Events / Photo Competitions / Competition Rules

IPC and District Rules

Congratulations on making the decision to enter into the IPC! This is a fantastic opportunity to put your skills to the test and to grow as an artist.

And whether you’re entering the Photographic Open Competition, Wedding Competition, or the Artist Competition (have you made your pick yet?), we recommend you take some time to go over the rules and regulations for each.

There are plenty of resources to prepare you to submit your best possible entry. And the rules are explained extensively below because we want you to excel!  Don’t rush through this page, because failure to comply with IPC’s rules could result in your disqualification! We don’t want that!

Competition Deadlines, Fees and Shipping

Registration Deadlines

  • District competition registration will open on March 2, 2021. The early deadline is April 14, 2021, and the final deadline is April 29, 2021
  • District judging will be May 9 to 14, 2021

Registration Fees

  • $99.00 for PPA members registered by 5 pm ET April 14, 2021
    $134.00 for PPA members registering April 14, 2021, after 5 pm ET through April 29, 2021, at 5 pm ET
  • No registrations accepted after April 29, 2021, at 5 pm ET

Shipping Instructions

  • We will not be accepting physical prints for the District Competitions.

Registration Deadlines

  • IPC registration will open on July 6, 2021. The early deadline is August 17, 2021, and the final deadline is August 31, 2021
  • IPC judging will be from September 12 to 17, 2021

Registration Fees

  • $99.00 for PPA members registered by 5 pm ET August 17, 2021
    $134.00 for PPA members registering August 17, 2021, after 5 pm ET through August 31, 2021, at 5 pm ET
  • No registrations accepted after August 31, 2021, at 5 pm ET
  • $39.00 per case for image critiques if ordered before August 17, 2021, 5 pm ET. Late order critiques will be available to purchase from August 17, 2021, at 5:01 pm ET to September 24, 2021, at 5 pm ET. Please allow four weeks following the completion of the competition. Critiques will be posted in your “My PPA” account
  • Physical print entry cases must be received by September 6, 2021

Shipping Instructions

  • For print entries to be returned, they must be shipped in an approved print case. Entries may be shipped in any serviceable box, but they will not be returned. For more information, go to PPA.com/IPC.
  • Ship to: PPA Photographic Competition, 229 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 2300, Atlanta, GA 30303
  • PPA assumes no responsibility for damage to entries or print cases.
  • Images shipped in an approved print case will be returned within 30 days of the conclusion of the competition.

Competition Rules

The purpose of this competition is to allow photographers to enter photographic prints, digital files, and/or digital albums to be judged against a standard of excellence using the 12 Elements of a Merit Image. (For more information, go to PPA.com/IPC.) Through this competition, PPA members are also eligible to achieve PPA exhibition merits toward the Master of Photography degree.

Within one week after the judging, entrants will be notified via the PPA website of their achievement. Press releases will also be available as soon as possible for download from the PPA website for General and/or Image Excellence Collection entries.

These rules pertain to images entered as prints or digital files created by any photographic processes. All entries must be registered at PPA.com.

  1. Entrants may submit a case of either prints, digital files, digital albums, or a combination for judging at PPA.com. (Maximum of 4 entries.)
  2. Entrants are required to upload a digital file for each image (print or file) entered. NOTE: For physical print entries, the digital file submitted MUST match both the image and presentation. If, for example, the submitted print has a mat and the digital file does not show the mat, the entry will be eligible for merit and Image Excellence and will be displayed as such in the IPC print display at Imaging USA, but will not appear in the Image Excellence or Showcase Collection books, nor on the PPA website.
  3. No changes to your entry are permitted once the entry deadline has passed. No refunds will be issued after the entry fee is paid.
  4. Entrants must be PPA members to compete in the Photographic Open Competition.

ELIGIBILITY

  1. The Photographic Open Competition is to show the photographic knowledge and skillset of the maker. However, a maker can use supporting photographic elements that they did not create, provided those elements are referenced as guide images on the face of the entry. The original photographic capture by the entrant should be merit-worthy independent of the work that was not their own. Elements created by the maker must not be part of the guide images. This includes images within an album entry.
  2. All processing, manipulation, and printing or rendering, were done by the entrant or under their direct supervision.
  3. The entrant has obtained and has access to all necessary releases (model or property) and agrees to hold PPA harmless against all claims and liabilities arising out of PPA's display, publication, and promotion or other use of each image submitted to PPA.
  4. The entrant's name shall not appear anywhere in or on the face of the entry.
  5. No entry will be eligible if it has been made under the supervision of an instructor or as a class assignment. All images submitted must be self-directed. Images created in an educational environment under direct supervision from an instructor are ineligible.
  6. Any entry that has been created from an existing photograph, portrait, graphic, or any other artwork produced by another person is a violation of the competition rules. If an entry, in the good-faith opinion of the IPCC, violates copyright, trademark, or any other applicable law, that entry shall not be displayed or published.
  7. Entries bearing the PPA Affiliated Exhibition Seal of Approval and submitted according to the rules of entry will be automatically accepted for exhibition only when submitted to the next PPA International Photographic Competition immediately following the District competition where awarded. Entry media includes photographic prints, digital files, and digital albums.
  8. Once an image has been awarded an exhibition merit in any category of PPA competition, it may not be entered again in any other category or competition, at any time, by any entrant. No image that receives a merit may be entered more than once under any condition, including any image from a merited album.
  9. Images not of acceptable PPA exhibition content will be judged for Merit and Image Excellence but may not be displayed. The decision of acceptable content will be based on the standards set by the National Gallery in Washington, DC, and at the discretion of the IPCC.
  10. Entries of the same subject in multiple images will be allowed, as long as the images are entirely different concepts.

PHOTOGRAPHIC OPEN COMPETITION CATEGORIES

You must designate one of the below categories for each entry.

  • PORTRAIT: Consists of portrait images.
  • ILLUSTRATIVE: Consists of commercial/industrial images, scenic, pictorials, digital paintings, and similar subject matter. Portraits and weddings are not appropriate for this category.
  • REPORTAGE: Images that illustrate an actual public or non-public event, life, an area of human interest, telling news that have meaning on the context or record of events, high impact, and/or lasting emotional response. Images that illustrate sporting events are included in this category. ONLY basic color and brightness adjustments, cropping, dodging and burning in are allowed. Only single-capture images will be accepted. Composite and multiple exposure images will not be accepted. The original captured image (in RAW or jpg) must be available if requested by the committee.
  • ALBUM: consists of portrait and story-telling albums.

The purpose of this competition is to allow the entrant to demonstrate their art skills and expertise in pursuit of the PPA Master Artist degree (previously known as Master of Electronic Imaging degree). Entries will be judged for digital, artistic, and technical proficiency. Entries can be created using digital or traditional art (such as painting and airbrush) or a combination of both. Through this competition, PPA members are also eligible to achieve PPA Artist Exhibition Merits toward the PPA Master Artist degree.

  1. All entries must be registered at PPA.com.
  2. Entrants may submit prints, digital files, or a combination for judging.
  3. Entrants are required to upload a digital file for each image (print or file) entered. NOTE: For physical print entries, the digital file submitted MUST match both the image and presentation. If, for example, the submitted print has a mat and the digital file does not show the mat, the entry will be eligible for merit and Image Excellence and will be displayed as such in the IPC print display at Imaging USA, but will not be shown in the Image Excellence, Showcase Collection books or the PPA website.
  4. No changes to your entry are permitted once the entry deadline has passed. No refunds will be issued after the entry fee is paid.

ELIGIBILITY

  1. Entries may be created in various artistic mediums. Photographs may be used in this category in creating an entry, but it is not a requirement. Entries may include freehand drawing or painting in traditional or digital applications. Entries can include stock photography, photographs, or artwork from other artist(s) with written consent to use those sources. Documentation may be requested by PPA before, during, or after the competition. If an entry, in the good-faith opinion of the International Photographic Competition Committee, violates copyright, trademark, or any other applicable law and cannot be proven otherwise, that entry shall be disqualified and merits revoked, if issued.
  2. All processing, manipulation, artwork, or rendering must be done by the entrant. Printing may be done under their direct supervision.
  3. Guide images must be included on the face of the entry.
  4. No entry will be eligible if it has been made under the supervision of an instructor or as a class assignment. All images submitted must be self-directed.
  5. Entries of the same subject in multiple images will be allowed as long as the images are entirely different concepts.
  6. Entries bearing the PPA Affiliated Exhibition Seal of Approval and submitted according to the rules of entry will be automatically accepted for exhibition only when submitted to the next PPA International Competition immediately following the District competition where awarded. (Entries submitted from within the maker’s assigned District are eligible for Seals of Approval and will be validated at registration).
  7. Entry media includes photographic prints or digital files.
  8. Once an image has been awarded an exhibition merit in any category of PPA competition, it may not be entered again in any other category or competition, at any time, by any entrant. No image that receives a merit may be entered more than once under any condition, including any image from a merited album.
  9. The entrant’s name shall not appear anywhere in or on the face of the entry.
  10. A maximum of four entries may be submitted per entrant.
  11. Entrants need to be PPA members to compete in the Artist Competition.

ARTIST COMPETITION CATEGORIES

You must designate one of the below categories for each entry.

  • Artist Open
  • Artist Restoration

The purpose of this competition is to allow photographers to enter photographic prints, digital files, or digital albums to be judged against a standard of excellence using the 12 Elements of a Merit Image. (For more information, go to PPA.com/IPC.) In addition to the twelve elements, for an image to be merit worthy in the wedding competition, additional evaluation will be considered for the entries that illustrate the personality of the subject or subjects and the story of the wedding as well as the artistic and technical skills of the image-maker. Judges will keep in mind that the maker has limited control over many aspects of a wedding.  For example: subject matter, environment and time of day. Ultimately, additional consideration will be given to the maker for technically and artistically executing at a merit level in spite of challenges involved at a typical wedding.

Through this competition, PPA members are also eligible to achieve The PPA Master of Wedding Photography degree.

Images and all elements of an image in the Wedding competition must be created in connection with an actual wedding. The entrant or entrants must have captured all elements of the final submission from that wedding. Images in the Wedding competition should reflect the personality or personalities of the subject(s) or the story of the wedding as well as the personality, artistic and technical skills of the image-maker. Images should include some kind of visual wedding reference(s). The original captured image (in RAW or jpg) must be available if requested by the IPC committee.

These rules pertain to images entered as physical prints, digital files or digital albums created by traditional photographic processes as well as those captured electronically with a digital camera or scanner:

  1. All entries must be registered at PPA.com.
  2. Entrants may submit a case of either prints, digital files, digital albums or a combination for judging. (Maximum of 4 entries.)
  3. Entrants are required to upload a digital file for each image (print or file) entered. NOTE: For physical print entries, the digital file submitted MUST match both the image and presentation. If, for example, the submitted print has a mat and the digital file does not show the mat, the entry will be eligible for merit and Image Excellence and will be displayed as such in the IPC print display at Imaging USA, but will not be shown in the Image Excellence, Showcase Collection books or the PPA website.
  4. No changes to your entry are permitted once the entry deadline has passed. No refunds will be issued after the entry fee is paid.
  5. Entrants must be PPA members to compete in the Wedding Competition.

ELIGIBILITY

  1. Entrant must have captured and created the original exposure or exposures during the time constraints of the wedding.
  2. All processing, manipulation and printing or rendering, were done by the entrant or under their direct supervision.
  3. The entrant has obtained and has access to all necessary releases (model or property) and agrees to hold PPA harmless against all claims and liabilities arising out of PPA’s display, publication and promotion or other use of each image submitted to PPA.
  4. The entrant’s name shall not appear anywhere in or on the face of the entry.
  5. A maximum of four entries may be submitted per entrant.
  6. No entry will be eligible if it has been made under the supervision of an instructor or as a class assignment. All images submitted must be self-directed. Images created in an educational environment under direct supervision from an instructor are ineligible.
  7. Any entry that has been created from an existing photograph, portrait, graphic or any other artwork produced by another person is a violation of the competition rules and will not be judged, accepted or displayed. If an entry, in the good-faith opinion of the IPCC, violates copyright, trademark or any other applicable law, that entry shall not be displayed or published.
  8. Entries of the same subject in multiple images will be allowed, as long as the images are entirely different concepts. 
  9. Entries bearing the PPA Affiliated Exhibition Seal of Approval and submitted according to the rules of entry will be automatically accepted for exhibition only when submitted to the next PPA International Photographic Competition immediately following the District competition where awarded. (Entries submitted from within the maker’s assigned District are eligible for Seals of Approval and will be validated at registration.)
  10. Once an image has been awarded an exhibition merit in any category of PPA competition, it may not be entered again in any other category, at any time, by any entrant. No image that receives a merit may be entered more than once under any condition, including any image from a merited album.
  11. Images not of acceptable PPA exhibition content will be judged for Merit and Image Excellence but may not be displayed. The decision of acceptable content will be based on the standards set by the National Gallery in Washington, DC and at the discretion of the IPCC.

WEDDING COMPETITION CATEGORIES

You must designate one of the below categories for each entry.

  • WEDDING OPEN
  • WEDDING ALBUM

CATEGORY DESCRIPTIONS

WEDDING OPEN: Images can portray a subject or subjects from all aspects of a wedding including traditional portraits, candids or detail work.

SINGLE MAKER WEDDING ALBUM: Multiple images combined into a digital album collection exclusively showcasing a specific wedding.

MULTI‐MAKER WEDDNG ALBUM: Images in the album must be the work of the two entrants, with a minimum of 20 images per entrant.  Each entrant must individually enter the competition and pay appropriate entry fees. Multi‐maker Wedding albums will be judged as one entry.

Portrait 

Images can portray a subject or subjects from all walks of life and should reflect the personality of the subject(s).

  • Children: This sub-category must contain a child or children from birth to age 16.
  • High School Senior: This sub-category portrays a male or female age 16 to 18.
  • Animal: This sub-category captures an animal(s) portrait using structured lighting in a studio or outdoor environment, where the owner or photographer controls the animal.
  • General Portrait: This sub-category includes families, groups, couples, and adults (18 and older), relationships, models, and fashion portraits, in addition to tastefully artistic figure studies.

Illustrative

Capturing the beauty of nature, wildlife, industry, and architectural areas are considered illustrative.

  • Landscape/Nature: This sub-category shares joy and adventures while expressing a sense of place. Wild animals in an uncontrolled lighting environment, zoo animals, flowers, seascapes, cityscapes, urban landscapes, and sunsets with or without people can be placed here.
  • Illustrative/Commercial: This sub-category is used when images are created for a commercial client to advertise a product and promote a brand or company. This can be an interior or exterior of a structure or within an industrial environment. Illustrative can also be conceptual images that tell a story.
  • PO Album: consists of portrait and story-telling albums.

Reportage/Photo Journalism

  • Reportage: Images that illustrate an actual public or non-public event, life, an area of human interest, telling news that have meaning on the context or record of events, high impact and/or lasting emotional response. Images that illustrate sporting events are included in this category. ONLY basic color and brightness adjustments, cropping, dodging, and burning in are allowed. Only single-capture images will be accepted. Composite and multiple exposure images will not be accepted. The original captured image (in RAW or jpg) must be available if requested by the committee.

Wedding

Images created at or in connection with a wedding.

  • Wedding Open: Images can portray a subject or subjects from all aspects of a wedding, including traditional portraits, candids, or detail work.
  • Single Maker Wedding Album: Multiple images combined into a digital album collection exclusively showcasing a specific wedding.
  • MultiMaker Wedding Album: Images in the album must be the work of the two entrants, with a minimum of 20 images per entrant. Each entrant must individually enter the competition and pay appropriate entry fees. Multi‐maker Wedding albums will be judged as one entry.

Artist

A conceptual image altered or manipulated from its original condition. Creations can be a subtle application using post-processing techniques or a dramatic combination of details to suggest a larger story. The artist is responsible for the idea behind the image and the work done to create the finished art piece.

  • Artist Open
  • Restoration

PLEASE NOTE:  PPA WILL NO LONGER BE RETURNING INTERNATIONAL PHYSICAL PRINTS.  PLEASE SUBMIT ALL INTERNATIONAL PRINTS IN A CARDBOARD BOX OR OTHER DISPOSABLE SHIPPING CONTAINER.