Every year I enjoy taking part in the International Photographic Competition. Otherwise known as the IPC, the International Photographic Competition is sponsored by the Professional Photographers of America. It is one of the best ways I have found to push myself to learn and grow my skills as a photographic artist.
Photographers may enter up to four entries in either the Photographic Open, Wedding, and Master Artist. For the Photographic Open and the Wedding categories, images are judged on the 12 Elements of a Merit Image, which include things like impact, technical excellence, creativity and story telling. Images in the Master Artist category are also judged on the 12 elements, but additional emphasis is placed on the quality of the artwork done in the production of the final image.
Images are first judged for Merit, meaning that they reached a level of excellence in the 12 elements that made them worthy of a Merit Award. Merits also count toward earning a degree, such as the Master of Photography degree that I earned last year. In the second round of judging, all of the images that earned a Merit are judged for inclusion in the prestigious Loan Collection, the best of the best. This collection got its name from the days when the very best images from the IPC traveled around the country “on loan” to various exhibitions. Now the Loan Collection is published in an annual book put out by Marathon Press. Finally, the Loan images are judged for the Grand Imaging Awards. Ten Finalists are announced in each of 12 categories. The Grand Imaging Award winners will be announced at Imaging USA, PPA’s annual photography convention.
This year I entered four images in the Photographic Open. I was thrilled to have all four images earn merit awards. Three of my images were accepted into the Loan Collection, which meant I ended the competition with a Platinum Medal. Even more exciting was that one of my images, “I’ll Take Two Jars of Your Finest Wrinkle Cream” was nominated as a finalist for the Grand Imaging Award in the Animal Portrait category! This was my strongest year yet in the 5 years I have competed in the IPC.
But more important than the awards are the benefits I have gotten from entering the IPC. Competing has pushed me to grow as an artist. It has inspired me to try new things, expand my creativity and pay even greater attention to the technical details of my work. It has also helped me to become part of a greater community of artists who push each other to learn and grow. I am so grateful to PPA and to the many friends I have made who continue to help me become a better photographer. I think the most fun part of IPC for me this year was being part of a number of “watch groups” where friends watched for each other’s images to be judged , cheered each other on and celebrated each others successes. I’m a little sad that the Grand Imaging Awards ceremony will not be held in person this year. Most of the nominees in the animal category are close personal friends and it would have been amazing to be be up on stage with so many of the people with whom I have shared this journey!
Competitions can be nerve-wracking. As an artist you feel like you are putting your heart and soul out there to be judged by others. To all of the photographers who entered, whether or not you earned the scores you desired, I congratulate you on working hard to grow and daring to put yourself out there to be judged! To everyone who helped me this year, a huge Thank You!
Above are the four images I submitted. “One Day I Will Be King” was taken on Safari in the Serengeti last summer. I created the other three images for clients. Interestingly, all three were from Watch me Grow sessions. You may recall little Diana, the Sphinx kitty in “Flower Child”, from an image I created last year. Diana was such a fabulous little model that I couldn’t resist entering her again this year. “She Has Her Daddy’s Eyes” is from the second session of little Sapphire. I can’t wait for the third session to see her all grown up! Finally, “I’ll Take Two Jars of Your Finest Wrinkle Cream” features Churro the Shar Pei. He is such a star that he even has his own Facebook Page!
Even though the competition just ended, I am already thinking about my entries for next year. Since the competition was delayed due to covid, next year’s deadline will come much sooner than a year!