This past spring was a flurry of activity for me. As convention chair for the Vermont Professional Photographers I had my hands full finalizing the details of 82nd Annual Convention and getting to see all of the board’s hard work pay off with another successful and entertaining gathering. As a photographer not only was I busy putting the final touches on my prints to go to state, regional, and international competitions, but I was also getting 20 of my finest portraits together for submission to the Certified Professional Photographer review panel. I’m happy to report good news on both the competition and certification fronts!
First off, you may be wondering why I would put so much effort into competitions and certification. I credit both with helping me objectively look at my own images and refine my posing, lighting, and composition techniques. Despite the frustration, cost, and time, they are the BEST way to learn.
Competition starts for most photographers at the state level. We don’t compete against each other, but against an established standard called the 12 Elements of a Merit Print. A merit print is one that scores 80 points or more and it’s a tough mark to achieve, even for seasoned photographers. In Vermont we’re allowed to submit up to six 16×20″ prints. I chose my strongest state level images to move on to regional and international levels, where only four prints are allowed. We are allowed to reprint images after listening to the judges make recommendations. At regional level images can earn a Seal of Approval, which guarantees it a merit point if submitted to the international competition. I had one image out of four earn a seal there and still sent my four prints on to international competition. I just received word last week that I have three images that received merit points and will hang at the International Print Show next January in New Orleans! Each merit point brings me closer to earning my Master of Photography degree.
Certification is totally different from competition. It’s a voluntary program for photographers who wish to establish themselves as experts in their field and give potential clients confidence in their ability to consistently provide high quality portraiture. In order to become certified I had to take a written exam consisting of practical, technical, and aesthetic questions regarding lighting, posing, and equipment. After a nail biting two hours I passed my test to the proctor and was convinced that I had read way too much into every question and was going to fail miserably. On the contrary, I had exceeded the minimum 70% and scored 84%! The second part of the process is an image review consisting of 20 of my finest images from the last couple of years, of different subjects. The panel of judges wanted to make sure that my images showed an ability to consistently light, compose, and edit my portraits. Wayne Tarr, a Master of Photography and Certified Professional Photographer friend of mine, was a great help in choosing and tweaking my selections. And what do you know, it paid off! My images were accepted and I am now one of four Certified Professional Photographers in the state of Vermont!
Below are the merit-earning images that will be displayed next year, along with the 20 images submitted to the certification panel. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement through this process. Enjoy!
Now, the other images in my certification portfolio. The submission requirements dictate a very small file size, so I’m presenting them here as the judges saw them (with my logo of course).
Peace and Furballs,