What's the Point of Print Comp?
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  1. #1

    Default What's the Point of Print Comp?

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

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

    John

  2. #2

    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

    I'm popping my popcorn and waiting for the show to start!






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

    - trr
    Last edited by Todd_Reichman; 06-25-2009 at 07:42 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

    Hi John;

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

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

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

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

    Keith
    Keith A. Howe
    M.Photog.,M.Artist, Cr.,D.F.Ph.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

    Again? .... sigh....

    The answer is YES!
    Last edited by Don_Chick; 06-25-2009 at 02:29 PM.
    Don
    M.Photog., Cr., CPP, D.C.Ph.

    www.donchick.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

    With that out of my system...

    The judging criteria as the 12 elements. Not something PPA has invented. The 12 elements are principles or guidelines for good art.
    Don
    M.Photog., Cr., CPP, D.C.Ph.

    www.donchick.com

  7. #7

    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

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

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

    Fact is those 12 elements are deeply rooted in the art world. And...if you learn them you will definitely look through your camera in a whole different way and yes...your work will improve.
    Joe Campanellie
    CPP, M.Photog., Cr., Fellow-ASP

    www.campanellies.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

    Ah! I almost forgot. I am the self-proclaimed king of dumb analogies! Print comp is to photography what working out in a gym is to everyday life.

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

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

  10. #10

    Default Re: What's the Point of Print Comp?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbarton View Post
    Ah! I almost forgot. I am the self-proclaimed king of dumb analogies! Print comp is to photography what working out in a gym is to everyday life.
    Michael,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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