I know a lot of you have noticed that a quiet has recently come over the blog and Facebook.  I promise I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth!  There are lots of new, fun, exciting changes in the works at Long’s Photography!  The quiet has come from my crazy travel schedule as I have been teaching, going to conferences and most importantly I attended PPA’s Judges School this year in Atlanta.

Photographic print competition has been a passion of mine for about six years.  I can promise any new photographer that competing and watching competition will absolutely positively without a doubt be the best way to become a better photographer.  It has challenged me, frustrated me, inspired me and humbled me in so many ways.  Learning to judge during my week in Atlanta was exactly the same experience, just at a different level.

If you are a newer photographer or someone who has never before competed, I strongly encourage you to bite the bullet and do it.  Enter your images, go to the competition, listen from critiques and do it all with an OPEN MIND!  So often, we are personally invested in our work and we become angry and defensive when it is judged as less than perfect.  I promise you, the judges are not there to tear you down!  As judges, we are taught to teach, to help, and to fight for the maker as much as we can.

Going to judges school was one of the biggest inspirations I have had as a photographer in years.  The class is held as PPA does their annual International Print Competition, so we spent a good amount of time with the actual judges– talking to them, asking questions, observing the process, etc.  Seeing how hard the judges work to give every print the very best possible chance, learning how much goes into being a good judge and how rigorous the process is to become an approved IPC juror… it absolutely gave me a new found respect for the judges themselves.  But more than that, it really boosted my passion and loyalty for PPA.  PPA is an organization that is daily battling for photographers, providing education, insurance, legal counsel, etc. to an industry of mostly self employed artists.  To see how much the organization and its members commit to print competition is absolutely awe inspiring.

If you are a photographer and you haven’t yet joined PPA, I strongly encourage you to do it– RIGHT NOW.  Its probably the single most important investment you can make in your business and your craft.  If you are a PPA member, but you have never gone to print judging– go look now and mark it on your calendar.  Get prints ready and submit them too!  Get Master Photographers to critique your work for you.  Use the resources this amazing organization has for you.

In a very cynical world, it was completely heart warming and motivational to see so many people working to better our industry as a whole.  I am so thrilled I went and so energized to create better images and to also share that knowledge with other photographers!  Thank you PPA!