During a week where the halls of Gwinnett Technical College in Atlanta, Ga., would normally be quiet for the summer, a different kind of education is underway. Forty-nine PPA-Approved Affiliate Jurors are applying new technology to the long-standing processes in the annual International Photographic Competition judging for PPA merits and the coveted Showcase and Loan Collections.
Some 5,000 images are making their way through a rigorous selection process where trained jurors critique each individually, based on the 12 elements of a merit image. That said, this year's judging process is moving faster and more efficiently than ever, thanks to new, hand-held scoring pads based on Apple's iPod technology, which allow jurors to vote electronically and quickly tally decisions.
Dennis Craft, M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP, API, F-ASP, chairperson of PPA's Photographic Exhibition Committee, says the hand-held scoring devices are just one of several changes being made to improve processes and make the International Photographic Competition accessible to more PPA members than ever. (See the "PPA Today" section in the June Professional Photographer magazine issue for details on other 2010 competition revisions.)
"The new digital technologies will help us produce the same quality as print judging, while eliminating a lot of the manual and less efficient record-keeping and administrative tasks," says Craft. "We want it to be easier for PPA members to enter and take advantage of the benefits of competition, and we want our jurors and volunteers to have a good experience during judging and critiques."
Things seem to be working out that way. PPA member and juror Andrew Jenkins, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, says he believes digital options will "breathe new life" into the competition. He encourages PPA members to take a fresh look at participating.
So does juror Rich Newell, M.Photog.Cr. "Digital simplifies the process of participating and makes it more cost-effective," and that, according to Newell, just amplifies the benefits. "There is no other avenue of learning that has given me more than competition. It's hands-down the best educational value for photographers."
Ann Monteith, M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP, ABI, API, A-ASP, agrees. "Competition breeds consistency," she says. "The learning that goes on through competing is one of the best ways to make your art stand out and go beyond the standard."
Of course, among the dozens of competition aficionados at Gwinnett Tech this week, it doesn't take long for someone in the group to point out that no matter how far technologies evolve, prints are still a very important part of this event.
"I love to see this excitement and commitment to broadening the horizons of the International Photographic Competition for all PPA members," says volunteer Heather Smith, Cr.Photog., CPP--who also points out in the next breath that she personally favors prints.
"The physical print is my final product and that's the way I like to compete, but that's the beauty of this," Smith adds. "Now, we have options, and who wouldn't be excited to be able to see this transformation taking shape? To see us leveraging all these tools, while still embracing the values and the history of our organization--it just proves that we are here to seek out the best of the best and that we're committed to keeping this the world's best photographic competition."
Judging in the 2010 International Photographic Competition will be completed tomorrow. Announcement of merits, Showcase and Loan Collection choices will begin in the next two weeks. Watch for updates at www.ppa.com/competitions/international.php.