As a photographer, there are a million and one photography contest that you can enter ranging from landscape to photojournalism and everything in between. The problem with most of these contests is that very, very few of them of are judged by highly skilled, educated photographers and many of them wind up being popularity or on trend contests. I witnessed a contest several weeks ago that is massive in scale with thousands and thousands of entries that, essentially, became an on trend contest. I saw comments like this, "I don't like dogs and I won't vote for any photo that has a dog in it anywhere" and "I think old people are so adorable, I'm voting multiple times for all photos with old people in them, I don't care if they're good or not!" These people aren't making decisions based on technical merit, they're voting for photos they like and there's nothing wrong with that for that type of contest.
However, as someone with an eye toward being the best I can be, and being a complete nerd, let's be honest, I want more from a competition. I want my images judged on their own merits, evaluated and critiqued against only itself and not against 4 or 5 other pictures that may or may not have dogs or old people in them. Entering a national or state level print competition has several benefits, it makes you a more educated photographer, it increases your technical understanding, and can make your images more saleable, among other things.
It can also be a big blow to your ego. Print competition is not a happy-go-lucky, everyone gets a ribbon and there are no negative words kind of thing. Judging can be harsh, technical standards are rigidly adhered to, and not every one or every image will fare well. The first time I entered print comp on a state level I watched three of my images go down in flames scoring in the mid 70's, the final image scored an 80, just enough to earn a merit and be counted a technically solid photograph. I was overjoyed with that small accomplishment.
This year I made it one of my goals to enter again and began laying some groundwork for an image I had rolling around in my head. I purchased a couple of things and then finally found the time to get something done, I messaged my little model's mom and she was gracious enough to come over the same day and had him dressed exactly how I needed. What I did not expect was the high level of toddler modeling that Mr. Memphis brought to the set that day. He did an absolutely fantastic job and provided me with more material than I could have imagined in a very short period of time. I think we photographed for roughly 20-25 minutes and we were done. I can tell you, without ego, that these are some of the best studio images I have ever produced. It was a tough decision choosing a final picture and the submitted image isn't displayed here but, as you can see, Memphis did a stellar job and gave great face.
Each of these images is presented today in competition format with borders.
Without further ado, I present to you My Dapper Little Scoundrel.