Imaging USA Bound!
It happens every year, sickness some time in January. The Professional Photographers of America’s (PPA) annual convention where thousands of photographers, professionals, amateurs & enthusiasts gather together for 3 days of nonstop learning, networking, shopping and fun. It’s literally a reunion each year - this is just my 7th time coming out of the 8 years that I've been a PPA Member (It actually feels like I've been coming for a lot longer!)
As I type this, I’m Atlanta bound to take a couple of pre-convention classes before it starts. This will be the 2nd Imaging that I’ve been to there. Each time it's rotated to a new location in the US.
Imaging this year is special for me - almost as special as last year when I received my Master of Photography degree. This time, I actually get to wear my degree with pride - It’s kind of a big deal.
This degree is not easy to attain. Many have heard me mention how I’m working on my competition images. They’ve heard me whine and stress about it, working into the wee hours of the night on first 6 images and then 4 images. Where I enter three different times each year since 2011 - I start with six images (we call it a Case) at our State competition (Virginia Professional Photographers Association - VPPA) , then moving four images on to our District competition (Southeast PPA - SEPPA - encompassing 13 states) where -they get judged based on a the 12 Elements of a Merit by affiliated jurors who have gone through rigorous training to attain the status. AND THEN! - on to International Photographic Competition - IPC. Where any images that score an 80 or above receive a Merit - this merit is given to us by PPA - and when you achieve 13 Exhibition (Print) Merits along with 13 other Merits (service, speaking and education) and are eligible to earn the Master of Photography degree.
The big push for having my competition images ready starts again now. Well, most likely, being the awful procrastinator that I am - it’ll start in about a week. First deadline is first week of February. This year, I'll only enter two competitions because VPPA is hosting the SEPPA District Competition - they’ll only get judged once for both state & district in February at our annual State Convention. Whew, I’m worn out just thinking about that - are you?!
The first time I entered competition, was just months after we moved back to the US from Italy - in 2011. It was scary. The last time I entered a competition was back in 1988, the year I graduated from High School!
It was so confusing on how it all worked. And scary, did I mention that? But I was determined to put myself out there. Take the chance and find out JUST how bad I was. Let me tell you, it was an eye opener - I never worked so hard on creating images that wold stand the test of the 12 Elements. And I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of all my photographer peeps.
Suddenly, I was viewing all my photographs with a more critical eye - and in turn it changed how I photographed everything - including all my client work. But I digress.
2015 was my best year ever in 5 years of competing. Every year before since I first started entering in 2011, 3 out of 4 of my images would earn the minimum of a merit with the 4th so close, but no cigar of course. Terrible feeling when the image JUST misses being a merit image. But it only makes me work harder for next year.
THIS YEAR - I earned Four for Four at IPC -(all merited) PLUS two of them earned a second merit. That is where all merited images went through as second judging for the best of the best. They call these Loan images. I've had one other Loan so imagine how I danced around with joy when I found out I had TWO!!
There will be a big display of all these images during Convention. Two of mine will hang at Imaging in the General Collection - and the other 2 are part of the Loan Collection - a true honor to be included in the best of the best.
I earned the title of "Gold Medalist Photographer" as well as a cool pin. You can see my 2015 Images here.
I am looking forward to seeing my images on display - General and Loan Collection - hanging beside true masters of photography - people who’ve been in the industry for years and decades. I am humbled to be among the elite.
And as an added bonus- the pre-con classes are at no charge because of my gold status. Kind of exciting!
Erin L. Clark, M.Photog., AFP, CPP