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,


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.

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.

What is a Print Case? Where Can I Buy One?

by Christine

One of the requirements when entering physical prints into image competition is an approved print case. If you ship your competition prints anywhere in a cardboard box or other unapproved case, your prints will more than likely not be returned to you.

If we prance on over to the PPA website, we can see the PPA Approved Print Cases section. If you’re still confused, or need more specific information – read on…

If you just want someone to point you in the right direction and tell you something to buy that will work  – I can do that. There are a variety of print cases out there – so a search at any of the supplier links on the PPA Print Case page will yield something useful. Keep that link handy – and bear in mind that if will be difficult to procure a print case at the last minute and you may have to check around. The case I’m about to recommend is on a 2-4 week back order at B&H, but is in stock at the recommended vendor.

The most common type of print case that I see is made by the Fiberbilt company. I got my first print case (I currently have two) at and I purchased the 16×20 1″ thick case. HERE is the link the the exact case I got.

17639I used this case for 4 years of competition with no issue. I stayed with images that were 16×20 and smaller. I never entered albums, so the case only needed to hold 4 prints. For some competitions, it needed to hold 6 prints, which was a little bit of a squeeze, but the case has some room for growth, so it all worked out. The real problems came when I started entering images that were more than 20″ on the long side. The maximum square inches allowed for competition prints is 480 square inches, so this case is not large enough to hold prints at the upper end of the scale. I eventually bought a larger case because I started making larger competition prints. You should decide in advance if you think you might want to eventually enter larger images and just buy that size now. The least costly of these cases tops $130, so it’s a bit of an investment.

The next case I got was a Fiberbilt 20x24x4. It is entirely too large for my purposes (too deep), but I got it for a good price from another competitor who used it to enter physical albums, so that’s why it’s a 4″ case. I have to add more filler foam to the case to take up room, but that’s about the only downside so far. I’ve only been using it for a year or so and it’s currently with my IUSA2015 prints. It will hold the largest size I’d probably ever make for competition, so I don’t see needing to upgrade again any time soon.


There is a difference in the price to ship. The thicker & larger one is just going to cost more. Also, I have way more luck going to my main UPS office to ship the case instead of using a UPS store or service elsewhere. Almost everyone wants to charge me extra to put the case in a box. Except for the main UPS office. I have no clue what the issue is and it could be just the places in my area, who knows?

Pay extra to put a box in a box, give me a break…



Where Can I See Previous Print Competition Entries? 5 Inspirational Resources for Competitors

by Christine

This is a often-asked question. It’s kind of hard to know what you’re doing in the beginning with print competition and taking a gander at some previous entries is quite helpful.

Currently, these are your options:

1. IUSA Image Exhibit

All entries that received merits or loans are displayed at the PPA’s national convention, Imaging USA. This year it it will be held in Nashville, TN February 1-3, 2015. For more information about that see HERE. The image exhibit will be open from 8am – 8pm Sunday & Monday and 8am – 3:30pm on Tuesday, and will be located at Lower Level, Hall C, Inside the Imaging Expo. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The Print Exhibit at IUSA 2013

The Print Exhibit at IUSA 2013

2. Loan and Showcase Books

Each year, images that receive a loan (L) or showcase (GB) designation are published in books by Marathon Press and are available for purchase.


Loan collection books are HERE. The 2014 edition is $69.95 plus shipping, however, if one of your images is in the book, you receive a special reduced price.


Showcase collection books are HERE. The 2014 edition is $59.95 plus shipping, however, if one of your images is in the book, you receive a special reduced price.

If you need to order a book at the reduced/contributor price, call 800/228.0629 to speak with a Marathon Representative, Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm CST.

3. Observe Competition

This used to be hard, but with modern technology, it has become much easier in recent years. Presently, there are three ways to do this:

A. Attend a live competition in person.

Competitions are generally conducted so that they may accommodate an audience. if you are a member of the organization hosting the competition, there should be no issue with attending. Presently, competitions are conducted on local, state, district and international levels. Keeping in touch with your organizations will allow you to be aware of when these opportunities are scheduled. Most organizations also have an image exhibit following the live competition so that you may peruse all entries at your convenience.

B. Watch a live-streamed competition – Part 1.

Here’s where it starts to gets fun. 🙂

For the past several years, there has been an independent company, called with a variety of print competition services. A number of local and state organizations are beginning to use this service for administrative functions. This is where competitors can enter their images online and pay their fees. The organization may also opt to rent some competition scoring equipment, which also includes the opportunity to broadcast the competitions online for competitors who cannot travel to the competition.

Bear in mind that not every organization uses this system and this website is not affiliated with the PPA. Streamed competitions are visual ONLY and do not include ongoing AUDIO coverage.

Access the game Day Application HERE (also available on iDevices). Upcoming streamed competitions are also listed on the main web page.

C. Watch a live-streamed competition – Part 2.

And this is where it gets knocked out of the park.

PPA has entered the playground and boy is this hot stuff! IPC 2014 was live-streamed in its entirety. images being judged and the corresponding audio in all competition rooms are broadcast. Due to the number of entries, judging takes place in multiple rooms simultaneously. Up to five rooms were broadcast at a time in 2014. AND entrants received score notifications via text – WOOTNESS!

PPA has also just announced (see HERE) that the Southwest District competition on Jan 8 & 9, 2015 will also be live-streamed. There is a lack of information about how to access that, but I’m assuming (and we know the risk of doing that) that they will be utilizing the same access website as they did for IPC, which is – stay tuned – Wootness will announce more details on this as they are forthcoming.


4. Competition archives.

Generally I don’t make recommendations on that involve spending money. I’m going to make an exception this time.

Because of the appearance of on the scene, we are now able to review the archive of images that have been entered into the local and state organizations (PPA District and IPC competitions are not included) that have utilized this website for entry and scoring purposes. In order to view any entries other than your own, you must purchase a Premium membership which is $10 quarterly. I do not get a thing for recommending this membership. I think it’s an incredible value for the money – there are over 10,000 images in the archives at this time. The scores the image received are viewable as well as a recording if the image was challenged. Although there is no audio of the entire competition, challenges are recorded automatically and made available on the site. I heartily recommend you purchase a membership  – the educational value is exponentially more than the $10 price tag. You may also access individual competitions for a fee of $25.

A sample archive image at

A sample archive image at

Now – pay attention to this – although looking through the results and scores and listening to the recorded challenges can be quite helpful – remember that you do not know who the judges are that did the scoring and challenging. They may have been fully affiliated judges, members with Masters degrees, or somewhere in-between. I recommend that my students pay particular attention to scores and critiques by PPA affiliated jurors, but there is no way of knowing who is who when utilizing this site.

5. Digital Presentations.

These are less numerous and a bit harder to locate, but here are two collections of recent images.

PPA’s 2014 Best of the Best: These are the loan images of IPC in slideshow format.

Marathon Press 2013 Loan Book: The 2013 Loan book in PDF format. This is not the usual way of things, so don’t count on being able to see future ones this way.

And there you have it – five ways to peruse past competition entries – have fun!


How to Build Your Image Competition Advisory Network (PP of OHIO BONUS ARTICLE)

by Christine

Introducing…. the Image Competition Advisory Network.


(pause for groaning)

OK, that’s enough, I’m being serious, here.

Basically, here’s the deal. If you are participating in print competition, you want to associate with other competitors. You want to have a team of people who understand what it is you are doing that can give you appropriate feedback. You don’t want your mom or your Aunt Ida or your cousin Jerry’s neighbor. You want competitors. Successful competitors. Local competitors. PPA competitors, not the annual county fair competitors.

And just  how does one go about that?

Here’s a tip from me to you. Here’s what I did. Come closer, I don’t want everyone hearing my secret. Go to this link. It is the top secret, double protected official whammy results from all International Print Competitions since 2009. I want you to download and keep a copy of all of these documents. The names in these documents are your “people.” Fellow competitors. Those who walk with greatness. More than likely, they jingle while they do it.

The names are plentiful and the more you see a name repeated, the more experienced and serious that competitor can be assumed to be.

Sidebar: There are, of course, exceptions to this. This is only a handful of years of very recent data. There are a multitude of names from competitions before this that are also worthy of your attention and being active in your professional organizations will help you become familiar with additional names you should know.

Now, back to the I.CAN thing.

Starting with the current year and working backwards, I want you to check the IPC results for the names of folks from your state. Write them down. Make a notation beside each name as to how many general and loan collection images each person had each year. I just go ahead and tally the number of merits each competitor earned across the years of data (each merit image noted with “G” or “GB” gets one point and each loan image noted with an “L” gets two points).

For example – (Ohio people are gonna love me for this) – I compiled all six years of data for entrants from Ohio and came up with this spreadsheet.


So, what exactly is this? What does this mean?

Well, if you take a look at the column on the right hand side, you can see the number of exhibition merits each competitor earned over the last six years. A higher number of merits means more  participation and/or a higher level of success, while lower numbers indicate less participation and/or success. In this example, total merits above 48 indicate that the competitor entered the Artist competition as well as the Photographic Open competition.

If you’re from Ohio, you now have a list of the people closest to you, geographically, that can be of the most help. Wootness! I just saved you a couple of hours of work!

If you’re from another state, you’ll want to compile your own data in a spreadsheet just like this. Here is a blank copy of the spreadsheet to get you started: Blank Spreadsheet; just put in the number of merits and loans and the spreadsheet will automatically tally the total merits.

These are your people.

You want to meet as many of the people on your spreadsheet as possible; especially those who compete consistently and most recently. You’ll want to pay special attention to the folks who earned higher number of merits –  that indicates those with a bit more experience and success under their belts. Those are the folks you might want to ask for advice and input on your images.

One place to look for fellow competitors is at your local and state affiliate meetings. Check your state competitor spreadsheet against the membership list of your local affiliate or even the state organization. See who might be going to the same events as you or someone who may be close to you, geographically. Not all competitors join professional organizations besides the PPA, so if you find someone on your competitor list from your area, make sure you reach out to them, personally.

These are also the people you want to “like” and “follow” on social media. Don’t be a creepy stalker, just quietly let their work fill up your news feed. It’s a wonderful source of inspiration and also gives you a basis for conversation when you do meet them. I know I’m very flattered when someone remembers a specific image I’ve posted.

Now – pay attention to this – this is not a foolproof way to decide who to pay attention to. There are folks whose names do not appear in IPC results at all that have more experience in their little finger than I can ever hope to have. There are folks who do not compete every year, but when they do, watch out! Just bear in mind that this data does not include every one that is a viable resource, but it does get you started going in a fairly good direction.

Sometimes it’s a bit difficult in the beginning to know where to look for help and this should get you started. If you’re from Ohio and belong to the PP of Ohio – find the print room – find me – I will personally introduce you to as many print competitors as you can handle. And if you want to stick around, we can always use extra volunteers in the print room. See how nicely that works out? This year, we are hosting the Northeast District competition, so volunteers will get an extra special behind-the-scenes view. So exciting!

I found most of my Image Competition Advisory Network among a group of photographers called the Photographic Art Specialists of Ohio. We are all PP of Ohio members and explore the artistic edge of photography. These are the folks I’m most likely to be found discussing art and competition with until the wee hours of the morning. As a matter of fact, I think this was taken during a wee hour:

Back L-R: Robert Kunesh, Milovan Andonov. Front l-R: Christine Walsh-Newton, Robert Hughes, Elaine Hughes.

Back L-R: Robert Kunesh, Milovan Andonov. Front L-R: Christine Walsh-Newton, Robert Hughes, Elaine Hughes.

Bear in mind that not everyone is in a position to advise or help other competitors, so if you don’t get a positive response to a request for help, don’t take it personally. My experience has been that more often than not, competitors are a very friendly bunch who would love nothing more than to welcome another person into our competition family, so just try again and I’m sure you’ll come up with a few folks who are willing to at least point you in a good direction.

Over time, you will meet other competitors from outside your area, through District competitions, or perhaps online forums or social media groups. And you will meet those that you add to your list of names. Before too long, you will have culled your list down to people that you have met, worked with and become friends with.

Your very own Image Competition Advisory Network.

Everyone say it all together now…


There, I knew you could 😉

3 Print Competition Tips from Jurors-In-Training (& CPPs!)

by Christine

Jurors-in-training are PPA members and print competitors and who have completed the PPA Judge’s workshop as part of the process in becoming a PPA Affiliated Juror. After the workshop, students who have their Master’s Degree are eligible to begin judging print competitions at a state level.

Like anyone else – we have opinions and advice and here is a roundup of comments from some fellow JITs to help new competitors. This will be a multi-post topic, so stay tuned for more.

Please note that today’s advice-givers are all Certified Professional Photographers. Just sayin’. 😉



Remember: You are not competing against other photographers,
you are competing against yourself.
The goal is to make your work better.

~Margaret Bryant, M.Photog., CPP

Absolutely! Margaret nailed it. If you don’t take any other lesson away from print competition, this is the one you need the most. Print competition is not about beating out other photographers/competitors. It’s not about doing as well as someone else. We’ve all gotten caught up in the emotions of winning/losing, but eventually we all recognize that without a doubt, the competition is within and we all have won.

My own thoughts, excerpted from Why Print Competition? :

“…Competition has made me a MUCH better photographer. Every year that I compete, my work reaches new levels of technical excellence because I constantly push myself to refine my skills, both in the studio and on the computer, and in doing that I’ve looked at my images way more objectively than I ever have in order to eliminate anything that might make it less than a stellar image. It’s an improvement process and a learning experience. It’s not about the merits, scores and degrees (although they’re great reinforcement) – it’s about improving what I’m doing.”


Ask someone who has been successful for a critique of your images.

~Ella Carlson, M. Photog. Cr., CPP

Ahhhh, yes! Ella brings up a very important point. When you begin your print competition journey, you are going to need help. And you are going to ask for it. You need to use discernment in who you ask for help. Your best bet is to ask those that have gone before you. And who have done it well. VERY well.

Shawn & Willard Jones of Jones Photography, Mayfield, KY at their Mentor Booth Appointment with PPA Affiliated Judge, Gregg Wurtzler from OH. IUSA Mentor appointments are a wonderful way to get experienced input on your competition images.

Shawn & Willard Jones of Jones Photography, Mayfield, KY at their Mentor Booth Appointment with PPA Affiliated Judge, Gregg Wurtzler from OH. IUSA Mentor appointments are a wonderful way to get experienced input on your competition images.

As a matter of fact, let’s dust off an article for you to read, if you haven’t already, that expands more on this topic: Photography Critiques – Part 1


Handle objections before the judges can object to them.

Adrian Henson, M. Photog. M.E.I. Cr., CPP

This is a rock solid piece of advice. If you see anything wrong, and I mean ANYTHING, fix it. If you ask me “do you think the judges will see/notice this?” I’m gonna look at you sideways and comment on the Browns.

And I don’t even watch baseball.

If you can see it, the judges will see it. If I can see it, the judges will see it. Let’s not enter anything at all that will not pass muster. This isn’t the time for sloppiness.

Stay tuned for more JIT tips and a High Wootness Five! to Margaret, Ella and Adrian for sharing their wisdom. 🙂