IPC2017 – Competition as Trauma Therapy

by Wootness

Trigger warning: This post contains photographs that some may find disturbing

For the last year and a half I’ve removed myself to the fringes of the photographic & print competition communities. Over time, my voice has gone quiet in a number of ways. I stepped down from most of my volunteer roles. I stopped teaching, speaking, judging, mentoring…and writing.

The short and not-so-sweet of it is that over the past few years, I’ve experienced a number of traumas. Each one occurred before I’d gotten a handle on the previous one, and when it was all said and done, traumas from my past resurrected and joined in, too.

It was one big hot mess.

When you take a hot mess and add just one more trauma… well, for this girl… it was too much.

I finally made the decision to seek help. (That sounds way stronger than it was – I had no choice – it was one of those rock-bottom situations). After an evaluation, I was placed with a trauma counselor named Jen.

Quite simply, Jen saved my life.

That was a year ago.

It’s taken this long to work through things and get my head and heart in a better place. I’m happy now, and that hasn’t been the case for a very long time.

I did OK working through things – except for one.

I still couldn’t write.

Trauma severely impeded my ability to create. I finally gave up on the writing thing and figured maybe that was just a part of my life that was over. I let it go.

And then I picked up the camera.

I’ve watched other people pour stuff out of their heart right onto photographic paper. I don’t know how they do it and when it was suggested that I try to do the same – well – that wasn’t an idea that remotely appealed. I’m a portrait photographer – I don’t do that artsy-feely stuff.

But again, I had no choice. I had to do SOMEthing.

I got personal with my camera, for the first time, ever. And the results of this wound up in competition during the 2016/2017 season.

I forced myself to do comp. No matter how much I let things go in my life and my business (yes, sadly, it suffered) – it was against the very fiber of my being to not at least TRY to compete. For two IPCs in a row, I struggled. I didn’t go 4/4, either time, but at that point it didn’t matter. The fact that I even got full cases prepped was a small miracle, so just completing the task of entering was an accomplishment.

I wasn’t thrilled with using the camera as a therapy or creative outlet. Once I began, the pain was immense. One particular image took seven sessions to capture the final image. It still didn’t completely work out and I pulled it out of my case before IPC2017, intending to re-shoot it for IPC2018. But now, I don’t think I need to. Those seven sessions and the tears they wrung from me dissolved most of the “feels” that were keeping me from healing. So maybe that’s an image I no longer need to create.

In all, six images were created and judged at various points, but only three made it clear to the end. Those three are the beginning of a new collection of work – I intend on addressing the topic of “trauma” until I have enough images for a gallery show. In addition to creating my own images, I’m now creating images to tell others’ stories of trauma, as well.

At some point I’d like to hang the collection publicly in partnership with some Mental Health/Mental Illness/Counseling-themed event/fundraiser. They say you should put your goals out there – so I am – if you can help with this part or have ideas for me – I’m all ears.

Once again, competition, for me, provided an opportunity, provided inspiration, provided a kick in the butt – whatever you want to call it – competition was the ONLY thing that kept my hands on my camera during what I consider to be the worst two years of my life.

That’s probably enough story-telling for now. I’d like to share three of my images with you. One has a story, two do not. Thankfully, competition has taught me how to title my images well, so I believe you will be able to infer the stories that are too painful to tell.

If you’ve read this far – thanks. It’s been awhile & I’m a little rusty.

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2017 General Collection – Showcase Book

Last September, in the middle of the night, I received the news that all mothers fear. My child, my 31 year-old son, Jon, was in a terrible motorcycle accident. He was rushed to a trauma center, life-flighted to another trauma center and 2AM found us speeding across the state of Ohio to his side.

Just three weeks before I had done a session with him for the first time in a few years. And in the bleakness of a hospital waiting room, I consoled myself that I had this image…

…what very well might be his last image…

Things were very grim.

My boy was gone and in his place was a broken and battered body, hooked up to tubes and machines that made him breathe.

For days and days, this was my view.

I sat and watched and listened. I cried, I prayed and I hoped that the doctors could put my boy back together, again. Somewhere in my head I remembered Humpty Dumpty and laughed a little cynically…

Long story short – he’s ok. He’s very ok.

This was the event that put the nail in my trauma coffin…while the crisis was going on, I was superMom. But once he was fine and able to live on his own, again…superMom became a superMess.

It happens. That’s what they told me, anyway.

In the post-incident period of time, I looked closer at a set of DVDs we’d been carrying around from doctor to doctor. They contained sets of full body x-rays as well as individual areas of injury from the first trauma unit he was taken to.

The black and white x-rays reminded me very much of the type of base images I used to create graphic designs in some previous competition entries. I tried cleaning up the x-rays, but eventually resorted to purchasing a better set through a stock image company.

Those of you familiar with my work will recognize the actual pattern on the egg as typical of some past creations. The balance of the image was created from scratch in Photoshop CS5. It’s not rocket science, I looked up how to draw an egg, how to make a gradient background and how to make an object looked curved and followed a couple of tutorials I found. The image scored in the 85-89 range solidly throughout the year, I made a few improvements over the course of a couple of competitions and eventually it scored a 90 at IPC2017 and was placed in the showcase book.

It was my first entry, ever, into the Artist competition.


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2017 General Collection


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2017 General Collection

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My IPC 2016 Challenge Entry: mandalas (a non-event album)

by Christine

When I teach about photographic competition, I talk about utilizing it to challenge myself to learn a new skill, or improve upon a skill that I’m having trouble wrapping my head around. This year was no different. When I create a competition entry to specifically address a personal/skill weakness, I call it a “Challenge Entry”.

In 2015, I tackled my first album. I had never done one before and considered them beyond my capability, so it became a challenge entry. It was a simple black and white portrait album that earned a loan at IPC 2015 and went on to place 10th in the non-event album category at the Grand Imaging Awards at IUSA2016. It also placed as a top 10 Impact Award recipient from PPA Charities.

That was some pretty cool stuff for my first album – so I’ve kind of got a bug going on for the non-event album category, now. I think it’s a great challenge to assemble a consistent body of work into album form. I plan on doing at least one every year, and I’ve started encouraging my students to do the same if they’ve gotten their work up to a point where they’re exhibiting a consistent style and theme within their images.

So, of course, this year, I wanted to enter at least one album. I didn’t have any ideas about what that might be, so I sort of set that goal on the back burner until I came up with something brilliant (ie loan-worthy) and worked on some additional challenges.

I didn’t talk much about this next challenge because frankly, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off and I didn’t want to get too braggy about it, just in case. I dig down deep sometimes and get honest with myself about what I need to work on, and I kind of hated to admit the reasoning behind this one, but here goes…

Teaching a shooting class terrifies me.

If you are in a class of mine and I’m up front with a camera, lights and a model, you can lay a pretty hefty bet on the fact that my stomach is in turmoil. If I have a slideshow and images, it’s all good, but the moment I have to “perform” – ugh.

In my Murphy’s Law-filled world, these are the classes that have the most tendency to go haywire. There’s always some piece of equipment that doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, or I forget to bring something, or some other hiccup happens that threatens my ability to create an image in front of a class that I could easily do in private.

I get stage fright. Plain and simple.

But anyways…I like to teach. I like to teach a LOT. I want to be able to be a versatile teacher and when I’m asked to teach a lighting/posing/shooting class, I want to be able to confidently say “absolutely!”

I’ve taught a number of them, and they’ve all worked out fine – but I didn’t have a handle on *my* comfort level with them.

So…the challenge I gave myself was to teach a shooting class.

And within the images created during that class, utilize one for competition.

Yeah. Now you see why I didn’t mention this challenge…

I set these goals shortly after IPC 2015, so that I would have plenty of time to work on them. I already planned on doing something about the shooting class problem, so I had submitted a Super One Day class for October 2015 that included studio lighting, posing and post-processing techniques that I employ in competition.

I hired two models for the class, and for each technique I taught, I demonstrated the lighting setup we were after, and then turned the shooting area over to the students for them to capture a correct example, as well. (I hear the wheels turning – don’t worry – everyone gets the Wootnessy “I’d better not see these images in your portfolio” lecture first).

One of the techniques I taught was rim lighting and an accompanying Adobe Photoshop layer technique that I use to create graphic designs with rim-lit images. I’ve been using that technique in competition for a few years and have made it part of my signature style.

It took 4 tries to get the lighting where I wanted it:


And this is the example graphic that I created during our class to demonstrate the Photoshop technique:


Now, the above example is in no way, shape or form, anywhere close to what I would put in competition. It was a very quickly-worked, basic assembly demonstration, however, the base image, exposure number 21 was a perfect place to start a new project.

Later, after the class was over and the students had gone home, I sat down and created design after design incorporating the base image hundreds of times in various positions and angles. Hundreds and thousands of layers. Dozens of final designs. More designs than I’d ever created from one image before.

Enough for an album – to satisfy the album goal that I’d put on the back burner.

I like it when a plan comes together, don’t you?

I took this project just a little bit further in the “out there” department and added an element of geekiness to it via Carl Jung. I have an interest in psychology and find certain theories very interesting. I had a LOT of fun incorporating the psychology geekiness and the photography together for this project.

At one point, I felt it was finished. And then I put it in a competition. And then another. And another. I printed out hard copies of the spreads and hand-carried them to IUSA 2016 to get the opinion of someone from the mentor booth (Thank you, Cindy Behnke!). And after some revisions, I put it back in competition.

The last step before IPC was Northeast District where it earned a seal (and scored an 88!). I had ordered a critique, and although my reviewer pointed out some areas for consideration, I did not feel that the entry was weak enough in those areas to warrant breaking the seal. I had broken a seal on a different entry, so I wasn’t afraid to do it – it’s just that I felt that this album was finished and any additional tweaking would be messing with a good thing, you know?

So off it went to IPC, where it was selected for the Loan Collection for IUSA 2017.

That makes me really happy. Two black and white albums, two years in a row, two loans in a row.

I think I’m gonna feel a lot better about my next shooting class, don’t you?

I’d like to challenge *YOU*, person who is reading this – challenge yourself for IPC2017. Do one entry that takes you outside your comfort zone. Give yourself a goal and don’t let yourself off the hook. You just never know how it might turn out. 🙂

For your enjoyment, I present mandalas:

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,

Be more brave – Photographic competition and personal work

by Christine


It’s been awhile. You and I. It’s almost like we’re having an affair, with how little we meet these days. I can give you all kinds of blah blah, but the honest truth is that I’ve been afraid.

I’ve come to recognize that my hands are an extension of my heart when they’re poised over a keyboard.

My writing is art.

My art.

My personal work.

And sometimes the words and feelings and thoughts flow in a way that cause me pain, or perhaps reveals a part of myself to you that I’m just not sure I want you to know.


If ever.


So here I am, after much of an absence because I’ve been dealing with some personal stuff that leaves me in a position of being afraid to write.

Afraid to let my stuff influence my art.

Afraid to let my stuff influence my art.

One more time for those of you that aren’t getting it.


Afraid to let my stuff influence my art.

Those of you still with me, thanks for sticking it out.

I’ve been admiring an artist friend of mine, a talented photographer, who has been pouring her energy into creating competition images.

So what?

The thing is, that energy is being fueled by some personal issues in her life. I don’t know exactly what they are, and it’s none of my business, but I’ve got to admire her guts. Her ability to be all “yeah, things are sucking, this is some art I made about how I’m feeling about that” and then she shows what she created and I’m blown away.

Seriously. Blown away.

Because it’s good. Very good, in fact.

I get it. I feel it.

My heart says

Oh yes!

But more… because she’s just putting it out there. She’s already got a hot mess going on and she’s packaging it all up real pretty for a panel of judges take a gander at.

And others.

Thousands of others.


Here’s my heart.

I want to do that. I want to be like that. I want to rise above this pain that’s silenced me.  I want to wrestle and wrangle it into submission and two dimensions.

But, I’ve been afraid.

I tried, several months back, to create an image as an outlet of some stuff. It didn’t work out so hot, technically, and still needs some refinement. But it was also tough to do, and I might have been using that technical refinement issue as an excuse to keep from finishing it.

It was that uncomfortable.

And then there’s the whole “will they get it?” part…

And then I question whether I’m creating for me or for my audience.

Of course, what I create will be as technically perfect as I can get it because that’s just how I am.

But how experimental and touchy-feely and true to myself am I willing to get with my work, knowing it might not fly in competition?

Knowing the judges might not get it?

Knowing that others will see a piece of me that’s vulnerable?

I’m going to try and change things up. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this kind of thing, lately, and I think I’m going to try to fill that last slot in my case with something intensely personal.

And hopefully, intensely well-done.

I’m going to stop being afraid to let my stuff influence my art.


Peace, love and merit scores,




See the Difference: From MWAC to M.Photog.

by Christine

*MWAC = Mom with a camera, M. Photog. = Master Photographer

I am impressed by befores and afters. If someone is trying to convince me of the results and effectiveness of their methods or system, I want proof.

Just like the diet and exercise infomercials, it’s all just blah blah blah until I see the before and after photos. I want to see proof.

And now for the proof.


This photograph was taken in 2007, a year before I joined the PPA. The subject is my youngest son, Dave, shortly after he received his first official police officer job. He came to the studio in his new uniform to create an image to celebrate the occasion.

I was a part-time newspaper and wedding photographer who only knew enough about photography to properly expose for ambient light.

Although I thought of myself as a professional photographer back then, in hindsight, I realize that was very far from the truth. (Seriously, I didn’t even own a reflector at that point – trust me, 2015 Christine is not very pleased with 2007 Christine).

I did that thing that most new photographers do; I bought a bunch of equipment without knowing how to work it and implored upon my family members to sit for me while I tried to wrangle my equipment into submission.

I had gradually learned how to use a light meter and a calibration target so that my exposure and color balance was correct, but the intricacies of lighting, posing and other studio techniques were beyond my comprehension. With no knowledge to draw upon, I arranged my lights like floor lamps in a living room and called it good.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

And so I learned my first lesson in photography; Buying a camera makes you a camera owner, not a photographer.


I knew I needed help. Enter PPA, stage left.

To make a long story short, I joined the PPA and became actively involved in PPA-based education, joined my state affiliate and pretty much never looked back. In 2009 I became a Certified Professional Photographer, in 2012, a Photographic Craftsman and in 2013, a Master Photographer. I began competing in image competition in 2009 and entered my first IPC in 2010.

Now, that little list of titles may not sound like much, but to those of us that have earned those various certificates and degrees, it represents a heck of a lot of work. Months of study, many classes, speaking engagements and flat out hours of minion labor all tallied up over time to complete all the requirements.

At the end of each of these individual journeys, I was a better photographer, a better member, a better person. As I continued to compete in image competition, my level of knowledge grew, which helped me refine my skills behind the camera.

And then it was 2015.

As I packed for IUSA 2015, my son’s community was hit with tragedy. Two elderly residents, a married couple, were robbed, abducted and murdered. A double homicide. And as I headed for Nashville, a nationwide manhunt was underway for the people that had committed the crimes.

I was scattered at IUSA 2015. I constantly checked my messages and the national news in between classes and events. The murderers were fleeing from Ohio, robbing gas stations as they traveled south, leaving a trail of fear where they went.

I constantly checked in with my son to see how he was doing. I knew that this investigation was very different from anything he’d ever had to do before. My mind constantly replayed the news channel video of the crime scene and grisly thoughts kept me from sleep. I was worried. Very worried.

I knew he was seeing things that no mother ever wants her son to see.

And for the first time, I was having difficulty with my son’s chosen profession.

When I returned from IUSA, with a couple of new lighting concepts I wanted to explore (thank you, Tim Kelly), I began to plan out an image of therapy for me and my “mama angst.”

And this is the result:


“I Had To*” – ©2015 christine walsh-newton

Same subject, same studio, same equipment, same photographer.

What isn’t the same is the level of competence exhibited – and that is a direct result of the education and guidance I have received through my PPA membership, education and image competition participation.

Creating this image served a personal need for me – it was the first time I created an image from within – when my heart was breaking – and each time I look at it, my heart still floods with emotion.

And pride.

Because it was this image, this experience –  that made me feel that I’d finally become an artist.

If it hadn’t been for the classes, the shooting safaris, the webinars, the Super 1 Days, the conventions, the plethora of mentors and instructors that I’ve been privileged to learn from over these last 7 years, I would have never been able to create this image or excel photographically to the degree I have.

I have seen the difference.

I am the difference.

Thank you, PPA.

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*I Had To was chosen for the IPC 2015 Loan collection and was awarded the 2015 PPA Northeast District Kodak Gallery Award and Ohio’s J. Anthony Bill trophy for Outstanding Portrait. It will advance to the 2015 Kodak Gallery Elite competition this fall.

IPC 2015: Diamond – The Goal I Didn’t Reach

by Wootness

So. here we are. Are we going to do that awkward dance around the subject? Nah.

Earlier this year, I made it public that my personal goal for IPC was to “go Diamond.”

Original article HERE.

That did not happen.

Now, I’m not going to beat myself up about it, I came pretty close, with a Platinum Medal, but any time things don’t go the way I want them to, there’s usually a reason why. And it’s generally of my own doing.

Let’s review.

The only issue in my 2015 case was one image that did not go loan.

I present

Simple Pleasures of the 2015 IPC General Collection:

Flowers 1 Final B-web

Simple Pleasures has gone through some change over its competition career.  There’s a story within the timeline, so check it out:

May, 2014: Shot the the following, messed with some color background shifts, couldn’t get it to look right behind water glass, so cropped that part out.


November, 2014: Could not get the purple background to look right behind the water glass, so went back to the original capture of light gray. Entered in PP of Oregon’s annual competition as a non-member. Highest scoring image of the competition: 91. Judge’s choice ribbon.


December, 2014: Took the image with me to a competition workshop where I worked with a retoucher on the purple part behind the water glass and some general sprucing up for competition. Entered in PP of Arizona’s annual image competition as a non-member in January 2015. Score:91.

Flowers 1 Final B-web

simplepleasures results

March, 2015: Entered in Ohio/Northeast district: 82. Seal.

August, 2015: IPC. Did not Loan. General Collection.

Something happened with this image. In both the competitions where it received a 91, it was challenged up several times. Twice on each, I believe. At first score, it landed somewhere in the 82-84 zone and went up from there.

Someone, or several someones fought for it.

And for awhile now, I’ve been thinking about that concept. A common hope during competition, from the seats of the spectators and competitors is that a judge will take up the cause for one of their images. I know I have had a champion or twelve in my competition history, but I have to wonder how wise it is to put one’s faith in an image that needs championed.

I used to caution students to stop hoping for 80’s and begin trying for 100’s. It should probably be a similar caution against placing faith in images that needed a whole lot of assistance getting up to that score.

Looking back, I should have known better. I let the fact that Simple Pleasures had scored a 91 more than once, sway my common sense about competition. I let myself be convinced that surely an image that scored that high several times would “go loan”.

When I took the image to Northeast District and it scored an 82 – I was a bit surprised. An 82? Oh well, a seal is a seal, I figured.

Still swayed by the 91 memories, I had faith that it was my best shot at a loan.

That was the point where I made a mistake. That image landed around the 82 zone right out of the bat all three times it had been judged. In my own personal way of things – that is not a high enough score to convince me that it would go loan at IPC.

Now yes, I know – score has absolutely nothing to do with loans and I also have had 80’s go loan, but this year, I was laying it all on the line and I had to be as positive as possible. And I was feeling really positive about an image I shouldn’t have.

Every time Simple Pleasures was challenged, one or more judges had an issue with the flat lighting. When I worked on it with my retoucher, we talked about the flat lighting and applied some technique to enhance the light. I knew it was an issue.

Yet I entered the image, anyway.

So, although it could be a number of things or a combination thereof, after as objective an analysis as possible, this is the lesson learned that I’m taking from my case this time.

In the future, if any of my images score well in spite of a technical issue, they will not advance under my hand.

So – there it is.

I tried. I tried hard.

And now I’m going to try harder.

IPC2015: “And… Scene!” | The Aftermath

by Wootness
Flowers 1 Final B-web

“Simple Pleasures” | 2015 PPA General Collection




THE event of the year for some of us. If that  confuses you, go away and come back tomorrow, I’ve got some competition addicts to chat with today.

So. How are you all feeling?

I’m feeling a little bit weird. As usual.

I’m reminded of a time from my past. For a very long time I was a “theatre geek.” For 33 years, to be exact. I first donned stage makeup at the age of 17 and never looked back. I went through phases, though. Sometimes I was on stage. Sometimes I worked behind the scenes. I built sets, made props, sewed costumes, curled hair, designed posters, directed shows, set lights and finally landed in my niche as a stage performance photographer.

But for every position I held, every job I did, there was that moment.

At the end of the performance, when the final word has been uttered, the final note has been sung, the final tear has been shed.

That moment.

When you hold.

Your breath. Your gaze. Your position. Your expression. Your pose. Your everything.

While. the. curtain. slowly. comes. down.

And then a pause. And then a whoosh. Of breath. Of body.

And your stage self goes away and your actor self returns.

And it’s that moment. That one right there. That just happened.

“And Scene, ” we say.

It’s over.

And then the truth of your performance hits you.

You know if you did well, if you flubbed your lines, if you did that quick costume change as quickly as you needed to. If you remembered to go into chest voice during the emotional part of the song. If you screwed up. Royally. Or just a tiny bit. You know if you were the best actor you could be.

You know.

And then you decide.

Whether you’re going to let it kick you in the teeth and you need to find a corner to cry into…. or if you’re going to suck it up and nail it to the floor when the curtain comes up again tomorrow night.

Yeah, that’s kind of how I’m feeling. Or rather, that’s where I’m at.

If that’s where you’re at – let me say this…

If you’re feeling discouraged –  If you’re feeling disappointed – Or maybe even a little bit frustrated…

That’s pretty normal. And I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t be. I can’t dictate your feelings, so if you’re feeling them – that’s ok.

But don’t dwell on them and let them grab hold of the negativity that can halt your progress on your journey.

Try and channel your energy into determination and grit to hit this thing head on next time.

And try to keep it a little in perspective.

It was one performance. On one day. In front of one audience.

I know you have it in you to move the audience to its feet in standing ovation.

Let’s do this.

IPC 2015: My Images have Been Judged, Now What? [Part 1]

by Wootness


The morning of Day 3 of the 2015 International Photographic Competition (hereafter known as IPC2015 and sometimes #IPC2015) has dawned. Early morning birdies are bellowing songs of joy and abandon. Obviously they don’t have images being judged or they wouldn’t be so bloody happy…

But anyways…

Some of you are just as happy as those birds. You have the fortunate luck to have gotten in on the beginnings of the loan judging on Tuesday and you have your final results.

Before you go all hog wild on Social Media sites, you need to ratchet it down a little bit and pay attention to some details…

PLEASE do  NOT post your competition images on social media. Anything that was awarded a LOAN designation still has one more phase of competition to go through.

Hang tight for a few weeks or so – the Grand Image Award (GIA) selections still need to be made and those are done AFTER IPC is over and all of the judges have returned home. Anything that was given a LOAN designation can still be chosen as a GIA category finalist. So, you can share your merit images (if they have already been judged for LOAN) and those images that did not merit, but please don’t show your LOAN images yet.

If you’d like to be totally on the safe side – here is a set of directions on how to close down the permissions on a personal photo album on Facebook so that you can share your images there – but you MUST follow all of the directions (the ones about putting all of the judges in a special “group”). These instructions work on your personal page only and do not work on a business page. It’s better to not share at all – but if you just GOTTA:

Image Competition and Facebook Images

I advise against posting anything on Instagram, Google+, etc, as I do not know if there is a way to limit the audience on those sites.

If you’ve done well, congratulations!!! I know it’s exciting, but to maintain the integrity of the GIA judging – please be careful over the following weeks and wait until all the judging is done before you have the billboards made, mkay?

[Stay tuned for additional articles on this topic, which will be posted at the conclusion of IPC2015].

IPC 2015 | the waiting begins…

by Christine

Not too long ago I registered my entries for IPC 2015 and pushed that final little button that sent them on to the netherland of waiting until August 3. Two are physical prints, so they still  need labeled and shipped off. Two are digital entries and are currently in server-land some where.

And I, am just sitting here feeling pretty much like… well…  I’m not sure.

Generally I’d say “I hate my case,” but I’m not sure that’s entirely appropriate this time. There are a couple of entries I really like. One, I love. I don’t really hate any of them –  and overall, there’s not really anything I’d change on any of them. I’m not feeling rebel enough to break a seal and wasn’t particularly feeling the need to do so – so moot point, anyway.

So, what’s the issue?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m taking this all too seriously. Is it possible to even do that? I know I stressed myself out with it this year. I kept pushing and pushing. I kept changing things up – for awhile I was trying to follow too many peoples’ advice and the whole thing became an exercise in pleasing someone else. But that’s the whole “game” isn’t it? Pleasing someone else?

No, not really.

The game is to compete with yourself and do the best possible work that you can. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Did I do that?

Well…. I guess I’d have to say “yes.”

But whether my best is good enough to meet the goal I set for myself – not so sure….

… to be continued

Thinking about IPC 2015…

by Christine
An empty case. Much like mine...

An empty case. Much like mine…

Yet another IPC 2015 delaying tactic… my personal musings & Wootnessy thoughts…

So, y’all are turning on the steam and getting it done. If you haven’t gotten your IPC entries finished, you’re in the middle of the end of it.

Or maybe not.

I’ve resigned myself to the impending, looming truth that I will be paying the late fee and have therefore embraced a 2.2 week extension on the deadline. Some of you all may just want to face the fact you’re not going to make it; take the stress off, admit it now and go enjoy the rest of your day.

Aside from this entry-angst we all seem to have a subconscious desire to inflict upon ourselves repeatedly – I rather quite enjoy IPC. It’s my favorite competition.

Because it’s not so competitive.

I absolutely enjoy watching the IPC live-streaming and cheering on other makers, some friends, some unknown, that are being judged for merits and loans. It’s darned near patriotic, the feeling of satisfaction and joy I get from IPC. It’s the true spirit of competition; trying our darndest, working our hardest, cheering on our colleagues, and sometimes commiserating with them.

Yes, in the grand scheme of things – there is a settling out of strata – emerging triumphantly at the top are those who earn a Diamond Photographer of the Year title – there are multiple levels of achievement depending on the number of merits and/or loans received – and it is possible to come away disappointed…


Everyone has the same opportunity to achieve; the number of loans, merits and medals is not restricted. And in that sense, the competition between makers loses its sharp edge.

And that pretty much makes me breathe a sigh of relief.

Because sometimes I really dislike competition.

I know. I probably shouldn’t say that. That’s a pretty hard statement coming from someone who professes to love it to a fairly extreme level.

But sometimes, it really has its days.

And generally those are the days that there is a competition with trophies. For some reason trophies bring out the absolute worst side of some competitors. And since I’m pretty active in competition, whether it be working a print crew, judging, competing, or just observing someone else’s competition – I wind up seeing a lot of bad behavior resulting from trophies. I’m kind of over trophies.

Trophies are awesome, but when the joys of competition are eclipsed by bad feelings among my competitor friends because they’ve taken competing for trophies to a personal level – *sigh* – well, that’s when it’s one of those days. And those days make me kind of dislike competition. Just a little bit.

So IPC, with its rewards in plentiful supply and the bulk of competition occurring within ourselves, is at the top end of my scale of appreciation. And it places competition back on the list of things I enjoy.

And that…brings me Wootness.

*Technically, the Grand Imaging Awards, selected later this fall from the IPC Loan Images, ARE trophies from IPC, but since voting occurs several months down the road and winners are not announced until IUSA 2016, that angst does not occur during or near IPC 2015 judging and the veil of Wootness is not pierced.