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Competition Creates Buzz and Referrals for Missouri Photographer - PPA Today

Competition Creates Buzz and Referrals for Missouri Photographer

Edwards-Jessica.jpgEver wonder if you're doing what you were meant to do? Follow Jessica Edwards' lead, and ask yourself one question: If you didn't have to work, what would you do?

The answer to that question was how Edwards found her way back to photography. She was told over and over that she needed to get a "real job," so she decided that photography would just be a hobby. But after studying psychology for four years, she realized that her heart just wasn't in it.

"I did some soul searching and asked myself, 'If I didn't have to work, what would I do?'" explains Edwards. "The answer was that I would travel and take pictures of the places I went and people I met. That's when I realized that my heart was still in photography...and I decided to devote the rest of my life to it."

Devotion is a good way to describe professional photographers' attitude toward their craft. After all, it takes effort and continual, consistent education to keep up with the constant changes in the industry. As Edwards notes, "If you don't evolve with [photography], you'll be left behind."

Along with attending conventions and webinars hosted by Professional Photographers of America, Edwards uses photographic competitions as a method for evolving her skills. "I believe that anyone who wants to improve their work and continue to grow as a photographer should enter photographic competition," she says. "It forces you to be more critical of the photographs you enter--and their lighting, posing and post-processing details--which will carry over into your everyday work."

desatWIP.jpgNichole.jpgIn fact, her goal is to offer competition-quality images to all her clients. She only uses client work for her competition entries, and doing so pushes her to strive for perfection in each and every photo shoot. "My clients love it when I enter their images--they tell ALL their friends and family members, especially when their image wins an award," adds Edwards. "It creates amazing buzz about my work, which leads to word-of-mouth referrals."

Zach.jpgOne thing to consider for your competition entries (and your everyday images) is to try out new locations and techniques. When you feel like you're in a rut, photograph something that is completely out of your comfort zone. Edwards has found that when she's out of her norm, she actually ends up producing some of her best, most creative images.

That may have something to do with Edwards finding inspiration in her surroundings. Although she uses her studio 50 percent of the time, she is a location photographer at heart and loves to find beauty and interest in the most unsuspecting places. Her clients have even confessed that they were a little worried about how their portraits would turn out in some locations she has suggested. But as soon as she shows them the image on the back of the camera, their moods change and they completely trust her.

maryann.jpgPerhaps that's why Edwards urges photographers to "trust your eye."

"You are in this industry because you see the world like no one else. Use that to your advantage!" she adds. "Even if you feel like your work isn't merit quality, enter it anyway...you never know. In my very first print competition, I won the People's Choice award for a print I almost didn't enter."

Regardless of how well you do in a competition, the important thing is to learn from the experience so you can evolve your photography. As Edwards reminds us, "Take the information you learn from these competitions, PPA conventions, etc., and apply it to your everyday work. You will be happier, your clients will be happier and, in turn, your bank account will be happier!"

Caleb.jpgJessica Edwards owns Jessica Edwards Photography in Missouri, and she graduated from the prestigious Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology in Dayton, Ohio. Since graduating, her print case was honored with a 1st place ribbon for portrait photography by the Kentucky Professional Photographers Association. In 2009, she won the Mid-East States People's Choice Award, a Judge's Choice Award, two blue ribbon merits, two Court of Honor Awards and two Award of Achievements.

In 2010, Jessica became a member of the Miller's Speaking Team. Sponsored by the largest photo lab in the world, Miller's Professional Imaging, Jessica can be seen speaking and teaching at conventions and workshops throughout the United States.

All images ©Jessica Edwards.

1 Comments

I have been keeping up with this one and she has indeed found her calling. Jessica you are very skilled and have much to show and I am enjoying seeing your success. Thanks Norman Dickson



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This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on March 9, 2010 8:29 PM.

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