Imaging Competition… and becoming a better photographer.

“The judges were really hard this year!” “They weren’t there so they can’t see how hard I had to work to get that photo!” “My client loved that image and paid a lot of money, what do those judges know?”

I hear this call from almost every group during and just after the competition. (as a matter of fact, I remember saying these exact same words to myself when I first started competing) It echoes. And repeats as photographers who have not done so well in the scoring commiserate with each other. Until… Those photographers who want to grow speak to the judges one-on-one following the judging to get feedback on why their image did, or didn’t, do so well.

I was in Richmond, Virgina this past weekend working with photographers who are trying to up their game… And, it was a wonderful experience. These photographers heeded the call to improve their work through having peers examine and rate their imaging skills. They followed up and after hearing the comments on what could be improved and what the judges saw in the photo, as presented, the lights started going on with smiles as they realized how they could become better image makers.When giving critiques it’s great to see a makers eyes light up as they find out what the judges felt they did right in the image, and even more important, what they could to improve their photography. Whether it be improving lighting skills, composition, subject matter, color harmony, story-telling, technical excellence, image presentation and more.

If you are looking for some information on how to do better and what judges are looking for you can find more resources on the PPA web site. Pay particular attention to the ’12 Elements of a Merit Image’.

Which brings me to today’s Photo/Art quote…

competition quote

“I am in no competition with anyone else, I am in competition with my Yester Self, and I am winning.” Anonymous

While it’s great to win awards it’s even greater to realize that they have already won just by being in the game of improvement through participation. It’s never comfortable hearing that your image is not the best in the world.

I can’t wait to see what these photographers will create in the coming years because they cared enough to put their work out there for the world to see in imaging competition.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – FYI. I’ve been entering competition since 1999 at State, District and PPA International. I still do. Why? Because I want to continue to push my imaging skill to a higher level. And, every time my image spins so does my stomach. When that stops happening I’ll probably retire cause it will mean that I no longer wish to improve.