Print Competition

February 28th, 2015

Today, I packed up 4 images that I spent painstaking time and energy creating to send to PPA’s northcentral district print competition which takes place in Des Moines next month.  Just as I was heading out the door to go to the post office to send my print case, I saw that another one of my print cases had just arrived home from national convention that took place in Nashville earlier this month.  My case contained 3 of the 4 images that I sent last year.  The 4th missing image is actually touring right now with the PPA loan collection.  It’s quite exciting!


So why do I participate in print competition?


Sometimes I wonder why…  It is truly one of the most difficult things I have ever participated in.  Your images, which you work very hard to create, are given a once over by a panel of judges who scour them down to the tiniest detail.  If anything is “off” in any way, shape, or form, I can guarantee you, the judges will catch it.


What are they looking for?  It can range from seeing detail in the highlights and the shadows, it can be a spot that’s too bright, it can be sloppy composites, it can be a multitude of issues….


When I started out in print competition, I truly had no idea what I was doing, at least as far as the judging goes.  I thought every image I submitted was great, and to the average eye, they were quite good.  I watched over and over and each of my images was pulled apart or worse, not even acknowledged with a once over, just a lower score than I preferred or understood.


After each judging, I would pull experts over to look at my images and critique my work.  In order to become better, this is necessary, but it isn’t very pleasant.  For a few years it went like that.  Then, I remember the day I got my first “merit” image – an image that scored at the magic score of 80 or above.  This merit went towards earning my master’s degree with PPA.  I already had plenty of educational merits to go towards my degree.  Now I needed print merits – 13 to be exact.


Well, I’ve kept plugging away – last year I earned 4 merits in one year, 3 prints scored above 80, but the one that was nominated to go in the loan collection earned an extra merit.  I now have 8 merits to my credit – 5 more to earn my master’s degree.


I guess part of the reason I have kept going back and back to competition, is my competitive spirit – I want to truly “get” it.  I want to be capable of earning a merit with every image I submit.  I want to know that I know what it takes every time.  I’m getting closer, and that in large part is because I have become addicted to watching the judges critique print competition.


The end result?  My day-to-day work gets better and better.  I am more critical of my work.  I want only my very best work to go into my client’s hands.


Competition has been a good thing for me and my business.  I can’t wait to see my results from this year’s work!

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