I attended my first Imaging USA in Nashville in 2010 and remember being overwhelmed with the amount of information that was flooding over me throughout the event. I remember walking around what seemed like an endless trade show viewing all of the best products and services available on the photography market. I also remember walking through the International Print Competition Gallery and admiring the incredible work.
That work has always been a bit of an enigma to me as there seemed to be so many unwritten rules to print competition and the images just had these finishes that I couldn’t put my finger on. There were so very few resources that I could find to learn more about print competition that I just kept putting off participating.
Then in the fall of 2013, as I was looking through PPA’s Super One Day classes, I saw that a Master Photographer, Christine Walsh-Newton of Gallery C located in Dover, OH was teaching a one day workshop on an introduction to print competition. I signed up immediately!
After that class I started to learn of more resources available for getting started in and improving your images for competition. Here are just a few to help you get started…
–Visit the PPA site and learn about the different levels of competitions. From local and state competition to districts and finally…..the International Print Competition.
-Look for Master Photographers teaching classes in your area on Print Competition. PPA’s Super One Day classes are coming up and you do NOT have to be a member to participate!
–Join your PPA affiliate. They often have print competitions and you can connect with local photographers that may be able to help you on your journey.
– When you enter competition, always select and pay for the critiques. Feedback on your competition prints from the judges is incredibly valuable!
– If you are attending Imaging USA in Nashville this February take the time to walk through the gallery of general and loan images and really study them. Look at the lighting, colors, and details. Join one of the tours that are given by IPC jurors. You can also sign up for a COMPLIMENTARY 20 minute mentoring with an IPC juror to review your images and get feedback for competition, I do believe this is a benefit for PPA members only.
I also found it EXTREMELY helpful to see photographers before and after images of their print competition prints. I have posted my SOOC image and my final print below in the hopes that it is helpful to you to see what type of work I did on my final print.
That image was created using the image on the left below and swapping Hershey’s head from the image on the right. I then got rid of all of the green to make the colors more harmonious and extended the corners a bit so the background filled all parts of the image.
I didn’t do much to this image other then flip it, straighten the horizon line a bit, brighten the eyes, and add some contrast in Topaz Adjust.
I re-cropped Chalky so he was on the right and looking back into the canvas and I extended the canvas on the left a bit. I cleaned up the brown in his beard, adjusted the catchlight in his far eye, and added some contrast in Topaz Adjust.
I loved this little girl’s smirk so I copied and flipped the left side of the image to make it more symmetric. Cropped it down to this crop, which is a suggestion that I received from a great Facebook group for Image Competition Critiques as I had her in the middle of a panoramic crop. I also changed the color in her headband to match her dress and cleaned up the ground a bit.
I am extremely humbled and honored to have earned a Platinum Medal this year. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen. I would also like to congratulate some other incredibly talented pet photographers that medaled at the International Print Competition.
Diamond Photographer of the Year:
Jenny Froh – Jenny Froh Photography
Barbara Breitsameter – Poppy Blue Photography
Margaret Bryant – Margaret Bryant Photography
Nicole Begley – Nicole Begley Photography
Kim Hartz – Kim Hartz Photography
Aileen Harding – A. Harding Photography
Barbara Brady-Smith – Share the Joy Photography
Susan Gertz – Dogpatch Pix
Angela Lawson – AGL Photography
Kelly Schulze – Mountain Dog Photography
Congratulations to everyone that medaled, merited, or participated. So many people have said that print competition makes you a better photographer, and I agree whole-heartedly. I now look at all of my images with a new eye and that eye is sure to develop more as I spend more time participating in print competition. If you have any questions about print competition or where to get started I am happy to try to help. I am still very new to this world, but I hope that I can at least point you in the right direction to get the answers that you seek.