All PPA members can enter.  The events are held twice a year, and the merited images are displayed at Imaging USA.

There are district events and the international competition, known as the International Photographic Competition, or IPC. You would enter a specific district event based on where you live. (See map.) The entry form on the PPA website directs you to your correct district based on your member profile address.

Merits are only given at IPC, and you do not have to enter districts to enter IPC.  However, many people feel like feedback received from entering their images at the district competition helps them to prepare their images for IPC. Additionally, if you enter your district competition, you can be eligible for awards at that level.

Many people enter their images first at their local guild and or state association to get feedback before entering districts or IPC. While these groups are affiliate organizations to PPA, they have their own rules, which may or may not be the same as rules for PPA competitions.


Merits are a unit of measure PPA uses to keep track of members’ activity within PPA. Merits earned through IPC competition are called exhibition merits. Additionally, members can earn service merits for activities such as participating in or teaching classes, serving on committees, https://www.ppa.com/benefits/education/degrees/the-merit-system-explained

One exhibition merit is earned when an entry is accepted and displayed at Imaging USA.   When an entry is accepted as a loan image, it receives two merits.  These merits can be applied toward the Master of Photography degree, Artist degree or Master of Wedding degree.

Although sometimes these groups refer to a certain score as a “merit” and may count them toward achieving local or state fellowship or other program awards, these do not count toward PPA degrees. Exhibit merits only count toward PPA degrees if earned at IPC. Local and State competitions are a great place to get feedback on the image, but no PPA  merits will be earned.

Images at the district that are given a seal of approval, often known as a “seal”. This is not a merit until it is sent to the IPC. All sealed images that are entered in the IPC event will be given a merit.

Once an image has a "seal," you cannot make any changes to the image or title, or you will lose your seal. If you make changes, the image would be rejudged for merit. This is sometimes referred to as “breaking the seal”.

No, you can enter images at IPC without entering them at your district.

Entering a PPA Competition

Yes, there are three: Portrait Open (PO), Wedding, and Artist. Merits earned through the PO degree go toward a Master Photographer degree. Merits earned in the Wedding Competition go toward a Master Wedding Photographer degree. Merits earned in the Artist competition go toward Master Artist degree.

You may enter up to 4 images in Photographic Open (“PO”), four images in Artist, and four images in Wedding.  PO would be any photographic image (Portrait, Creative-Open, Illustrative, and Album).  Artist images are judged based on the maker’s creative and technical abilities when putting the image together.  A panel of approved wedding jurors judges wedding images, and all images must be created in the time constraints of an actual wedding. Entries in each of those competitions are called a “case.” A full case has four images.

No, each of these competitions is separate, so all entries in each case must be entered in the same competition. A maker can enter up to four images in each of these three competitions. A separate case fee is paid for each case entered.

Yes, you can still enter wedding images in a PO case.  The difference is PO jurors, and not Wedding jurors will judge your images. Any merits earned on these images would go toward a Master Photographer degree rather than the Master Wedding Photographer degree.

Images and all elements of an image in the Wedding competition must be created during the time constraints of the actual event.  Images not created during the time constraints of the actual event may be entered in the PPA’s Photographic Open competition.

All images that merit at IPC are reviewed for the loan collection.

The images are now designated as being a part of the Imaging Excellence Collection.

The Showcase book is a collection of the top images in each category that are not accepted into the Imaging Excellence Collection.

When a Jury Chairman starts a digital image session, files are pulled from the category being judged and loaded into a queue for that judging room.  When these images hit the queue, notifications are sent to entrants. Images are selected at random, so there isn't a set time when you can expect your image to be judged.   Judging for merit will usually run between 30-50 images an hour, depending on the number of challenges.

The IPC chairman can decide to move judges on panels, the session is then closed, and all unscored images are then put back into the general pool

 Keep in mind the "Artist" judging is a much slower pace.

You can order a critique at the time you register your images.

Guide prints are used in the Artist competition and the Creative Open category.  A guide print is an image that is used to show the jurors the starting image or a reference of an image used in the final submission.

Please contact PPA member services 800.786.6277 csc@ppa.com

Yes, you do get your images back.  Please allow four weeks following the district competition. IPC images will be returned 4-6 weeks following the images display at IUSA.

All images that receive a merit at IPC or Districts, are then judged again to see if they should go to into the Imaging Excellence Collection. The maker will receive two exhibition merits rather than one for that image.