Professional Photographers of America has announced its strategy for holding the International Photographic Competition (IPC) in spite of the spread of COVID-19. While thousands of in-person events are being canceled across the United States, PPA’s Board of Directors made the decision to hold IPC 2020 in a virtual environment. The association’s IT team is doubling down on a plan to rebuild its one-of-a-kind judging system, which would allow IPC to take place in-person or remotely if the need arises again. The competition is the foundation of PPA’s Merit & Degree system.
“International Photographic Competition has been at the center of PPA since the 1930s,” said PPA President Gregory Daniel. “Members submit their images to be judged and only the best images are awarded merits for their work. The merits are then accumulated in order to earn the PPA Master of Photography degree. People work for years to hone their craft and become a Master of Photography. This has been such a difficult year for everyone; we just did not want to let them down.”
The bulk of the work will fall on PPA’s IT staff that created and maintains the proprietary judging system. The association’s IT Director, Scott Morgan, feels confident they can pull it off. “We are essentially building an entirely new system. There are going to be some long days and probably some sleepless nights. But this is what we do at PPA. There is a lot of passion on staff about the ‘cause of professional photography.’ I feel certain we can get this done in time.”
The recent uptick in Coronavirus across the U.S. is forcing PPA to pivot in other ways as well. The association has been forced to cancel its annual District Photographic Competition. That competition was originally scheduled for June, but had to be moved to August as COVID-19 made travel and face-to-face meetings impossible. “Pulling off the district judging requires people from all parts of the country to come into town,” said Competition Manager Rich Newell. “There are just too many safety questions out there – there’s no way we could ask people to fly to Atlanta right now.” Those concerns are not just with the health of participating jurors, but also with their families and association staff.
Not content with simply canceling the District Competition, PPA announced plans to offer its popular image critiques for $10 per image. The critiques are typically reserved for competition participants, but will now be available to all members who desire to participate. Members are allowed to use the $30 In It Together Education Voucher, created in April as part of its COVID-19 relief package, to pay for the image critiques. Daniel believes PPA has found a way to make a great situation out of what could have been a very difficult one. “Would we rather hold the district competitions? Of course. Do we wish the IPC judging could be held in person? Absolutely. But difficult times mean we have to adapt in order to serve our members, and PPA is always ready to do that.”
NOTE: If you've already signed up to participate in the District Photographic Competition, please complete this brief form to let us know how you'd like us to handle your entry by July 15. You may choose to be refunded or to apply the entry fee to the International Photographic Competition later in the year. If no reply is received, PPA will process an automatic refund after July 15.