My clients always love their images. I am a professional photographer with a refined skill in creating beauty from any situation and in capturing real, pure and genuine emotion. The personal attachment that my clients have to their photographs naturally creates an emotional connection. As a photographer, however, always having clients who love their images doesn’t give me any room for improvement – artistically and technically.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love having clients who love their images (obviously) and I wouldn’t trade that for the world, but as a photographer, I am constantly looking for ways to improve myself so that I can do an even better job for my clients.
I attend a ton of workshops and seminars (and even teach some myself) that are geared towards improving my skills as a photographer and a storyteller, but I have found an even better way to improve my imagery, and that is by having my images critiqued by my peers. Putting my work in front of other experienced professional photographers who have a discerning eye for composition, lighting, posing and other photographic and storytelling aspects has been instrumental to my growth as a photographer.
Having feedback from an objective, third-party, skilled individual who has proven him/herself as a master of photography shows me points of improvement so that I can go out and create more impactful imagery. If you’ve ever had anything judged or critiqued, you’ll know that it certainly isn’t the easiest thing to have done, as you are basically asking someone to “pick apart” your hard work. However, I’ve found that if you can approach the process with an open mind, you can come out on the other end having learned some valuable lessons.
The Professional Photographers of Canada – Ontario recently held their annual “Provincial Image Competition”, where members from across the province put their “best foot forward” and submitted for competition. Each photographer was allowed to submit their 4 best images in a variety of categories, and all images were judged against each other by a panel of highly skilled photographic judges. I was honoured and privileged to be one of those judges, actually (of course I had to withdraw from judging my own images of course) but more on that later.
Images are basically scored on a hypothetical scale of 100, and are given the following classifications:
- Unaccepted (Below 80)
- Accepted (80 – 90)
- Merit (90-95)
- Excellence (95-100)
To be “Accepted” or higher means that your images are among the best in the competition and are accepted into the Provincial Image Salon, showcasing the association’s best work. Along with the “score”, photographers receive feedback and critique on each image as to how it might be able to be improved, and this is where the real value is.
I am proud to say that I had 3 of my 4 images accepted into the Provincial Image Salon. Yay! I learned quite a bit throughout the process and am excited to have my work seen as some of the best work in the Province. The 3 images that I had accepted are spread here throughout this blog post.
I look forward to entering more competitions in the future – they are always an extremely educational experience. If you’re a photographer, consider joining a professional association (in Canada, PPOC is the clear option) and open yourself up for critique and feedback from your peers. You’ll learn heaps and will be able to improve yourself as a photographer and a creative. If you’re a client/consumer, be sure to seek out a photographer who dedicates him/herself to improvement through education and competition as it’s the only way that we’ll be able to create the absolute best for you.