Can I judge a judge? I am going to go ahead and say I can. Refs are given job rating after games so I feel I can do the same with this. I give the judges at this competition a D+
Let me give you a back story so you know what I am talking about. Twice a year my professional photographer guild has a photographic competition. We are aloud to enter up to 6 images in a variety of categories. There are a lot of great photographer but over the last 5 years only two of us have won photographer of the year. This rivalry has changed the way salon is “played.” I put played in quotes because that what it has become, a game. We each do what we can to better our chances of winning. However some of the things done I think skew the line of playing and cheating. Thats for another day. These competitions are known as salons. The association brings in three qualified photographers to judge the others. The judge each image on its own merit from a scale o 69-100. We aim for at least an 80 as anything 80 or above is considered a merit image. This is important because every merit image is then qualified to place 1st 2nd 3rd and best in show. Each judge gives a score and they take the average. If any judge, or the moderator feels the image didn’t score what it should have, higher or lower, they can challenge it. The print is then talked about and re scored. They used the 12 elements of a merit image to score these prints. This is that list in order of importance.
- Technical excellence
- Color Balance
- Center of Interest
- Subject Matter
- Story Telling
Sadly degree of difficulty is not one of the elements of a merit image, although some judges will say they take that into consideration.
On to tonight and why I am disappointed/angry. Art is subjective, you can have 10 different people look at one image and have 10 different thoughts on it. The same happens with these judges. We had two judges who have been judges many times before and a third who I personally havent seen judge before but has quite a resume. To me on this night, they really lacked consistency. Prime example, we had a small competition before the salon called creative quarterly. The same three judges picked one of my wedding images as the winner for that. Then 15 minutes later that SAME EXACT IMAGE was in salon. They gave it a 79. They just told everyone in the room, this image we just picked as a winner, isnt even deserving of a merit. Only one of the three judges currently photographing weddings. I think there is a top down issue in the photography world of how wedding imagery is judged. The image in question will be at the bottom of this post. It wasn’t posed. It was a moment captured. When they got to talk about the image they said they wished I was taller so I could see everyones face. I am sorry I didn’t have the time to set up a ladder and tell them all to do that over again. Wedding photographers and portrait photographers create similar images but could not do them in any more different ways. Portrait photographers have control over every aspect of an image and have all the time and no stress to create that image. Wedding photographers sometimes only have one shot, on the move to make the correct image. However this isn’t taken into consideration, and I think it should.
Another adaptation I would like to see at some point will be when we are able to separate images that are created on photoshop vs actual images. What I mean by that is there are makers who create everything digitally. Backgrounds, props, lighting, literally everything. When you do that you should have everything perfect. I still think that those are beautiful pieces of art, I just think they should have their own medium to be judged on.
I’m not sure how there will every be a perfect scenario for the last one but it is frustrating to see judges judging you on something they dont do. Kind of back to degree of difficulty. I entered two prints into to Commercial Category because that is where the photojournalism lives under. I entered a football player and a rodeo. The judges raved about how sharp the images were are the impeccable timing used to create the image. One of my biggest rivals entered an image in the commercial category of a baby holding a doughnut. In the past you had to have a tear sheet (the actual image used in whatever publication it was in) along with the image. This rule has kind of gone to the wayside now that so much advertising is digital. Sadly for me, when it came to picking a winning of the category. The sleeping baby beat out the bull and the football player. Apparently cute beats technique everytime.
I am trying to keep my mindset positive and not sound like a whiny photographer but I don’t lose well. I care way too much and I am WAY too competitive. I would LOVE to challenge any of those judges or that other maker to come out to a sporting event with me and try to keep up.
I guess they say iron sharpens iron. I’m coming out swinging hard next salon, don’t get in the way cause it’s all about winning now.
The football image was title Touchdown, It scored an 84 an 80 and a 79. Would love to know which judge gave it a 79! Averaged an 81
The Bull scored 84 81 and 79 Again would love to know who scored it a 79.
The house was called Jimmy Hoffas Hideout. It scored an 81
The Groomsmen was titled Pure Elation. It won the creative quarterly competition and then scored a 79. Deemed not worthy of a merit.
Ever wonder how you can cram so much into a week? Me too. This week was one that lived up to the billing. I say a week but lets call it 9 days. I’ll fill you in on it.
Friday Feb 1st: New month, obviously but also a new lens. My old 70-200 (zoom lens) was starting to not be as sharp or in focus as I would have liked so I decided it was time to buy a new one. Well used one. Just in time as the next week is insane. My buddy Marc, a fellow photographer, in Tampa has made the switch from Nikon to Fuji so I bought his 70-200 off of him. Drove up to Tampa turned around and came right back to town. This was the first night of the Conley Rodeo. It is without a doubt the most exciting thing I photograph all year. I am literally in the bull ring 15 yards from this bucking beast. These animals are massive and intense. It is basically like photographing a car crash. The conditions for photography in the arena are FAR from ideal, or even decent for that matter so it put the new lens to the test. I would say it did a remarkable job. 3500 images later I was heading home.
Saturday: Feb 2nd. A normal Saturday can include a wedding from time to time. This was no different except for the fact that right after the wedding I was going to be going back to the rodeo. A friend of mine Jacob was having his wedding on this lovely February afternoon. It was a beautiful wedding in a small church with the ceremony and reception happening on the property of the church . I started around 1pm photographing the bride and her bridesmaids, the ceremony was around 4 but it started a few minutes late. After the I do’s, the first dances and the cake cutting, I packed up my stuff. changed from dress pants to jeans and headed over to the rodeo. I rolled in to the rodeo at 7pm just in time to hear the national anthem and get to my photographer spot. Another great night at the rodeo and another 3,000 images between the rodeo and the wedding.
Wednesday Feb 6th: Back to the grind at my old high school. This is the 5th or 6th year I have done the MHS wrestling pictures. Working with Coach Gug is always fun and easy to do. He gets those kids to listen and we knock 33 headshots, 2 team picture, and 6 group pictures out in 37 minutes. After that I headed down to Lakewood Ranch to have a meeting with a client.
Thursday Feb 7th: Back to back days of wrestling. I needed to cover a match for BCS to make sure I had some images of the seniors to use in their collages that I will make later this year. Again another high school gym with horrendous lighting situations. The new lens for the most part performed really well.
Friday Feb 8th: Another busy day for me. Started off driving up to Treasure Island to photograph one of my dear friends Tori. Nothing about photographing her is work. She is a stunning person with an even better personality. She has a lot of clothing brands, well bikini brands that she is in deals with so she needs to photograph them and I don’t complain. We got three different looks done in about 2 hours. After that it was back to Bradenton, a stop off at Sweetberries to grab a quick meal. The Monte Cristo and a medium chocolate shake. Then headed over to Saint Stephens to cover the girls district championship game. This game apparently had a little more intensity to it than it normally does. Which is saying a lot because there is no love lost between these schools. This part is all hearsay, but I believe that SSA called the FHSAA on a BCS player who was ineligible. Apparently only a paperwork issue, nonetheless BCS had to forefit every game this player played in bringing their record to 1-26. Maybe I should also add the player in question used to go to St Stephens. BCS won two games earlier in the week to make it to this game. BCS outnumber the Falcon fans I’d guess 3 to 1 even though it was at St Stephens. SS played out of their minds in the first quarter and led at the end of the first. BCS weathered that storm and fed off of the crowd to take a 5 point lead at the half. The gap stayed about the same until late in the 4th when BCS pulled away. Another 1,900 images.
Saturday Feb 9th. The river regatta is back in town and it is another really interesting, exciting event to cover. I took my big lens down town with me this time and made my way through the crowds to a spot near the water. I couldn’t make it to the railing at first. The event is ran really well with the exception of two things. 1 there is a lot of downtime in between the races. 2 they don’t communicate when the next race will be very well to the people there. I got there right about 1:45. The first thing I got to photograph was actually a train coming over the river. After about 20 minutes of waiting finally some boats. Just a quick qualifying run. Then a quick 10 lap race. Then another break, not as long. In this little break I managed to find a spot right next to the railing and parked myself down right there. The second 10 lap race went off and was done just like that. My buddy Tom, who photographs for the paper actually saw me and called me and got me onto the media dock, so much nicer out there. Again another pretty big gap. I left Tom and went over to the dog show they had going on and grabbed some cool pictures of that. After that was done back out onto the media dock for another race. This one was more contested than the other two races. on the last lap the leading boat even blew off a part of his engine cover. He still managed to win. After this race there was supposed to be another race, plus a We The Kings performance and then a firework show. However the skies were looking dark and the wind was blowing pretty hard. I didn’t bring any rain gear with me so I decided better not risk it.
This is a decently busy week for me. Even tomorrow, Sunday, I am planning on driving to Tampa to cover a college ultimate frisbee tournament. I love weeks like this though. They keep me busy and I love what I do.
A few weeks ago I reached out to a friend about how I could drive more internet visors to my website and he told me one of the biggest ways to do this was through a blog. Kind of selfish of me to start a blog to try to drive more business versus letting you into the photography world I occupy on a more personal level right? Well I decided (or apparently re-decided) to do both.
After searching for a blog site to use to reach out to everyone I couldnt make a new login because my email was already used. Apparently back in 2013 I had this same idea. I made two posts and then never made another one……until now. Six years later. I will be more active than that this go around. Hard not to be more active that posting once every six years.
A LOT has changed in six years. Personally and professionally. Personally I moved out of my childhood home, and got my own place. Ironically I am now trying to buy back that same house. Also bough a new car. I have grown a lot in how I try to act and carry myself. There is a lot of anxiety that I had in high school that reared back up last year. That has been an on going battle. Took some really cool trips. Left the country and went to Colombia with a group of frisbee friends to teach the underprivileged how to play ultimate and use that as a tool to bond with other people and use it as a leadership tool. Took some cool trips with my sister, the big one to NYC.
From a business point of view it has changed 10x more than my personal life. I took what seemed like at the time a huge risk of leaving a steady paycheck working for another photographer to opening my own company. This march will be 5 years since I made that choice. Wound up being the greatest choice I ever made. I won 3 more BPPA Photographer Of the Year awards. (2012, 2013, 2017) I also finished second in ’14 ’15 ’16 ’18. Since 2009 I haven’t finished outside the top 2. I was almost named a Top 10 photographer in the state by the states governing body of professional photographer the FPP in 2015 and 2018. However my proudest accolade came in 2017. After 8 years of working towards it I received my Florida Degree Of Photographic Excellence from the Florida Professional Photographers Association. This is not given but earned. You must have numerous images that are judged to be of a high enough merit, along with service merits garnered through numerous years towards the FPP and its affiliates to be considered for this degree. I have since forgotten this next stat so it may be incorrect on the exact number, but since the inception of the degree back in May of 1933 less than 200 photographers have received this degree.
Enough tooting my own horn I’ll tell you about some of the work for some fabulous clients I have gotten to do since 2013. Some of them are the same and have been with me since then. I still do an enormous amount of work for my old high school, Manatee High. Sorry let me correct that, THE Manatee High School. Cane pride never dies. There is a new school, not really new, they’ve stuck by me for close to a decade as well. Bradenton Christian School, or better know to me as BCS. I started off working for another photographer at BCS covering selected sporting events. Since then I have taken over and cover their entire sports program and this year started photographing all of the senior portraits for the school as well.
Not far off of the school path is the Manatee/Sarasota County debutantes. They are such a wonderful organization, who is nothing short of a joy to work for. Again I met this group via an old studio who since has moved from the area. They asked me if I wanted to take on the gig before I was really ready. They had more faith in me at the beginning than I did in myself. The asked me who I would recommend and went to that photographer for a few years. I still helped that other photographer I recommenced at some of the events for the Debs. They circled back around to me in 2017 and asked me if I was ready to take the job and I was. This year will be the third year that I am the official photographer for them and it is without a doubt one of my favorite groups I work with.
Weddings, wedding, and more weddings. In 2013 I did my first wedding alone, well I shouldn’t say alone but as BDP my own studio. It was a last minute thing as well. I was still nervous about doing them on my own. I had just stepped out on my own and realized I couldn’t afford to be scared anymore. This really nice lady Amy, had called me on Monday 5 days before her wedding telling me her photographer double booked and informed her they weren’t coming to the wedding. She had gotten my number from my old studio manager Nan. Amy asked me if I was available that coming Saturday. I told her I was. I called my friend group to see if anyone wanted to help me, I didn’t have Nikki yet, more on her soon. My friend Steven said he would help me out. He had taken a photography class at MCC and was currently using one of my cameras in that class. He took some cool shots that day but he was really there just to help me move stuff and be there in case i needed someone to do something. The wedding went off without any issues what so ever and I felt great. Moving forward I have now covered 65 weddings, in 5 different states, soon to be 6, I’ll see you in October Kent and Mary. Back to that lady Nikki. If you follow me at all even just a little bit you know her, or of her. She is my wedding assistant, but so much more. She keeps me on track and going. She is a gem. My old boss hired her and when he left I finally got around to asking her if she wanted to help me out with the weddings I was starting to get. Her and I had worked together before at the old studio so there wasn’t much of a feeling out process, we just worked like we always had. I wish I could tell you about the day I met Nikki and what happened at that wedding, but we’ll save that for another day. Nikki is such a diverse helper. What i mean is she can do everything and normally does. Thats hard to find these days.
This is getting to be longer than I anticipated so I will just share a few cool things I did work for an elaborate on them later.
The Tampa Bay Rays. SONY, The Canadian National Soccer Team. The World Ultimate Frisbee Championships. University of South Florida. Underarmour. The Tampa Bay Storm. Billy Joel.
Top Left: Myself and the group from Breaking Borders in Medellin Colombia
Top Right: An image shot at MHS that was picked up by Underarmour.
Middle Left: Scott and Amy. The first wedding I did as BDP
Bottom Left: An image from a BCS team photo day.
Middle Middle: A group shot from this years Debutante program
Bottom Middle: Nikki and me at a wedding at the Powell Crosley
Bottom Right: Michelle (my sister) and me in NYC
This afternoon was a lot of fun. A super enjoyable experience and one I have been wanting to do for quite some time. My old high school, Manatee High. Has one of the best if not the best high school football program in the nation. They have had numerous years of district regional and even a sate title in the last 5 years. A few years back they became sponsored by Under Armour. I’ve been wanting to take out some studio lights and do some really intense pictures for them. I finally got that chance. Pictures are some of the best players in America. One has committed to play at Florida State next year as a DL. Another has committed to play at Missouri at RB. A few others have offers as well however I just don’t know enough to relay all that information. Anyways this is what came out of that shoot. Every feel like watching a Manatee football game, they are streamed live on friday nights in the fall on www,manateefootball.com
Tonight at the Bay Professional Photographers Association I was honored to receive a few awards. I was awarded first place in the portrait and unclassified categories. I also got best of show for my frisbee shot titled Taking Flight.