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Ed_Sharp
01-07-2012, 01:09 AM
I am wondering how other photographers go about selecting images for print competition. Do you photograph something with the intention of using it in competition or do you look through your files for something you think would do well? Do you go through the list of 12 elements to see how the image satisfies those qualities or do you go with your gut instinct and choose what you think is a good image?

GregYager
01-07-2012, 01:28 AM
I do both. I plan a shoot for competition about once a month. Some work, some don't. I still go through my client work to see what I can find with impact which to me is the hardest element to achieve. I don't check them against all 12 elements until I sit down to compare the ones I felt had impact.

Rick_Massarini
01-07-2012, 02:01 AM
I keep a file folder on my computer labeled "Competition Images". Every time I go through a client session, if any image really grabs me, I copy the file to that folder. When I get ready to look for competition images, they're right there in the file. I've never done a session strictly for competition.

Jeff_Dachowski
01-07-2012, 02:13 AM
At the beginning of the year, I write down four random numbers anywhere from 01 to 25000.

So last year it was Frame 483, 14034, 15897, and 20,392. I then work those exposures up and see what the judges say.
Jeff

Heather_L._Smith
01-07-2012, 02:13 AM
Hahahaha... I sit in a corner and rock back and forth sucking my thumb.

I used to cull my files to see if I had something I loved, and that was an okay process. Then, I started using my clients as guinea pigs and would try new things with them with competition in mind. Last year, I had a title in mind before I had an image, and when the right dog came in to my studio, I used the end of that session to try and realize the vision... and it worked, the image went Loan. Another image from last year I'd had for almost a year. One of my dear friends happened to see the image and went "hmmm... there might be something there," so I worked it up and sure enough, it went Loan as well. Another was a shot from one of my horse races, and I knew when I shot it that it was "something." Some minor tweaking and a good crop landed that one in the Showcase collection.

So, what's my process, you ask? Um, pray. Haha.

No, really.

Actually, I've found that experience is the best judge of competition images. Some people are just downright amazing right out of the gates, but most of us take some runway to get flying. And some of us take a few laps around the airport to get going.

Actually, a really good mentor can make a world of difference. I would also take advantage of the image review programs at Imaging (if you're going) where you can sit down with a judge and get live feedback on images you're considering for competition.

GregYager
01-07-2012, 02:25 AM
At the beginning of the year, I write down four random numbers anywhere from 01 to 25000.

So last year it was Frame 483, 14034, 15897, and 20,392. I then work those exposures up and see what the judges say.
Jeff

Wow! Now that's what I call holding your feet to the fire all year long!

Jeff_Dachowski
01-07-2012, 02:52 AM
Sorry Ed! Too sarcastic?

Ed_Sharp
01-07-2012, 03:10 AM
Sorry Ed! Too sarcastic?

No not at all, that seems like a good idea and I assume the random numbers can serve as titles for the images as well.:D

Tss1203
01-07-2012, 03:20 AM
Wow! Now that's what I call holding your feet to the fire all year long!

Jeff is just that good that he can pick his images at random and they still go loan ;0)

Ed_Sharp
01-07-2012, 01:48 PM
I really like the fact that competition is so many different things to different photographers and so it seems is the image selection process.

Last year after helping set up the prints for the print display at IUSA I was inspired to enter for the first time. Shortly after Imaging, our local affiliate was having a digital print judging which I entered. I was really surprised at how hard my heart was pounding when my images came up before the judges. The images I chose were from existing files and my selection process was to find images that I liked that I imagined the judges would like based on the 12 elements. From that group I kept the one image that had merited .

Then I picked 3 new images to enter into my state comp, there the image that did well in our local print comp was the only one that merited.

Next phase was the regional comp where I added 3 new images and again entered the one image that had merited in the first 2 comps. This time I got two seals on two of the new images, but the image that had merited before didn't merit this time.

So having the two seals, I needed to find two more images for IPC. I decided to roll the dice and enter the image that had merited at State and local, but failed at regional. I needed one more image and at this point I was tired of trying to fit an image into a mold of what I thought the judges would like, so I just decided to pick something very self indulgent that I really liked for no tangible reason. I thought the judges would probably not like the image, but this was one just for myself. It was almost like a protest vote against the system.

At the IPC my original image that merited local and state missed . I got my two merits for the sealed prints from regional, but the real kicker was my self indulgent "I don't care what the judges think, I'm using it" image went loan and was later published in Professional Photographer magazine(September issue, table of contents:D)

I guess the moral of my story is "You can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself" and if within that process you merit, it just seems a little more satisfying.

IMHO I also think it is also important to realize that print comp is very subjective and judges scores can vary greatly from person to person.

Jeff_Dachowski
01-07-2012, 03:46 PM
Ed,
As someone who is newer to the process, what you need to know about comp, is that the score your print recieves is only one piece of information at one point in time. Your score is the combination of that panel, plus everything else that is going on in the world at that moment. For instance a well done image of the twin towers might have scored an 82 with one panel in August of 2003, and 100 in October or 2003 with a different panel. The system has it's ups and downs, and many people think that a 78 at one panel is doomed to always be a 78. Conversly a 92 at one panel can easily not merit at IPC.

One last thing, and this is why your heart was racing when your prints are turning. You are a symbiot with that print, but....your score only reflects the print, not you or your self worth. Many times I have left the room angry, sad, bewildered etc. at how those dumb judges just didnt understand my brilliance! Truth was, I was too close, and took their 77 as a 77 score for Jeff Dachowski. Dont let this happen, as it will cloud all the learning that can take place if you have an open mind about it.
Jeff

btw...glad to see you have had some success so far. keep it up!

Ed_Sharp
01-07-2012, 07:17 PM
Ed,
One last thing, and this is why your heart was racing when your prints are turning. You are a symbiot with that print, but....your score only reflects the print, not you or your self worth. Many times I have left the room angry, sad, bewildered etc. at how those dumb judges just didnt understand my brilliance! Truth was, I was too close, and took their 77 as a 77 score for Jeff Dachowski. Dont let this happen, as it will cloud all the learning that can take place if you have an open mind about it.
Jeff


Thank you Jeff,that is great advice and you nailed it right on the head. The reason I was so surprised by my heart pounding was that was that, like most photographers I take pride in welcoming constructive criticism. Being my first PPA print comp since photo school (1985), on one level my mind was doing just what you are talking about "print=photographer" , but at the same time I like to think I was still taking in all the commentary and that no doubt helped me decide what images not to enter in the next phase.

Somebody wiser than me once said that being a good photographer is as much about knowing what to throw away as what to present.

Stephanie_Millner
01-07-2012, 08:06 PM
Personally, I go with the Heather Smith method of the rocking back-and-forth in a fetal position.

Generally, I try to do all of one "theme"... like all 4 pets, or all 4 portraits. This year I really wanted to do all 4 travel, but I have this one hedgehog one that I just love...

Tss1203
01-08-2012, 12:52 AM
Steff, I was looking thru your 'best of pets' today and my 7 year old son came in the room. We both laughed (in a good way!) at the hedgehog image (prickly pair). We both loved it. I don't know if that is the one you are talking about, but Avery just couldn't get enough of that picture. He made me go thru the whole album so he could look at the cute animals :)

cat_broderick
01-08-2012, 01:47 AM
We really need a "like" or "thanks" button here. So many things in this thread are worthy!

Jeff_Dachowski
01-08-2012, 03:28 AM
Ed,
Another thing to point out....there are a bunch of old threads that Keith Howe started a couple of years ago about the specific elements in whic he discusses and illustrates his points. Try finding some of his threads.

Now, impact is huge in the elements, and it ties with all of the other elements, but the easiest way I can describe it is....When you see an image and wished you made it....that has impact.

Now...I also see a lot of similiar images entered when I judge a state. We do not compare the images at all in competition to each other. Keep in mind that although we do not compare, we cannot see something for the first time if we have seen it before.

Let me give you an example: Have you seen the movie The Sixth Sense? Were you not blown away at how awesome the ending was? How all the elements come together to that perfect point where you are rocked to your core at the end of the movie? That is impact.

Now...what happened the second time you saw it? The impact was greatly diminished without comparing it to another movie. You simply had seen it before, and the impact of a new effect, printing technique, subject matter etc can be affected by the fact that you have seen it done before.

Jeff

Ed_Sharp
01-08-2012, 11:56 PM
We really need a "like" or "thanks" button here. So many things in this thread are worthy!

I will second that. Thanks again for the insight from a judges point of view Jeff.