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Thread: Why do you or don't you compete?
01-18-2009, 04:35 PM #1
Why do you or don't you compete?
As many of you have probably heard a motion was made during council meeting at IUSA to create a new degree, Master of Wedding Photography. This was voted down in council but since I have been home this has prompted some interesting discussion on the Council list serve about print competiton. It was brought up that a relatively low percentage of PPA members actually participate in print competition. What I would like to know is why do you enter prints? Is it for the education? the potential accolades? personal self esteem, marketing value? Or what? I also even more want to know if you don't enter, why not? Is it the expense? intimidation, fear of failure? lack of understanding of the whole process? just not into competing? or whatever other reason. Are there any changes that PEC could make that would make you start entering? If you don't want to post publically then send me a PM. As many of you know I am a councilman and an affilate juror. I don't hold any power with either of those groups but I do have opportunities to give input and so I would like to educate myself about what the membership really thinks, and not just make guesses. I don't need a whole long explanation, which you certainly can give if you want, but I am looking for an informal poll and a tally of the main reason people enter or don't enter prints. Thanks in advance for all the feedback you can give me.
KeithKeith A. Howe
01-18-2009, 04:51 PM #2
I have competed since 1978. My reasons: #1 to have it serve as a way to see where my work stacks up against my peers. #2 as a way to constantly improve. #3 as a way for my clients to see when I am rewarded for excellent images. #4 as a pat on the back but also as a prod to not stay still but to keep striving to get better.
01-18-2009, 05:08 PM #3
I think of print competition as a means of improving myself as a photographer. The first competition I entered was National last year and the one thing that I got out of the critique that you gave was how to make the images I submitted better. In the short time I've entered prints in competition, I'm seeing a difference in the quality of my work ... thinking in the back of my head about what would make an image do well while I'm taking that image in a way forces me to slow down; it is far too easy with digital equipment to take a ton of shots....
Being able to show clients pretty blue ribbons is nice too
besides, D.Craig made me do it
01-18-2009, 05:09 PM #4
I love to learn. There is a part of every single day that I learn something so I can keep moving forward for my business and my clients.
As you know, after being stubborn for a long time, I finally tried print comp at regionals last year. When the prints were returned, I was not at all upset about the scores contrary to certain beliefs, but the fact there was no feedback available. I don't care about the scores as much as I do about the judges feedback. This is where you learn. If you get a case back with prints and scores and nothing else, what really did you learn? If I get a print back with a score of 79, I want to know what kept it from an 80 or even why it wasn't a 72? If you take a test in school and the test is given back to you with a score of 79 but the wrong answers are not marked and noted, how do you know what is wrong so you can learn from it?
Print comp takes a lot of time and money to participate and for me, if I can't get feedback so I can learn how to improve, then I just don't have the desire to be a part of it. I can't attend every competiton and even then, you have to be lucky enough to be in the right room to see your print come up or, find a judge from the panel who will sit down and discuss your print after judging. And not all competitons have the ability to allow for a video critique. So, no feedback is the primary reason I don't and won't participate. For me it's about learning and improving. I don't want to try and guess why the score is a 79 or a 90, I want to know what the judges saw when they viewed the image. Provide me with critique every time and I will participate every time.Ron Jackson
01-18-2009, 06:51 PM #5
My reasons for print competitions is different now than it was when I was going for my degree. In pursuit of the degree, it was a matter of "mastering" my work for improvement of my client work. I figured, at that time, that if I can elevate my work above all others around me, it would give me that additional "edge" in the marketplace. Somehow, this worked because my clients most often select the work I strongly recommend for them to hang in their homes.
Now, it's a matter of me learning how to "push the envelope". It's a multi-faceted project of introducing new ideas into the competition arena, as well as seeing if I'm on the right track in communicating my artwork to others. Many of the most innovative photographers in our association like Tom Rouse, Tim Walden and Darton Drake, for example, have entered work that was not seen before and, like Tim Walden, the work has now become commonplace with many photographers across the country. For Tom, there was no predecessor to his work and he is spurring a lot of creative power from others. So, in my response to the council, I think that it all comes down to photographic leadership.
Many Masters recipients are taking the degree and running, instead of helping to create more Masters. Membership in our association is not a problem, it has come down to the quality of membership. The moment that we can get all of the sponsors of the degree to be the Masters that the recipients aspire to, is the moment that we have the ball rolling to elevate the quality of membership.
Much of this is to develop a sense of continuation for the Masters who seemingly get cut off because so much is dedicated to educating the new members. There are no educational challenges for the Masters - I know that for myself, with the exceptions of a few photoshop and marketing courses, I see very little that addresses what we don't know. This is why there have been talks of an advanced degree after the masters. PPA does not have that kind of program and as such, is losing the participation (and sometimes the membership) of its Masters. There is ASP with their "Doctorate" of the Fellowship degree, but other than a few additional accolades (sorry, wrong association ) of the Imaging Excellence and the POTY awards, there really isn't any other reason to excel with the exceptions of the few.
So, to me, print comp is the ultimate in how you communicate your work. It can be assumed that if your point comes across to the judges and your peers, your work should do well in the customer arena (with good marketing skills). Now the challenge for the Masters is to create new ideas in competition that will stir the senses, even educate, the judges to always see and judge things in a totally different way. These will be the ingredients that would propel our association through the next century.Michael Gan,M.Photog.Cr. CPP,
Meritage House of Photography
If your business depends on you, you don't own a business-you have a job. And it's the worst job in the world because you're working for a lunatic... You can't close it when you want to, because if it's closed you don't get paid. You can't leave it when you want to, because if you leave there's nobody there to do the work. You can't sell it when you want to, because who wants to buy a job?http://www.meritageonmain.blogspot.com
01-18-2009, 07:26 PM #6
I haven't read all the other responses yet, so this may repeat some of what others have said.
I enter to learn. I have learned so many things since I started entering - I look at things in a totally different way now when I think of an image I want to make. For example, I have always wanted to get a really cool image of a train - when I think about how I actually want that to look, I keep things in mind, like which direction the train should move through the image, that it needs room in front of it so it has somewhere to go, etc. And even in the studio when I am doing appointments, things I learn in comp always come to mind, like short lighting, and when broad lighting would be a good thing - not that I can always light it like I should, but at least I know what to TRY for!
Plus, it's always hard to look at my own work and be critical. It's nice to get other opinions, and to hear sometimes that I really did do it right!
I would say that the one reason I didn't enter for as long as I did, was the cost. I know now that the cost is well worth the experience. But just starting out, it didn't seem worth the price for me.
Also, the merits/degrees, etc., is still very confusing (as Holly knows, after our conversation at IUSA!)Lori Clapp
Will I EVER know how to use what I learn?
01-18-2009, 07:54 PM #7
I first entered because I could. Working at the newspaper, the editor decided what image I was going to submit. No choice or feedback wanted. I won two state awards that year, didn't get to see the competition or anything. The paper entered and won so they could publicize it.
When I worked at the lab, each spring photographers would start sending in negs with directions for artwork and I was fascinated with the what/why and how of it all.
Leap to when I joined PPA and actually thought of entering my own. I had great encouragement by local photographers who had seen my work.
The first entry I did was in our state seminar, usually used as a jumping off point before the affiliated judging later in the spring.
I was told all these things about a print I had taken in the pj model and couldn't quite comprehend why they didn't understand. :/
A local photographer who has many medals/ribbons and accomplishments explained as well as he could and then handed me one of his loan books.
My eyes were opened.
I reworked some of the images and entered them in HOA, our affiliated judging regional. Two actually merited!!! I was given advice by others there who had witnessed the judging and others who recognized what needed done to the other two. Again, those did not merit but I paid for the video critique which filled in tons of blanks.
My local mentor totally disagreed with it and God love him, realized that he was not an affiliate judge but would have fought for it had he been and been on that panel.
I compete because of the learning, the great publicity, to get my masters but mostly, for a great feeling of accomplishment, taking an image from my vision to a beautiful print that others also see as worthy.
I have goals for my competition career:
1. to merit an image I have had no help with in any manner (accomplished my second year)
2. to merit an image with only cropping, burn/dodge/ and other darkroom only techniques (almost but not quite accomplished)
3. to merit a portrait--I have been a photographer for many years but only entered the portrait end in the last few years
4. LOAN. need I explain that more?
The cost when I was working at the lab was prohibitive as I was not a PPA member and would only be joining to enter. That was my biggest drawback.Linda Gregory
01-18-2009, 08:44 PM #8
KeithKeith A. Howe
01-18-2009, 09:18 PM #9
I have to say that I just haven't recovered from competition burnout. I competed at every opportunity for 10 years or more... I wanted(and got) my Masters. I wanted(and got) my Texas Full Fellowship...I wanted(and got) my local PPA Affiliate Full Fellowship. I just pooped out.____________________
Dave Cisco M.Photog, Cr., CPP, F-TPPA
01-18-2009, 09:55 PM #10
- Join Date
- Jun 2006
- Atlanta, GA
I just started with competition last year with the singular intent of earning a master's. I suppose I want to legitimize myself in an industry that I still don't quite feel like imeasure up in. I can't say that I'll keep competing in the event I do achieve the masters. I don't particularly enjoy the comp process for the reasons Ron suggested - mainly the lack of immediate feedback. The learning really comes from the prep which really doesn't require the actual competition.
I hope to earn my master's only submitting electronic albums. Not that it's cost prohibitive specifically, but cases and reprints do cost. Plus single prints don't really represent my real work, so it doesn't seem right to earn in that manner.
Mainly though, Im uncomfortable with comp mostly because I really have a hard time maintaining confidence in the face of criticism, embarrassing but true.