While I was attending a workshop a few years back, a fellow attendee was chatting about entering print competitions and how much she loved it. Huh, I thought – tell me more. I was intrigued but there was no way in hell I was putting myself out there like that and entering the world of print comp.
Two years later, I am addicted to entering competitions and obsessed with creating the next “comp worthy” image.
A fellow photographer friend asked “Do you feel it gets you more clients?”. Honestly, no. I don’t believe it does. Well, not exactly. “Then why do it?”, she asked.
And that got me to thinking about my why.
The beauty of print competitions is the only person that I am trying to beat is the photographer I was yesterday. Since I started entering competitions with the Professional Photographers of Canada and the Professional Photographers of America, I have pushed myself harder than ever to excel at the craft I love.
Print competitions will teach you to examine every square inch of your image, pixel by pixel. You will comb over every single detail. Wardrobe, location, lighting, composition. Are the technical skills there? Focus, exposure, colour balance and harmony. Do you have detail in your highlights as well as your shadows? Is the story your are wanting to tell coming across in your image? Is it compelling? These are just a few of the many things that need to happen when creating for competition.
Print competition has made me more aware of the little things, that even though they are little things, they make a big impact on the overall picture.
Then there is the adrenaline rush of judging! And what a rush it is. After you have spent weeks, painstakingly preparing your image for competition, it appears on your screen during the live feed of the judging. Quite often it is only on the screen for a total of six seconds before a panel of judges, fellow peers, give it a score out of 100. 80 and above is where you want to be. Below that and you just didn’t quite make what is referred to as a Merit. Receiving a score of 79 or below really sucks.
What I love about watching the judging is that I can learn what made an image amazing and why one didn’t quite make the cut. Yes, judging is subjective and the opinion of a panel of judges and sometimes you do not learn the why of a score but more often than not you do. It is seriously the best free education I have ever received.
The number one reason I love print competitions is that it pushes me to not become stagnant as an artist. It pushes me to think outside the box. It pushes me to create. It pushes me to be better.
And that only benefits my clients.