an image of merit | competition, professional recognition, and self-improvement | wilmington wedding photographers

Whew! Got all of my images submitted for the Professional Photographers of America’s International Photographic Competition… and with 15 minutes to spare!

So… what is the International Photographic Competition, or IPC?

Well, let’s start with how image competition works, whether at the local, state, regional, or international level.

Every image is judged by a jury of at least 5 competition-certified (and generally renowned) photographers. Images must be anonymous and cannot identify the maker in any way (i.e., these images would have their watermark removed prior to submission). If you’re lucky enough to be present while the judges are scoring, you will hear some of the most exhilarating, constructive, and crushing comments of your life. An image you consider to be one of your best may be described by the judges as “poorly composed” or “unimaginative”. Or it may be described as “impactful” or “excellent”. Scores range up to 100; one must achieve an 80 or higher to earn a merit. A good majority of all images entered will receive scores in the 60s and 70s. To score a 79 and be socloseyetsofar is heartbreaking. To score an 80 or higher is a huge deal (bragworthy to your photographer friends); an 85 will have you turning cartwheels!

In short, earning a merit at a photographic competition is essentially one of the highest forms of recognition one can receive: acceptance amongst photographers who are better and more skilled than oneself. Just to show you what I mean, every image in this post is one that did NOT merit in previous competitions. These images received scores in the 78-79 range. To the untrained eye, they’re pretty good, no? Well-exposed, interesting, in focus… but to use a sports analogy, one can be the college swim captain (better than most) and still not make it to the Olympics (truly excellent).

Generally, it’s safest to start entering competitions at the local and state level, and work your way up. Just think: at a local level, we might be competing amongst the best photographers in Wilmington; at the international level, we compete amongst the best photographers in the world! Case in point: the San Diego skyline image above merited at the local level, but was scored a 78 at the regional level. Notice I said we compete “amongst” not “against” — every image is judged on its own, not compared to others. In this competition, you compete against yourself to become a better photographer.

At the state level and higher, each photographer may enter a “case” with up to only four images. Images that earn a merit at a regional (multi-state) level are considered “sealed” – they have earned a Seal of Approval and will carry that merit forward at the international level. At that point, the only higher recognition an image can receive is acceptance into PPA’s Loan Collection, which is their international exhibition of excellence.

Jeff and I already have had a couple images sealed at this year’s Southeastern U.S. Regional Competition. Neither of us sealed our entire case, however, which means we had to /get to pick new images to replace the ones that didn’t merit in order to complete our case submission to IPC.

Now we wait.

I’d love to share the images we submitted with all of you, however, we’re advised not to post them until after judging in order to maintain the anonymity of the images.

Thank you to all the wonderful photographers who gave me feedback on my images and helped me choose/edit. Excited to hear judging…

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We’re jeff
& Lori

Carolina-based LUXURY BOUDOIR and WEDDING photographers

Our love of photography brought us together when we met at a photography conference over a decade ago. Today, Jeff is indigosilver’s lead wedding photographer, while Lori focuses on boudoir portraiture.

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