Improving My Art Through Competition

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Colin Powell

Once again this past year I entered my work in print competitions at both the local and national level.

Print Competition

The first print competition I entered was for the Professional Photographers of Massachusetts (PPAM), a chapter of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Both the images I entered in this event earned good scores and it was a nice warm up for the rest of the print competition season.

Animal Image Maker’s (AIM)

The Twin Cities Professional Photographer’s Association (TCPPA), a PPA affiliate in the greater Minneapolis-St Paul area, hosted the inaugural print competition for the first annual Animal Image Maker’s (AIM) Conference in April. I entered this content next. It offered the opportunity to have my work viewed and evaluated by photographers, specializing in animal photography, from around the world. A jury of trained professionals, who understand how best to create images for this market, judged my work against the 12 Elements of a Merit Image, as set by the PPA.

AIM’s print competition offered several different categories, including: Dogs, Cats, Equine, Baby Animals, Other Domestic Animals, Wild Animals, and Animals and their Humans. The event did not limit the total number of images entered, so I entered four portraits in the Dogs category, two in the Baby Animals category and two on the Equine category. All but two of these images earned scores above 80, a meriting score.

Much to my amazement, my image Equine image, “Graceful Meditation” (seen below), won first place in the Equine category.

Graceful Meditation

Although I could not attend the conference, the organizers mailed me this beautiful award.

2019 Best Equine Image – Animal Image Makers (AIM)

PPA’s Northeast District Print Competition

After AIM, I selected and entered four images that had earned good scores at AIM in PPA’s Northeast District competition. Unfortunately, the results were less than I hoped, with only two of the entered images earning merits. This sealed those scores. This automatically made them meriting images for the PPA’s International Print competition (IPC) in August.

With these results, I needed to make some hard choices about which images I would be entering for IPC. Of course, I kept the two images that earned merits, but I decided to choose two new images to replace the images that did not earn good scores.

PPA’s International Print Competition

The IPC judges evaluated only these two images. Fortunately, they both earned meriting scores. With all four of my images earning merits, I again earned a Bronze Medal—for the second year in a row.

Here are my entries for 2019 year’s PPA International Print Competition (IPC).

Golden Retriever sitting on a deck in the woods surrounded by trees with yellow autumn leaves
Greeting Autumn with a Smile

“Greeting Autumn with a Smile” earned an image merit and was accepted into the IPC General Collection.

Black Labrador Retriever puppy lying on a wooden box, paws hanging over the edge, looking at the view
Okay, You’ve Got My Attention

“Okay, you’ve got my attention” earned an image merit. The PPA accepted into the IPC General Collection.

Blue merle, Australian Shepherd puppy sitting in a metal washtub, paws on the edge, head tilted down, peering bashfully at viewer
Someone’s Being Bashful

“Someone’s being bashful” earned an image merit and sealed at PPA Northeast print competition. It was later accepted into the IPC General Collection.

Golden Retriever standing, looking at viewer, with autumn gold plants in background
Shades of Gold

My “Shades of Gold” portrait sealed at PPA Northeast print competition, earning an image merit at IPC. PPA accepted this image into the IPC Showcase Collection.

Print competition encourages growth, not only in the creation of the images in the camera, but also in the way a photographer edits the image to create the artistic vision for the final print.

After the successes of 2019, I’m ready to move on to the 2020 print competitions. I want see how much further I can grow and become better at creating my vision for my art.