To Competition Or Not to Competition

I have been a member of Professional Photographer’s Association (PPA) since 2009.  Every year comes and goes with no entrance to any of the competitions.  What held me back?  I am not truly sure what held me back, but all I know is every year I missed the deadline and almost missed it this year due to complications with loading my images.

I paid my fees and wondered what photos could I submit that I think tell a story, mean the most to me or really look good.  I forget it isn’t about me, it is about what others see.  What I didn’t do, was ask others what they thought.  I didn’t seek out a mentor, I didn’t seek out peers, and I definitely do this on my own; selection of images, that is.  I did send my images to two individuals who gave me great advice.  Next year will be another year.

In order to make it in this competition, each image must score 80 points or higher to earn a seal.  I didn’t realize how important entering this competition would be.  So, I had no expectations going into the competition, but I will not lie and say I am not disappointed by my outcomes.

What images did I select, you ask?  There is one image that will always mean the world to me.  It was the moment my daughter was born in 2012.  The photo was taken with available lighting because I didn’t want to have too much light to a kid who just experienced the most traumatic experience of her life at that point.

Image 1.jpg

I didn’t edit that photo at all.  I left it as it was and submitted it.  I also forgot to add a border for presentation purposes.  This photo received 71 points.  Like I said, this image means the most to me, so this was the most disappointment of the competition.


This couple here is one of my favorite weddings of all time.  These two met similar to how I met my wife and they look like a porcelain couple.  This image was shot at the Library of Congress in DC.  They do not allow flash photography inside the building and you cannot have a tripod of any kind.  I had to find as much natural lighting as possible and hold as still as possibly be as to not have a lot of grain to the photo.  This photo received a score of 78 points.

Image 3.jpg

This was actually a test shot for lighting, but I liked it so much I thought she had a lot of Determination in her position.  The ring light provided just the right amount of light reflection in her eyes.  I used continuous lighting to light all sides of her, even the hair light above her.  If I could do it differently, I would only add a backlight to create some separation from the backdrop.  This photo earned 77 points.

Image 4.jpg

While I reiterate that I had no expectations, I had a little bit about this one.  I mean, lots of people have made positive comments on this image and I thought for certain it would have enough to make it to the 80 threshold, but it only merited 78 points.

I am not overly disappointed in the outcome.  Every one has to start out somewhere and for my first competition, I think I did relatively well.  Obviously, I have lots of room to grow.  Next time around, I will remember to add a frame for presentation.  Now, I just need to keep creating and practicing.  Who’s with me?


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