05th Jan2016

IUSA 2016: Please put the ceremonies on your schedule

by Christine

*of note; go ahead and take this article with a huge grain of salt, if you wish. I am being honored several times myself and have a vested interest in the topic. However, since personal experience is the basis for most of what I write, it is what it is.

Something that I’ve noticed about IUSA and it’s numbers – not all that many people attend the Awards & Degrees Ceremony or the Grand Imaging Awards.

I’d like that to change.

Whether or not you know any of the honorees, watching the incredible pride in craftsmanship, work ethic and a job well done within our industry can truly be inspiring.

I know that I, personally, am inspired by the Diamond Photographers of the Year (honored at the Grand Imaging Awards). To me, that means that they have achieved perfection within image competition. Yes, perhaps only for that one moment in time, but wow – that’s impressive.

You might not have a clue what I just said, and maybe that’s why you’re not interested. I’m going to explain it in English and very simply – please bear with me for a few paragraphs, k?

Monday, Jan 11, 2016 6:30-7:30 PM Grand Imaging Awards

First of all, it’s only an hour and PPA has this gig down to a science. They get’r’done pretty well and a boatload of people are honored in a fairly expedient, yet not rushed manner. It’s kind of impressive, especially after you see the lengths they go to audio-visually to keep us entertained with image slideshows while we are waiting for the event to start and informational and image slideshows during the ceremony.

In a nutshell, this is where the image competitors are honored. All year long, they work on their best four images (called a “case”) and they go into competition. It’s their absolute best work and many lengths and hours of time may be gone into the creating of them. When all is said and done, your image can either not pass, pass, or pass with extra credit. Your end ranking depends on whether or not all 4 of your images passed and how many of them got extra credit. We call those teachers’ pets that get extra credit for every darned thing “Diamond Photographers of the Year”. (Y’all know I love and respect you, I’m just being funny – see Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friends).

Anyway – anyone who had everything pass (if you pass, we call that a MERIT) gets to get up on stage and they’re in 5 different groupings, depending on how many of their images got extra credit (we call that a LOAN). So the groupings are Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. They’re all called Photographers of the Year and/or Medalists.

All in all, this is a pretty impressive feat. Folks work really hard on these images and getting to this level is fairly impressive. If you’re a new competitor, or interested in image competition at all, this would be a great event for you.

After those groups are honored, they Go on to the Grand Imaging Awards (GIA). The PPA takes those images that got the extra credit and has their judges vote on their top ten images in each category. After the top 10 are narrowed down, the judges vote again, ranking their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place choices. (That is my understanding of the process, any judges reading, feel free to correct me if this is wrong).

Those top 10 images in each category are considered GIA Nominees/Finalists. There are actually 6 overall categories, but the Portrait category is subdivided further, so in total, there are 10 group announcements. The top 3 in each category get trophies, and the 1st place winner gets $500. Then all the first place winners are brought up (6 – there is an overall portrait 1st place – the subdivisions do not appear here) and the overall GIA winner is given another trophy and another $500. *sigh*

ok, and that’s pretty much it. There are a number of other awards afterwards, as organizations tend to do.

Oh – yes – I mustn’t forget – the World Cup…

The World Cup is kind of like the Olympics of photography. The very first USA Team was announced and revealed while I was in the audience at this event several years ago. The absolute top cream of the crop images are chosen from all the LOANS and that makes up Team USA, who then go head-to-head with teams across the world.

“We are watching history being made,” said the voice behind me in the audience. He was right, so very right. The USA has been a strong force to be reckoned with in the past, let’s see what you think when the new team is announced at the ceremony.

Tuesday, January 12, Award and Degree Ceremony 6:30-7:30 PM

Bonus! Another well put together event that only takes an hour, yet is jam-packed with stuff. Way cool audio visual effects last year, too!

The PPA confers degrees to people, again, who have done a boatload of work over the past number of years. These are your competitors, your speakers, your teachers, your organizational volunteers. Those who have shown a level of work and dedication above and beyond. The PPA acknowledges these accomplishments with a variety of Degrees (Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsman, Master Artist). There are also different medallions and levels of achievement beyond the degrees that are acknowledged as well. Each person receiving a degree will be announced and go on stage with the sponsor of their choice who will then place their medallion and ribbon around their neck and then there will be hugs, handshakes and hula dancing. Seriously. One of the delightful aspects is the little twists that folks put into this moment. I didn’t do anything, personally, but my friends thought that yelling “SQUIRREL!” would make the moment memorable. Yes, it’s on video. To those designing the twists – stay classy – I’ve seen it go borderline.

Anyway – those walking across that stage have devoted at least a few years to the process that led them to this evening. The new Master Photographers have amassed at least fifteen images in competition that passed, or if they were exceptionally talented, eight with extra credit (those get double merits). It’s some pretty heady stuff if you think about it.

I want you to experience the same inspiration I get from these ceremonies.

What would be really cool is if you all could go and seek out the folks from your home state that are up on stage at any point in the evening. They worked really hard to be up there, this event might be the thing that swayed them to come, and they very well might be there by themselves. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but (stop reading, honey) I had to find a quiet area a few times the evening I got my Master’s Degree a few years back and regroup. It bothered me more than I realized that my husband wasn’t there. Fortunately, I had a group of very sweet friends who cheered me on (even though it wasn’t allowed) and met up with me at the party later – and that helped me, immensely.

Additionally – if you’re reading this far, I’ll let you in on a secret….. those folks that are GIA finalist/nominees have not been allowed to publicly announce the honor. The ceremony announcements need an element of surprise, and folks have been asked to be discreet. Of course, I’ve heard a number of little birdies tweeting here and there and a couple of not vauge-book enough posts to have a good idea of some of the names, but I can’t help from feeling a little sad that they’re not able to whip up some hooplah prior to the event. You know?

So, I’m betting there are some folks there that could use an extra pat on the back and congratulated.

Or maybe even a social event companion.

I know a number of my competitor friends that travel to these things alone; conjuring up a banquet escort can sometimes be an issue – fellows, you know any ladies there by themselves (or rooms of ladies) ? Not to be sexist – but it’s not necessarily comforting to be slogging around the streets of Atlanta hailing cabs, etc in gowns and high heels  – ask your solo traveler friends to join your group if you can.

And if a friend with a purse needs to go onstage, offer to keep it safe while they do that, nobody wants to drag a purse up there.

OK, that’s all I have – peace, love and high heels,



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