Every year, I set aside money for education. Whenever possible - At the end of April 2019, I travelled to Dallas, Texas for the #TPPA week long Texas School of Photography.
We get to spend a week with the instructor of our choice, learning how to improve our craft and implement it in our business at home.
This year, I chose Kimberly Smith's class - to improve on my ability to paint digitally and hopefully gain the confidence to enter the Artist Category and work towards a Master Artist Degree.
Every year, the school selects a theme for their one night party which happened the 2nd evening of school. This year's theme was movies and our class chose Xanadu! Olivia Newton John?!! YES!! I have just the outfit with THE COOLEST SKATES, that I own - white with pink wheels - I love to roller skate! It was my favorite pastime in elementary school- rolling forward and backwards was as easy as riding a bike!
I roller skated that night with no issues all night. People loved my outfit and watch me with awe (or was it, silently shaking their heads at my stupidity?!) - I was upright with no issues, only falling one time the entire night.
But I fell HARD. What do they say happens in Texas?? Go BIG or go home?! That ended my evening and my week of education as I was rushed to the hospital and had surgery the next morning, (on my 49th birthday!) on both sides of my left ankle & left wrist. YUP. It was only Tuesday, and I was in the hospital the rest of that week.
Despite a broken ankle and wrist on my left side - and me being a lefty - It didn't stop me from photographing clients - even on the beach.
Though it was exhausting, with lots of extra help from family and photographer friends from VPPA, my walking boot, my wrist support and a walker - I slowly worked my way to my clients and didn't miss photographing any except one large client (ADC cheer team from DC on the beaches of Virginia Beach!) that a colleague and member of VPPA volunteered to cover for me while I was still in Texas in the hospital (THIS is one of the BEST reasons to be a member of local state photography affiliates.)
Concentrating on healing and servicing my clients was keeping me busy enough. I was resigned to the fact that I would not be able to enter the second competition of the year, the South East PPA District competition that was due a month later. This would be the first time in 8 years of competing that I hadn't entered. :( This made me sad.
NOTHING CAN STOP ME!
When it got down to the deadline for District Competition - I couldn't stand it - I HAD TO ENTER!!
So 48 hours prior - I was working away getting 4 of my entries from the VPPA Image Competition ready for District. I fixed distractions, changed the mats surrounding the images and/or changed the titles.
At PPA's District Competition if they get a score of 80 or above - they will be "SEALED" and when entered at PPA's International Photographic Competition, I would automatically receive a MERIT. Merits are coveted - they are a symbol of your hard work - achieving a Merit tells all who care that your image was worthy - judged by highly trained photographers, affiliated IPC Jurors - who go through years of training to put your images into the appropriate category with a score of 80-100 receiving a blue ribbons, averaged out from a total of 5 Jurors' scores: Deserving of a Merit (80-84), Excellent (85-89), Superior (90-94) or Exceptional (95-100!). We all want a 100 but at least an 80. Now that I am a Master Photographer, I strive for the higher numbers - because when your image receives an 85 or higher - you have the opportunity for it to go LOAN at IPC and that gets you 2 Merits!
I chose three of my Blue Ribbons from VPPA's competition and one from the VPPA entries that was not in my Top 6 - "My Mama Says I'm A Pretty Boy" received a score of 81 - The male jurors couldn't see how handsome this hairless crested pup was - it was the Mamas of the Juror panel that fought for him and felt he was deserving of a merit. That is the beauty of a 5 Juror Panel - They can challenge and fight for an image - with rebuttals and another judging - he went from one juror's score of 76 to being convinced to come up in his score and ended up being Deserving of a Merit despite not being attractive in their eyes.
I was determined to move this pooch on - being that in the eyes of so many, he is not the prettiest dog and I wanted to prove them wrong. At the PPA District Competition I renamed the image, changed the mat and updated the image with suggestions from colleagues I admire. "Mama Calls Me Pretty Boy" where he received an 84! This is at the high end of the Deserving of a Merit category and sealed for the final competition that summer. I was happy.
Two of the other three entries Sealed as well. "All Those Baby Blues Lookin' At You" went from a score of 85 at VPPA to an 83 for my litter of miniature blue-eyed aussie pups from Royal Aussies of Virginia. The title had changed to "It's Getting A Little Crowded Under Here". I was trying to draw attention to the little guy squished underneath. The choice of title can make or break an image - it's what the Jurors hear first before seeing the image - and you only have seconds for the jurors to look over the image and come up with a score - A title could help guide them in finding the STORY for the image and help with IMPACT and hopefully keeping them looking at your image before they score it!
Read about the 12 Elements of a Merit Image HERE!
My image of the cat in Keywest got a title change and update - cropped in closer - I felt strongly about this image and love it - It scored the same with an 83. Unfortunately, my fourth image that received an 85 in Virginia, "Meandering Into The Distance" tanked with a score of 75 at District -I messed up and entered an old version from BEFORE the Virginia State competition… Kicking myself, I was very sad that I did this.
Three Seals means three Merits at IPC but NONE scored an 85 or higher for a second judging for LOAN which gets you 2 Merits and being a Master Photographer already, I now want to score high enough to get Loans… What would I do? I had the option of BREAKING THE SEALS and taking a chance to get a higher score or settling for the guaranteed merit….
It was end of June, I was still dependent on family and friends to help me get around - with a surgery to remove a screw at end of July and entries due IPC right after… The decision to break or NOT break my Seals would wait… what would I do?!
end of part 2 - PART 3, Here!