm gathering is what I already knew. It's all about value. People are going to enter if they place value in the process. If they don't, they won't enter.

This is not directed toward anyone here as quite frankly plenty of reasons have been given. I have also not heard this comment made on this thread so again it's not directed toward anyone in the least. People these days spend a lot of time complaining about all the other photographers that are popping up all over the place and how business is really being damaged. This is of course coupled with strange economics. The funny thing is many of those same people are complaining about degrees and awards being BS. It seems to me that it's a pretty easy way to differentiate. Also when we go to competitions we get a really good look at what a lot of these photographers are creating.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 03:14 PM
The real reason your business is doing well....you learned the business. That's the message the new photogs need to get. Pictures don't sell, you do. "My work sells itself" is usually followed by "would you like fries with that?" That's the thread I'd love to see.... working the plan..... :cool:

Man, I am so with you. I wish more photographers understood that. It's kind of like going into an operating room and performing brain surgery before going to med school! Probably not a good idea.

Ron_Jackson
11-03-2009, 03:29 PM
Jeff you got me there! I had every intention of entering this year and was so busy I missed the deadline. However, I have already started a file of images for next year. Each time I create an image I think I might consider submitting, I put a copy in that file. This way, by the time we get to next year I will be way ahead. My bad this year but I will participate next year. Like I said, I wish the state and regionals offered this service then I would also enter those.

Let me put my analogy a different way regarding my reasons. I walk up to you and hand you a print. I ask you to give me your opinion. You put it in good light and study it closely. After a few minutes you hand it back to me and say 83 and walk away. What did I learn from that? I have no clue what you saw, what the strengths were or the weaknesses. I got a score and nothing more. If I want to improve my work, I would like more than a simple score. Tell me what's good and especially what's bad.

I will be a part of Nationals next year and that's a promise.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 03:38 PM
Ron, that's a very, very good point!! Many people around here say that there are too many challenges and that it takes too long. I'm not sold on that. I agree completely that more comments would help. How about an open image critique from the judges? I have been trying to get more interaction with makers in our local for a bit. Well played and frankly, very difficult to argue against.

Jeff_Dachowski
11-03-2009, 03:40 PM
Ron,
I fully agree that it is more helpful to have a critique in your hand, or have the ability to hear what the judges say versus not hearing what they say. In your case I encourage you to enter at nationals because it gives you exactly what you are looking for.

For me, I can usually attend my state and regional, but have never been able to attend a national comp. I have learned a lot from comp, and many times over, what I have learned has come from watching other entries get judged other than my own.

I don't subscribe to this idea that your clients don't know about your awards etc. I can't tell you how many times a bride who found me through a another bride mentions that her image won an award. I can't tell you how many times my portrait clients come in and know that a portrait scored well. I am not saying that this should be the end all to your marketing, just that if you put some time into competition, you will likely see your work improve, and it could give you a bunch of pr stuff throughout the year.

Todd, if the results dont matter to your clients, then why mention that you are ranked in the top 30 wedding photogs in the world? If they don't care..which I don't believe, then why tell anyone? BTW congrats on that!

Jeff

Jeff_Dachowski
11-03-2009, 03:43 PM
The educational value really helped me develop as a photographer. I'm a big proponent of print comp for developing skills, it just isn't a substitute for business skills.

Stan is making my point better than I in my last post.

Thanks Stan!


One thing to mention is that anyone who thinks they are done developing their skills once they get their Masters are kidding themselves.
Jeff

Ron_Jackson
11-03-2009, 04:49 PM
Ron,
I fully agree that it is more helpful to have a critique in your hand, or have the ability to hear what the judges say versus not hearing what they say. In your case I encourage you to enter at nationals because it gives you exactly what you are looking for.


Jeff as I said, I am planning already for Nationals. I would love to sit in on the judging to hear what they say about other's work but my schedule just hasn't allowed for that in the past. Maybe in the future but of course, business and clients come first. I never will stop or even slow down my learning process. I hae no particular goals to become a Master or anything else but I do constantly strive to learn and improve.

We have a small group locally that meets once a month to discuss every thing from lighting and composition to business and marketing. I look forward to those meetings. If I had a local affiliate a bit closer and had some masters in it, I might be more inclined to do that too. Both my local affiliates are just a bit too far for me to make the drive each month with my schedule.

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 04:57 PM
" The educational value really helped me develop as a photographer. I'm a big proponent of print comp for developing skills, it just isn't a substitute for business skills."

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

mrbarton
11-03-2009, 04:57 PM
We have to be a complete package. I can't agree more strongly with that.

John_Metcalfe
11-03-2009, 08:08 PM
I zoned out for a bit what were you guys saying?

Party of 6 going on in a room full of wall flowers? Is your package complete? Peers acknowledging you? Getting more of a critique? Got it.

Let's try the reverse.

Don't enter. Easier for me to win one of those chips at nationals.

Stay home. That way I can book my flight, hotel and meals sans getting bumped.

Don't speak out or participate and watch this all die.

John_Metcalfe
11-03-2009, 09:01 PM
No, I am not always pessimistic. But why do you think we are on this path?

example:

I function very well on my own, I always have.

Show me why I need to be a part of this.

Yeah that's fine, but it doesn't fit with the way I do things or work in my area.

I need a sign. Okay, I need another sign. That's great for you, but I need a better sign than that.

Cut to the chase and give me the answers.



Back to reality...


Honestly, I was paying attention.

We have a gift to give. Give it.

Michael_Black
11-03-2009, 10:41 PM
I won best wedding print 3 and a half years ago in SDPPA competition. To this day, people still mention that print and the Kodak Gallery Award. It helps that the paper ran it huge. I can't buy that type of advertising.

So what if I enter for purely vain reasons...

We generate some very cool images. It doesn't hurt to have the general public know that too.

Tss1203
11-04-2009, 01:04 AM
Hmm.. here is my opinion ;)
It is so easy for anyone to call themselves a Professional Photographer, easier than any other profession.
I feel the 'real' professionals need a way to stand out from the multitudes of High School kids w/a camera and a "love for photography"..... and yes, the H.S. kids are one of the biggest problems we have around here, not the MWACs. And why wouldn't they want to be a photographer? All you have to do is snap a shutter and have one client and you are a professional.

How does the profession move forward or evolve if there is no standard to be judged on? Without there being a standard bar to reach it all looks soooo easy. "Hey, she's a photographer and doesn't have degree! It must not be that hard". It isn't that easy to be a lawyer, or a doctor, or a nurse, or an accountant....you get the idea. It isn't that easy to be a professional photographer either, but it sure looks that way. And heck, if it wasn't so easy maybe I wouldn't be here.

I haven't competed yet. But even preparing my mind for the idea of competing is making me work harder. Reading the critiques on the forums has opened my eyes and I'm paying attention to details I never would have before. If no one ever tells me what I'm doing wrong, how will I ever know how to improve? Sure, I have my opinion, and my clients have their opinion. Should we be satisfied w/ Mediocrity as long as a client is paying?

I don't have a desire to compete for peer recognition. I don't look at Print competition as competing against other photogs, I look at it as scoring my own skill. It is important for our knowledge to be tested.

John_Metcalfe
11-04-2009, 01:27 AM
I like her... remind you of anyone else Michael?

mrbarton
11-04-2009, 01:55 AM
I'm an Amy fan!

Ron_Jackson
11-04-2009, 03:39 AM
I have an idea. How about PPA sets up a video feed at Nationals in each judging room. The camera could be suspended just over the center judges head and focused on the print. An omni directional mike would hang just below the camera to pick up judges comments. The camera is static and never moves off the print. No one to run the camera no one to do anything. We could stream the feed live through the PPA website. Anyone could log on during Nationals and watch any one of the judging panels live. This way thousands of people could witness the judging and learn from what they see. Including the possiblity of seeing their own prints come up. This technology is so easy and so available today. It would also promote competition and educate many as to the process and what they, including me could learn from the comments.

Todd_Reichman
11-04-2009, 04:06 AM
Todd, if the results dont matter to your clients, then why mention that you are ranked in the top 30 wedding photogs in the world? If they don't care..which I don't believe, then why tell anyone? BTW congrats on that!


Hey Jeff,

Trying to figure out what I said to make you think I said results don't matter to clients. Perhaps that I said that describing what a merit means to a client takes alot of explanation? I think the issue of what a merit is isn't necessarily wildly intuitive like "first place" or something like that does. If they can understand it then it certainly could matter to them.

Thanks for saying something nice. As stated, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that contest here. Obviously I'm not in the top 30 of anything and it was dubious to post as such. I typically don't put stuff like that up here and I regret having done it in this case. Many apologies.

Sorry to keep beating the deceased equine.

- trr

mrbarton
11-04-2009, 04:12 AM
Alright. Todd, I think this is a really good discussion here! Thank you and everyone else for the input. PPA is really about us and the other members. Why I'm addressing Todd is there is a really great point in there. I'll warp the words around and pose this simple question:

How do we get the general public to know more about PPA?

The way I see it, people would never go to an accountant that is not a CPA. Why can't we do the same for CPP, PPA, or the merit system? There are obvious answers as to why not! I'd really like to see the ones that aren't so obvious that make it possible.

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 07:04 AM
We have to be a complete package. I can't agree more strongly with that.

Actually we don't.... Excellent business skills with average photography will make a very successful business. Success at print comp really has a marginal effect on the success of a business, in fact far less than most believe. It's great for a photogs feeling of accomplishment, that's really the only viable effect most see. If you want to pr the awards/degrees, cool, or you can pr the charity work you do in the community. It will have the same result. If you want to be seen as the "expert", do seminars around town. That is also very pr able.... I like Ron's idea about the video feed. That would actually be a reasonable substitute for entering, you could just watch the comp and learn. Probably not as good as entering and seeing how to improve your work.... for someone just entering the field, or trying to build their business, the success formula would be 10% of your time on comp, 90% on business. :cool:

mrbarton
11-04-2009, 01:25 PM
the success formula would be 10% of your time on comp, 90% on business. :cool:

So for a photographer that spends 40 hours a weeks working and takes 2 weeks off for vacation (assuming that we keep normal hours which is a long shot) you are suggesting that those people put in 200 hours a year on competition? That's 5 solid weeks. Well heck, that would definitely get people more involved. I think PEC would be very happy with that indeed.

Jeff_Dachowski
11-04-2009, 01:42 PM
It's great for a photogs feeling of accomplishment, that's really the only viable effect most see.
Stan,
I think this part of comp is not usually touted as a valid reason, but I feel that it is, especially in newer photogs. We see large segment of our industry with very low prices, which is a result of poor business practices and low self confidence. When a photog merits a print, or wins an award, many times you see an increased sense of self worth, which follows in their minds a reason to charge what they are worth.

Jeff

mrbarton
11-04-2009, 01:50 PM
You will never get an argument out of me that photographers need to have much stronger business skills as a whole. We also have to be really careful how we use the word average. It meant something very different even 5 years ago. Average keeps dropping. That will change. My core belief is that Competition, business, self-assignments, seminars, teaching, and even marketing do not need to be compartmentalized. Nothing beats a strong business plan. I would take that over anything. It is my belief that the business always needs to come first. What we sell is not paper. We sell trust and we sell memories. I honestly believe that our clients have become as cynical as we have as photographers. Their standards have diminished for what I can see and they are being bombarded with fliers, emails, signs, and everything else people can come up with. They are also being surrounded by revolving photography businesses that have little hope to last more than a year until they are replaced by another. We are constantly being asked to "compete" with shotty business practices that do not factor into longevity. If we are to stay around why would we play that game?

It is getting harder and harder to stand out and frankly it's getting harder and harder to run a business. Rock solid business skills are the absolute most pressing issue. They are also what is missing in most of these new businesses. I have been reading these posts and frankly checking out everyone's websites. Even people that are skeptical here are using competition market. The value that is placed on these this may differ and that is okay. But if we don't put wood on the fire it will go out.

The truth is, the statistics say that the newer photographers are not entering as much as in the past. I might add that Stan's post a few pages back shows that competition made a dramatic impact on him earlier in his career. I'm not trying to single Stan out but frankly it's been the best example here so far. I started this thread to find out how to get more people involved in the process. It is my hope that we can come up with some fresh ideas that don't involve the standard responses and debates. We are not here to establish the virtue of comp as frankly it's already been done! What I've heard so far:

Increase the quality of entries
Increase the educational experience
Educate people on how to use it as a marketing tool (loose but it's there)
Make it more desirable to enter

This is a good start. We are not doing this for ourselves frankly, we are doing this for the next generation. This could be a benefit for people that are needing some refining I agree but by in large we are talking about photographers that do not have established craft or established businesses. I think we could definitely do more to work on both. For now, this thread is under print comp. Keep the ideas flowing:

How do we get more people involved in print comp?

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 01:53 PM
you are suggesting that those people put in 200 hours a year on competition? That's 5 solid weeks. Well heck, that would definitely get people more involved. I think PEC would be very happy with that indeed.

Sorry, I wasn't very clear. I was referring to time spent on education. :cool:

Jeff_Dachowski
11-04-2009, 01:56 PM
Explaining a merit or loan takes alot more explanation.

- trr


Hey Jeff,

Trying to figure out what I said to make you think I said results don't matter to clients. Perhaps that I said that describing what a merit means to a client takes alot of explanation? I think the issue of what a merit is isn't necessarily wildly intuitive like "first place" or something like that does. If they can understand it then it certainly could matter to them.

Thanks for saying something nice. As stated, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that contest here. Obviously I'm not in the top 30 of anything and it was dubious to post as such. I typically don't put stuff like that up here and I regret having done it in this case. Many apologies.

Sorry to keep beating the deceased equine.

- trr

Todd,
I think it was this first comment, in conjunction with other comments, and personal discussions we might have had. Truthfully it might be just a feeling that you feel that your clients would understand or recognize. the value. I want to tell you how I let my clients know about my success in print comp. I might tell them, " Have yo heard our big news? This year at the International print comp 2 of my images were accepted into the Loan collection. ( they say) Whats the Loan collection? " the loan collection is a grouping of some of the finest photography from all over the world, and the accepted images are published into book form" This obviously tend to hold some weight. It does not however make a sale, or make me more money. It does however support the theory that people make a decision and then make justifications to support it. This is just another justification that they made the right choice. Another might be the look of our studio, or our displays, or our marketing materials. They are all incremental justifications to continue to be a client, and not wander to another studio.

So....this is a tough question.....did you get the top 30 or not? I am confused. If you did not, I am not trying to rub you. If you did, again I can say hearty congrats!! to you Jaime.

Jeff

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 01:58 PM
Stan,
I think this part of comp is not usually touted as a valid reason, but I feel that it is, especially in newer photogs. We see large segment of our industry with very low prices, which is a result of poor business practices and low self confidence. When a photog merits a print, or wins an award, many times you see an increased sense of self worth, which follows in their minds a reason to charge what they are worth.

Jeff

As usual, Jeff, you make a good point. It illustrates a major flaw in our business education. When a surgeon graduates from med school, during his first year of practice, he usually doesn't tell folks "I'm just starting out, your knee surgery is on the house".... he charges what other surgeons charge. We, sadly, don't do that. We start out with very low prices, which gives clients a false impression of our worth as professionals. We really need to amp up the biz ed so photogs understand from the beginning what their value really is. :cool:

mrbarton
11-04-2009, 02:17 PM
Heck, the real problem is a surgeon doesn't start up at all. They spend their time working as a resident and building up confidence and building up experience. Photographers don't do that like they used to. The days of the apprentice are not entirely upon us. That's a very good point.

I might add though that the top surgeons spend time writing papers, working outside of their practice in order to gain fellowships that help their standing. They also study under the greats as a medal of honor. Heck, if we take it that direction I'm not going to go to an average surgeon! When my Wife had open heart surgery she went to the surgeon that is the best in his field. We had a 3 month wait and had to fit him in for one slot. The next available was 6 months later. The fact that he is absolutely at the top of his game made him a millionaire. Being the best surgeon out there is the best business decision he has ever made. People fly in from oversees with suitcases of money for this guy.

Ron_Jackson
11-04-2009, 02:23 PM
We start out with very low prices, which gives clients a false impression of our worth as professionals. We really need to amp up the biz ed so photogs understand from the beginning what their value really is. :cool:

Stan I get the gist of your statement however it is severly flawed. Doctors, lawyers etc. start out with a post graduate degree and many many hours of internship where they are watched closely, corrected, taught and graded on their performance long before they ever are allowed to open a practice.

The problem in our industry is anyone with any camera can simply say, "I am now a professional photographer and I am open for business." And they can do that without a single hour of training.

Tss1203
11-04-2009, 02:25 PM
haha, thank you guys :)

I agree w/Jeff's statement. I did not go to school and do not have a degree. I didn't apprentice w/anyone and have only been in the business for 2-3 years. My prices are as high as the all the other major studios around. I took a huge leap moving to my location and going full time when I did. I admit it was risky, but failure is not an option ;)
What I have found is there are plenty of clients that will come to me b/c I am different than the other guys. But there are others still who feel I'm too new and different and lack the credentials of the other guys and won't take the risk. Now, I understand it is my job to make those clients see what my value is, but it would also help if I found a way to work towards getting those credentials. Some clients are comforted knowing that their photographer is respected in their profession. And I don't disagree with them.

Besides that, I still go back to the fact I feel we all need some sort of standard to be judged on. Client opinion isn't the only one that matters to me.....but maybe it is for some. I'm not here just to make money, although that is very important. I'm here to provide my clients with the best images possible to capture their memories. If I have no standard to base that on, how do I know I'm providing the best image possible?

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 02:25 PM
Heck, the real problem is a surgeon doesn't start up at all. They spend their time working as a resident and building up confidence and building up experience. Photographers don't do that like they used to. The days of the apprentice are not entirely upon us. That's a very good point.

Maybe not.... I've had quite a few apprentices come through my studio, I just started a new one this week. [/QUOTE]

[/QUOTE
I might add though that the top surgeons spend time writing papers, working outside of their practice in order to gain fellowships that help their standing. They also study under the greats as a medal of honor. Heck, if we take it that direction I'm not going to go to an average surgeon! When my Wife had open heart surgery she went to the surgeon that is the best in his field. We had a 3 month wait and had to fit him in for one slot. The next available was 6 months later. The fact that he is absolutely at the top of his game made him a millionaire. Being the best surgeon out there is the best business decision he has ever made. People fly in from oversees with suitcases of money for this guy.[/QUOTE]

You said you wouldn't go to an average surgeon. How would you know? I'm guessing you haven't watched him operate, and you likely haven't gone to med school yourself. Let's see.... reputation (referrals) wait time (perception).... all marketing tools we can use without being the best in the world. Is he a millionaire because of his skill? Maybe, he could easily be a millionaire with much less skill. We all want to go to the best surgeon, not everyone gets to. It's really all about perception, isn't it? :cool:

Keith_A_Howe
11-04-2009, 02:27 PM
It's a great way to improve your ability, as to making money, no.


No, that's your benefit. :cool:


I have nothing against getting better at your craft, I just don't believe it's that big a part of a successful business. . . . It ain't the picture, it's how you run the business. :cool:


A Sorry, it's not about your work, it's about how you care for your clients. :cool:


The real reason your business is doing well....you learned the business. That's the message the new photogs need to get. Pictures don't sell, you do. "My work sells itself" is usually followed by "would you like fries with that?" That's the thread I'd love to see.... working the plan..... :cool:


Success at print comp really has a marginal effect on the success of a business, in fact far less than most believe. :

Stan,

No one is arguing that quality of work is more important then business skills. No one is trying to say that there aren't any other ways to get PR or develop a reputation. Just because we say competition can do some things for us, doesn't mean we think there aren't other ways of achieving some of those same goals. So why on a thread under competition, titled "How do we get more people involved" do you feel like you need to constantly point out why people shouldn't get involved or don't need to get involved? If you really want to see a discussion about "working the plan" then start that thread under the business section. Painting print competition as a less valid way to overall success does not automatically make other ways more valid. If competition does not work for you I am fine with that, but it doesn't mean that someone else's "mileage may vary" to use one of your phrases. We can all point out photographers who have done amazingly well in competition and went bankrupt. We can all name wealthy photographers whose work is what most professionals would feel is poor. To use those examples as reasons not to compete would be a form of predjudice, judging a whole group because of a few.


The gist of your posts is that people who know competition has improved their business are basically deluding themselves. Walk a mile in my shoes and then you can tell me that what I know from experience is actually a delusion.

Keith

mrbarton
11-04-2009, 02:33 PM
Stan, you make this WAY too easy. I know he's the greatest surgeon because he's won awards, he has peer recognition and press out the ying yang. My Wife is still alive because of him and there weren't too many surgeons that could pull off what he did. His staff talk about him. I also consulted a TON of other surgeons before we went and they ALL referred him. I value my Wife I went out of the way to find the best. All of this fits perfectly into our discussion that frankly you have contradicted yourself in about 17 times. Frankly you just made my argument for me!! Thank you! As a matter of fact, peer recognition is the VERY reason we went to that surgeon. It's one thing to know that he knows he's competent. It's another to know his patients know. For the some of the best doctors in the world to say it has another level of proficiency. He is truly a surgeon's surgeon. See? How does this tie into competition? You made my own point better than I could.

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 02:34 PM
Stan I get the gist of your statement however it is severly flawed. Doctors, lawyers etc. start out with a post graduate degree and many many hours of internship where they are watched closely, corrected, taught and graded on their performance long before they ever are allowed to open a practice.

The problem in our industry is anyone with any camera can simply say, "I am now a professional photographer and I am open for business." And they can do that without a single hour of training.

Not really flawed, Ron, you're looking at it from a reality standpoint, clients don't do that. Doctors have a measurable result, did the patient get better? did the patient live? We are not as measurable, it's much more perception. One person sees great photography, another sees garbage and they're looking at the same work. Everyone sees the problem as the newby buys a camera and now they're a pro. I see the challenge as real pros need to up their clients perception of them as a professional. It's not about the work, it's about how they go about their business. :cool:

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 02:37 PM
Stan,

. So why on a thread under competition, titled "How do we get more people involved" do you feel like you need to constantly point out why people shouldn't get involved or don't need to get involved?

I never said they shouldn't get involved, in fact I said just the opposite. And how did you do the multiple quote, that's really cool..... I haven't learned that, so this will take a couple of posts. :cool:

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 02:38 PM
Stan,

If competition does not work for you I am fine with that, but it doesn't mean that someone else's "mileage may vary" to use one of your phrases.

It did work for me, and I did say that. Keith, you're reading things into my posts that aren't there. :cool:

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 02:44 PM
Stan,

If you really want to see a discussion about "working the plan" then start that thread under the business section. Painting print competition as a less valid way to overall success does not automatically make other ways more valid. We can all name wealthy photographers whose work is what most professionals would feel is poor. To use those examples as reasons not to compete would be a form of predjudice, judging a whole group because of a few.


The gist of your posts is that people who know competition has improved their business are basically deluding themselves. Walk a mile in my shoes and then you can tell me that what I know from experience is actually a delusion.

Keith

I never said folks shouldn't compete.... don't know where you're getting that. You can collect quotes all day, it would be much more accurate if they were quoted in context. What you consider to be the "gist" of my posts just isn't very accurate, I must not be communicating very well. Walk a mile in your shoes? If you mean compete, I have. As I said, it did me a lot of good in improving my work, although most of the education was at the local level. I feel I have some valid points, you obviously disagree. Happy to leave the thread if that will make you happy. :cool:

Jeff_Dachowski
11-04-2009, 02:57 PM
Stan,
I don't want anyone to leave this conversation. .... well maybe Metcalfe

Jeff

Ron_Jackson
11-04-2009, 02:58 PM
Stan a comparison of a doctor to a photographer just doesn't work for me. By the time a doctor opens his or her first practice, they have had how many years of school and how many hours, weeks, months, years as a resident before they even get a license to practice on their own? These people didn't go to Walmart and buy a Doctor's kit then start trying out different things on their own and open a practice. Anyone with any camera can open a photography business and have zero experience.

As has been pointed out here more than once I believe, print comp can be a great learning tool especially for those with no formal training and just starting out. Obviously, it is a great tool as well for those more advanced. Look at Keith. Keith now does things for print comp to challenge himself to do things he hasn't done before. I have no idea but my guess is that Keith might not have gone "loan" with his first print comp. I would also guess Keith learned something from that first print comp that helped him later on in both his business and his next print comp.

Bettering one's product is always a good thing no matter the product. Good business skills are essential but if you are not constantly striving to improve your product, your competitor is and if his or her business skills are on par with yours, you might lose out.

David_A._Lottes
11-04-2009, 04:10 PM
OK if anyone is welcome I have a couple of thoughts.:rolleyes:

Telling your clients you earned a merit is not, as Todd pointed out, as compelling as telling your clients you won something. Terminology is a PR problem for PPA Print Comp. First of all it really isn't a competition. It's an evaluation. Big difference. The submissions that meet the criteria for the evaluation are displayed in the exhibition. "Earned a Merit" is an inside the beltway phrase to quickly tell another PPA member one of your submissions was included in the exhibition. It's a weak communication tool for your clients. "Went Loan" is another example of something that doesn't translate well to non-PPA members. "Master" and "Certified" works with most people. They know what those things mean in other aspects of their lives. Terms like "Earned a Merit" or "Went Loan" may be conversation starters but people glaze over in 30 seconds or less. If you want more involvement one way to achieve that may be through better public relations pieces supplied to members who don't themselves really understand what they've accomplished. Preferably fewer than 140 characters and not using "shop-talk". Most people do not know what a juried exhibition is. They don't understand that just having a print excepted is an achievement.

Using statistics might have been very helpful for me. Over the last couple years that I was in business (I'm officially a civilian this coming January) I started using social networking tools and learned some new things about my clients. I always kept records of where they lived, what their phone numbers where, who refereed them etc. But, tools like Linked-In, Facebook and MySpace gave me more information on who my clients really are. Most of the couples I've photographed are academics (professors) or scientists working in an academic environment. I knew the University of Illinois was my number one source of young couples getting married but until I saw their personal lives on the web I didn't know they were all a bunch of eggheads. Now that I understand this I think entering and being excepted could have gone a long way to build credibility with my base in their online networks. If I could have given them hard numbers as tweets, status updates etc. Something easy for them to share with their social network. I kinda lost interest in PPA comp when I moved away from a small town where everyone read the local paper. Until now I couldn't figure out a way to replace that stream of free publicity from PPA involvement. I think PPA members, PR/Marketing efforts should be geared more towards social networking.

For example post this as a status update on facebook:
Professional Photographers Annual Print Evaluation Complete!
Of the 20,000+ eligible to exhibit images "Your name here" is one of the 5% who's image/s met the standard of excellence required to be included. For more information click here:

Then link here to more about your image/s or the competition or your studio etc.

Bottom line is I think the challenge of educating clients and photographers about the competition is a failure to communicate. Both in targeting the audience well and using the right words. For some the newspaper might still be a viable option for others a twitter and others, their church news bulletin. Just depends on your business model.

On a personnel note I'm having my best Autumn in twenty years, I've had all my weekends free since September. Hiking, fishing and playing with my new Siberian Husky. So as tempting as it might be for me to enter some new prints to see how I'm doing......I having too much fun to worry about it.:)

Todd_Reichman
11-04-2009, 05:41 PM
Todd,
I want to tell you how I let my clients know about my success in print comp. I might tell them, " Have yo heard our big news? This year at the International print comp 2 of my images were accepted into the Loan collection. ( they say) Whats the Loan collection? " the loan collection is a grouping of some of the finest photography from all over the world, and the accepted images are published into book form" This obviously tend to hold some weight.

Good for you, Jeff. I'm happy that it works for you. I haven't figured out a way to say that kind of thing without feeling like a bragging jerk. I guess I don't have the confidence to make those kinds of claims, so I keep them to myself. A better person than I would make good on those achievements.


So....this is a tough question.....did you get the top 30 or not? I am confused. If you did not, I am not trying to rub you. If you did, again I can say hearty congrats!! to you Jaime.


Yes, Jamie and I did each individually make Top 30 in this particular competition according to this particular group. However, its not a designation that bears much credibility in these parts. No one would accuse me of being in the Top 30 of anything.



Telling your clients you earned a merit is not, as Todd pointed out, as compelling as telling your clients you won something. Terminology is a PR problem for PPA Print Comp. First of all it really isn't a competition. It's an evaluation. Big difference. The submissions that meet the criteria for the evaluation are displayed in the exhibition. "Earned a Merit" is an inside the beltway phrase to quickly tell another PPA member one of your submissions was included in the exhibition. It's a weak communication tool for your clients. "Went Loan" is another example of something that doesn't translate well to non-PPA members. "Master" and "Certified" works with most people. They know what those things mean in other aspects of their lives. Terms like "Earned a Merit" or "Went Loan" may be conversation starters but people glaze over in 30 seconds or less. If you want more involvement one way to achieve that may be through better public relations pieces supplied to members who don't themselves really understand what they've accomplished. Preferably fewer than 140 characters and not using "shop-talk". Most people do not know what a juried exhibition is. They don't understand that just having a print excepted is an achievement.

Thanks David - stated better than I. I like PPA and their comp is very credible - but the terminology doesn't translate as well to the outside world. Having said that, "Master Photographer" ought to work better than it does.

- trr

John_Metcalfe
11-04-2009, 07:12 PM
Stan,
I don't want anyone to leave this conversation. .... well maybe Metcalfe

Jeff

Fine, Jeffrey...

You will have your wish.

But until then, I will continue to be a voice of reason for the anticlimactic and the unappreciative.

Stan_Lawrence
11-04-2009, 10:54 PM
Stan,
I don't want anyone to leave this conversation. .... well maybe Metcalfe

Jeff

Jeff, I appreciate the sentiment, when someone goes to that much trouble to find quotes...well, it's just not a good sign. I've made my point.....:cool:

Michael_Black
11-04-2009, 11:24 PM
I suspect that when the new regional judging goes live we will have almost no submissions from our state association. They won't be able to watch the judging like they have in the past without having to travel long distances. This isn't my opinion but from one of the long time masters in our association.

John_Metcalfe
11-05-2009, 01:47 AM
No, it isn't a good sign.

And I hope that was meant towards me.

Kinda funny though, cause 6 or so of you have been quoting and analyzing the bageezus out of each other for 8 pages....

John_Metcalfe
11-05-2009, 01:53 AM
Having the regionals move around to different locations with those states bidding for certain years will cause some disturbances also. (Yes), live bodies in the judging room will decrease, but maybe the state's yearly conferences will see an increase if they play their cards right! What do you think?

mrbarton
11-05-2009, 02:00 AM
It's actually kind of funny to watch. Not that you ask for it Mr. Metcalfe! What is this thread about anyway?

Stan_Lawrence
11-05-2009, 02:25 AM
No, it isn't a good sign.

And I hope that was meant towards me.

Kinda funny though, cause 6 or so of you have been quoting and analyzing the bageezus out of each other for 8 pages....

No, it wasn't referring to you. :cool:

John_Metcalfe
11-05-2009, 02:55 AM
Pleez do tell then. For obscurity, double talk and innuendos are not my forte.

okay maybe they are...

And to answer your question MB, this thread is about speaking on the positive points concerning competition and finding ways to get more people to compete.

How's that working out so far? (can you spell dysfunction?)

carrbowl
11-05-2009, 02:52 PM
From my perspective, print competition throws those people that are VERY good with those that are learning. I don't have a chance in you know what of doing anything in print competition...I have so much to learn. It will probably be at least 4-5 years before I feel like I could even put one in competition to start learning what I need to do to win. JMO

Todd_Reichman
11-05-2009, 03:16 PM
From my perspective, print competition throws those people that are VERY good with those that are learning. I don't have a chance in you know what of doing anything in print competition...I have so much to learn. It will probably be at least 4-5 years before I feel like I could even put one in competition to start learning what I need to do to win. JMO

This is an interesting point and one I hadn't considered. Do you all think it might be very intimidating for folks that haven't entered that the people who are most vocal about encouraging people to enter are also the folks that are particularly successful at it? Kinda like Michael Jordan asking you to play a pickup game? Before anyone applauds the opportunity to play with MJ or how he makes people "raise their game" remember that any 2 entrants (at least at the national level) will likely never come into contact.

Another reason why I'm with David on the nomenclature. Its not really a competition and labeling it that way may scare off the target market.

- trr

Christine_Walsh-Newton
11-05-2009, 03:16 PM
I'll jump in here to give my brief 2 cents worth...

I joined the PPA in 2008.

In order to try and set myself apart from the numerous competitors in my area who buy a digital camera and are suddenly in business, I decided to try and be as professional and technically competent as possible.

My goal for 2009 was to attain the CPP designation, which I did in May, 2009.

My next goal was to begin entering print competitions. I'd like to get my Master's, so this is part of the process. I also thought that entering competitions would help me improve my skill level. I shoot/process MUCH differently now than before I went through the CPP process, so I figured the competition process would help me even more.

I just joined the PPO (Ohio) and will be entering the digital competition at their Fall Conference next weekend.

In a nutshell - I'm scared. It's hard to put yourself out there publicly. I was scared during the CPP image submission, but that was a more private thing and no one but a handful of judges would know what my work looked like. I was ecstatic when it passed muster on my first attempt. Putting work out there against a large number of pros is pretty scary.

I don't have high hopes of doing anything merit-wise in competition for a number of years - but I'm confident that the process will be a good learning experience. The digital competition I'm doing right now comes with a Master's critique of my entries - so that's mainly why I'm doing it.

I'm hoping that the critique will help me refine my entries for the MES regional in 2010 and then I can go forward to the National Competition after that. The main downside is the expense for prints/cases/entry fees and the fact there's no way I'd be able to trek to the National competition in order to observe the judging.

I don't know if it will help me customer-wise in the long run, but I know it will help me personally, so that's why I'm doing it.

Ok, that wasn't so brief - sorry. Just thought you might want a newbie perspective. :)

carrbowl
11-05-2009, 03:26 PM
Christine, I whole heartedly agree with you about it growing you as a photographer also, and I think when you start earning awards, it will also get you customers. But I am still behind you on the scale, I am still trying to get my CPP. So maybe I need to be more patient!! :) But it would be nice to have a beginners or maybe some sort of way that you can enter prints for lets say a certain number of times as a beginner. Lets say 5 times. So when you enter for the first 5 times, the judges know that print is a "beginner" and they may choose to give extra critique or some extra "help" to that person to help them in their photography. I took what I thought was an awesome photo. Two good photographers looked at it, one said it should have been sharper and one said with a little PP it could be really good. I'm concerned I will get this feedback from a print competition...I know whats wrong, but now how to I fix it? Am I just looking for print competition to do too much???

Christine_Walsh-Newton
11-05-2009, 03:49 PM
Renae -

The thing that helped the most in the CPP process was finding a "mentor". I found someone (a CPP) who was willing to go through my possible entries and critique the heck out of them. After the first round of critique, I pulled out photos, added more, tweaked ones that just needed a little attention and gave her a new gallery to look at. We did this 4 times! In the end, I had a collection of my 20 best to submit.

I'm going to try and do the same thing for competition entries. The biggest studio in the area is owned by a man with both his CPP and Master's. We met last week and talked. He no longer competes, but has gone through the judge's training and offered to go through potential entries with me for critique to help me out.

Without belonging to the PPO, I would not be able to enter regionally and would be forced into only competing at Nationals, which I think would pretty much be a suicidal move for someone not familiar with competing (like myself). Maybe later on, after having a few years of competing under my belt, I would feel more comfortable doing so - but not right now.

So anyway - I highly recommend finding a mentor to help you through the process. Don't just slap it up in a number of forums looking for input. I also wouldn't ask another photographer who isn't in the PPA with competition/judging experience under their belt.

Of course, I've never competed, so I could be full of $hit, but this is my opinion at the moment.

Edited to add: I have to say I disagree with your idea of a special beginners designation. I want to be judged on the scale that everyone else is. Yes, I will not do as well as people that have competed before, but I don't want the bar lowered for me because I'm new. Mustering up the courage to face this challenge is hard - but I WILL do it.

I believe there is a way to get input on entries or critiques on DVD, so I don't think you have to be "special" to get that.

Todd_Reichman
11-05-2009, 04:02 PM
Numerous times in the past I've advocated for a formal, PPA-sponsored mentoring program. Could be a great stepping stone on the path to becoming a certified judge or whatever its called - putting in so many hours or whatever towards mentoring? I think it would be great even if it was a paid service. There is a barrier of entry and a learning curve to entering and anything that can be done to alleviate that would likely result in increased participation.

- trr

Louise_St_Romain
11-05-2009, 04:22 PM
Sometimes you just have to do it ... the first print competition I entered was Nationals (nothing like going off the deep end right away) and made sure I ordered the critique (which Keith Howe very kindly gave; I cringe a little when I look at those first entry prints now ... ). At that point, the only pointers on competition that I had were some comments D.Craig had emailed me and encouragement from the same. I learned a lot from that experience and I do see a difference in the work I do now as oppose to several years ago.

Christine_Walsh-Newton
11-05-2009, 04:27 PM
I think a mentoring program would be beneficial. I know *I* would be interested in participating (as a mentoree).

I think the hard part would come in when a mentor is faced with mentorees/submissions that would not pass muster no matter how much work was done to them. At competitions, I imagine judges comments are fairly limited. As a mentor, a judge-in-training would be faced with providing extensive input and being able to deliver that input in a tactful way. This might not be the skill-set that most would-be judges possess and requiring them to do this as part of their judge's training might limit members that decide to go through the training.

mrbarton
11-05-2009, 05:13 PM
It is truly important to know that we are not competing against anyone. Each print stands alone and each print has a chance to score 100. When I enter, the only pressure I have is against myself. At the state level, if I do not win Photographer of the Year I didn't lose to anyone except myself as well. It has nothing to do with the "other guy". The fact is we should celebrate each other more.

Cassandra_Sullivan
11-05-2009, 07:42 PM
Exactly, Michael!
Also the judges, nor the spectators know whose image is up there being judged. The judges don't know if it's a beginner or what (especially with the new size rule). They may be able to 'guess' but they'd never say anything. They just give a score...maybe discuss it a little bit if any judge feels strongly/different about the average score. Simple as that. It's not intimidating at all....it's practically anonymous! My state convention does display the prints after competition, and then you can get a more personalized critique from the judges if you choose to do so. But otherwise you're not competing against anyone but yourself.

I'm thinking maybe the biggest thing PPA can do is rename it to something other than "Competition". Maybe just call it "Judging" or "Evaluation" or something like that?

mrbarton
11-05-2009, 07:57 PM
We judge the print not the maker

Stephanie_Cunningham
11-08-2009, 10:16 AM
I entered my first print comp this year (after I finally passed & got my CPP...figured out of one pan and into another!) I hadn't felt anything I had might be worthy of a decent score. I was actually encouraged by Joe Bruch who saw a couple images and asked what score I had gotten on them...huh?!?! Hadn't entered. he told me to just do it. I got some advice from some very good friends (at the Indigo forum) and decided to go for it. My print scored an 80 and serving on the print committee at our TEP, got to be the fly on the wall to hear the judges hash it out between my print and another good friend for Best Portrait. I don't know if 80 is considered an award, but I felt it was nothing to sneeze at!
I think if newer people don't enter, it may be because they are afraid to take the chance. Putting your work up there for the first time is unbelieveably scary. I believe it helps when local chapters have mini workshops on print competition basics with evaluations. No pressure from judges, just real feedback on working prints.
Just some thoughts from a finally got her feet wet comp newbie....
Steph

carrbowl
11-08-2009, 10:00 PM
Christine, I'm not so much looking at a beginner area, as I am maybe a just a way for a beginner to see how the process works and try it one time and get some feedback. I think a mentor is a great idea.

mrbarton
11-09-2009, 01:34 AM
Viva La Crossbones Steph! (It's an Indigo thing. Proof that subculture works!)

Cassandra I think you have made a good point about "competition". I think that gets lost in the shuffle. There's the whole "I'm going to take that person down" attitude that is not exactly the point. Personally, it's been a good year for me. I thought I couldn't top last year and here we are. I am also seeing the fruits in many other parts of my life. I used to be a distance runner. It's been awhile since I was in racing condition but it's the same thing. You run against yourself. Everyone runs for different reasons. To this day the discipline I learned from running has carried over to so many other aspects of my life it's countless.

I must say though I find it strange that people (myself definitely included) need to have quantifiable results before they believe anything. We do not walk by sight alone. All I can say is that this all works for me. I get out more, I shoot more, and frankly I think differently. Those are all things that have a positive impact on my craft and my business.

Just like running, every print is a new chance for a personal victory of a new kind.

Rick_Massarini
11-09-2009, 02:45 AM
... There's the whole "I'm going to take that person down" attitude that is not exactly the point...


Along the same path of thought...

I know that it has been said many times before, but education of our members as to how the whole process (at the national level) works is probably our biggest hammer, and possibly the only tool that we have to get people involved.

I have had a lot of new members tell me that they don't think that they would have a chance of winning in a National competition. They tell me things like ... "with all those photographers out there, what chance would I have of winning anything." The key word here is the word "winning". Most of our members only perspective on print competition is from their state or local print competition where they focus on competing against each other for those coveted three awards in each category (First, Second and Third Places). When I explain to them that they aren't competing against all of the rest of the 23000 members of PPA - that they are competing against a "standard" and basically against themselves, their whole opinion of the national judging changes. Suddenly, the "PPA INTERNATIONAL JUDGING" suddenly becomes "the ppa international judging". What was once imposing is now approachable.

Once they understand that on an international level that PPA is not just giving out a first, second, and a third place, and that the competition is about achieving a level of proficiency and not about winning a chunk of wood to take home and hang on the wall, suddenly, the idea becomes "participating in the judging" instead of "entering the competition". They suddenly realize that they are competing with the top photographers in the world and not against them, and suddenly, the whole competition/judging becomes much more approachable. It has worked for me to get some new members interested - not as many as I would like to have gotten fired up, but I am seeing more interest now that the newer members understand the whole process better.

Christine_Walsh-Newton
11-09-2009, 12:06 PM
Well, I've always understood the process. I know I'm not competing against anyone but myself. The thing that kept me from entering in the past is because I didn't have the confidence that my work was good enough to score above a 69 (for affiliate judging).

mrbarton
11-09-2009, 02:14 PM
I don't even want to talk about my first year of comp. It was BAD. I have witnesses. It was the second year that I decided along with a group of friends to turn things around. That was 3 and a half years ago. It worked. I think a big part of it is also getting connected with a network of people that can help. You hear that a lot here. You want network, however, that will not rob you of the education. Some people are looking for someone to pick the 4 images, tweak them, and then send them to the printer. May sound a bit over the top, but I assure you it's true. What is learned then?

John_Metcalfe
11-09-2009, 06:57 PM
I don't even want to talk about my first year of comp. It was BAD. I have witnesses.


It's true. You could see and smell smoke...

I was watching rather closely then...

To say he was determined to excel at this would have been an understatement.

Tss1203
11-09-2009, 09:08 PM
oh good, I was starting to worry that this thread had died :) I always love a good debate!

John_Metcalfe
11-09-2009, 09:44 PM
It did die. But that's okay... it can be brought back.

Amy,

I can't speak for others on here, but MB and I rather enjoy this competition topic and the effects this change will have. It is a daily discussion for us.

Plus, any time there is even the least bit of commotion going on that's where I am the most comfortable.

John_Metcalfe
11-09-2009, 09:47 PM
Amy,

Have you considered getting a skull & crossbones bowling shirt?

Tss1203
11-09-2009, 10:58 PM
lol, haven't thought about it, but maybe I should ;)

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 03:06 AM
Yes, it's actually all kind of about a bowling shirt! Sad, but true. There's a rather long list of things that have happened in 2 years but frankly it all comes down to finding a good group of people that are all about supporting each other and holding each other accountable to our goals. It can get a bit scary at times! The year's awards aren't over yet. Next year will be even better, starting in January.

Tss1203
11-10-2009, 11:33 AM
Yes, it's actually all kind of about a bowling shirt! Sad, but true. There's a rather long list of things that have happened in 2 years but frankly it all comes down to finding a good group of people that are all about supporting each other and holding each other accountable to our goals. It can get a bit scary at times! The year's awards aren't over yet. Next year will be even better, starting in January.

so there really is a bowling shirt? lol!

I do wish most photographers stopped competing with each other so much and started supporting each other. I think a great support system is an amazing thing to have in this business. We all need others to push us to be our best. It's too easy to get stagnant in this industry, which is a surprise b/c photography is ever changing.

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 02:10 PM
There is a bowling shirt! It did really turn pretty much everything around for a handful or people and really will do it for more. It's like the Matrix though. You have to ask! Ha. I think the companionship, mentoring, and grass roots efforts of a photographers are waning in a lot of ways. Don't get me wrong, it's still there for some. We have been overwhelmed with information and are inundated with opportunities these days. It's hard to know which ones will work. You know the expression "Birds of a feather flock together?" They never told you that you can hand pick your flock! Perhaps is sounds elitist but the truth is many people surround themselves with negative people that are not getting anything done. Why?

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 02:18 PM
Here's something I was thinking about last night. It needs work in my brain but how many products do we see anywhere haven't changed in 30 years? Coke Cans are different, computers, cars, television shows, clothing. That just scratches the surface. Do you notice that many photographers that are struggling are doing things the exact same way? People are still teaching the same way they did 30 years ago and it's losing it's impact and the results are not the same. Many people are trying new marketing ideas that aren't working. A believe a big part of that is that the photography hasn't changed in many. Let me tie this into print competition. What's missing? Impact. I get in trouble for saying this but if you have no impact with your images, your business, your marketing, and many more. Why do great commercials get pulled? They lose impact. Ever wonder why it's on the top of the list of the 12 elements?

Stan_Lawrence
11-10-2009, 02:26 PM
Do you notice that many photographers that are struggling are doing things the exact same way? People are still teaching the same way they did 30 years ago and it's losing it's impact and the results are not the same. Many people are trying new marketing ideas that aren't working. A believe a big part of that is that the photography hasn't changed in many.

Interesting point..... let's see, you said that photogs are struggling doing the same thing.... many are trying new marketing ideas that aren't working.... so the new marketing doesn't work because the photography is dated? Just trying to understand your thought.... :cool:

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 03:06 PM
We are in a changing market. It's not enough to simply use new marketing ideas. There needs to be impact in our work. Our marketing needs impact as well but that's not enough. I have been talking with several people that are trying to get a handle on marketing through Facebook as example. I have just started using this tool and have had overwhelming success. Others have spent 20x more money with no results. The point is when it all comes down to it we are still photographers and our work still has to drive the ship. I am not saying that we need to throw out tradition or lose rules entirely BUT impact changes, shifts, moves. I think it's important to be literate in what is current, what is consistent, and what is to come. People are looking for something different in a photographer these days. We need to offer that or we are not serving our clients. Business is pretty simple: Give the client what they want. We can market until we blue in the face using the most effective, trendiest methods but if we are not serving what the clients are looking for we are not going to survive. NOW, if what used to work is still working Hallelujah!!! It would be foolish to change!! Worth noting, that if are strong enough in our business and in our craft we can actually change what clients want to a certain degree. This is true, but free will is still something to contend with.

If we tie this back into Print Competition (which, honestly, we don't have to) here's what I think is the most important part of what happens. More than judging against a standard (which is important), we are responsible for creating a gallery that is not about where photography is so much as where photography is going. To prove this, consider how many conversations on here have revolved around the fact that people do not like the direction things have gone or where they are headed. The reality is we can't change that direction without being an impactful part of it. (I think that's a made up word) It is our job to shape the future of this industry. Sadly, if you look at the stats it's being shaped wether we like it or not.

Stan_Lawrence
11-10-2009, 03:49 PM
"If we tie this back into Print Competition (which, honestly, we don't have to)"

Cool, let's talk marketing and then get back to pc.

"We are in a changing market. It's not enough to simply use new marketing ideas."

Or use really old marketing ideas that still work very well. Social marketing can be effective for seniors and weddings, for families, maybe not. A lot of folks try to put new names on old concepts, basic marketing hasn't changed a lot in the last 20 years, most photogs never bothered to really understand it.

"Others have spent 20x more money with no results. The point is when it all comes down to it we are still photographers and our work still has to drive the ship."

Some of us spend very little on marketing, and stay booked 60 days out. I spend about $2500 a year on marketing, which is really fairly low, especially for what it produces. What drives the ship is perception.

"People are looking for something different in a photographer these days. We need to offer that or we are not serving our clients. Business is pretty simple: Give the client what they want."

People are looking for a great experience, pure and simple. We give them that and business is great. There is a theory on giving the client what they want.... you can bring a horse to water, you can't make him drink.... you can, of course, make him really thirsty.....

"To prove this, consider how many conversations on here have revolved around the fact that people do not like the direction things have gone or where they are headed."

Those conversations are very common..... sadly they are more a business challenge than a print quality challenge....to bring this back to print comp, the real education when I was getting started was local, where you could sit and talk to the judges after the comp. State and national were helpful if you get a critique, though you still didn't have the opportunity for interaction. If you want to encourage folks to enter, improve the local print comp, there is a much better opportunity for education there.... :cool:

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 04:00 PM
If you want to encourage folks to enter, improve the local print comp, there is a much better opportunity for education there.... :cool:

I could not agree with that more. That's the biggest problem that I see.

Tss1203
11-10-2009, 06:57 PM
hm..very interesting convo.

There is a good balance required to be a good photographer. By no means am I saying I have mastered it! We must be able to still provide technical quality but incorporate what the client wants. What I am finding most clients want is a more free 'in the moment' type photograph. I find a great value in this but I also find that it is sooo easy to create.

What I mean is anyone can snap a picture of a child laughing and it is probably going to look good to the average person b/c they are not seeing the improper technique. All they are seeing is the subject and expressions. It is much easier for an amateur to capture the moment in a beautiful outdoor scene than capture the moment in a beautiful studio scene. A GREAT photographer knows how to capture a moment but still create a superior, quality image.

There is a large backlash right now against 'cheesy' traditional studio portraiture. One of my goals is to educate the client on studio portraiture. We can still capture who they are w/o sacrificing proper technique. Michael, you do an great job of what I am describing-capturing the subject but still having great technique. You have some amazing, timeless images.

What I find happening as well is that the new trendy look is already getting overdone and dated. A good example I can use is the maternity images. I admit, I love the look of a beautiful belly wrapped in fabric. But, as Keith pointed out to me, it is something that is done quite a bit right now. So soon enough the hip things we are doing will be not so hip anymore, lol!

I also find a huge backlash against traditional 'posed' wedding images. What amuses me is the images that most prospective brides love are posed and they just don't know it, lol. People don't like 'fake' images, but posed doesn't always equate to fake.

So....to tie all back to print comp-

Our legacy as photographers (IMHO) should be to inspire others with beautiful, lasting art. Print Comp shouldn't be about just winning and meriting. It should be about telling a story and creating art. Maybe I am just naive to the whole process, I don't know. Everyone has their own motive for being a photographer. I know the business aspect should be #1. But I'm more about creating art that I can sell then making money.

I'm not sure that even make sense, lol!

We all look to others for inspiration. It is soo easy to copy another photographers style or images. It is much harder to blend those styles to create one unique to you. It is also very easy to get stale in your style. Sometimes we stick with something b/c it works. Personally, I like to find new things that will work :) But then, I'm a little ADD so I have a hard time staying in one place to long, hehehe.

Stan_Lawrence
11-10-2009, 07:38 PM
There is a good balance required to be a good photographer. By no means am I saying I have mastered it! We must be able to still provide technical quality but incorporate what the client wants. What I am finding most clients want is a more free 'in the moment' type photograph. I find a great value in this but I also find that it is sooo easy to create. There is a large backlash right now against 'cheesy' traditional studio portraiture.


What you're seeing is a reaction to really bad portrait work.... folks who don't know how to pose a natural portrait. Clients rarely know what they want, it's up to us to educate them. That's where the "make them really thirsty" comes in.....:cool:

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 08:01 PM
I have a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas. I am a bass player with a camera basically. Why I point this out is something that Charlie Parker used to talk about. His concept was to practice, practice and practice some more and when it comes time to play forget it all and just play. There's a better quotation floating around but you get the idea. Traditional photography techniques are nothing to avoid they are there to be learned and to get though not around. Understanding light and posing is excruciatingly important. The same goes for marketing and business we'll leave it at technique for now. Back to Jazz. Great Jazz musicians don't as a general rule are technically proficient and choose to play jazz. They play jazz because they love too. Believe me when I say that most of these musicians can do other things. My point? Most photographers do not choose the style in which they shoot. Great ones, however, choose what they shoot because they love it not because they do not have other options.

My goal at Indigo is to make sure that I am razor sharp and technically proficient. I believe in this because I don't consider myself to be a traditional portrait photographer. I did that, studied it, worked on it and am still working on it. I prefer photographing character. I see this is being all about the subject. To me, just like a jazz musician, we must learn to adapt to our clients when we are shooting in this style. We have to react quickly, efficiently and accurately to anything that comes up. I agree that many people these days are looking for a more open style of photography. This, however, means that we need to be even more technically proficient to be great. There is no escaping technique, knowledge, education, progress, and excellence. It all applies more today than it ever has.

Last point for now: Ever heard the expression "how do you know you don't like it if you've never tried it?" ?? Don't photography styles fall into the same boat? I never thought I'd be a landscape photographer. I am by no means a full time landscape guy but I sold two prints last week. I'll take the money. Self-assignments lead to self-discovery. Self-discovery leads to greatness. Print comp promotes self-discovery.

Todd_Reichman
11-10-2009, 08:06 PM
So beyond the marketing/business argument as it relates to comp I want to reheat an issue that Michael brought up.

I keep reading about how important impact is in competition. But what the heck constitutes impact these days? I constantly hear the whole, "put the judges on the edge of their seat," comment being made, but I can honestly say that an image has never put me on the edge of my seat. I would imagine we have all been in the boat where we have seen an image put up that one person says has huge impact that was pretty uninteresting to someone else. Impact is very much a personal reaction. And yet it seems to be a very vital part of the judging process.

So how are new people supposed to understand what constitutes impact in competition?

Also I kind of question the whole idea that print competition drives where photography is going. Does it really have that level of influence and should we expect it to? How many working photographers see the merited images and loaned images every year? Do those images consistently represent the bleeding edge and should they? I know that comp can mean different things to different people but I question whether the underlying structure of competition really supports the leading edge idea (which I think is was M.Gan was getting at last week).

- trr

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 08:14 PM
Todd, let me look at the theory that competition is the leading edge of the industry. Since we being told that numbers are down I think we can probably prove this theory with the following statement:

Apathy is the leading edge of photography these days.

Todd_Reichman
11-10-2009, 08:21 PM
I'm a huge supporter of PPA but I think that numbers being down is influenced by a ton of things other than apathy. The leading edge of photography is what everyone is copying - not something I'm particularly interested in knowing about beyond not doing it because its what everyone else can't wait to be the 10th person to duplicate. I guess we all want to think of ourselves in terms of legacies and being industry leaders but it seems like a strange goal to strive for. Others may be more suited to pursuing that than me.

- trr

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 08:34 PM
I'd rather be the one that everyone copies than the one that is copying.

Apathy stands my friend. Think about it this way. We have 120 posts on this thread. How many people have posted? I'm not saying that it's a majority but the fact is that most people really just don't care to enter. Heck, people here have been saying the same thing. The overall tone from people that aren't into the whole comp thing is that it's just not there thing and they do not see the benefit to them personally. That pretty much sounds like apathy to me. Am I missing something? 24,000 members and we are talking about a crisis of entries? It's cheaper than it has even been to enter. People aren't entering because they either don't know about it or they don't care. Wasn't the whole point of this to help us make people see the value?

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 08:37 PM
Heck, I can't stop typing. Would you say that the average working photographer is on the front edge of what we are doing? That seems to be your point as you have pointed out that they are not going to see merited images or the loan gallery. Well, I'll tell you what I'll just keep checking it out and judging and take my chances being on that side of the fence. There is no such thing as having too much knowledge.

Todd_Reichman
11-10-2009, 08:56 PM
I don't think its fair to use apathy in this case. Here is the definition that I think is pertinent for this thread:

lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

The problem here is still that people need to be sold on comp, which is why this thread is a good thing. But, we are probably preaching to the choir in the comp thread in the comp forum. Probably ought to be accosting random forum members and asking their opinions!

Probably shouldn't have made those comments because I really wanted to hear thoughts on the impact issue.

- trr

Stan_Lawrence
11-10-2009, 08:57 PM
I have a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas. I am a bass player with a camera basically. Why I point this out is something that Charlie Parker used to talk about. His concept was to practice, practice and practice some more and when it comes time to play forget it all and just play.

Isn't that interesting.... I chose between UNT and going on tour....made the wrong choice and went on tour. My youngest made the right choice, started in jazz studies and then got his BA is comp/theory there and is finishing his masters in that this year. Also a bass player.... your analogy is really very accurate. I practiced my scales, modes and chord studies until I didn't have to think about em.... I was always told, don't think, play.... and it's the same with photography. Learn the rules and then perform. Of course, the same rules apply to music and photography, being good doesn't make you a living... and you need to listen to learn. (or look and learn for us now). The mentors need to be there on the local level to set the example...of course the new photogs also have to want to learn..... :cool:

John_Metcalfe
11-10-2009, 09:11 PM
[QUOTE=Todd_Reichman;216706]
I keep reading about how important impact is in competition. But what the heck constitutes impact these days? I constantly hear the whole, "put the judges on the edge of their seat," comment being made, but I can honestly say that an image has never put me on the edge of my seat.

Finally.....

Puppy dogs, Kitty cats, Boats in the water, sea gulls, Eagles, the Elderly, the homeless, a carrot, train on the tracks....

Happy, Sad, Mad, The edge of their seat? You can have them.

*USE EVERYTHING IN YOUR ARSENAL*

Impact: If you look in the encyclopedia, you want your image defining the very meaning of the word your are attempting to exemplify...

To do this, (as it has been so eloquently stated before here and in other threads) you have to have your foundations set, your story in the image profound, whatever technique your utilizing spot on and your title (my particular fav) has to give the panel something to think about before they turn the image.

Happy, no... you want them belly laughing and boisterous.
Sad, no... you want to rip their hearts out.
Mad, no... you want to piss them off.

I'm sorry that an image hasn't moved you to the edge of your seat.

But then again, you can have the edge of that seat...

I want them to leave it.

Todd_Reichman
11-10-2009, 09:20 PM
I get that, but the issue is every person (including every judge) has a different seat and a different edge. How should we educate newcomers as to what the standard for seats and edges is?

- trr

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 09:40 PM
Hey Todd! I'm not ignoring your question. I'm spending a bit of time thinking about how to respond.

Very cool Stan. I am not sure any of us can look at back at our lives and not find things we could do differently. I'd say you are doing alright! Music has played such a key role in how I think and approach things. I get a little tired of my own musician analogies but frankly many of them work really well. I remember hearing about John Coltrane practicing one note for hours. I am certain some of these stories have grown wings but I also know that he was a great example of someone that never out grew practicing or learning. There's a discipline in all of the greats and you can see it in their eyes. I got into photography by studying magazines, album covers, and jazz art.

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 09:43 PM
Truly I think we are getting down the bottom of a lot of things. I have been enjoying this thread quite a bit.

Tss1203
11-10-2009, 09:45 PM
"I agree that many people these days are looking for a more open style of photography. This, however, means that we need to be even more technically proficient to be great. There is no escaping technique, knowledge, education, progress, and excellence. It all applies more today than it ever has."


Yup Michael, I agree. I think you said what I meant much better than I did :)

Tss1203
11-10-2009, 09:55 PM
What you're seeing is a reaction to really bad portrait work.... folks who don't know how to pose a natural portrait. Clients rarely know what they want, it's up to us to educate them. That's where the "make them really thirsty" comes in.....:cool:



Man, I lock myself self out of the studio for an hour and this thread exploded while I was gone! Not sure if I can keep up, hehehe :)


absolutely Stan! And I feel the only thing that 'sells' the image for them the expression. But a good expression does not make a good photograph, or a good photographer. And I agree that it is up to us to educate the client.



Todd- I don't feel my legacy is to be an industry leader, I have no desire to be. I feel my legacy is to create timeless images. For me, the art comes first. Yes, you have to also be a good business person to make money. But, I do this b/c I love it, not b/c it makes me money. That is just the bonus :)

Maybe I feel like print competition will give me a chance to create something for myself. To create an image the way *I* want to. It sounds very freeing to me.

Oh, back to the very beginning of this thread- why do I think many others don't compete? B/c they just don't know enough about how it works. Yes, some may still choose not to compete. But I think there are plenty of others that are just intimidated by it and do not know where to turn to get the answers.

John_Metcalfe
11-10-2009, 10:13 PM
I get that, but the issue is every person (including every judge) has a different seat and a different edge. How should we educate newcomers as to what the standard for seats and edges is?

- trr

Todd,

We live in a world where the microwave takes to long to warm a meal. What used to take a great amount of time, effort and expense has been replaced...

It is now wrapped up in a pretty little box with instructions most don't care to read. (that would take to long)

People want answers, you want answers, heck I wouldn't mind a few. But I don't believe anything we could do would would give us an instant enough response to show us that we found the answer. One answer though that would give you a response (if not immediate) would be give a discount to people who are certified in the PPA and have a higher membership fee who do not.

Just think what that would do...

Honestly, I would spend all day for the rest of my days sharing what I know, but the question I have is "who would want to take the time to listen"?

We who share, more times then not find we receive as much as we give.

Then this came to mind.


It has taken (me) a lifetime to get where I am.

It will take (me) a lifetime to get me where I am tomorrow...

John_Metcalfe
11-10-2009, 10:19 PM
Todd- I don't feel my legacy is to be an industry leader, I have no desire to be. I feel my legacy is to create timeless images. For me, the art comes first.

Amy or anyone else,

What are the things in this world that we do leave that we are remembered by?

David_A._Lottes
11-10-2009, 10:44 PM
Check out this new post John
http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showpost.php?p=216730&postcount=17
I don't think this guy is trying to be snarky....just honest.
It is almost magical that your last post and his last post were posted at almost the same moment. It's like the old classified adds with an add that reads "Singer wanted for band" right below one that reads "Band looking for singer"

mrbarton
11-10-2009, 11:19 PM
Here's what I really think about information. It's not that we are not getting enough. We are getting too much! He's right. It's hard to sift through. Frankly, I have a hard time keeping up with the PPA emails. I can't imagine that many of us read them anymore. I try, I swear I try!! The question is: What are we being told?

I feel like we are being inundated with webinars, and this and that from really some of the same sources. Is this a non-profit anymore? Perhaps another thread but there's just SO much to sift through. It wasn't until someone sat me down that I had any idea about any of this. Heck I know people on PEC that still don't understand the rules for MEI.

BlackTieGuy
11-11-2009, 02:11 AM
Snarky... great word! Not used often enough! lol

Yes, not snarky just honest! I could not believe the hoops I had to jump through just to find basic information, and I am still at a total loss. LOL

I'm sure more people would get involved with degree's, cpp, venues, etc... if that could obtain the knowledge needed to purse things in an easier fashion. If I search for an answer to a question, and I have to sift through tons of links and pages I'm just going to lose interest. Time is money as the old saying goes.

Todd_Reichman
11-11-2009, 02:25 AM
What are the things in this world that we do leave that we are remembered by?

Hard to say - how important is being remembered to you? Never crossed my mind that I would be remembered tomorrow much less have a legacy to leave. I guess it is statements like this that leave us puzzled but intrigued - is competition so powerful as to define a lasting legacy?

- trr

mrbarton
11-11-2009, 02:45 AM
Todd, I hate to say this but you are completely missing the point of much of this. Competition is not even the point. If you want to talk about a legacy let's consider that our prints these days are expected to last over 100 years. What are we putting on that paper? Is is worth preserving and frankly something that we want around after we are dead as well as every subject we ever photograph? Aren't we charged with creating legacy for our clients? Is that what this is all about? Don't the deserve the best legacy we can offer?

Heck, by the very nature of what we are doing we all leave a legacy wether we like it or not.

John_Metcalfe
11-11-2009, 01:42 PM
We... in a sense have chosen a life of servitude...

Tss1203
11-11-2009, 04:14 PM
simply by being a photographer or artist your legacy lives on. Everybody leaves some imprint upon the world.

When you photograph a wedding don't you think there is a strong possibility that the Bride's great grandchildren will look at those images some day? And when they look at those images, wouldn't you want them to feel something about that moment?

It isn't an egotistical thing to say that we will have a legacy b/c we are photographers. It's not about having someone remember *me* after I'm gone. It's about the images we create still impacting the emotions of others many, many years from now.

John_Metcalfe
11-11-2009, 05:41 PM
As the great Don Blair would wink and ask, "How'd you get so smart?"

Now that we get the gist of it, the things we leave behind are our writings, images and the things we had a hand in making.

So having said that, how do we get more people involved here/ in competition in a positive way?

On average,this PPA forum usually has no more than 60 people on at any given time. That is less than 1% of our population. Also,(help me with this) we have an average of 750 participants at the national's with their prints. This number is less then 2%. Woohoo!!!! The numbers are going up! Things are on the rise!

Now before we start doing back flips, let's ask why...

Why do they want us to participate?

Why would we want to participate?

Why is it important to the PPA that we do participate?

We'll stop there for now...

Ron_Jackson
11-11-2009, 05:58 PM
John to respond to your last post. I think the PPA offers this as a way for most who participate to learn and grow. Also, it is a way to be recognized by your peers. I am also one who finds the term International Print "Competiton" a bit erroneous. No one is competing in the litteral sense. It is a judging if I'm not mistaken.

No, I have not competed in Internationals before but I will be in the future. This is the only print judging I will compete in because I can get a judges critique by mail. I don't have time to go to the other events such as State and Regional and until they implement a mail critique, I will pass. I said before, I will take almost any venue that offers me a good critique so I can learn what I need to improve on.

John_Metcalfe
11-11-2009, 08:28 PM
John to respond to your last post. I think the PPA offers this as a way for most who participate to learn and grow. Also, it is a way to be recognized by your peers. I am also one who finds the term International Print "Competiton" a bit erroneous. No one is competing in the literal sense. It is a judging if I'm not mistaken.


Why do they want us to participate?

Added revenue (if structured correctly), gives Rick something to do, all the peer benefits we keep talking about, self confidence and an overall sense of a tight knit group.

Why would we want to participate?

All the stuff everybody keeps mentioning

Why is it important to the PPA that we do participate?

Participation means a lot of things, but most of all it says what they/we are doing is working. It also adds to the photography foundation and protects what we value most.

BlackTieGuy
11-18-2009, 02:13 AM
I think people need to remember that this is not a typical photo forum where just anybody can come and post questions and such. Our user base is working pro's. I have a hard time finding time between shoots, editing, album design, client meetings, replying to emails, etc... to spend any real amount of time on any website or forum participating. What free time I do manage to get normally gets spent with friends and family.

Rick_Massarini
11-18-2009, 02:39 AM
.... this is not a typical photo forum where just anybody can come and post questions and such.... I have a hard time finding time between shoots, editing, album design, client meetings, replying to emails, etc... to spend any real amount of time on any website or forum participating....

I think you may have come in on the tail end of this thread and misunderstood it's underlying theme. The thread is not how to get more people involved in the forum, it's how do we encourage more people to participate in print competition and about the benefits one can derive from participating in print competition.

mrbarton
11-18-2009, 01:11 PM
Hey Robert! I'm with you on that. I'm not sure what that is in regard to but I hear you. I usually check the forum in the morning and at night. A WHOLE lot can happen in that time. When I start a thread I try to check it more often as I'm worried I lit a match! Ha. Well, sometimes is can be amusing. . . .others. . . You seem like a straight forward person with ideas. If you get a chance to read over the novela here please feel free to post some thoughts. There's a WHOLE bunch! Here's a bit of a recap with perhaps a little refinement now that it's settled a bit.

It is not my belief that we can rely on any ONE thing for a successful business or successful craft. There are many. Frankly, some of them evolve and change. Others are as static as the sun. I believe it's important to build a business on solid technique and a rock solid skill set. I think competition one way doing that. It's also a way of letting clients and potential clients know that you are different and that you are striving for betterment. For me it's part of a much bigger plan but a part that is important.

Worth noting: It's great to read a lot and know what it going on in the world and in photography. There is definitely a balance of absorbing knowledge from a forum and losing one's focus by doing so too often! I've seen it WAY too many times. Not having enough time to keep up with everything is a good problem to have!

BlackTieGuy
11-18-2009, 07:13 PM
Hey Robert! I'm with you on that. I'm not sure what that is in regard to but I hear you. I usually check the forum in the morning and at night. A WHOLE lot can happen in that time. When I start a thread I try to check it more often as I'm worried I lit a match! Ha. Well, sometimes is can be amusing. . . .others. . . You seem like a straight forward person with ideas. If you get a chance to read over the novela here please feel free to post some thoughts. There's a WHOLE bunch! Here's a bit of a recap with perhaps a little refinement now that it's settled a bit.

It is not my belief that we can rely on any ONE thing for a successful business or successful craft. There are many. Frankly, some of them evolve and change. Others are as static as the sun. I believe it's important to build a business on solid technique and a rock solid skill set. I think competition one way doing that. It's also a way of letting clients and potential clients know that you are different and that you are striving for betterment. For me it's part of a much bigger plan but a part that is important.

Worth noting: It's great to read a lot and know what it going on in the world and in photography. There is definitely a balance of absorbing knowledge from a forum and losing one's focus by doing so too often! I've seen it WAY too many times. Not having enough time to keep up with everything is a good problem to have!

A page back John had posted that hardly anyone is using the forum. It got me thinking... if we cant get people to use a simple forum, how are we going to get them to devote hours of time to print comps and other venues when most of us, no offense PPA, would rather be making money or spending time with family then spending money via the print comp and other venues that take place.

Don't get me wrong, I think the PPA is awesome in what it does, and is trying to do. But I think the whole system and marketing technique needs a revamp to get people looking and listening again. Specifically Non-member participation.

Case in point: My studio

Ive been in business for 2 years. Shooting for 5 now. Never once been asked about being a member, or had a bride choose another studio over me because of it. PPA states that getting degree's and certified, etc... helps you to market yourself, and warrant your prices (among many other things.) My work warrants my prices. I average around 3500 in total sales in my tiny towns market competing against other members, 1 M. Photog, and 1 CPP M. Photog.

I have talked to numerous clients and asked if they have ever heard of the PPA or seen it come up in a search for photographers. Not one had any clue or had seen anything. So while being a member has its perks with other avenues like learning and networking, it really isn't something people need. I have learned from books, mags, websites, and dissecting top photogs work. Sure, learning means getting better, means raising prices, etc.... but the PPA doesn't push that to its members. It pushes membership like EVERY client only wants PPA members.

Now getting to the print comps and what not....
A few issues I have found that turn me off are:
1. The high price. $95.00 plus printing costs, plus shipping cost, plus all the time I would have to dedicate to getting all that stuff done. That's on top of the hundreds I pay a year to be a member. Hard to swallow when I could be making money instead. Perks of the comp.... maybe a merit or two. Get your print in the Loan collection.... I have never even heard of the loan collection until now, and I read A LOT of photography publications, so why should I care?

2. I pay hundreds a year to be a member, yet I might not get merits because a Non-members print might be better and bump me out? Whats the point of being a member then if it has no inclusiveness when it comes to comps and venues. There are hundreds of public comps a year with smaller buy in's that make it into major publications and magazine covers. A cover shot on a mag that has millions of readers will get me further in business then an almost unheard of traveling collection....

3. I would like to see some winning shots online or a gallery of the loan collection online. Basing this want on reading photo critiques for CPP submissions and general critiques people asked for. Reason being that I have seen some amazing work get shredded because the shot is based on an artistic approach and some work that wouldn't make it off my CF card get uber praises because its follows all the rules that seem to get pushed on here. I pretty much break most rules with my style yet I'm taking over the market share from M. Photog's who shoot by the book. Times are changing and classic by the book, follow all the rules photography is slowly being replaced by people like me who shoot how WE see things and the PS savvy people. Half the commercial photographers I know would get laughed out of here yet they are making well into 6 figures and putting the classic people out of business. Case in point David Hill (http://www.davehillphoto.com/).... he breaks SO many rules its unreal... yet thousands are trying to copy his style....

4. Just getting any info about anything on this site is a pain the the butt. See my post in another thread:

http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showpost.php?p=216730&postcount=17

This goes for the website as a whole, and not just the CPP or degree stuff.

I'm sure this post will piss some people off but o'well! Its my opinion and yes, I don't beat around the bush. You ask a straight question, you get a straight answer.....

Hope everyone has a pleasant and productive weekend! Now I'm off to make more money.... ;)

Keith_A_Howe
11-18-2009, 07:40 PM
2. I pay hundreds a year to be a member, yet I might not get merits because a Non-members print might be better and bump me out? Whats the point of being a member then if it has no inclusiveness when it comes to comps and venues.

You have to be a member to enter print competition at national - which is the only place to get merits. And one print is never judged against the other for "merit worthiness" so you cannot be bumped out of a merit by any other print. There are no quotas, either it gets a merit or it doesn't and how any other print in the competition scores will not effect that. I agree that you should not enter if you don't see any value in it for you. Some people just don't and that's fine. But don't use this as a reason not to enter because it's not true.

Keith

mrbarton
11-18-2009, 07:51 PM
BlackTieGuy. You have some very valid points. I hope people are reading.

I do find it a bit strange that for years it cost hundreds of dollars to have even one print created. They can be made for $30 or less these days in some cases and require far less time than before. The comment about money is brought up quite a bit but the truth is it's MUCH cheaper than it has ever been. I think price is not the issue, value is. Fair enough.

It is a strange paradox to me that many that complain about the price also talk about how much money they are making without it. I always think, heck, if you have so much money why then worry about the cost? Answer, again, value. Fair enough.

Todd_Reichman
11-18-2009, 07:54 PM
I think Robert has some interesting points. What is the Loan Collection anyway? Where is it? How can it be seen? As far as I know it can only be viewed in a book that is marketed strictly to photographers. If it had appeal and access beyond industry people it might be more attractive to be a part of it. It would be great if you could link to loan collection images for marketing purposes.

Robert is the type of young, startup photographer we should be trying to get involved. Granted, he doesn't have all the information yet. But the fact that he wasn't aware of the information or can't figure out how to access it is our problem.

- trr

mrbarton
11-18-2009, 07:58 PM
I think about the whole CPA thing. I don't know to many people that would use an accountant that isn't a CPA. Why? Because CPAs tell us not to use an accountant that isn't a CPA. It took a long time for that to stick but they did it.

Todd_Reichman
11-18-2009, 08:02 PM
Ultimately the cost thing comes down to issues like buying a print case. They seem to cost alot and it seems like you need multiple ones if you are doing regional and national competitions. There is also the cost of getting the prints right. It seems fair to assume that you'd have to send the prints in to your lab and then evaluate them under the approved lighting grid and then reprint as necessary. For some its not the money its the time to spend doing all that stuff and learning how to do all that stuff without a clear education path (although the webinars for the last comp were a big stride to helping these issues - I wonder how far those reached?).

That may be SOP to people that have been doing this a while. But Robert's point is valid in that there are less expensive competitions that have digital submissions and result in being published in recognizable magazines and things like that. The issue isn't that we should dismiss those competitions we should look to why they are attractive. If merits, loans, and publishing opportunities made it outside the insular photographer community within the PPA system it might be more attractive to newcomers.

Michael_Gan
11-18-2009, 08:31 PM
Robert, not upset at all. It just points out where we are missing in educating our members to understand each of the benefits of PPA. We are very aware of these deficiencies and have been working very hard to correct all of the issues you've pointed out.

Let's address your perception of print competition. You are not alone in your assessment about Print Comp. Fact of the matter is, all those involved in print comp have not made it very clear to the members what print comp is for. Sure, you will get various answers from various people involved, but collectively, we really hadn't set an actual vision that seems to make sense to the members. Most will agree, that "you make it your own/you make what you want out of it" is not a very good vision statement either.

In order to understand print competition, in its purer form, you would have to probably go back historically to those who started the print competition, then examine how it has evolved over the years. I can tell you, from long experience, that the purpose had changed quite a bit over my career, for both competition and the degree program. When I first started, print competition was heavily weighted on technical excellence. Which still makes sense to me even in this day and age.

Like certification (which is not a part of PPA, so a different discussion), we know, rightfully so - through years of experience, that the photographers who survive in this business on longer term, are the ones who don't get stuck in specific styles. They have the ability to adapt to new styles and learn them quicker if they "Master" the fundamentals of good image making. Thus, the Masters degree, and to some degree, print comp, was not intended to validate you as an artist. It does, however, help you to grow in certain aspects of image making that will help you to be a better artist. I can't tell you how many photographers have come and gone in this profession because they followed "the latest and the greatest" to the ends of the earth and then eventually fall off. I guess you can say that this our way to retain our members.

Just a simple anecdote regarding the cost of competition as it pertains to the Masters degree. If you went to any institution to pursue an Master program, you're going to have to make an investment (I'm gearing up for my kids going to post grad). Fact of the matter is, if you were involved in print competition 10 years ago, this is a bargain! each print used to cost us up to $160 a piece, and that's if you got it right the first time!

So, how do we get more people involved in print comp? Well many on here have postulated various benefits of print competition. But, what many of us involved in PPA these past years are realizing, is that the "customer perceptions" have changed dramatically. Especially those in your age group/newer PPA members. That is, it's not so much the "benefits" bet rather, the "experience". Once all those involved in PPA, from leadership, down to the regular print comp entrants, realize and understand the process of experiential marketing, the sooner we can generate a buzz about how wonderful print competition can be. That way, when those who have never entered in print comp, but have perceptions of it, will no longer be on the outside looking in. All it takes is positive experience to make a light bulb go off in any member.

I think people forget that this is a trade organization. That is, its main purpose is to help people out professionally, think professional, and conduct themselves professionally. Hard to grasp this concept because, it is the nature of our craft that lends itself to a "one big camera club" mentality, something that other trade organizations don't have to worry about.

We have a lot of great people working on all the problems you've suggested. Volunteers just like you (hint hint) who want to make a difference in this organization by helping to make the change based on what the membership wants. There are so many facets of PPA and we surprisingly are paying careful attention to all of them - probably why our board meetings take a full two days, four times a year. ;)

Jeff_Dachowski
11-18-2009, 08:32 PM
Black tie guy,
Well thought out post. As mentioned noboby's print bumps out another print. It is a merit or it is not, regardless of how many are entered.

I looked at your site, and I wouldn't count any of your images as breaking the rules.

Fun site though!
Jeff

mrbarton
11-18-2009, 08:39 PM
Can you imagine if Loan Images were published in TIME? What if they were featured in Washington DC? What if international dignitaries where invited to view the collection? What if the Loan Collection where for sale at Barnes and Noble?

What's the real question:

How to get photographers to value the system?
How to get the public to value the system?

You get the public to value the system, photographers will follow.

I can talk until I'm blue in the face about how my clients value the system and how I go about creating that value but the truth is more can be done to make the general public understand.

Michael_Gan
11-18-2009, 08:41 PM
Just got around to looking at David Hill's work. Hardly new, but very well done. He would do quite well in print competition;)

But the question is: If you can master the techniques in print competition, isn't it the goal of an artist to create work where others will follow, instead of follow where others have been?

Todd_Reichman
11-18-2009, 08:45 PM
....isn't it the goal of an artist to create work where others will follow, instead of follow where others have been?

Is the goal really to create work that other photographers will emulate?

- trr

Michael_Gan
11-18-2009, 08:47 PM
Should the artist care? ;)

hehe. Folks, in the Cafe Batigniolle, I've started "Tweet: Art". This is a great example of this!

mrbarton
11-18-2009, 08:47 PM
I'll say it again. Every photograph is a legacy whether we like it or not. What that means to you is a completely subjective call.

Todd_Reichman
11-18-2009, 08:47 PM
Should the artist care? ;)

I don't know - I was trying to understand the point you were making.

- trr

Tss1203
11-18-2009, 08:49 PM
I was thinking about this last night.

There are no criteria to join PPA, correct? How many of those that join are fresh newbies, as in only in business a year or less? How many join only for the benefit of saying that they are part of the PPA? No, clients may not know what that is, but it does lend some credibility to say you are part of the Professional Photographers of America. Now, the debate is partially about how few of the members participate in print comp, right? Couldn't a large amount of that be b/c many members just aren't that serious about being contributing members of the PPA? I'm not saying they are right or wrong, I just think it could be a part of the 'problem'.

Personally, I still think there is importance in learning the rules about good portraiture. I don't think being cutting edge means you don't follow the rules. No, people don't want the same 'ol boring photography, but many still want good photography.

Michael_Gan
11-18-2009, 10:36 PM
I don't know - I was trying to understand the point you were making.

- trr
Fair enough Todd:) Here's my assessment about professional photographers, and this is IMO, so I have my PPA hat off for this one.

Wouldn't you agree that, by and large, there are a few "great" photographers (not necessarily artists, per se, but some "leaders" in our profession), then, there are a whole mess of "followers"? For example, Tim Walden virtually perfected the B&W relationship type portraits. ie, Child holding on to father's arm. Or, a more current example is Sam Puc's maternity images. You then have a whole slew (putting it mildly) of "copies" that get entered in print comp. It seems funny that most of us call ourselves "artists" when we are actually "mimickers", not sure if that is even a word...

Now, what makes these leaders "Masters" is that they perfected the look through a good knowledge of technique and visionary skill. Imagine the surprise when someone copies the look, enters it in print competition, then get shot down. Not because the images look like what Sam or Tim did, but because there are technical issues that they can't see in their work as compared to Tim and Sam's. So, here's an example of where the experience is lacking because the entrant, not knowing why they failed end's their competition career with the wrong impression of why they failed.

Unless, of course they spend another $35 for the critique, which may, or may not help them, depending on how well the judge's communication skills are.

It's not to say PPA is not trying. You have no idea how many different ideas have come out of the recent task force to deal with the current situation. The hard part for anyone, much so with a volunteer group, is to try to get these ideas that make sense with our current system. Because, another odd thing about photographers, is that if you make sweeping changes, they are surprisingly resistant to change! Call it sacred cows, because we all want to hang on to as much "tradition" as we can, it's a matter of how much of these sacred cows we can shed away before things become critical.

Stan_Lawrence
11-18-2009, 11:33 PM
Fair enough Todd:)
Wouldn't you agree that, by and large, there are a few "great" photographers (not necessarily artists, per se, but some "leaders" in our profession), then, there are a whole mess of "followers"? For example, Tim Walden virtually perfected the B&W relationship type portraits. ie, Child holding on to father's arm. Or, a more current example is Sam Puc's maternity images. You then have a whole slew (putting it mildly) of "copies" that get entered in print comp. It seems funny that most of us call ourselves "artists" when we are actually "mimickers", not sure if that is even a word...


A few great photogs? Not really. There are actually quite a few, and most of us have never heard of them. The examples you give are not innovations (no disrespect to either photog), they are copies. The b/w relationship portrait has been done for years, it was being done when I entered the profession 30 years ago, as were the maternity images you refer to. Your point is really well taken, because there is no real innovation, simply variations on a theme. Just like music, I don't think I've heard an original jazz lick in years, because the great players recycle them and make their own variations. I'm not sure I'd agree with "mimickers", that's really not what goes on. There are cheap imitations (not very well done) and there are variations on a theme (very well done). It's not what is done, it's how well it's done. :cool:

Todd_Reichman
11-19-2009, 12:01 AM
Wouldn't you agree that, by and large, there are a few "great" photographers (not necessarily artists, per se, but some "leaders" in our profession), then, there are a whole mess of "followers"? For example, Tim Walden virtually perfected the B&W relationship type portraits. ie, Child holding on to father's arm. Or, a more current example is Sam Puc's maternity images. You then have a whole slew (putting it mildly) of "copies" that get entered in print comp. It seems funny that most of us call ourselves "artists" when we are actually "mimickers", not sure if that is even a word...

Well, we can debate the issues of "great" and "leader" and the ramifications of that. Stan sort of beat me to addressing that to an extent. I don't know much about people claiming to being artists but really being copiers. I've not claimed to be an artist and probably wouldn't ever do so. Doesn't mean I don't respect what I do it just means that I see the value as being something else. Its one of the reasons I find your posts on art so fascinating. The use of the word art seems to mean a lot to you and I still haven't figured out why. I've heard the argument that you can charge more for it, which is cool. But a lot of people are charging significant amounts for their photography without the word "art" being used, so that can't be everything. Is it not "art" if any aspect of it has been done before?

I cannot disagree about people copying what they see with varying degrees of success, though the photographic educational systems out there seem to be directly promoting that type of behavior. However the fact that there are a slew of copies may be an indication that the guidelines/expectations aren't clear and people want to get involved but don't know what else to enter other than what already works. Could be a symptom of not enough access/education.


Imagine the surprise when someone copies the look, enters it in print competition, then get shot down. Not because the images look like what Sam or Tim did, but because there are technical issues that they can't see in their work as compared to Tim and Sam's. So, here's an example of where the experience is lacking because the entrant, not knowing why they failed end's their competition career with the wrong impression of why they failed.

No arguments here.


Unless, of course they spend another $35 for the critique, which may, or may not help them, depending on how well the judge's communication skills are.

Well, I think there ought to be a judging workshop and some standards on the critique videos like there is for the actual judging. They can cost more if that's the case as far as I'm concerned. I got one the single time I entered and it wasn't useful at all. Being the only direct feedback mechanism means that its a more important part of the process than it is currently being treated.


It's not to say PPA is not trying. You have no idea how many different ideas have come out of the recent task force to deal with the current situation. The hard part for anyone, much so with a volunteer group, is to try to get these ideas that make sense with our current system. Because, another odd thing about photographers, is that if you make sweeping changes, they are surprisingly resistant to change! Call it sacred cows, because we all want to hang on to as much "tradition" as we can, it's a matter of how much of these sacred cows we can shed away before things become critical.

How are other interested volunteers supposed to get involved and help? This is one aspect of PPA that isn't very transparent? Then again, maybe they don't need the help/input/extra hands/extra opinions on this issue. I am sure that PPA is trying, but for a not-for-profit alot of stuff seems to take place behind the curtain. Where is the resistance coming from?

- trr

Ron_Jackson
11-19-2009, 12:18 AM
One of the first things I noticed when I first joined PPA and began reading about competition, was this odd thing (odd to me) of strange cropping, placement and adding that "stroke". I asked a bunch of times why and got so many different answers. One answer went something like this, "Imgine the print is the wall space over a sofa and the image with the stroke defines the placement of the print on that wall." Whhhhhaaattt? Another answer was that it allowed for the precise placement of the main subject to be on that one-third intersection. Personally, I hate it. I have been told "Well that's the way the judges want to see it." I find that really hard to believe. I entered one competition and spent more time worrying about that stupid stroke and where it should be and what color it should be and how big and how bright it should be. I will never stroke again. Having been told more than once it was dangerous to enter competition without a stroke, was just another nail in my competition coffin. I wish PPA would just ban the stroke. Make your best print on what ever size print you want to make and what ever shape and enter it but no more stokes. I would never sell a client a print with a stroke nor would I display a print with a stroke. I know I know, I have been told people enter without stokes and go loan but when you have several masters tell you that you had better put a stroke on it, well, that's it for me. Ban the stroke. Make people pay attention to the print and details and forget that silly line to "help" them postion a subject properly. Sorry, just a rant on a stupid issue. Back to you guys.

Tss1203
11-19-2009, 12:21 AM
I agree, Ron :)

Todd_Reichman
11-19-2009, 12:26 AM
Thanks Ron, I'm glad someone else said it.

The "Stroke Convention" is one of those barriers to entry for people. Its not intuitive and its definitely unique to the PPA comp. Yet its not clear why you should do that. I always figured if you took a good image it would already be on the 3rd or whatever and not artificially placed in some floating canvas to get it to the 3rd. The stroke thing also makes PPA comp images look old-fashioned to newcomers. Then again, I'm not a Master and I don't know squat! But that's why I enter digital albums and not prints.

- trr

Ron_Jackson
11-19-2009, 12:39 AM
When I was at Brooks, if any of us had tried that stroke thing, I assure you it would have been tossed back and we would have been told to re-do the assignment without the stroke. That stroke doesn't exist in the real world outside of the occasional graphic designed print for a senior or similar. I don't even like seeing a stoke on the loan prints I don't care how good they are. But hey, that's just me.

Michael_Gan
11-19-2009, 01:49 AM
I don't believe the "stroke" was any prescription from PPA print competition. It just happened that someone thought of it (possibly a lab during the BD (Before Digital) and somehow, all the entrants caught on to that. It really evolved from the "Mats" that used to be a prevalent means of presentation that stretches way back in the art world. Like anyone else (this includes me), all we can do is make suppositions as to why things are the way they are, whether true or not (Like the Sam and Time examples that Stan so lovingly crushed me on ;)).

But really, all a stroke should do, or a "matting" for that matter, is isolate the image from the externals so that the judges will hone in on the subject at hand. My feeling is, if you need to rely on a stroke, or a gimmick of any kind to sell the image, there must be something wrong with the image in the first place;).


How are other interested volunteers supposed to get involved and help? This is one aspect of PPA that isn't very transparent? Then again, maybe they don't need the help/input/extra hands/extra opinions on this issue. I am sure that PPA is trying, but for a not-for-profit alot of stuff seems to take place behind the curtain. Where is the resistance coming from? Actually, all those involved with PPA as volunteers are becoming increasingly transparent. Me standing here is kind of testament to that. Many have started their journey into PPA from the ground level at the local affiliates. From there, many have weaved their way up to the PPA council level. Supposedly, the function of the council is this: To elect the board of directors, who will be the visionaries of this association, to make necessary changes to the by-laws, and most importantly, to be the cheerleaders and informational "conduit" to the PPA membership. I must say, this crop of councilors are the most active I've seen in years.

Take you, Todd, as an example. Don't think you're under the radar my friend ;)

Rick_Massarini
11-19-2009, 03:30 AM
When I was at Brooks, if any of us had tried that stroke thing, I assure you it would have been tossed back and we would have been told to re-do the assignment without the stroke. That stroke doesn't exist in the real world outside of the occasional graphic designed print for a senior or similar. I don't even like seeing a stoke on the loan prints I don't care how good they are. But hey, that's just me.

As Michael said, there is no "stroke convention". The stroke evolved out of the carefully cut underlay mats that have been used in print presentations for about as long as I can remember. Those carefully crafted presentations with undercut mats have been around for many many years, and probably the reason that they were not very prevalent way back in the past was because of the amount of time and precision work that was required to undercut an underlay and then cut a mat to fit precisely around the undercut mat with spacing even all around. But now with digital, those hours of careful mat cutting has been replaced by a few clicks - so more people are using them - so the look is becoming more popular.

There are still a LOT of full bleed prints being accepted at the national judging, and I have never heard of a merit quality image not being accepted because it didn't have a stroke on it. Print presentation is one of the 12 Elements of a Merit Print, but if the inherent image is weak, even the best of presentations will not be enough to push it into the merit category. The jurors judge based on the quality of the image, not the matting.

From a personal standpoint - in my studio - I kind of like the finished look of a stroked and matted image, and I have some of these hanging on my studio walls, and I find that it is causing us to sell a lot of portraits with the mats and strokes digitally added. The digital matting effects allows us to deliver an image finished and framed to our clients instead of having to have the client who wants that matted look have to take the print to a custom framing shop to get that custom mat cut. It also helps us to sell larger sized images. The client can upsize to a larger print size to get that matted look, spending with us the difference between our print and the matting charges that they would spend at a frame shop to get them to cut that custom mat - plus the matting and stroking is now the EXACT color that is appropriate for the image and the frame into which we are placing it - instead of being some compromise color based on what color mat board that Crescent or Bainbridge happens to make in that color range that the client decides is close enough for the mat. Our prints usually go out one size larger than the image size to make up for the matting and the matting now matches the print without that distracting white line from the mat core around the image. The matted and stroked images have a more finished artistic look and many images look better with the accent lines added. We sell a larger matted print and a larger frame. The stroke and matting look works for us, and we like it. Your mileage may vary...

Ron_Jackson
11-19-2009, 03:46 AM
I hear you Rick. I've heard that all before. With PPA doing away with the standard 16x20 as the only acceptable print size, I say now, do away with the stroke and let the image stand alone. Crop it, cut it, size it any way you want but don't stroke it. Of course that's just my personal opinion.

mrbarton
11-19-2009, 04:03 AM
Think of this in a positive light. It might be unfortunate to note that there is a learning curve to all of this. Isn't the point, however, to learn? Having idiosyncrasies allows for the need to study, watch, and ask questions. In many ways competition serves as an apprentice system. I'm a huge fan of apprenticing. I certainly did it and many photographers have sadly dismissed this practice. That's not a slam to anyone here that has never apprenticed. You can definitely see a change in our culture with regard to this. Perhaps this is a controversial point. Learning how to present an image requires a similar discipline to learning how to handle a client or present an order. Don't you think that an experienced surgeon knows a few things over a new one? How do we learn? We must pursue knowledge. If it's not given entirely at will seek it out.

Todd_Reichman
11-19-2009, 08:19 AM
Actually, all those involved with PPA as volunteers are becoming increasingly transparent. Me standing here is kind of testament to that. Many have started their journey into PPA from the ground level at the local affiliates. From there, many have weaved their way up to the PPA council level. Supposedly, the function of the council is this: To elect the board of directors, who will be the visionaries of this association, to make necessary changes to the by-laws, and most importantly, to be the cheerleaders and informational "conduit" to the PPA membership. I must say, this crop of councilors are the most active I've seen in years.

Take you, Todd, as an example. Don't think you're under the radar my friend ;)

I'm glad to hear that you believe this to be the case, Michael. I've always felt that PPA was admirable in that it is run as a non-profit org and functions effectively as such. But as a member that tries to stay involved it feels like there isn't as much info flowing back as to what might be on the table for discussion as I would expect.

Truthfully, I don't feel like I'm on any radar. I consider it a goal to someday be on the board, but I don't really expect that to happen.

- trr

mrbarton
11-19-2009, 12:10 PM
Careful what you ask for Todd!!!! Radar is scary.

Stan_Lawrence
11-19-2009, 01:15 PM
I consider it a goal to someday be on the board, but I don't really expect that to happen.

- trr

A truly excellent example of reverse psychology.... very well done..... ;)

Michael_Gan
11-19-2009, 02:33 PM
Todd, I'm going to move this over to the affiliate section so we don't go off course. http://www.ppa.com/community/forums/showthread.php?t=18595

mrbarton
11-19-2009, 05:06 PM
Off course? There's a course? Heck, I started it. . . .

BlackTieGuy
11-19-2009, 05:28 PM
Well thanks for clearing up some misconceptions on my part! Its hard to post opinions when you are still trying to figure things out! Some good rebuttals were made against so if my statements! Nice work! :) I love debates and brainstorming in this manner! Gets people thinking outside the box more.

Michael_Gan
11-19-2009, 05:51 PM
Off course? There's a course? Heck, I started it. . . .
LOL, my theory is that Professional Photography is a safe haven for those of us with ADHD :D

Tss1203
11-19-2009, 07:54 PM
LOL, my theory is that Professional Photography is a safe haven for those of us with ADHD :D

ADHD, what's that, lol?

Don't all artists have ADHD? Or maybe that is just my excuse, lol!

Jeff_Dachowski
11-19-2009, 09:56 PM
so the original question was...how do we get more people involved?

I think I have decided on my end that I find the competition process to be helpful to me every day I make images.

If the competition process is not helpful to you... don't enter!

If the competition process is not helpful to you...don't knock it!

I don't care if any of you compete or you do not compete.

I want to see PPA hold further "Print Competitions" because they have had a positive effect on both my work as an artist, and on my pocketbook as a business person.


One last thing...I hear a lot of folks complain about the cost of making 4 $25 prints, a $95 entry fee, and a $20 shipping charge. It is likely that many who are complaining about these nominal costs spend the same amount of money at Starbucks in a couple months, and they don't complain about that, yet Starbucks has a zero % chance of improving your work.

Jeff

John_Metcalfe
11-20-2009, 01:31 AM
I hear a lot of folks complain about the cost of making 4 $25 prints, a $95 entry fee, and a $20 shipping charge. It is likely that many who are complaining about these nominal costs spend the same amount of money at Starbucks in a couple months, and they don't complain about that, yet Starbucks has a zero % chance of improving your work.

Jeff


How dare you! Take away Starbucks, The Bread Co, Seattle's Best or the Klondike Coffee House and you'll see a drastic drop in work improvement!

Now retract that last statement!

;)

I don't drink coffee btw. I guess that's why I struggle with photography...

Michael_Gan
11-20-2009, 01:31 AM
One last thing...I hear a lot of folks complain about the cost of making 4 $25 prints, a $95 entry fee, and a $20 shipping charge. It is likely that many who are complaining about these nominal costs spend the same amount of money at Starbucks in a couple months, and they don't complain about that, yet Starbucks has a zero % chance of improving your work. But it really is good rocket fuel for those of us with ADHD! :D

Ron_Jackson
11-20-2009, 02:12 AM
Let's talk about starting down at the local level. I know Michael has asked questions before about stimulating local chapters. I would personally get more involved if two things were different. One, both local chapters for me are too far away for me to make the meetings with any regularity. I also felt when visiting, they were more camera club than a professional chapter. Too many wannabies and not enough masters or what I consider real full time pros with something solid to share. Don't get me wrong, I love to share what tiny bit of knowledge I have with others but I want something too.

So, if I had a chapter right smack between those two chapters, I might get really involved. I mean really involved. If either one of those chapters had any substance and showed something exciting enough I might force myself to make the drive. I get the feeling that it's the same people that come to every meeting and the same officers get recycled because there are so few choices and what happens is the chapter gets stale and has the same look today as it day last year and the year before. People would maybe like for it to be different but they get in a rut and don't know how to get out.

The local chapter probably should be the breeding ground for the rise to excellence and the transfer of knowledge. It should be the place for beginning competition. It should be the beginning place of mentorship and comraderie of our peers. But there needs to be enough substance to draw more real pros into these chapters and make them want to be there at every meeting.

I'm just thinking and rambling out loud here to stimulate conversation.

Todd_Reichman
11-20-2009, 02:45 AM
The only thing I find strange about the reliance on the regional/local organizations to engender participation in the national comp is that PPA really doesn't have control over those organizations. Its nice if those organizations do provide a natural path of progression, but if the impulse really is to build more participation in national comp I don't think it makes sense to rely on those outside (though affiliated) groups.

- trr

Ron_Jackson
11-20-2009, 02:51 AM
Like I said Todd, I got more a feeling of a little camera club than that of a part of a national organization. There just wasn't much substance at either place. Also and I know this has been said about these before, they are a bit clickish and not too eager to make visitors feel really welcome. I know this is probably a real thorn in the side of people like Michael who are trying to figure out how to make the affilates stronger and more productive. I don't have an answer but I will tell you that neither of these made me feel like I wanted to make that drive again.

Tss1203
11-20-2009, 02:59 AM
Hmm... I've found the whole industry to be pretty cliquish.

Maybe I'm lucky but I think our local affiliate is great. It seems they get great quality speakers for each meeting. I've attended a few, though.

Ron_Jackson
11-20-2009, 03:10 AM
Amy if Betsy is involved then you can bet it's going to be a well run solid affiliate. It's always the people that make up any group that determines it's focus and direction. Some are certainly going to be stronger than others.

Keith_A_Howe
11-20-2009, 03:45 AM
I also felt when visiting, they were more camera club than a professional chapter. Too many wannabies and not enough masters or what I consider real full time pros with something solid to share. .

So how is it ever going to evolve from a "camera club" if every real professional feels the same way you do? Someone has to start it. Maybe you are the first real professional to join and you are the one to turn it around.


So, if I had a chapter right smack between those two chapters, I might get really involved. I mean really involved. .

Then start one. Get really involved and start a new group.


I get the feeling that it's the same people that come to every meeting and the same officers get recycled because there are so few choices and what happens is the chapter gets stale and has the same look today as it day last year and the year before. People would maybe like for it to be different but they get in a rut and don't know how to get out..

It will never get out of a rut or get new people in powers of position if people like you, that have something to offer, walk away. Ron, it's worth your time to become involved even if it feels like a one way street as far as benefits go. Trust me, jump in and start start sharing your knowledge. Be the one to raise the level. Be the one to start the change. You will end up getting more then you could ever imagine.


The local chapter probably should be the breeding ground for the rise to excellence and the transfer of knowledge. It should be the place for beginning competition. It should be the beginning place of mentorship and comraderie of our peers. But there needs to be enough substance to draw more real pros into these chapters and make them want to be there at every meeting.


I agree 100% that there needs to be more substance to draw in the true pros. But it's a catch 22. You want more out of the association before it's worth joining but if everyone feels the same way, you never get people joining who will make the association worth while. Like I said somebody needs to be first. I think I know your personality well enough to know you could be that guy. If this sounds like I am throwing you out a challenge it's because I am. Start a new group with the kind of members you want or ask someone who is a real working pro to go with you to one of those other locals. Invade and conquer! :D


I know this has been said about these before, they are a bit clickish and not too eager to make visitors feel really welcome.


Hmm... I've found the whole industry to be pretty cliquish.


Can I offer a different interpetation? Our state association meets twice a year, our regional once, so I have a whole group of friends that are like family to me, that I only see three times a year at most. On the national level I have many friends I only see once a year. Naturally I want to hang out with my friends when I get to a conference. None of us want to exclude anyone, we are just happy to see our good friends and catching up. I personally have been on the other side, going out of my way to try and befriend newcomers only to be rebuffed by them. It's a two way street. I can't make a friend of someone who either isn't interested or has a chip on their shoulder where old timers are concerned.

Keith

Tss1203
11-20-2009, 03:53 AM
I agree with your point, Keith :)

mrbarton
11-20-2009, 03:59 AM
Amy, are you near Grand Rapids? I might be there for a program soon. . . There goes the great speaker streak!

Great points made. I need some sleep! Long day to recover from. I look forward to catching up tomorrow on all the posts. I am on the Board of the Northern Illinois Group. I want people here to know that I take that very personally and I really appreciate the chance to learn how to improve out local. I always think it's important to lead by example. If there is one thing I've learned, and frankly there are a whole lot more, it's that we have to do more with the local affiliates at comp. Point very well taken. Keep the dialogue going. There's a lot here. It's what I was looking for. Thank you.

Rick_Massarini
11-20-2009, 04:11 AM
I agree with Keith 100%. If you are not getting involved in your local guilds because you don't believe that there is anything there for you - then you are probably NEVER going to find anything there. If you get involved and start adding some value to the group, then there may be something there to attract other like minded individuals - then, as the group starts to build, grow and mature, there WILL be something there for you. If those with something to GIVE don't GIVE because they are mentally in the TAKING mode, then you can rest assured that the group will never evolve into a true Professional community. As I always say - "the best way to gain for yourself is to give of yourself". If you don't give, then why should you expect to receive ???

Zack_Davis
11-20-2009, 04:29 AM
I personally have been on the other side, going out of my way to try and befriend newcomers only to be rebuffed by them. It's a two way street. I can't make a friend of someone who either isn't interested or has a chip on their shoulder where old timers are concerned.


Now, now Keith just because I told you I can't be seen with you at imaging because you have the "old man persona" doesn't mean we can't be friends... just not in public please. :p :D (that was sarcasm for those that don't know ;) )

But really I get why people perceive that, many groups are broken down by anything from previously meeting them last year to what forum their on and which sections of that forum they're most active on. It really is easy to see it from that perspective and just as Keith said there's people you will greet and they'll snuff you but don't let the few affect your feelings toward the many. I definitely suggest trying to set down your old perspective and going to the next place with an open mind. Remember if you want to spark a conversation it's as easy as Canon or Nikon or you can always ask a question or for help with something. ;)

Ron_Jackson
11-20-2009, 11:29 AM
Great response Keith. Now of course I do feel challenged. Now I have to make decisions. Maybe I pick on of the two current affiliates and get involved to see if I can make a difference there and if not, start a new one. I love to share what I have and I get more out of it than I do receiving. Maybe I can get the affiliate to only accept those who are Nikon shooters using PCs. I am still sick so I don't have a lot of snappy comebacks but I do get what you are saying and it's well taken. I am meeting with three photographers today as we are participating in National Adpotion Day at the Palm Beach court house so afterwards, I will have a talk with them.

Thanks for the encouragement.

cjcastan
11-21-2009, 03:55 PM
I've skimmed thru this and the rule changes for print comp thread (which I didn't even know we're coming).

A little background on me. I am a PPA member in national / state / and regional. I have a very different perspective as someone who's grown up in a pro lab and was cutting and hanging negatives since the age of 9 but didn't take up photographing until very recently.

I am a competitor in all levels and in many different places and have had varying levels of success.

Onto the point at hand.

As someone who has the POV of the film based / medium format shooter and is young enough to be part of the new "fix it in photoshop" generation. I say this *puts on flame suit*

The reason people aren't competing is more of a symptom that the organizations running the competitions have lost or are losing their relevancy.

I talk to a lot of photographers new and veteran at the lab. Most new photographers have no clue that most of these organizations exist. Neophytes know about online forums like clickin moms or DWF or meetup or some other online forum which they feel represents some sort of professional organization. They don't see the benefit of the national organization.

Personally I think that PPA does not do enough to market the organization, create brand awareness and stress to the end consumer its importance. WEVA & Assoc of bridal consultants & the DJ association actively advertise with bridal magazines or to other professional organizations to draw consumers & vendors to their members & stress the importance of using a member of their organization.

Why doesn't PPA do things like advertise in bridal magazines or parenting magazines stressing the importance of having a true professional capture their memories?

I heard a story from one of the leading photographers in Australia and the world. He stated that a group of leading photographers threatened to walk out of the national organization unless the organization started to go to bat for them. Consequently the Organization started placing ads in the leading bridal magazines, stating that you should use a certified professional from our organization and had the list of all the member photographers in their area.

Why doesn't PPA organize an insurrection of magazine advertisers?

This person also mentioned that this same large group of photographers threatened the magazines they advertised in, that they would pull all their ads if the mag didn't stop telling readers things like "get you digital negs and print everything your self", "your photographer should shoot 5000 plus images since digital is free" and all other complete nonsense. Consequently the magazine saw their pocket book being threatened and did what they wanted.

WPPI kills imaging in attendance year after year while offering less benefits (actually none) compared to the myriad of benefits offered by PPA.

I talk to many vendors who feel there is no reason to advertise at and support the PPAs regional conventions since there is no return on investment for them but for these vendors WPPI is a must go, even more than Imaging. Attendance is dwindling and there is no young blood coming into a lot of regional organizations. So if I'm john q album maker why would I fork out $500for a booth and an additional $500-$1000 for accomodations / travel, and lose manpower. So I can see the same 50-100 people that have been coming to that convention for the last 15 years?

In my opnion PPA needs to attack the problem from the top and bottom. At the top ally with leading magazine / tv / new media outlets stressing the importance of professional photography for their families and weddings. At this economic time people are MORE likely to value their family. Imagine if we had a PPA representative talking on good morning america about the importance of having professional memories in a family portrait and how important it is in these times while showing an awesome family album and slideshow?

In the wedding market- cake makers / florists / dress shops have their own TV shows. Why doesn't a photographer? Maybe a web tv / youtube type of output showing a top destination or high end photographers? It makes me sick to see brides on say yes to the dress fight with other women over the privilege to try on a $5000 dress but these women probably won't want to spend more than $1000 on their photographer.

At the bottom end be more proactive with other new web entities. Ally with meetups or the clicking moms or web forums? Show them what PPA can offer. Have more of a prescence (or actually have one) in the local and chain camera stores or in Best buy. Hell you can buy every DSLR at best buy except the top ones that probably are owned by 1 in every 100 or 1000 anyways. Best buy is where most soccer moms / GWAC get their start.

I'm not saying we have to do these things or that I'm right. But something needs to change in the attitudes of the people running the nationals / state / and regionals.

You can't sit in the ivory tower and expect the neopyhtes to come to the PPA. We have to go out and get them. I'm seeing a longstanding (non-PPA)small regional organization die slowly from losing its relevancy. It's kind of sad except this organizations members never valued their vendor relationships. Their members got their prints from moto photo and not the pro labs that supported the organization, bought albums from non-sponsors. So now when the organization needs leadership and help do the jilted vendors offer to help? of course not.

If PPA or the regionals can't provide more value to the vendors in terms of new members and new customers then they will not continue to support the organizations and more and more regional conventions will become even more irrelevant. Vendors need the PPA to help provide them new potential customers to stay strong and profitable. It's quid pro quo.

The profession is becoming more and more part time. Rather than shun or snub the soccer moms, PPA should be going to where they are and trying to make them members. Raise their professionalism and teach them how to run a business and we all benefit. If they spend their money with PPA vendors, then vendors are more likely to advertise and continue to support the organizations. If we drive the GWAC and soccer moms to the regionals by having a prescence in the best buy or parenting mags, hopefully they get funneled into the national organization.

My 2 cents worth.

mrbarton
11-21-2009, 04:42 PM
So it's not the stroke? Couldn't resist. That's a lot to think about.

Michael_Gan
11-21-2009, 05:03 PM
Christopher, thank you for your points of view. Many do share your concern, so let me see if I can at least give you a few insights on your concerns.

Let's start with the national marketing campaign idea. Actually it has been done before. After tracking our efforts in the bridal magazine arena, we found that there was very little response in our efforts and the members were not getting anything out of the national campaign.

Many members have cited how well the American Dental association and the American Medical Association do so well in it's presence to the public. Unfortunately, unless our members decide to pay over $2000 a year in membership dues, PPA does not have the sufficient clout to to mount a consumer awareness campaign of this magnitude. We have to be more inventive. We are trying, though, and are working on some sort of "Got Photography" type of campaign, but the hard part of all this is to balance this along with our importance in the copyright arena and other advocacy areas that we must maintain for our members.

PP is the largest it has ever been in our history of over 22,000 members. Imaging has been well attended at an average attendance of 7500 each year - even in this recession. You have to remember that the other associations you have mentioned are all "For Profit" studios. They have to rely on those "part time" photographers you mentioned because the money they bring in is absolutely crucial to their well being. The ratio of actual full time to part time members is quite high with part timers making up as high as 80% of their membership.

As in my previous post and various other areas in this forum, you actually hit the nail on the head, except in reverse. I believe the change has to come from the ground up. If we can clean up the camera club mentality as far down in the local associations, the full time professionals would have a reason to join and attend. Especially in this day where time is an extremely valuable commodity, actual working pros do not have the time to sit through a local print competition full of pretty pictures. If we can concentrate on our core value of which competition was first originated, that is to learn how to improve actual practicing professional work, then I personally think we have a chance of drawing a lot of interest from the local, state, regional and national level. Then we have some relevance to all of this, but, as I said, the attitude has to significantly change in the local and state level.

I have to formally thank the volunteers of the PEC and the PEC task force for the hard work they did this past year. They have gone far beyond the call of duty to try to make sweeping changes for the good of all 22,000 members. It's taking a lot of guts for them to have to take the heat on a relative few to make the changes an I hope that all those who will be in the finalization process will tighten their belts and envision how we can draw all 22,000 to enter print competition, and JOIN their local, state and regional associations.

Citing California as an example, they made sweeping changes on their visualization process which turned their organization around within a few short years (well, at the time, it seemed like eternity). Their convention was heading south about 4 years ago with only 125 attending the convention and less than 1000 attending the trade show. within a year, the convention drew 250 attendees and 3500 to the trade show. The attendee figures have increased each year to about 450 this year and maintaining 3000+ in trade show. My point being, it can be done, but it requires the right leadership with the right visionary skills to pull it off.

This is not to toot California (well, ok, maybe so ;)), but to demonstrate that sometimes, many times, it takes a leap of faith from the members to make the changes necessary to produce the results. We do know, that "the old way" does not work anymore in any organizational models - whether it is with our professional organizations, or your own personal studios! If you don't embrace being proactive in the way things are run, then you run the risk of copying other organizations ideas, thinking those are the better solutions, which leads to being "too late", and that's the beginning of a rather slow death.

Zack_Davis
11-21-2009, 05:39 PM
Have more of a prescence (or actually have one) in the local and chain camera stores or in Best buy. Hell you can buy every DSLR at best buy except the top ones that probably are owned by 1 in every 100 or 1000 anyways. Best buy is where most soccer moms / GWAC get their start.

I've thought about that before too, I think it would benefit the PPA to even be seen as a presence in everything from point and shoots to the pro level cameras. If partnering with Best Buy and maybe even the camera manufactures to not pick the best cameras but to pick cameras and accessories that are quality. Getting people to see the PPA logo as a sign of photographic quality would easily translate over to photographers themselves. The companies that teamed up with PPA would have the benefit of an added reassurance to their customers so the costs would be kept low but the PPA could become a more known logo, organization and sign of quality very quickly once it caught on.

Tss1203
11-21-2009, 06:09 PM
I am ashamed to admit that I honestly didn't know PPA existed until last December. Well, I knew it existed I just couldn't remember what it was called...was it PPA, or PPI, or whatever....

I joined WPPI solely for the purpose of being able to say I was a member and to attend the conference. In the 8 or 9 months since joining PPA I've learned more than I ever imagined I would, and that is mostly from participating in the forums.

On another note- I knew Detroit PPA existed but would never thought to join and attend the meetings. When we moved to our retail location we were visited by a photographic legend in our community. Mary is 86 and just retired this past year-she was a photographer for 60 years. She was persistent about us attending the meetings with her. She would call several times until we agreed. I'm grateful to Miss Mary for taking us under her wing.
. The fear of the unknown is huge for some people. Sometimes all it takes is one person to reach out.

mrbarton
11-22-2009, 01:45 AM
Straight up I didn't know about PPA until midway through 2005. I heard bits and pieces but didn't really know anything beyond that. I joined and got certified within 4 months. I learned about the organization from Professional Photographer Magazine. My Wife gave me a subscription for Christmas. She said "it looked a little better than some of the other ones".

Christine_Walsh-Newton
11-22-2009, 06:07 PM
Jumping in and out really quick -

Joined PPA in 2008
Achieved CPP in May 2009
Joined PPO (Ohio) in November 2009

Entered 1st print competition last weekend at PPO Fall Conference.
4 entries scored: 77,78,81,85.
Also received 3rd place in portraits for the 85

I'm now hooked! I will certainly be entering my regional in March 2010. And then Nationals.

The main reason I didn't enter before this is that I didn't know that my work was good enough to score above a 69. I didn't want to embarrass myself. Competition sounded so ominous and scary.

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism and the attitude of the Masters that I spoke to during my critique session. They honestly wanted to help me improve and made constructive suggestions about my work.

I think if we can just get people over that hump of their first competition - getting people to participate won't be so much of an issue.

Keith_A_Howe
11-23-2009, 01:13 PM
Congrats Christine 2 for 4 and an 85. . . great job! excellant comments on your experiences and insights into getting people involved.
Keith

cjcastan
11-25-2009, 07:56 AM
Let's start with the national marketing campaign idea. Actually it has been done before. After tracking our efforts in the bridal magazine arena, we found that there was very little response in our efforts and the members were not getting anything out of the national campaign.

fair enough, I did not know that. when did that occur? Because I've never heard anything of the sort. Again though, how does association of bridal consultants get a sweet deal with bride's magazine to have a full page ad? How does WEVA and the DJ association get adverts in the Association of bridal consultants newsletter? I gotta believe PPA is WAAAAY bigger than ABC, and WEVA and ADJA are both non profit too.


Many members have cited how well the American Dental association and the American Medical Association do so well in it's presence to the public. Unfortunately, unless our members decide to pay over $2000 a year in membership dues, PPA does not have the sufficient clout to to mount a consumer awareness campaign of this magnitude.

fair enough. Why focus on paid advertising, why not have press releases / stories in USA today or AP about the importance of photography in these times. or have someone on a tv news show. A focus on opportunities that are free. Operation smile is worthwhile and great cause, why not use that as a lever to get on oprah or ellen or 20/20?



You have to remember that the other associations you have mentioned are all "For Profit" studios. They have to rely on those "part time" photographers you mentioned because the money they bring in is absolutely crucial to their well being. The ratio of actual full time to part time members is quite high with part timers making up as high as 80% of their membership.

As in my previous post and various other areas in this forum, you actually hit the nail on the head, except in reverse. I believe the change has to come from the ground up. If we can clean up the camera club mentality as far down in the local associations, the full time professionals would have a reason to join and attend. Especially in this day where time is an extremely valuable commodity, actual working pros do not have the time to sit through a local print competition full of pretty pictures. If we can concentrate on our core value of which competition was first originated, that is to learn how to improve actual practicing professional work, then I personally think we have a chance of drawing a lot of interest from the local, state, regional and national level. Then we have some relevance to all of this, but, as I said, the attitude has to significantly change in the local and state level.

I have to formally thank the volunteers of the PEC and the PEC task force for the hard work they did this past year. They have gone far beyond the call of duty to try to make sweeping changes for the good of all 22,000 members. It's taking a lot of guts for them to have to take the heat on a relative few to make the changes an I hope that all those who will be in the finalization process will tighten their belts and envision how we can draw all 22,000 to enter print competition, and JOIN their local, state and regional associations.

It's hard to determine tone and intent in print versus spoken word. But the way I read what you're saying about part-timers and "camera club" mentality makes it sound like a bad thing. I don't see that all. In chicago on facebook alone there are like 3-4 camera club type things that draw a lot of fresh creative and YOUNG blood that have active participation IRL in get togethers and meetings. One of the indictments I have of our local affiliate (which from what I hear is one of the stronger local affiliates in our geographic area) is that there's a lot more grey then dark hair there.

If the PPA encourages the locals and state and regionals to "raise the bar" and be more exclusionary towards the part-timers and enthusiasts then when it's time to pass the torch to the next generation, there won't be as many talented people there to pick it up. PPA and the the whole organization can't "wait for the camera club type person to be ready to step up to our level" because they've already gotten comfortable and settled into WPPI or DWF and have probably been brainwashed into thinking PPA isn't as cool and doesn't have the Rockstars that other places do (which I know is total crap, but that's not the perception on the street).

Personally I think it's good if at your regional or local that you have to sit through a marathon of 71-79s or pretty pictures. At least hopefully the "actual working pros" could help educate the camera club types and raise their level of skill and professionalism which helps us all.

I know steve sheanin is laughing all the way to the bank. I heard rumors why Skip Cohen left very quickly. WPPI is a money making profit driven machine. But the convention is extremely popular because it's FUN and welcoming and marketed well. I do have prints that will hang in Nashville in Janurary, but my self and dollars are going to Vegas because it's fun, I can hang with people who are closer in demographic to me, and frankly I think the educational opportunities on paper there are better.

Just because PPA is non profit doesn't mean it needs to have a stodgy curmudgeonly persona. I've actually had to defend myself to my peers who think that PPA and the affiliates are a bunch of boring fogeys who don't understand us young cool hip rock n' roller photographers and that I waste my time there.

Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to say PPA suxxorz and WPPI rulz or any non-sense like that. I think the PPA offers a lot otherwise I wouldn't be a part of it or risk getting thumbs downs and getting flamed here. I wouldn't have served on the board of my local and wouldn't be working on some things that hopefully will drive some newer fresher blood into our local. I just think that the people on top should really think about and find out what the perception out there about the PPA really is. Especially among the people who will grow into tomorrow's leaders.

mrbarton
11-25-2009, 12:55 PM
"Especially among the people who will grow into tomorrow's leaders."

Well said. I am not sure I can agree with everything you said personally Chris but that is solely because this comes from our own personally experience and that is going to be different for everyone. From your perspective these are just your experiences and frankly well worth the read. It's hard to defend that. I agree that PPA needs more exposure to the general public. I have said that for years.

I will say this quietly, but if you think about it, many of the state and regional conventions have gotten a bit stagnant. The fun is down just like the attendance. I don't think that's a coincidence. I have a ball at Imaging USA as I know a whole bunch of people there. I am certain WPPI could be the same though I'm not really in that loop. From my perspective these are all great things BUT being outside that loop or being someone that has never been to a convention before things would be very different.

PPA has a lot to offer and I didn't get you saying anything in the slightest opposed to that. I think we would agree that it's all about perception. If you read the rest of the posts here it also leads to that.

SO, couldn't we have more fun if we didn't care about money? You'd think we could be more irresponsible with a non-profit! Ha. Just kidding of course. . . sort of. . . .well yeah just kidding. . . .

Michael_Gan
11-25-2009, 05:01 PM
How does WEVA and the DJ association get adverts in the Association of bridal consultants newsletter? I gotta believe PPA is WAAAAY bigger than ABC, and WEVA and ADJA are both non profit too. How do you know that it's been effective for them too? One thing to think about: On average, most brides consider photography in levels of importance after all the other things that have to do with their day. The value of photography for most brides becomes higher after the wedding, which is an "afterthought" problem. With the way the bridal media portrays the photography as something that can be done by a "friend of the family", that alone isn't much help either, despite our industry's efforts to educate them as well. We have the problem on all sides. All brides are trying to hire Ashton Kutcher right now:D


why not have press releases / stories in USA today or AP about the importance of photography in these times. or have someone on a tv news show.
We have! Haven't you noticed them? Also, news releases have always been available to the members. Do all 22,000 members use them?


Personally I think it's good if at your regional or local that you have to sit through a marathon of 71-79s or pretty pictures. At least hopefully the "actual working pros" could help educate the camera club types and raise their level of skill and professionalism which helps us all. Just the snippet from the response. We have enough on our plate trying to educate our own members on all levels, let alone having to educate amateurs to become professionals.

The problem is that the pretty pictures are so prevalent in competition because of the intimidation factor of putting a portrait/wedding up against a scenic. I'm hoping this will change in the next year. But it is absolutely critical that we re-concentrate our efforts for our members to start "Mastering" our professional work. Many our getting their Masters with scenics, then marketing their Masters degree to their portrait clients. See the problem here? Have you ever said, or heard anyboy say, "I know of a Master in our area, and their portraits are awful/old/stale"? Well gues what? Their work in the portrait arena was probably never good to begin with.

Consider this: With the insurgence of "anybody with a camera becomes pros", less and less photographers are formally trained in basic photography. Print competition and certification are almost becoming the "last bastion of hope" for our industry. But we have to start at the ground level. If we spin our wheels trying to attract more amateurs to join our local professional associations, then we don't have trade associations, we have camera clubs. Camera clubs already serve that purpose. We really need the locals to improve professional work in any way possible. Personally, why would I want to go to a local pro association each month to learn how to do scenics? I've got better things to do than to waste my time with that.

Julie_Poole
11-27-2009, 02:56 PM
I have been following the print competition discussions for months now. I am a real neophyte when it comes down to it and just can't wrap my mind around what is competition material. I also have to agree with Ron that that stupid stroke is awful. Maybe it will be acceptable with the new no size requirement rule I can just print a print as I would in general. Again, that may come down to my lack of knowledge.

Why have I not entered competitions? 1) I forget to get things together. 2) I look at our state site and 80% of the winning images are heavily paintered. Pretty images, but, I suck at painter and I have to painter something to win I won't. It isn't my forte. 3) I am not sure I have anything that is worthy of it.

I am active in our local chapter and I truly enjoy the meetings. They do a great job having awesome speakers each month.

I follow these threads because I am interested in it. I look over the critiques and the comments in the CPP gallery.

Print competition just seems to elude my ability to see out of the box. I am sure that will change with time though. I guess another reason I haven't entered is it is a substantial amount of time and money to invest if you stuff is just not up to snuff

mrbarton
12-09-2009, 01:45 PM
It is never a waste of time or money to have your work viewed by your peers. I know that you did not word it that way or imply that at all. Others have in the past. It is important to have your prints viewed by a wide range of people and not just the judges. There is always something to learn. As for Painter, I have recently learned hot to autopaint! Ha. I know nothing more than that. Remember though that there are awards, but the real point is that every image can score a 100 and every image can merit. You are not competing against others in many ways, you are only competing against yourself. Do not forget that. It is nice to get other awards but you need to make your own goals.

Keith_A_Howe
12-09-2009, 03:02 PM
I also have to agree with Ron that that stupid stroke is awful. Maybe it will be acceptable with the new no size requirement rule I can just print a print as I would in general.

I know this has been covered before but here goes. . . You do NOT have to add a stroke or anything to your images. It is strictly up to the maker how they want to present the image to the panel. My question is would you present an image to your client as a plain print, no frame, mat, folder, gallery wrap, album, sleeve or anything? All of these add value and impact to your client. All a traditional mat or stroke on a competition print is, is a form of presentation to finish the image. A maker can enter a print how ever they want (with exception to things that could damage other makers images).

2) I look at our state site and 80% of the winning images are heavily paintered. Pretty images, but, I suck at painter and I have to painter something to win I won't. It isn't my forte.
I know that there are people that will not believe me but this is the truth. Rarely will a technique - like painter, make an image merit. On images with techniques like Painter, Lucis etc. applied - the base image needs to be strong, it still needs to fit the same elements.
3) I am not sure I have anything that is worthy of it.
Julie, competition (for me) is about learning and progressing, be in my current style - to take it into the next level or trying a whole new style of work. What I am reading into your post (maybe I am wrong in doing so) is that you are not sure you have anything that is a sure merit. Are a little nervous about putting yourself out there or are fearful of what people may think or say. If you wait to enter till you have feel your work is worthy, I am afraid that you will never enter or will wait a long time to enter. Either way you miss out on the oppertunities that competition has to offer.


Print competition just seems to elude my ability to see out of the box. I am not sure if you mean it is outside of your box (read comfort zone) or if you mean outside of the "PPA Box". So I can't answer this one.
I guess another reason I haven't entered is it is a substantial amount of time and money to invest if you stuff is just not up to snuff Again I would like to stress that it is about education and progression. College or VoTech school is a lot of time and money to invest especially if you have just a little knowledge in a given field. Yet the difference it can make in your life can be huge. Once again what you gain is equal to the effort applied. If you approach it half heartedly then in all likely hood you will be rewarded with similar results.
Keith

mrbarton
12-18-2009, 02:20 PM
I think it's really important for anyone that is going to Imaging USA to check out the galleries. The General collection, Loan collection, and ASP loan collection will all be there. At some point Kodak will have the Elite Awards on display. Going through those racks is one the best educations you can get at Imaging. Marathon Press will also be selling the books.