Wendy and I have been interested in submitting some of our more spectacular images to print competitions for at least two years now. Emphasizing the word “interested”, we finally decided with the help of our friend and photographer Julia at Jewel Images to submit some images in the next Oregon State competition through PPO (Professional Photographers of Oregon).
The first task was to choose photographs, from 1000’s, that we knew were good enough to merit, (you need to hit the magic number of 80 to merit on a 100 scale). Only about 20% or less of the total amount of images submitted to a competition usually merit so the odds aren’t usually in your favor! What is in your favor though is that judges are trained to evaluate and score prints based on 12 elements of merit so there’s a set standard to the scoring, (it’s also anonymous so the judges can’t be influenced!). The 12 elements of merit are: Impact, Technical excellence, Creativity, Style, Composition, Presentation, Color Balance, Center of Interest, Lighting, Subject Matter, Technique , Story Telling. Basically, you have to start out with an image that’s extremely impactful to begin with and on top of that it needs to have been photographed with superior technical skills, (no duh eh?!). The last part of choosing the images was to create titles for each. The title is so important to the image that many prints actually don’t merit because the title and image seem disjointed and off for the judges. This however can play in your favor if you can come up with a title that actually enhances and creates a stronger meaning to the photograph than if the image were alone.
We came away with three images to submit and this was only the start. The next steps, (and not in any particular order) was to have them printed and mounted professionally (of course there are guidelines for size, etc), have them shipped back to us, fill out all the paperwork that will go on the back of each print, ship them to the competition in a “regulation” size shipping container….oh, and have a reprint made because our cat Ella decided to jump on one when we were packaging it up, (go figure).
To make a long story short, Wendy and I went up to Portland, OR about three weeks ago to photograph two engagement sessions, participate in a bridal show and yes, see our prints judged. For one, it was extremely educating to hear the judges critique images with an eye that’s only been developed through many years of judging. In fact, after siting in that room for about 4 hours I can honestly say that I became a better photographer for it! At the end of the day we were ecstatic that our image titled, “Neptune’s Daughter” merited! This same image, being the highest scoring in the category of wedding portraits, was also given the “Oregon Wedding Portrait of the Year” award!! Now it’s time to let our bride who’s in the photograph know the great news!