And the WINNER IS...

What is print competition? Why do we enter our images into competition? What does that mean for you, our client?

What is Print Competition?

We enter three levels of competition - State, District (Southeastern United States), and International.

When we enter our prints to be judged at competition, they are judged by a panel of experts using an exacting criteria to determine whether or not the print is "worthy of merit", or a score of 80+. The merited images are then eligible for additional awards.

Each print is judged on twelve elements (Professional Photographers of America - The 12 Elements of a Merit Image):

  • Impact - Viewing an image for the first time always evokes some kind of feeling. Sometimes they can make us sad, happy or angry. Sometimes they force us to look inward at ourselves.That’s called an impact, and the more powerful the image, the more powerful the emotional response of the viewer.

  • Technical Excellence - This is the print quality of the actual image itself as it’s presented for viewing. There are a lot of aspects that speak to the qualities of the physical print. These can include:
    • Retouching
    • Manipulation
    • Sharpness
    • Exposure
    • Printing
    • Mounting
    • Color correction
  • Creativity - Your point of view is exactly that– yours. And it’s unlike anyone else’s.
  • This element speaks directly to that perspective. It shows your imagination and how you used the medium to convey an idea, a message or a thought to the viewer. This is how you differentiate yourself from others.

  • Style - There are many, many ways to apply this element to your work. Maybe you use light in a specific way on a subject, or maybe you make a technical decision for the express purpose of underscoring desired impact.
  • When subject matter and style come together in an appropriate manner, the effects on an image can be spectacular. But remember, when subject matter and style don’t work together, the results can be, well, less-than-spectacular.

  • Composition - When all the visual elements of an image come together to express intent, that’s when the magic of composition happens. Good composition captures a viewer’s attention and directs it where you, the artist, want it to be. Depending on your intent, you can make something that pleases the viewer– or disturbs them.

  • Presentation - How you showcase an image is just as important as how you compose it. Everything in the presentation should work to enhance your image and not distract from it. Keep this in mind when choosing mats, borders and everything in between.

  • Color Balance - Proper color balance can bring a sense of harmony to an image. When the tones all work together to support an image, the emotional appeal is that much greater.
  • But color balance doesn’t have to be used to bring harmony to an image. You can use color balance to evoke any number of feelings from a viewer. The choice in how to take advantage is entirely up to you, but no matter what, be sure your choice enhances rather than distracts.

  • Center of Interest - This is where an image’s creator wants a viewer’s attention focused. Sometimes there can be a primary and a secondary center of interest. Sometimes everything in an image will work together to create that center of interest.

  • Lighting - The use and control of light has an effect on every aspect of an image. It informs dimensions and shape, it sets tone and mood, and, like every other technique, proper lighting can be used to enhance your image while improper lighting can detract from it.

  • Subject Matter - Even though it lacks words, your image is still telling a story, and your subject matter is central to that. So make sure that your subject matter is right for the story that you’re trying to tell.

  • Technique - How you choose to execute your image is key. It’s also a holistic decision. Technique informs everything in the creation of your image. From lighting and posing to printing and presentation, it all works to show off the techniques that you’ve mastered and applied to your craft.

  • Story Telling - What does your image evoke in a viewer’s imagination? What do you want your image to evoke in a viewer’s imagination?

    Keep in mind: You are creating art. And while the act of creating is a personal thing, so too is the act of viewing. Your image is a story, and the one it tells your viewer may be one you never knew you were telling.

Why do We Enter Print Competition?

Easy answer...We enter print competition to LEARN and to IMPROVE OUR CRAFT (and of course, to win awards!!!).

With over 30 years of membership and print competition at the Professional Photographers of America (International Print Competition), South Eastern Professional Photographers of America, and Professional Photographers of North Carolina, we've had a generous amount of success. Here are some highlights:

Professional Photographers of America Platinum Medalist 2013

Professional Photographers of America Gold Medalist 2017, 2009

Professional Photographers of America Silver Medalist 2010, 2000

Professional Photographers of America Loan and Showcase Prints (multiple years)

Professional Photographers of America Merit Images (multiple years)

Southeast District Best in State

Canon Par Excellence Award 2013

Southeast District Distinguished Award

Southeast District Award Commercial Illustrative

Southeast District First Place Wedding Album

Southeast District Merit Images (multiple years)

Professional Photographers of North Carolina Photographer of the Year

Professional Photographers of North Carolina Best of Show

Professional Photographers of North Carolina 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Honorable Mention (All categories, multiple years)

Professional Photographers of North Carolina Merit Images (multiple years)

Kodak Gallery Award (multiple years)

Polaroid Prestige Award (multiple years)

Fuji Masterpiece Award (multiple years)

East Coast School Best of Show


What does this mean for our clients?

Simply put, we continue to educate ourselves in our craft and put that education into practice in order to provide the BEST images possible to our clients. Entering print competition causes us to stretch and strain our talents/ideas/skills. In both victory AND defeat, we continue to grow as artists.