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IPC vs CPP: A Judging Breakdown - PPA Today

IPC vs CPP: A Judging Breakdown

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The International Photographic Competition just wrapped up, and since the next image submission deadline for the Certified Professional Photographer is this Friday, August 16th, we thought this would be an excellent time to explain the difference between these two types of judging. 

At first thought, you might think that all judging is the same: some (extremely dedicated) PPA Jurors get together and give your work a thumbs up or down (based on a set of serious evaluation criteria, of course!). The principle is similar between the two, but depending on if it's for IPC or CPP, what they are evaluating is completely different!

Think of the CPP image submission as your best portfolio work (like your day-to-day, how you pay the bills type of work). On the other hand, the International Photographic Competition is where you can get crazy, artistic and creative. Submit what you do out of love versus what your portfolio is based on - sometimes they can be the same thing, but often times the work a photographer submits to one is not suitable for the other. Why? Let's dive in.

For the IPC (and related District Competitions):

The Photographic Exhibitions Committee (PEC) of PPA uses the 12 elements below as the "gold standard" to define a merit image. PEC trains judges to be mindful of these elements when judging images to the PPA merit level and to be placed in the International Photographic Exhibit at Imaging USA. The use of these 12 elements connects the modern practice of photography and its photographers to the historical practice of photography begun nearly two centuries ago.

Twelve elements have been defined as necessary for the success of an art piece or image. Any image, art piece, or photograph will reveal some measure of all twelve elements, while a visually superior example will reveal obvious consideration of each one. 

The Twelve elements listed below are in accordance to their importance.
  1. Impact - This is the sense one gets upon viewing an image for the first time. Compelling images evoke laughter, sadness, anger, pride, wonder or another intense emotion. There can be impact in any of these twelve elements.
  2. Technical Excellence - The quality of the image itself, as it is presented for viewing, is taken into consideration. Retouching, manipulation, sharpness, exposure, printing, mounting, and correct color are some items that speak to the qualities of the image.
  3. Creativity - This relates to the original, fresh, and external expression of the imagination of the maker by using photography medium to convey his or her idea, message or thought.
  4. Style - There is a number of ways, or styles, as it applies to creating an image. Style might be defined by a specific genre or simply be recognizable as the characteristics of how a specific artist applies light to a subject.
  5. Composition - This is important to the design of an image, as it brings all of the visual elements together and contributes to expressing a purpose. Proper composition holds the viewer in the image while leading the viewer to follow the direction intended by the creator. Effective composition can be pleasing or disturbing, depending on the intent of the image maker.
  6. Presentation - This is the finished look that affects and contributes to the impact or intent of an image. The mats and borders used, either physical or digital, should support and enhance the image, not distract from it.
  7. Color Balance - The color harmony and the way tones work together effectively supporting the image can enhance its emotional appeal. Color balance is not always harmonious and can be used to evoke diverse feelings for effect.
  8. Center of Interest - This is the point or points on the image where the maker wants the viewer to stop as they view the image. There can be primary and secondary centers of interest. Occasionally there will be no specific center of interest, when the entire scene collectively serves as the center of interest.
  9. Lighting - There is no image without light and judges evaluate the use and control of light, how dimension, shape and roundness are defined in an image. Whether the light applied to an image is manmade or natural, proper use of it should enhance an image.
  10. Subject Matter - An image's name should always be supporting the story being told.
  11. Technique - The approach used to create the image is reflected in the technique used. Printing, lighting, posing, capture, presentation media, and more are part of the technique applied to an image.
  12. Story Telling - This refers to the image's ability to evoke imagination. One beautiful thing about art is that each viewer might collect his own message or read her own story in an image.

For the Certification's image submission:

CPP image submissions are judged by a group of 5 jurors who rotate each submission period. The judging pool consists of CPP Liaisons, Certification Committee members and active Certified Professional Photographers. 

As a CPP candidate, you are required to submit a portfolio of 15 images. The first six images must fit within the compulsory guidelines showing a standardized technical proficiency that all professional photographers, regardless of specialty, should know. Of those six, three must include the following:

  • Broad lighting 3:1 ratio
  • Selective focus, with minimum depth of field
  • Short lighting 3:1 ratio
The other three mandatory images must fall into one of the following categories. Choose any 3 of these image types to use as your fourth, fifth, and sixth image submission entries.
  • High Key Image - This image should demonstrate the proper technique in lighting a subject for a high key result. Note: 'Key' in an image describes the overall tonal range in which an image is created. This includes background, props & clothing. Therefore, a High Key image is an image where the predominant tones in the image are brighter than the mid tones. High Key images are typically lower in contrast than Low Key Images.
  • Low Key Image - This image should demonstrate the proper technique in lighting a subject for a low key result.
  • Rule of Thirds - This image should demonstrate subject placement and organization.
  • Use of Shape, Form, and Texture - This image should demonstrate these basic elements of art.
  • Balance (symmetrical or asymmetrical) - This image should demonstrate the principles of balance achieved through subject size, placement, weight or color.
  • Color Harmony - This image should demonstrate the harmonious relationship of color to create focus on your point of subject. Note: Color harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order. In portraiture, color harmony can help draw the viewer's eye to the point within the image which is most important.
  • "S" Curve Line - This image should demonstrate the "S" curve or feminine posing.
  • Assertive, Angular, or Masculine Line-This image should demonstrate an assertive, angular or masculine pose.
  • Architectural - This image should demonstrate the commercial application of architectural photography.

The remaining nine images must be representative of paid client work from nine different job assignments in the last 24 months. If you are a wedding photographer, that means nine different weddings, same with portraits or families. If you do multiple types of photography, then your portfolio can include a little of all that you do.

At the end of the day, the CPP image submission is a about entering technically excellent images that portray the fundamental basics of photography, whereas the IPC allows you to focus on the creation of the art. 

Interested in becoming a CPP or participating in future photographic competitions? Check out www.ppa.com for all the details! 



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on August 8, 2013 10:55 PM.

Be More...Visible: Build a Find-a-Photographer Profile on PPA.com was the previous entry in this blog.

The Benefit No One Talks About is the next entry in this blog.

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