Imagine, sitting naked in front of a roomful of people – 6 of whom are looking at you and deciding whether or not you are good enough to stand up to their high standards. They stare, they get up and look closer, they discuss amongst themselves while you sit there, breath held, not moving for fear of them seeing something they hadn’t before, until they hold up a marker that has a score on it. Sometimes, the mark is disappointing – they say you are not good enough to make the cut, this is heartbreaking because it is you on the stand, it is you they are telling are not good enough! Other times, they smile at each other and say “wow” or “that was great” and suddenly you are flying as you made it!
Print competition feels like this to me – it isn’t my photograph on display that is being judged, it’s me for every photograph I make is a part of me. It is my heart, it is what I feel, what I see and what I am. It is my version of the events that are taking place before me. The work that I do isn’t a job to me, it is part of my heart so taking these images that I have spent some much time planning, creating and finishing and putting them out there to be judged is a nerve wracking experience. Why do I do it? I have to is the simple answer. I am always looking to improve my work, to master a new part of my craft and to prove to myself that I can stand up among some of the strongest photographers across the province and the nation (I’m rather competitive like that!). Entering print competition is also a major requirement of working towards my master’s! All of the work that I submit is work that I have created for clients, I choose to do this rather than creating an image specifically for print comp, so that I am always on my toes, I am always doing the best work that I can do. It is after all, a part of who I am!
This year, the Alberta branch of the Professional Photographer’s of Canada held their annual print competition in Edmonton on Feb 3 in conjunction with their convention. The awards were presented at the Petroleum Club on Feb 4th at a formal dinner. This year, I had two images recognized! The first was “Escape”, an image I captured on the beautiful shoreline of Lake Michigan. This image was a bit of a serendipitous moment for me, I had just finished photographing family portraits for these 7 cousins. We turned them loose and off they went to chase the gulls and stomp in the pools left on the beach from huge crashing waves. The clouds parted and a beautiful sweet light came out to highlight the cousins escaping down the beach! “Escape” won “Best in Class” for the group portrait category!! This is the second year in a row that I have won this class! Last year, “Family Lines” won this category! It is also the second year in a row that the “group portrait” category has not had a single face in the image – which challenges the definition of the category!!! The second image, “Love’s A Gamble” was nominated for “Best in Class – Wedding Group” but unfortunately did not win! This image I created for a client – a bartender and a waitress that met while working for The Honey Pot in Wainwright, AB. I wanted to incorporate their story of how they met into their wedding day portraits.
Print competition day is always an up and down rollercoaster! I entered two more images that did not fair well at all. It is crushing to hear the news that my images are not good enough, but at the same time it fuels the fire in me to create even better ones so that next year, my print competition results are even better!