Francie Baltazar Stonestreet named Professional Photographers of America Silver Photographer of the Year.
Even for an experienced professional photographer, it’s important to continue to grow and push oneself technically and creatively. I have chosen photographic print competitions as a way to challenge and grow myself in photographic artist.
Competitions are held locally, regionally, and internationally. All competitions have strict criteria for selections of awards, merits and winners. Many photographers use models or stage their competition images however, I use only client images taken during portrait sessions or at weddings, which is more challenging.
A competition print or album doesn’t just happen. It is created with many hours of visioning, shooting and post production. When I started on this journey I wanted to enter client images only. It was a goal so that I would create one of a kind art pieces while working under the pressure of a wedding or portrait session. That is challenge has made me a better photographer and made me push myself beyond where I thought was possible.
This year my goal was to gain enough merits (awards) to be able to qualify for my Masters of Photography Degree presented by Professional Photographers of America (PPA).
So I stepped way out of my comfort zone and entered Albums. Wedding albums are some of the most difficult to merit as the the judges are not judging one image but an entire collection of images and the photographers ability to tell a story and do it consistently from image to image and page to page.
Two albums entered in the PPA District Photographic Competition were award Merits and one received the Grand Imaging Award for Best Wedding Album in the Southwest.
Both of the albums advanced to the International Photographic Print Competition held in Atlanta, GA each summer and were judged again for top honors.
During this competition Images which arrive with a Merit are judged for LOAN. Loan is considered the best of the best in each category. The Loan Book is Published Each year and Loan images sometimes travel for exhibit or hang in PPA Headquarters. Judges are allow to “Book” images which means while these images did not Loan they are a judges choice to be published. The Showcase book is published in conjunction with the Loan book each year.
From the Moment I saw Kendall in her wedding gown, all I could think about was a competition print. Hours upon hours went into the creation of the image as the background was a bit too busy for competition and the staircase had to be extended. But the resulting image was a stunner and was awarded a Merit!
I was still short one image as competition season call for entries opened. I was looking for that special something and found it with a flower girl at my next wedding. She looked a little melancholy to me and thought she would make the perfect subject. So in about 5 minutes I created the portrait. The finish image is done with a watercolor treatment. This image went Loan and will be in the 2015 Loan Book.
NOTE: Titles of prints are to tell a story and lead the judges where you want them to go. This sweet girl has two happily married parents and is really happy. So the title is for the judges and not real life!
I have always wanted to continue to grow as a photographer and to push myself in my craft both during the capture of an image as well as the post production of images. This year that push was a success!
I am thrilled to announce two major goals were reached:
PPA Silver Photographer of the Year
Qualify to Apply for PPA Master of Photography Degree (I should receive this in January)
None of this would be possible without my clients who believe in me as an artist. It is my clients to gave me the opportunity to turn their dream day into fulfilling on of my dreams. For this I am truly grateful!
There are Three People in my life whom I really honor with this. First is my mom, she is my biggest fan, most awesome advocate and extreme supporter of me and my craft. Thank you for always believing the path I take and thinking I am the best photographer in the world. Next is my beloved husband who said on that fateful day 9 years ago “you need to go back to photography.” His willingness to deal with my crazy schedule and support me traveling and my artist emotions, is a real gift and he will always be my forever man. And to my most favorite subject, my Bugsy Boy – you are indeed my muse.