Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 26
  1. #1

    Default Catagories?? Where do judges draw the line?

    I am wondering where Judges draw the line between digital art and portraits? Or are they all in one category?

    I attended my State competition this last weekend. I received 3 "merits", 2 prints and my album. As we were watching the awards ceremony, I was getting confused about the catagories. Where is the line drawn between a "Portrait" and digital art?? Most of the images that won Tropies were so digitally enhanced that they were nowhere near the original image. Don't get me wrong, they were beautiful works of art, but to me, they were not "Portraits", they were "Digital Art".

    Why could there not be separate catagories for "Natural" PHOTOGRAPHIC images with minimal photoshop work and DIGITAL ART??

    Any insight on this would helpfull, and if you are someone that feels the way I do, is there anything that can be done??
    Tracey Taylor
    Taylor Made Photography

  2. #2


    I saw at PPA in January that they did a decent job of separating digital art from portraits (although I didn't get to see it all since they kicked us out early!!) but I think there definitely needs to be guidelines drawn up about what constitutes a digital art piece and what is simply enhancing a regular portrait. Is there anything in the rules online about that?

  3. #3

    Default Hey! Congrats!

    Congrats on the state-wide merits, that's not to be overlooked.
    -Assoc. degree, commercial photography
    -Certified Professional Photographer

  4. #4


    I was wondering the same thing.
    I asked a friend of mine who has been on the board of a small affilitae for the last several years and she told me this.
    If the maker has captured the image and then manipulated it in photoshop it is basically up to them. If they want to enter it under Portrait, Digital, Wedding ...whatever. If on the other hand they have only done the PS work it can only be entered under Digital. Like a retouching artist who has done a spectacular job making a really acne scarred face look clean or a water damaged print restored to original condition etc. Hope this helps - David

  5. #5

    Default Thanks so much!!

    I am very happy and proud to have won those 3 state merits,please don't missunderstand this post, it is just confusing to me.

    I just feel that the judges are leaning towards the heavily photoshoped images, and the ones that are beautiful "portraits" with minimal photoshop enhancements are being overlooked. I have discussed this issue with other local photographers in my area and they all feel the same way... there should be a separate catagory for the heavy photoshop and painter effects. And the "Portrait/Wedding" catagories should be for left for minimal enhancing of the images.. maybe even and explination should be included with the image as to what exactly was done, and let PPA decide if it should be in the "Portrait/Wedding" catagory or the "Digital Art" catagory.

    Again, don't get me wrong here, even one of my merit images had some photoshop work done to it.... but on the background, not so much on the subject. It still looks like a "Portrait". I have posted it here, and maybe even it would qualify for the "Digital Art" catagory if this were to be done.

    Thanks so much for reading and listening to me, I am just hoping there are enough of us that feel this way that MAYBE a change can be made. And maybe I am just ol'school... even though I have only been in the business proffesionally for 2 years, maybe this is just the way things are heading and I had better shine up my photoshop and painter skills if I want to become a Master Photographer someday!!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Tracey Taylor
    Taylor Made Photography

  6. #6

    Default Just a story from the past.

    I was at an affiliate judging in 96 when PS and digital were still pretty much a mystery. It was the first year that this group had a digital category and they realy didn't have the guidelines set-up yet. Anyway a group of several children recieved the highest score in the Portrait group so now it's down to the awards and they are going to give it Court of Gold Portrait Award. Then one of the judges spots some digital work on the print and moves it into the digital category. Now it is no longer the highest score in it's group and the maker is fuming! She didn't even know her lab had used digital retouching to do some work on the print. I can't remember what was done but it bumped her off the awards list. I for one miss the categories. I think weddings are different than portraits and illustrative is a whole other world. But time marches on. - David

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    North Platte, NE


    Hi Guys! I asked Keith to post on this thread but he is just too busy - literally 14 hour days all week. So over lunch he kinda told me what to say. If I get something wrong, I apologize in advance.
    First off at national judging there is a portrait open (PO) and an electronic imaging (EI) catergory, plus album etc. In PO the entrant must have created the original ohotograph and something in the image must be recognizable as a photograph. The enhancement and artwork - digital or traditional, does not have to be done by the maker but must be done under his/her control or direction. So if you take a photograph and have someone else enhance it - it must be entered in PO. For EI the subject matter, while of course adding to the impact and effecting the overall score, is not as crucial as in PO. In EI the judges are rating the work that has been done, the degree difficulty and how well the enhancements were done. It is not necessary to include a guide print or original but it usually is helpful. If you are particularly successful with adding or subtracting elements, the panel may not even notice what you actually did. If guide prints are included then they know what to look for.
    In EI the entrant can be the original photographer but not necessarily, as the judging is done primarily on the enhancements not on the photography. So a digital artist can enter EI without ever taking a photograph. Or a photographer who created the image and did his own PS'ing can enter in EI or PO.

    As far as the issue of how much is photography and how much is artwork - that issue has been creating controversary for 30 years. Long before digital was a word in our vocabulary, some photographers were complaining that the high scoring entries were more the artist's work and not truly that of the photographer. That is one of the reasons Keith pursued his Master Artist degree - so his entries were truly his own work, and did not have any contributions from a traditional photographic artist. Through his education in traditional artwork, he became a firm believer in getting it right in camera. Once he knew how much effort it took to correct problems, he learned it was quicker and easier to take care of it before the shutter falls. This will probably still be an issue 50 years from now when instead of photographing seniors we clone them and enhance the clones.

    At National judging and one regional (SE we think, not sure) PO and EI are seperated. At other affilated judgings there is no official EI judging, and non affliate judgings are at each state's or local's discretion.

    Jurors are charged to judge the image put in front of them. They cannot question if an image should be disqualified from the catergory (PO or EI) that it is presented in. That descion is completely up to the jury chairman and in non-affilate judgings the print chairman may also have a say. In an affilate judging there is not the option to move a print from PO to EI and vice versus. If it does not meet the criteria in the rules, for the catergory declared by the maker, it will be disqualified. It cannot be moved to the other catergory. In David's example, it would have to have been the jury chairman and not just a juror and it should have been disqualified under todays rules. The maker was given the benefit of the doubt and instead of kicking the print out, it was kept in the show and moved catagories. So while it was sad to not receive the award it was better than being disqualified all together which probably should have been done - if this was in fact an affiliate judging. And as David said, in the mid 90's everyone was feeling their way and trying to be as fair as possible. So that's probably why it was moved and not DQ'd. As far as the maker not knowing her lab was going to do digital artwork, well it has always been part of the rules that the artwork is done under the makers direction and control. It's kinda like back when there was a thickness rule. If your lab screwed up and didn't make the print thick enough, it was still your responsibility to make sure it met the requirments.

    This is me talking now - not Keith. Someone mentioned about liking it better when prints were judged in catergories like wedding, portrait, commercial etc. I agree with that to a point. However say a photographer gets a model and spends a whole day photographing her in locations and conditions of his choosing. The model happens to be wearing a wedding dress so the print is entered as a wedding, competing for head to head awards with a bridal image created in 2 minutes on the wedding day. Shouldn't that first print really ethically be considered a portrait? And what about a truly gifted scenic photographer who consistantly scores in 90's and by putting a small tiny person one inch high in the corner now enters that image under portrait?
    I think grouping everything under portrait open was an attempt to judge each print on it's own merit, not asuming what circumstances it was created under. I would also like to add that just like any organization or group, PEC is never going to please everybody all the time. There will always be some members who think it should be handled differently. If you have noticed the official rules have been drastically cut in length the last year or two. I think it was in an effort to allow photographers more freedom and make it less resrtictive and easier to enter yet maintain enough consistancy for a fair judging. These are however strictly my opinions and I could be completely off in my assumptions.

    Holly Howe M.Photog., Cr.

  8. #8


    Thanks for clearing all that up Holly. I know what you mean about the models. It was fairly common practice at one time to hire models for competition prints. Take a look at the old loan books and you'll see what I mean. But even if it wasn't supposed to be that way when the judges looked at a wedding image in the wedding category they did keep in mind that it was created under the gun and not after hours of work perfecting. I don't think they were supposed to do that but they did. I can remeber judges saying things like "Come on guys this was a wedding not a portrait session!" While arguing for a print. I also remember sitting and watching judges say things like "wait a minute if the tree with the lighting bolt gets a merit how can we deny this one!" At which point the chairman would hurumph and say "NO COMPARING PRINTS GENTLEMEN" As if they didn't anyway. Oh well these are old stories and times have certainly changed. Thanks again Holly.

  9. Default

    Good reporting Holly! Keith has given some great info to the process. Holly says "At National judging and one regional (SE we think, not sure) PO and EI are seperated." There are three competitions, one each to correspond with each of the degrees. Photographic Open (PO) for the Master of Photography degree, Electronic Imaging (EI) for the Master of Electronic Imaging degree and Art Tech (AT) for the Master Artist degree. Southeastern Professional Photographers Association (SEPPA) is designated the Regional for Commercial, AT and EI for all of the country. All other Regionals are for PO only. Most of the regionals do not want the expense of assembling a panel for the AT, EI and Commercial so PEC designated a Region who wanted it to host those competitions. This gives those participants a second chance to compete and to hang their four images in those competitions if they desire.

    There have been some rumors that the Art Tech degree is going away but this is not so. PEC did change the entrance requirements for AT to include ONLY traditional artwork for the degree. This means only brushes, pencils, oils, etc. may be used. No electronic work may be entered. Those who had merits in AT were given three years to complete their degree using any medium (including electronic). This grace period ended last year and any merit achieved in AT must be done with traditional methods.

    There have been many schools of thought about "limiting" the methods of producing the entries in PO. There are some who think that we should enter only what we sell and those that think one should enter only work done totally by the maker. In the first case we would only grow as much as our client base allowed (pretty stale IMO) and the second would take a lot of folks out of the competition just on the printing end. I think that the competition should be a stretching of our abilities and imagination to inspire ourselves and those who look at our exhibits. Limiting those would not be in the best interest of professional photography.

    A post in this thread made reference to awards. PPA and PEC offer only the degrees (Master of Photography, Master of Electronic Imaging and Master Artist), Photographer of the Year desiginations and the Imaging Excellence desigination as awards/desiginations. PPA and PEC do not award places (1st, 2nd, etc.) courts of honor, any ribbons, etc. to those entering competitions. Those are awarded by the hosting association for their own members. Likewise, the Regional Association does not own the regional print competition, they are the host of that competition. PPA's jurors judge the awards part of some regionals as a courtesy to that group. Some regions choose all their awards by the score given during the judging rather than re-judge them again against one another. Judges are used only to break ties.

    IMO the competition is not about awards but the education derived from the process. Even if a person does not compete the education is there for them in the challenges made during the course of a competition and the studying of the images deemed worthy of the merit. Every photographer should be entering just to improve their work.

    With all considered our system of judging is the very best of all systems judging the arts. We have the fairest system with the most checks and balances. I also assure that the PEC is constantly working to improve our system to keep it that way.

    Buddy Stewart, PEC vice-chairman

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Tampa FL


    Quote Originally Posted by Holly Howe

    As far as the issue of how much is photography and how much is artwork - that issue has been creating controversary for 30 years. Long before digital was a word in our vocabulary, some photographers were complaining that the high scoring entries were more the artist's work and not truly that of the photographer. .......Jurors are charged to judge the image put in front of them.
    Absolutely correctamundo ! There's often been a lot of "sour grapes". -Normally coming from those struggling to get "mercy" scores in the low 70's. If, instead, photographers used salon as a learning and growing tool, these things would not be an issue.

    I look at it like this: If a craftsman is building a table in his workshop, it doesn't matter (to the viewers of the finished table) what tools were used in it's creation. Similarly, it doesn't matter whether he "knocked it out" in an afternoon, or invested 6 months building it. When it's finished, it is what it is.

    Similarly, an image is what it is. Whether a scenic was made by the photographer with a "quick snap" while driving by on a highway, or whether he scouted the scene throughout two years worth of seasons, and waited for the perfect time of day and perfect lighting.

    The image doesn't know or care how it was created. It is what it is, and should be judged for what it is.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Live Chat is closed