I thought I would share my images from this past September's International Photographic Competition (IPC) which is run by Professional Photographers of America, and share the process each one of these images goes through as part of my move toward submission.
What you need to know:
- a competition print can take anywhere from 8 - 30 hours of work (for me--I have friends who may put more hours into various images), depending on the subject and how much I might want to change the image after feedback and critiques are given
- once an idea is put into motion, it may take days or even weeks to photograph and assemble all the parts
- there were several venues within the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) framework where the print could be entered and feedback/critique could be received (the process is now changing as I write this, so I am unsure what my NEW steps will be in terms of competition images)
- the venues I used to receive image feedback were as follows: NPPPA (Northeastern Pennsylvania Professional Photographers Association), PPAofPA (the PA state affiliate for PPA), PPA District Competition- Northeast District (in that order)
- the image is finally submitted to the IPC where it will receive one of two grades--Merit or Non-Merit
- Merit images automatically move into the IPC's General Collection and are published and shown at the Annual Conferencing event in January, which will be in Nashville TN in 2023.
Below you will find the four images. I have put a small explanation under each one to give you an idea of the process. But, I have only given you an example of actual image changes with the first image.
You can click on each image to make it larger.
A Mossy Perch
Note: This image won the Joe Campanellie Award for Best Wildlife Image at the Professional Photographers Association of Pennsylvania's "Inspire" Competition. At the time, it looked like the framed image below (2nd photo down). I took the feedback received on this image at this competition and changed the image one more time before my next submission, to IPC.
Just Call Me Cleopatra
I did a very simple edit on this image using Topaz and PS Elements.
Naming an image is a key ingredient in the competition mix. I wasn't sure the judges would get this one, but in all cases they did, and Missy does remind me of Cleopatra sprawled out on her barge on the Nile.
I am going to be honest and tell you, in all cases, I have been pleasantly surprised that this image made it through competition. But as one of my critique-givers noted: "it's the ultimate well-lit studio portrait that sends a great message, has humor and good impact."
I used a themed backdrop, an antique wooden school desk, apple and some books. I did PhotoShop in the "I heart Dogs" for effect. This is my own dog, Talley, who is two and has become the ultimate model, as she knows sitting quietly in a studio set up will get her a jackpot treat.
There were two problems with this image. My lens went up to 300mm only, and I think if I had had a 500mm lens, the resolution of this image would have been quite a bit better. The angle I had to take the photo at, caused the background sky light to take over and the original image of the bird itself, was darkened.
This is an image that also sat for a long time before I pulled it out to think more about it. With some painting classes under my belt, and some feather brushes, I set about to paint back in the detail and resolution to the feathers. Since the sky was really BLAH that day, I took a primary color from the juvenile Eagle and painted the background. I took away most of the tree except for the main branch, and even took away most of that, to make the bird look perched on the very edge of the branch.
In the end, this image not only merited, but received "Showcase" image status, which means it will be printed in a special book. For a brief moment, one of the judges at IPC challenged it to receive Image Excellence status, and two judges voted for it, but three did not. So it remained a Merit. I am honored they even thought about it. Hard work pays off.
Competition at the IPC level has taken me a while to come around to. This is my third year. I am competing to mainly achieve my Master of Photography Degree through PPA. I am two images away from receipt of that degree.
Last year I had three images Merit and two achieved Image Excellence status. The year before I had two images Merit and one received Showcase status. All of these things add up to a pointed system which leads to various degrees.
With the PPA system now changing, I may be able to receive that degree sooner than waiting a whole year to compete again, and that is a good thing. It may even spur me on to work on a Master Artist degree. We will see.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey into image competition. As I noted, my client imagery has become all the better for it!
Have a great weekend!