Four days glued to the computer….cheering on friends….chewing off fingernails.  This is the International Print Competition.  It can be overwhelming if you have never entered and I highly suggest finding some guidance when you start to enter.  There are many master photographers that may teach classes locally, you can meet with a mentor for free at Imaging USA, there are online classes and Facebook groups that you can join as well.  If you do enter don’t forget to choose to add on the critiques.  They are often full of valuable information.

One of the most insightful exercises to catch a glimpse underneath the hood of print competition is when people share their original image next to their final image.  So here I am…all naked and sharing my original images with you.  🙂

Are you my mother?


I knew that I had something special with the expression that was captured in the original image, but there were some serious flaws that would have kept it from doing well in print competition.  Here is the original image…


The eyes are obscured by the hair of the dog, which drastically affects the immediate impact and connection that the viewer has with the subject.  That had to be fixed.  Thankfully I had another image from which the eyes were not covered so I used those eyes in this image.  The other major issue is that area of black under the dog’s right ear.  It is a huge no no in print competition to have blown highlights or locked up blacks so that had to be addressed.  Other then that I simply cleaned up some of the background and did some tonal adjustments as well as a Topaz adjustment to bring out more contrast in the fur.

This IS my happy face!


I have never done so much work on an image and there is no way this image would have been possible without Michelle Parsley’s help in her Print Competition 101 class last fall.  I had gone back on forth on whether to work this image up as is or change the background to this darker brown color.  While I loved the lighter background for my client I was concerned that the dark box and light background would be an issue for print competition since they were out of key.  On top of that, once I cropped into this image there was no way to do the mat without the different tonalities standing out like a sore thumb.  So I opted for this background.  The work on the background was the majority of work that I did on this image, other then the standard adjustments on the subject. Here is the original….

higgins comp-100

Is it time to play yet?


Expression is often the name of the game in pet photography.  This image is actually a frankenstiened dog.  I pulled the head from another image!



I loved the background and how the dog was sitting so upright in the first image, but I thought the head tilt added so much to his character.  Other then the head swap, the only thing I did was pull the line of the gravel road down in the background so that it was more in line with the dog’s hips and not cutting my subject in half.  Then it was simple tonal adjustments in Topaz Adjust to pull out some contrast in the fur.

On top of her world.


This was my one non-dog entry this year, my daughter at the beach.  This was entered in the Illustrative category instead of the Portrait category because it is telling more of a story then a typical portrait.  In the portrait category I don’t believe this would have merited since you can’t see her face.  All that I did to this image was clean up the designs on her clothes, pull her hat down a little bit so just her nose and smile where showing, and clean up the stuff on the beach in the background.  The original is below.

08 Aug 14 - BB-229

I would like to take a moment to congratulate everyone that entered the 2015 International Print Competition, whether you merited or not.  It is a huge step to enter and always a learning experience.  I feel strongly that it’s pretty much impossible to enter competitions and not improve your photography.

Congratulations to these pet photographers and 2015 International Print Competition medalists!


Barbara Breitsameter – Poppy Blue Photography


Barbara Brady-Smith – Share the Joy Photography

Lois Stanfield – (Artist category) – Lois Stanfield Equine and Pet Portraiture


Diane Costello – Fog Dog Studios

Jim Hoover – Majestic Dog Photography

Ashleigh Wells – Ashleigh Wells Photography

Lisa Asp – Tangerine House of Design

Adam Jackman-Moore – The Dog Photographers

Margaret Bryant – Bryant Dog Photography


Abby Malone – Abby Malone Photography

Ellen Zangla – Ellen Zangla Photography

Mari Latozas – Photography by Mari

Kathryn Jennings – Kathryn Jennings Photography


Nicole Begley – Nicole Begley Photography

Susan Gertz – Dogpatch Pet Portraits

If I missed anyone please let me know!

I would also like to congratulate Hair of the Dog Retreat alumni Dawn Rotta of Pawztography on her first general collection image and loan collection image!