Other than shoveling and plowing snow this week, I've been preparing for the Professional Photographers of West Virginia Print Competition that will be hosted this weekend at Stonewall Resort in Lewis County.
It's been a week of sifting through images I've taken this year and choosing my favorites to enter into competition. It takes a lot of time and requires me to be brutally honest with myself since this is no ordinary photo contest. It is a competition.
The images will be carefully judged by a panel of six professional photographers from around the country. The judges have all been trained on how to judge a professional image and what qualities a picture must have to be a winner. The attention to detail is unbelievable.
The first time I entered I thought the judges were just being picky; but after I thought about it, in a professional competition the small details can be the difference between a good image and a great image. The judging process is very nerve racking and can be encouraging or it can be very humbling to hear the judge's comment on the qualities of your images.
After I see the scores on these images I will consider sending them on to the regional and national competitions, and I do all this for a ribbon.
Yep, the prize is a pretty blue ribbon, no money, no prizes. You just get bragging rights that your image outscored another professional photographers image.
You might be wondering why I would go to all this trouble and expense to enter these competitions and I often ask myself the same question. As long as I've been a photographer you would think I would know everything there is to know right? Wrong! I certainly don't know everything about photography, but fortunately I have an unquenchable thirst for photographic knowledge, so I keep on trying.
Entering these competitions has been a great source of knowledge for me and I can really tell the difference in how my work has improved since I first started. I've also learned a couple good life lessons by entering, too. It's all in the details and never stop learning.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a master photographer as well as a certified professional photographer.)