Countdown to IPC 2016; What’s in *YOUR* Case?

by Christine



***NOT SAFE for IPC 2016 JUDGES!!!!***

***I repeat, if you are an IPC 2016 Juror, you need to turn back now!!!***

Well, howdy there! How have you been? If your life is anything like mine – you’ve been so busy you haven’t been able to take a breath. Or get your IPC entries done. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, anyway, it doesn’t have a thing to do with procrastination, no matter what my personal organizer tells you…

So, I’m still on that “oh my goodness I got it done!” high that’s been going strong for about the last hour. I’m pretty sure I’ve never waited this long to enter, and I really don’t know why I did. I had the files mostly prepped about a week after I got my critiques from Northeast District, several months ago.

I guess I thought… ok, I *know* I thought this… but it’s kind of embarrassing…. I thought I could pull out some extra awesome shots/entries that I could use to replace every “not so strong” entry in my case. I figured with the right attitude and energy expenditure I could pull out all the stops and “go Diamond”…

Yeah, right…

Basically, this year’s case is what it is. I had some stuff going on and didn’t give competition the time and attention that I normally do. It’s all good, though. I gave priority to the things that needed it and let those that didn’t hang out on the back burner.

I did that thing I advise against doing – I waited until the last day to enter my case for IPC. I had three seals going in. One for a non-event digital album, and two for printed portraits. I let the album and one print alone and dealt with the remaining two entries.

One of the portraits had the most embarrassing retouching error in it. Even though it scored in the merit zone at districts, I knew it probably wouldn’t go loan at IPC. There’s no rules or anything that would let me know for sure, but I know *I* would think the error that was in place would keep me from voting it a “loan” image, so I’m going off that.

Here’s the before and after images – look at the string hanging off the officer’s camera left sleeve:


That was a pretty easy fix that I took care of back in March, so all I had to do was break the seal and replace the file.

I saw this screen for the very first time… I have to admit, it was a little scary to push that button…



But, I did it, and now I’ll just wait to see if the IPC judges think he’s worth a merit.

Or two. 😉

The real difficulty lay in my choice for entry #4. I’ve been working on a series of illustrative images for the last several months that I wanted to use, but none of them worked out the way I wanted. I was stressing myself out, trying to shoot something new. Every single year, I’ve shot an image fairly close to the day of the deadline. Last year, I yanked an entry and created a brand new album on the day of the Northeast District deadline… which eventually went loan and placed #10 in the Grand Imaging Awards non-event album category… so… I thought it would be no issue to pull some kind of miracle out of my rear-end once again.

::pause for laughter::

Again…yeah, right. That was *SO* not happening…..

It boiled down to this… I had my previous entry #4 from districts. A portrait that scored an 80 and then was pulled back when some technical issues were noticed as it was spinning away… an image that re-scored at a 78.

So much OUCH.

Normally, I consider these “dead in the water” and I just yank them and don’t mess with them again. I prefer images that score higher and do not straddle that 78-81 zone.

But sometimes, you deal with what you have. And I had a 78.


I brought out the print. I brought up the digital file and did a self critique on it (much like I do for my mentoring students) and then I pulled up my district critique from Randy McNeilly. I re-calibrated both monitors and I immersed myself in the image. I did everything I could to bring it up to snuff. I fixed the background retouching issue that was noted in my critique. I checked my levels to make sure my blacks weren’t blocked up. In the actual judging, the judges said that the print had a greenish cast (it did – & that seemed to be a lab issue) – but that wasn’t something that needed fixed in the digital file, so that input, I ignored.


With some concentrated effort, I made the corrections in short order and submitted my case.


I know, right?

There’s still a tiny window of time before entries officially close, but after today, we’re just waiting for the official start of IPC 2016 judging, which begins on August 1, 2016.

I wish all of my fellow competitors the best luck in the world. I hope that 4/4 pins need an extra production run and that everyone that needs those last merits for their Master’s of Photography Degrees is successful in that quest.

Peace, love and merits,

UPDATED! IPC 2016: Changes to the Photographic Competition Judging Process

by Christine


***** Update Notes are italicized (thanks Dan & Francie for clarification help).*****

As I write about photographic competition topics, I will put them under a header of IPC with whatever “competition year” we are in. That means that this topic pertains to anything that is going on from approximately September 1 through August 31, depending on the IPC dates. This does not mean that the topic pertains ONLY to the IPC competition. I apologize for any confusion, but that’s the way I’ve always done it here at Wootness.

Some of the rules below only affect competitions at a district level (specifically the INs/OUTs change, the lowest score alternate change and the Majority Automatic Challenge addition) as there is scoring on the district level only. The remaining change affects both IPC and District levels.

These rules are not required to be duplicated on any other level, so check your state or local guild rules for the specific rules that govern their competitions.

Greetings and salutations! I haven’t been around much lately, after IPC last August, the fall passed in a blur and then it was the holidays and then IUSA 2016 and now here we are, mere weeks from the first PPA District deadline – ack! How did that happen?

While at Imaging 2016, I had the opportunity to attend the Judges’ Refresher training. While there, we were all apprised of a few new judging guidelines that are going into effect this year. Normally, I like to back up my information with resources, and I anticipate that new Jury Chair and International Photographic Competition manuals will be uploaded to the PPA website before too long with the changes in place. Meanwhile, this information has been shared on several social media platforms and I have some fuzzy cell phone snaps of the slideshow from the judges’ training – so I think we can all go with the concept that I’m going to give you some real information here based on fact. As soon as the official documentation supports it, I will add that in. (meanwhile, see IPC Facebook page post dated 1/26/2016 HERE)

There are four changes that have been made. Every single one of these changes benefits the maker/image and gives every opportunity for a merit to be awarded. I think that most competitors will find these changes to be to their advantage.

1. In the past, images scoring 78-81 would be brought back for a review called INs and OUTs. This is no longer the case. The only images that will be brought back for review are those that initially scored a 78-79. This is a PPA District Competition change.

2. In the past, the computer would randomly select a juror for each image that was to be considered the alternate. The jurors are unaware as to which of them is the alternate and all jurors participate fully in the challenge discussions. The change will be that the lowest score will now be the alternate score and will not be figured into the final average score for the print. If, during the challenge process, the jurors change their score and a different juror now has the lowest score, that is the new alternate. This is a PPA District Competition change.

3. In the past, albums submitted to the event album category were judged by a panel that contained at least 3 approved wedding jurors. that requirement is now also in place for the wedding portrait subcategory within the portrait category. This is a PPA District and IPC change.

4. If a majority of the jurors on the panel give an image an 80+ score, but the image’s final average score is not an 80+, this is called a Majority Automatic Challenge and the image will be discussed and re-scored. For example, if you have a panel that scores an image 80, 80, 80, 80, 75, 75, the average score is a 79 (we have dropped one of the 75s as the lowest score). A majority of the jurors have given this a “merit score” however, the final average was not 80+. We now have an automatic challenge and this image will be discussed.

There’s also a flip side to how this rule works. If a majority of the jurors give a score of less than 80, but an average score of more than 80 is decrived, that is an automatic challenge. (Example scores: 85, 79,79,79,79,78. The 78 is dropped as the alternate/lowest score and the average is 80. Although the majority of the judges scored this image below an 80, it scored an 80, so it will be an automatic challenge and will be discussed and rescored).

This is a PPA District Competition change. (CWN note: merits and loans are determined at the IPC level by a majority thumbs up/thumbs down vote, so there is a comparable majority rule already in place at the IPC level)

So, there you have it, all the changes that are new and improved for your competition pleasure.

Peace, Love & Merit Scores,


Prepping for IUSA 2016

by Christine

Are you ready? For some reason, it’s really crept up on me this year, how about you? I finally did the dreaded IUSA gown-shopping trip today and in the midst of all the dress-trying-on frenzy, I wound up getting excited. I don’t know what it is, but this year… maybe it’s because it’s so close to the holidays, but I was just not feeling the excitement very much before today.

So, let’s go over some stuff:


By now you should have your registrations and hotel reservations at the bare minimum. If you want to register for a pre-convention class, you probably ought to get cracking on that, too. If you haven’t done any of that yet, put down the pop-tarts and head over to these links:





Those of you really organized types (ie people who are my very.dear.friends.) will want to make sure that you download the IUSA app onto  your smart phone.  The link for that is HERE.

It shows the entire schedule of the whole shebang and allows you to design your own custom schedule of classes you are interested in seeing. That part is pretty cool,

BUT (note to any PPA bigwigs who have a hand in the design of these things, the rest of you can skip to the next paragraph) PLEASE for the love of all that is holy allow the option to insert my own personal time slot into this app. There are a number of specialized PPA and IUSA-oriented events and meetings that I am supposed to be at that are not open to the general public, so they’re not on the public schedule… For example, the Judge’s Refresher Training, The CPP Liaison Meeting, My Mentor Booth Appointment, Degrees & Awards Ceremony Rehearsal, ASP Banquet, etc – you know what I mean? Make it easy on a lot of us and combine everything into one schedule, it’s driving me mad to have to cross check the IUSA schedule with my own personal calendar.

OK Rant over, sorry, not sorry.

So, anyway, some kind of schedule is going to help you out, I suggest a combination of the IUSA app and whatever calendar (smartphone, daytimer, etc) you usually utilize.

As a bare minimum, you’re probably set. It’s just fine to walk through the front doors and bounce from class to class like a Roomba, but you’re probably better off checking the schedule over thoroughly and at least following some kind of semblance of order. I prefer to stay on the “portrait” track, myself, but you’ll find me in other topics, depending on the instructor.

The first year I went to IUSA, I met some friends there and basically went to whatever class one of the other ones was going to that I thought sounded the most interesting. Believe it or not, I’m a little shy and was just not comfortable entering classrooms with so many people in them by myself. True story. I have trouble in crowds. Sometimes.

What I wound up with was a smattering of helpful things and only one speaker I truly enjoyed.

This is certainly an effective way to get a haphazard dose of education, but I suggest going it on your own if you have to, and save the socializing for the meal times and designated party times.

I set a very complex schedule up for myself last year with something in every single class time slot as well as every slot with a trade show speaker. I was busy from morning until night and for me, that’s the best way to utilize my time. I generally don’t get to attend classes at my state convention (because I’m usually on the team running it), so this is my way to get in as much education in as I can.

Hey, this trip costs a lot of money  – I need to maximize my investment.


I generally wait until the night before the trip to pack my bag, and then I just sort of fit as much of my closet in there as I can. Since I’m flying Southwest, I’m allowed to check two bags, but realistically, toting two bags on the MARTA is not going to be a pretty sight, so I’m trying to really plan well to minimize the extra clothes I wind up taking back home with me unworn, this time. Plus, I need to allow some extra room because, well… trade show.

One of the things that’s helpful is to check a 10-day weather forecast to help you pack. It looks like the first few days are going to be warmer than the last time I was in Atlanta for Imaging, so I’m not packing much in the “heavy outerwear” department. Those of you staying at the OMNI will be delighted to know that the convention center is attached to the hotel via a covered walkway of some sort – so carrying your coat around the trade show will not be on your pet-peeve list this year.

If you’re attending the ASP Banquet or being honored onstage at either the Grand Imaging Awards or the Awards and Degrees Ceremony, you’ll want to make arrangements for slightly dressier clothing than normal. No, I can’t help you with this – did you read the part about how I waited until 4 days before my flight to shop for a dress?

For the most part, I recommend that you be comfortable. Wear shoes that you’ve already worn a lot and wear layers, you never know if a place is going to be warm or cool and layers are your best bet for working around that. Yes, I know, I sound like my grandmother.

Another helping hint: a backpack. If you’re like me, slugging around bags and purchases and notebooks and purses and cameras causes me angst. The most convenient mode of dealing with all of that is a backpack. It’s pretty much a fanny pack on steroids.

Depending on what kind of student you are, you ought to throw a notebook in that backpack. I’m  a note-taker and I have a specific notebook I bring to classes. If you forget, don’t worry, though, the last few years, PPA had some cool little information books at the registration desks that had pages in them for note-taking. They’re not ideal, if you take lots of notes, but they’re helpful in a pinch.

So, that’s pretty much the basics. How are you doing with your prep? I did that dreadfully responsible thing and paid for my trip piece by piece months ago. Except for buying my gown in June*,  the rest of the prepping in advance was a wise decision. Now I’m not going to get hit with a bunch of expenses in one fell swoop. All that’s left is to check the schedule for any recent additions and pack my suitcase.

If you’re still reading this far – I’d like to cordially invite you to join a group of my students and mentees on Sunday, January 10 at 12 noon in the PPA eatery by the Image Exhibit. We will hang out and have lunch together and then walk through the Image Exhibit afterwards. Last year was a great time, we ran into a number of judges and artists that I knew and they took the time to give our group several impromptu talks about image competition or their images. The link to the Facebook Event is HERE.

*It’s like Murphy’s Law; the minute you buy a dress for a future event, you gain just enough pounds to not fit into it any more.

Peace, Love & Pop-Tarts,





Mentoring with Kelly – Session #1

by Christine
A selfie while prepping to meet with Kelly. I love that I can schedule mentoring sessions at convenient times for each individual student.

A selfie while prepping to meet with Kelly. I love that I can schedule mentoring sessions at convenient times for each individual student. Plus, holding a session on my deck while the birds are singing… you can’t beat that with a stick! 🙂

A behind-the-scenes look at my online private mentoring…

Today I had an appointment with a new mentee, Kelly, from Ohio and she was gracious enough to agree to let me blog about her mentoring progress. I thought it would be nice to use a real-life example of a student’s mentoring session – so mucho big thanks to Kelly for allowing me to chat about it. (hopefully she’ll agree to a wrap-up interview when we’re all done).

My mentoring program, for the time being, is a 6-meeting arrangement between one student and myself. The reason is this – that is the kind of education *I* like. It’s the kind of education *I* learn the most from, and I pretty much wanted to work with other students that desired the same kind of personal attention that I like.

Kelly and I set up our first appointment for today at 10 AM. I had given her a number of pre-session homework assignments, and she came through with flying colors, sending me 17 images to review before our first meeting. I also reviewed her website, her blog and her business Facebook page and sent her several survey forms with pertinent questions about her education, technical skill level and information about previous competition participation.

Yes, I want to know a lot of stuff.

Here’s why – my students are going to fork over a chunk of change and I want to make sure that they get every penny’s worth out of it. I want to know what equipment they have access to and what types of clients they photograph for money. Then I want to know what they photograph for the love of it. I want to know what makes them tick and I want to know what gives them “juice.”

For the next 6 weeks, my mentees trust me to guide them towards their goals – I’m going to make sure we do this with a level of great success. So yes, I’m going to spend some extra time getting to know them as individuals as well as photographers.

Kelly and I spent a little over an hour reviewing her images and talking about her goals. I used an online meeting company that gives me the capability to record our sessions, and a copy of that recording was sent to Kelly at the conclusion of our session.

We reviewed 14 of the 17 images she sent for homework and will be reviewing the remaining 3 in session 2.

At the end of our session, we scheduled the next 5 session dates and times and I assigned Kelly some homework for session #2.

Now, this all may sound a little bit vague, but I just don’t do the same thing with each student, so I don’t have a plan that is replicated across the board. Besides, it’s called private mentoring for a reason.

Anyway – Kelly got some homework that was pertinent to her work and her goals. She was given some pointers on how to change up the way she shoots in a few technical areas the next time she encounters certain situations. I became acquainted with Kelly’s level of software competence and reviewed her current methods of retouching and enhancement before assigning her the rest of her homework.

I believe in stretching the existing skill set – not necessarily changing everything over to what *I* do, you know?

So, there you have it – a couple of hours of review work for me – mentoring session #1 – followed up by a recording of session #1 – a 4 part homework assignment and some additional help with a CPP certification renewal (because I’m kind of handy helping with CPP stuff, too).

The additional bonus for the day was discovering that Kelly had attended Ohio Institute of Photography and had Rich Newell as her instructor. What a small world! Rich was my sponsor when I received my Master’s Degree from PPA in 2013 and he currently serves as PPA’s IPC Manager.

Whoda thunk?


 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If you think you’d like to set up a private mentoring program for yourself, send me a note at or call 330.407.6677. I have just a couple of more slots left for the fall session, which ends October 31. The last day to join this session is September 18, the tuition is $299.

Enter PPA’s Southeast District for Score/Critique Only!

by Christine

Southeast District Photographic Competition Banner

Yes, it’s true! The PPA rules allows its members to enter any other PPA district competition for SCORE ONLY. You may also order the optional critiques. You WILL NOT earn seals and you ARE NOT eligible for district awards.

If you’re like me and like to see official proof, please go HERE to see it for yourself on the PPA website.

For those of us that aren’t all that happy with the results of the Southwest, Northeast, Northcentral or Western district results – we have an unofficial do-over – kind of – sort of. We’ve got the opportunity to make some changes or substitutions to the images that didn’t do so well, and place some alternate images before a set of affiliated judges. We can also take advantage of the critiques, which are available for an extra fee.

Now, I’d be irresponsible if I made any claim that one can be assured of a merit at IPC if one gets a 80+ score at Southeast District. For my own self – I only need one new entry for my IPC case, I’m going to see what happens at Southeast District and most likely will choose whatever scores the highest. Maybe. Because you just never know what might happen. Sometimes “different day, different panel” kicks in with more vengeance than usual and things just don’t go your way. So – take it for what it is – an opportunity to get a little more feedback on a couple of images you’re considering for your IPC case.

Now – there’s one more thing – so listen up –

I’ve been hearing a variety of folks registering for the Artist Category by mistake instead of the Photographic Open or vice versa.



There are two different links to register, one for each category – so go to the right one. Go to the PPA website to see the page with both options and then pick the right one. We’re grown adults, now, and can read, so let’s do this right, ok?


Alrighty then – if you suck it up and take a risk at Southeast District, let me know and I’ll watch with you – we will have a “I hated my district case so much I entered it twice club” viewing.

Entries open: March 23, 2015
Judging dates: May 1-May 3, 2015 Charlotte, NC
Entries close: April 24, 2015


IUSA15’s Image Competition Track

by Christine


I’ve been prepping for the long awaited trip to Nashville. Part of that prep involves putting together a schedule of recommended classes for myself and my students. There’s quite a selection of information available about image competition this year, so I thought it would be helpful to share.

I recommend the following IUSA scheduled events and classes for my fellow image competition junkies, students and mentorees:


Saturday, January 31, 2015:



If you are going to be at IUSA on Saturday night, I highly recommend you sign up for this class. Did you catch that? SIGN UP for this class. Dave already has the exact same class scheduled on Friday night that was sold out so quickly the PPA added in a second one. You must preregister for the class. Call PPA at 800.786.6277 to arrange that.

On a personal level – I give Dave five stars as an instructor. He was my judges’ workshop instructor in 2013 and I have high regard for him. Read my judging school post HERE.

Imaging USA 2015

Sunday, February 1, 2015


^^^You need to see the exhibit. Allow yourself plenty of time and you may even want to visit several times. The prints are arranged throughout the exhibit and the digital images are shown on large screens, separated into an alphabetical order across several screens. It takes quite awhile to scroll through the digital images and several sittings to watch is recommended.


^^^ It would behoove you to see ALL of the presenters in this program. They are all PPA affiliated judges and have more experience than you can shake a stick at. (Please don’t bring sticks, it’s just a saying). It’s being offered every day and there is a little bit of change-up with the speakers & topics, but not a lot. If you plan it right, you can hit 2 or 3 of these a day and get them all covered in 3 days.

Monday, February 2, 2015


^^^ Oh, hey, look, here it is again. If you missed it yesterday, please check it out today.


^^^ And here we are for day 2 of Merit Cafe. Which ones are you going to see? I’ll be seeing Donna Goodhale & Jeff Dachowski for sure !


^^^ For inspiration and a gander at the finest photography culled from IPC 2014, you’ll want to be here for sure. Cheer for those on stage and offer your congratulations to our finest PPA photographic artists.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


^^^OK, this is your LAST chance, I’m serious! Check it out thoroughly because today the exhibit goes down at 3:30 PM. On the positive side, those of you that have been waiting patiently for the return of your prints and cases will have them back within the next few weeks.

learning to see_Tues

^^^I am super duper excited about this!!! See those names in the right-hand column? Those are some uber-talented and successful competitors who are going to share their mad competition knowledge & skilz with us. Be there or be square!

Links to presenter biographies:

Angela Kurkian, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Christie Kline, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Suzy Fulton, M.Photog., CPP

Tom Munoz, M.Photog.Cr., CPP


^^^ Take three of Merit Cafe. The day is a bit short, today, so make sure you see the speakers you weren’t able to on the first two days. I’m probably going to see Gabriel Alonso speak twice. I may ask him to read my grocery list out loud.


^^^And last, but not least. Come to the event that most competitors dream of; the day you get to walk across the IUSA stage and receive your Master’s Degree medallion from your sponsor and shake a bunch of peoples’ hands. It’s heady stuff, I’m tellin’ ya. 🙂 Seriously – show your fellow competitors your support and pride. It’s been a tough journey, no matter how easily it may have seemed for some. And when it’s your turn, we’ll be there for you.

I will be at every single one of these events (except for the Saturday class with Dave Huntsman, I am in the Friday class). If you see me, say hello.

All Day Print Competition Education FREE | Lewis Center, Ohio: March 13/14, 2015

by Christine


If you are already a PP of Ohio member, this benefit is FREE for you.
If you’re NOT a member – it’s FREE for you, too – YAY!!


All day education for FREE? This is a joke, right?

No joke, folks, here’s the scoop. The PPA allows anyone who wants to attend a District Judging to view it for FREE.

And you know what’s even better?

You can do it TWICE!

That’s right, you can sit in a dark room for two entire days and absorb the combined knowledge of our esteemed judging panel.

Did I say “esteemed” ?

Why yes, yes, I did. The panel we have engaged for this competition are ALL PPA Affiliated Jurors. This is the Northeast District judging, run by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) with some help from the PP of Ohio team. These judges are the cream of the crop and this group contains several of my own personal heroes.

If things go according to past history, we will have a print judging room and a digital image judging room, so you will be able to move freely between them, depending on your mood/preferences. We just ask that you stay extremely quiet in the judging rooms.

Feast your eyes on the educational team we have for you:


I’ve said it a jillion times already, but here it is once more:

Aside from participating, watching a print competition is one of the most educational things you can do for your photography. Even if you never enter a competition. Listen and learn as the judges compliment the good things and critique the things that may be holding an image back. Pay attention to the scoring categories and the 12 elements that the judges refer to while speaking about an image.


This will be the best education, HANDS DOWN!

And if you can get this for FREE – HELLO?? What are you waiting for? I expect to see you lined up, waiting to get a front row seat when I show up at 6 AM. Okay, maybe 7 AM.

Get in on this before the powers in charge realize they could be charging.

Judging dates and times are:

Friday, March 13, 2015: 9 AM – 1 PM and 2 PM – 7 PM

Saturday, March 14, 2015: 9 AM – 12 PM and 1 PM – 5PM

NorthPointe/Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center
100 Green Meadows Drive South
Lewis Center, Ohio 43035

I will be there – please say “hello” if you see me. Slip me your business card so I know who you are – I’ll probably be crazy busy since I’m the print room headmaster – but I will want to meet you 🙂

I hope to see you there!

PS – If you’re not a member and you’d like to hang out for the whole weekend  – we’ve got a groovy discount for you – just buy a membership and save all the day-pass shenanigans for another time. If you mention my name (Christine or Wootness), I’ll get a $25 discount when I renew my dues – so thanks in advance for that 🙂


Print Competition: Inspiration vs Duplication

by Christine


This past week many competitors were given the opportunity to view the 2015 Southwest District image competition. Isn’t technology a wonderful thing? For two days we could sit in the living room with our feet up and listen in on one of the best educational resources available. Many just listened in while they went about their daily office work – what a convenience! I chose the “feet up” option, myself. 😉

And now that the competition is over and we’re waiting for the final results that include names and scores, because face it – we want to see exactly WHO some of these incredible artists are – we’re excited. And inspired.

Inspiration is groovy as heck. And after watching hundreds of images rotate through the judging panels, sometimes we get on a little bit of overload and find that the inspiration meter needs re-calibrated.


Slow down. Think about what you’ve seen. Before you rush off and start calling models and arranging hair and makeup artists and renting cool locations and props – think about what you are doing. And trying to do.

Inspiration is fine. Duplication is not.

Take care with your inspiration. As artists, we want to stretch our creativity and explore new concepts. Putting our own spin on an amazing image is fine, but duplicating someone else’s concept is not.

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty black and white rule portion of it – here’s what the PPA has to say*:

Any entry that has been reproduced from an existing photograph, portrait, graphic or any other artwork produced by another person is a violation of the competition rules and will not be judged, accepted or displayed. If an entry, in the good-faith opinion of the Photographic Exhibition Committee, violates copyright, trademark or any other applicable law, that entry shall be disqualified.

Just bear in mind that in addition to being creative technical storytellers, we should also be ethical. If you ever have any question about whether your image/concept might be violating this rule, ask for help from the PPA or check with a PPA Affiliated Judge.

The fact that you’re wondering may be an indicator that you’re treading onto thin ice and you may just want to proceed with a different concept, instead. Better safe than sorry, right?

Seriously, this is one lesson you do not want to learn the hard way. You and your reputation as a competitor will suffer.

Now, go forth and create!

* from the “Eligibility” section of the 2015 Northeast District rules:

Competing in Image Competitions Sponsored by Other PPA-Affiliated State Organizations

by Christine


One of the pieces of advice I give to my students is that they should look around and see if there are any other image competitions that would be helpful to them. There are many state level PPA-Affiliates that allow non-members to enter for a score, only. This can be a viable way of testing the waters with a new image before submitting to your own state and/or district.

This can also help you out of a tight spot if you’re like me and are in a state that is hosting one of the District competitions. Normally, my state (Ohio) would have its state level competition about a month before Northeast District. Ohio lets me enter 6 images, and generally I use the 4 highest scoring images as my entries for the Northeast District. This year, however, Ohio is hosting the Northeast District competition and Ohio entrants lose a step of competition that they normally have. It’s all fine – I love it when we host Districts – but it’s a little nerve-wracking to take 4 images straight to Districts – I like a little more input than that before I send my stuff on to IPC – so in this set of circumstances, entering first at a different state would be a good option for me.

The important thing to bear in mind is that state level associations do not have a standard for judging like the PPA does at District and IPC judging. Anyone from a Master to an fully Affiliated PPA Judge may be asked to judge at the state level. It is up to you, as a serious competitor, to make sure your images are seen by the most experienced and educated judges as possible. It would stand to reason, that if you want to see how your images *may* fare at your district, stick to competitions that are being judged by the same level of judges. Fortunately, there are a number of states that are exceptional about getting as many trained judges as possible on their panel.

As a matter of fact, I did some research and entered several images at another state just a few weeks ago. I knew who on the judging panel were PPA Affiliated judges and I used their critiques and comments as guidelines for reworking the images.  It was well worth the entry fee to have that additional input.

Hang tight, Wootness will be releasing information about individual upcoming competitions that have PPA Affiliated Judges AND allow non-members to compete for scores. I will be providing all the pertinent deadlines, entry details and contact information of who is in charge.

Strobox: Online Lighting Diagram Creator

by Christine

This is going to be short and sweet as I am deep into some preparation and packing for a four day class I’m teaching in Cleveland, OH this week.

One of the things I do for some of my class presentation materials is prepare some lighting diagrams to help my students understand lighting patterns better.

The program I use is called Strobox. Click HERE.

The program is free to use for personal use and generates lighting diagrams in both JPG and PNG format.

This is also an excellent way to keep track of all of the lighting patterns you have found useful in your own work; customized to your own gear. You know… if you’re really organized and like to keep track of stuff like that. I’m just guessing, it’s not like I know anyone that actually does that…no siree.