Yes, I have always been very competitive. Growing up, whether it was baseball, basketball, football, board games, it didn't matter. I wanted to test how I how I measured up to the competition. Later as a soccer coach for top level teams, I had the perfect outlet for my competitive nature and now, more recently its been tennis and golf. I don't have to win every time, I left that idea behind a long time ago, but its important for me to compete well and feel like I have pushed myself to a performance I can be proud of. Of course, if that results in a win, well I can really enjoy that, too!
Two years ago, with encouragement from mentors and peers, I decided to start competing with my photography as well. The PPA and my state organization, GPPA, give me plenty of opportunities every year to put my work out there and see what the serious judges think about it.
The PPA holds its district competitions this time of year throughout the country and last weekend the Southeast District (SEPPA) met in Virginia to see what the best photographers in the region had to offer. More on that in a bit. Next up, in May is the International Print Competition (IPC) also run by the PPA. Lots of cool things happen at that level. All images that earn a merit (a score of 80 or above) are showcased in the IPC gallery at the next Imaging USA in January. The best of the best get accepted in the Loan Collection and printed in the annual book of the top images.
My first submission was two years ago and I was thrilled to have one of my four entries earn a merit. I missed competition last year due to my move back from Charlotte so this yearI wanted to be ready to go for SEPPA. I felt 3 of my four entries were pretty strong, but its in the hands of the five judges. By the end of the day Friday, all four of my images had been judged and I was really happy to see that not only did three of the four earn merits (shown here in this post) , but all three scored my highest points in competition to date.
So now I turn my attention to the IPC competition later in the spring and will work towards that elusive four for four showing.
While the competitive juices start flowing during these opportunities, the real reason to compete is it makes you a better photographer! I am always striving to improve and expand my vision, creativity and techniques and these events really force you to stretch yourself. Listening to the judges do their thing, not only for your entries but everyone else's as well, you learn so much!